Support groups help suicide plotters hang on
By age 40, James Taylor* thought he would have been happily married with children and financially stable, but the reality that he is yet to accomplish these goals has plunged him into depression so deep that he often feels like taking his own life.
“I’ve never really tried to commit suicide, but you get the feeling that there seems to be no other light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
More than 200 men have committed suicide in Jamaica in less than five years.
Taylor said that his being a Christian has made that option less appealing, and he also worries about the impact this would have on his family members, particularly his mother, nieces, and nephews.
He is now a member of two support groups that have provided avenues for him to share his feelings of unfulfilment. One such struggle is the fact that he has been unable to maintain a steady job. Taylor told The Sunday Gleaner that his exposure to support groups proves that they can provide effective coping strategies for persons contemplating suicide.
Mental-health advocate Tameka Coley started one such support group recently, and while she finds that the majority of participants are females, she is happy that there are a few men coming forward to share their stories.
“I think we have a culture of just not really allowing men to express themselves in the most basic of ways. They tend to not do that, so for the most part, it is like when things get really bad, they start to notice that this is not healthy,” she said.
“A lot of women may get sad and withdrawn. A lot of men get withdrawn, too, but I have noticed, personally, that that comes later. For the most part, they act the same way, except that they are very irritable, they are very short-tempered, and they get very angry very quickly,” she explained.
Coley, who is the communications director for the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network (JaMHAN), had herself attempted suicide as a teenager. She has started a mental-health group that meets once per month. At least five counsellors and mental-health experts from JaMHAN have volunteered their time.
* Real name withheld.