More women than men are accessing Saint Lucia’s national helpline which provides confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Social Worker Bradley Joseph, acknowledging that he might not have the actual numbers, said that based on his own helpline experience, more women than men access the service.
“More women would call and speak about their issues but men would be more reluctant,” Joseph stated.
He spoke last week during a panel discussion on the National Television Network (NTN) to commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day, observed on September 10.
The theme for the discussion was ‘Suicide Prevention – Creating Hope Through Action.’
During the discussion, Clinical Counselor Alison Joseph-Edward disclosed that from 2017 to 2020, Saint Lucia recorded at least 43 suicides.
She noted that of the 43 suicides, only three involved women.
Joseph-Edward observed that this reflected data from other countries where men accounted for most suicides.
Panellists on the NTN programme underscored the need for people with mental health issues to get the help they need.
However, they acknowledged that personal, community, and societal stigma, represent a challenge.
“In the Caribbean, we have carried a very moralistic view of what mental wellness is, ” observed Robert Huggins.
Huggins is the Programme Lead at Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Detoxification and Rehabilitation Centre.
He explained that people have the idea that mental wellness and substance abuse issues pertain to individuals with weak minds and if those affected put their minds to it, they can recover.
However, Huggins noted that issues like depression and addictions are clear medical illnesses.
“We know that they are medical diseases. These diseases just happen to affect the brain and can affect personality and everything else as well,” he observed.
And he asserted that because of the moralistic view of those conditions, there’s a lot of shame and guilt.
Huggins stated that as a result, people do not come forward and get the help they need.
People can access the national helpline by dialling #203 from a landline or mobile telephone.
The call is free and the helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Headline photo: Stock image