Georgetown – As part of cooperative efforts to help Guyana address its troubling suicide rate, the United States Embassy hosted a suicide prevention workshop on Thursday, March 10, facilitated by two subject matter experts from the Florida Army National Guard. Staff Sergeant Erica Hodges and first Lieutenant Stephanie Matos led a three-hour training session for seventy participants representing non-governmental organizations from Georgetown and Berbice as well as members of the Guyana Defence Force. Among the organizations represented were The Caribbean Voice, Prevention of Teen Suicide (POTS), Global Shapers, St. Francis Community Developers, and the Mibicuri Community Developers.
The workshop focused on two main areas: victim’s warning signs and suicide prevention techniques. Warning signs include talking about feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, or feeling trapped and wanting to escape by committing suicide. Participants received information on the root causes of suicide, how to identify when someone is contemplating suicide, and knowing when to intervene. Depression, in the form of deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating are all signs to seek professional help, or talk to a friend or loved one. Participants also shared best practices and suggested a holistic approach to suicide prevention that includes counseling for teenagers with relationship issues, follow-up mentoring and monitoring with people who show the warning signs of possible suicide, and greater awareness and sensitivity by government officials, police, and the media. In particular, the sensationalization of suicide by the media at times may encourage copycat incidences, or suicide contagion as it is often called.
The Florida Army National Guard works with the Security Cooperation Office of the U.S. Embassy to provide support in a wide variety of areas including vital public services, support to civil defense authorities and protection of life and property. This workshop was a joint effort to help continue a dialogue about one of the most complex issues facing the citizens of Guyana.