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Bahamas Joins Fight Against Suicide

By ALESHA CADET

Tribune Features Reporter

acadet@tribunemedia.net

UNDER the theme "Take a Minute, Change a Life", several local organisations will join together in highlighting World Suicide Prevention Day.

The Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC), in partnership with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Save Our Bahamas Campaign, and the Bahamas Christian Council, will commemorate the cause on Sunday, September 10, in Rawson Square, beginning at 3pm (pending Hurricane Irma's movements).

"Suicide has become a major global problem, with estimates being over 800,000 deaths per year. In 2003, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), along with the World Health Organisation (WHO), launched the initiative of World Suicide Prevention Day to raise awareness around the world that suicide can be prevented," said Dr Tracey King, clinical psychologist at SRC and chair of the World Suicide Prevention Committee for the past four years.

With the committee's responsibility of planning and implementing World Suicide Prevention Day events and other activities geared towards preventing suicide, Dr King said it is the committee's hope that people will leave the upcoming event with more information on how to recognise warning signs for suicide and ways to prevent it from happening.

Highlights will include a ceremony in which Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands will make the official declaration. Remarks will then be given from Dr Esther de Gourville, PAHO representative, followed by a presentation focused on prevention methods done by a group of children. There will also be an unveiling of display boards featuring educational information regarding suicide and prevention.

"Suicide does not discriminate. It can occur in people from any socio-economic background at any age. Anyone of us could become suicidal. Your co-worker, friend, child, spouse, and family member are all susceptible to suicide. Therefore, we all need to be aware of the warning signs and ways to prevent suicide. Initiatives like this help to bring awareness to mental health issues that impact our overall ability to function. It provides an avenue to not only educate, but to encourage a conversation that is long overdue. Topics such as mental illness and suicide are typically avoided and shrouded in stigma. However, we need to talk about these topics and work together as a community to find ways to prevent them. Suicide does not only affect the person who died, but also the community. We have all been touched by the aftermath of suicide in one way or another," said Dr King.

She further added that over the years, the amount of people dying by suicide globally has escalated to about one suicide every 40 seconds, with more than 25 times as many attempting suicide. Locally, Dr King said there has been an increase in persons who are suicidal.

"Despite the rise, most of us remain in the dark about how to prevent suicide. Therefore, being a part of this international initiative is essential. Suicide is a complex issue that will require all of our efforts to combat it," she said

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