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Sep 9, 2016

Awareness and outreach on prevention of suicides

Saturday, September tenth, is celebrated as World Suicide Prevention Day. The World Health Organization has been building awareness about this issue since 2003, encouraging persons to reach out to people who are struggling with mental health issues.  In Belize, today was the first time that the Ministry of Health has joined in the global actions to prevent suicides. The event included the hoisting of a flag at the Battlefield Park in downtown Belize City. Over the last five years, a whopping one hundred and fifty persons, primarily between the age of nineteen and twenty-five, have committed suicide.  According to Counselor for the Central Health Region of the Ministry of Health, Juliet Simmons, one case of suicide is too much.


Juliet Simmons, Central Health Region Counselor, Ministry of Health

Juliet Simmons

“Depression is one of the main reasons people contemplate suicide. There are other mental health illnesses: borderline personality disorder, there is schizophrenia, but the main one, according to our research is depression.”


Duane Moody

“So what is the ministry doing to address this aside from today making this awareness, raising this flag?”


Juliet Simmons

“The Mental Health Program has been doing a lot of awareness. We have visited many workplaces trying to educate people about depression, about the signs of suicide; letting them know the resources that are out here to help the services. So we have been working with the schools, with different departments, different business places.”


Duane Moody

“Is the stigma against mental health diseases or issues still high in Belize? And how are you guys tackling that?”


Juliet Simmons

“Thanks for bringing that up. Stigma, yes, it does interfere with our services because people are afraid to access the services because of what people would think; that if you come to our clinic, they would say oh you are crazy and so forth. These are the things that create a barrier and these are the barriers that we need to break down. To let people know that we all have stress, we all experience our ups and downs and sometimes we actually need formal help and that is how we need to connect and support people.”

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