High suicide rates worry Guyana officials

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday June 11, 2010 – The Ministry of Health in Guyana is expressing concern about the high incidence of suicide in the country, as statistics show it’s one of the leading causes of death among young people there.

Suicide is recognised as a serious public health issue in Guyana with between 150 and 200 deaths annually. Information provided by the ministry for the 2003 to 2007 period show that there were 946 reported suicides in Guyana.

The statistics indicate that suicide is the leading cause of death among young people 15-24 and the third leading cause of death among persons aged 25-44.

“These statistics highlight the need to develop and implement effective suicide prevention strategies but unfortunately, there are few well-conducted studies nationally and globally on interventions for suicide prevention that have demonstrated efficacy in reducing suicide rates,” a statement from the ministry said.

The Ministry of Health said it’s trying to develop and implement strategies aimed at reducing and preventing the incidence of suicide in the country.

“Extensive reviews of the evidence for effectiveness of suicide prevention strategies support gatekeeper training, physician education in depression recognition and treatment; and restricting access to lethal methods as effective interventions,” it said.

The ministry has therefore been training people to be “gatekeepers for suicide prevention”, including religious leaders, teachers, farmers, police officers, community workers and agriculture workers.