Fri | Sep 20, 2019

Too many killing themselves – Thomas

Published:Thursday | September 12, 2019 | 12:22 AMJason Cross/ Gleaner Writer

Dr Donovan Thomas, president of Choose Life International, has said the increasing numbers of suicide cases is a cause for concern.

According to Thomas, up to Tuesday, which was observed as World Suicide Prevention Day, there were 47 suicide deaths, matching the total number of persons who killed themselves in 2017.

Speaking with The Gleaner Tuesday night, Thomas said 61 incidents of suicide were recorded last year and projected that if the current trend continues, by year end the figure would exceed the previous year by 12.5 per cent.

According to data from the World Health Organization, 800,000 people die due to suicide each year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Guyana, Russia and Lithuania have some of the highest suicide rates globally.

“When you think of it by itself, it is not alarming, but when you compare it with the rest of the world, we are relatively low. We are around two per 100,000, compared to the US which is around 16 per 100,000. Cuba is around 10 per 100,000 and Trinidad is close to 10 per 100,000. However, we are seeing too many people killing themselves.”

Thomas said from January to the end of July, 40 persons committed suicide, which means seven Jamaicans died as a result of suicide between July and Tuesday.

“With three more months to go, what we could see is an increase of 12.5 per cent over last year. Government, churches, individuals and families need to be proactive to help people live. Persons can do several things to help. You should know how to help people at risk of suicide and know the signs and what to do.”

SURPRISING FEEDBACK

Yesterday was the staging of seminar in Montego Bay, St James to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, and the feedback from Thomas was that it was an eye-opener.

“After 10 years of doing the seminar in Kingston, the leadership of Choose Life International decided we wanted to do something in Montego Bay. We had seven presenters [some of them international]. One of them was from Canada.

“She spoke about her son killing himself about five years ago. It still hurts, but she has found meaning and purpose in the midst of his death. Her presentation was on parental connect. The seminar was an eye-opener. People left educated and feeling more passionate about being proactive to help people at risk,” he said.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com