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Sep 5, 2018

Suicide Prevention Flag flies high at Battlefield Park

A person dies every forty seconds by suicide which represents over eight hundred thousand deaths every year across the world. And there is up to twenty-five times that many who attempt suicide.  The number of deaths by suicide in Belize is relatively low when compared to other parts of the world, but it is still of concern to local health officials.  Today the Ministry of Health, along with its Mental Health Unit, PAHO and other partners, raised the flag to signal that suicide prevention remains a challenge in Belize.  The ceremony is to commemorate the World Prevention Day which is observed on September tenth. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

A Ministry of Health report from 2012 to 2016 shows there is an average of two suicides per month in Belize. For that five-year period, one hundred and thirteen suicides were committed in Belize and more than three times the number of persons attempted suicide.  Seventy-five of the deaths by suicide were committed by hanging, twenty-four by medication or poison, eight by firearm, the other six were committed by drowning, cutting blades and fire – with majority of the victims being males. Just last year, the number of suicides was twenty-two. For the Ministry of Health – just one person taking his or her life is too many. And since 2011, Belize has joined the rest of the world to observe World Suicide Prevention Day which is observed on September tenth.

 

Eleanor Bennett, Nursing Administrator, Mental Health Unit

Eleanor Bennett

“Suicide prevention is a challenge for us at the Mental Health Unit and the wider Ministry of Health. Of course the mission of the Ministry of Health is the promotion and preservation of health and of course life. We invest a lot in preserving life but for some people living is not the best option for them, of course this concerns us at the Mental Health Unit and it concerns us at the Ministry of Health.”

 

And for that reason, the Ministry of Health partnered with PAHO to develop a suicide prevention plan – it is still in its draft stage – but it aims to bring partners together to address this issue. Counselor Juliet Simmons says that a number of mental health factors may contribute to suicide, including pro-longed depression.

 

Juliet Simmons

Juliet Simmons, Professional Counselor, Mental Health Unit [MVI_5486]

“There are other mental health concerns such as bi-polar or borderline personality disorder; substance abuse is also a big one in suicides. And then of course you have the people who are impulsive, that means they are going through something right now and it means they are impulsive because they didn’t really think it through – they didn’t really want to take their life. I want to speak more about that because those are people who take their own life and they are usually ambivalent. They don’t really want to die. Part of them wants to live and a part of them want to die. And so, it is like a battle and if nobody is there to help them, you see what happens.”

 

The Mental Health Unit addresses the issue of suicides and mental health care through a number of initiatives, including mental health services at clinics across the country.

 

Eleanor Bennett

“From taking and creating numerous opportunities to promote suicide prevention and awareness, providing various forms of treatment including treatment for depression in primary health care and other settings to providing support to family members who have lost loved ones to suicide.”

 

To commemorate the day, the suicide prevention flag was raised to draw attention to the urgency of this public health issue.

Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

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