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Feb 28, 2011

Benque teen suicides

We have not been keeping score on the number of suicides because the incidents are personal and extremely sensitive. But a spate of suicides over the past two years in Benque Viejo del Carmen, and more recently the number of attempts in the past month has sparked concern among the community that either something is gravely wrong socially, or there is something very sinister happening in the town. News Five’s Marion Ali went to that western municipality to look for answers and she files this report.

Marion Ali, Reporting

This march spearheaded on Saturday by Kelly Guerra and the Seventh Day Adventist Youth Department of Benque Viejo was the community’s way of signaling to troubled residents that suicide is not the answer to their problems.  The community is alarmed at the recent number of suicides and attempted suicides in the area over the past two years.  There have been three persons who have taken their own lives and two others who have tried; most of them teenagers.  Medical doctor and concerned mother, Lesbia Guerra Cocom, says the community is stunned.

Lesbia Guerra-Cocom

Lesbia Guerra-Cocom, Medical doctor, Benque Viejo del Carmen

“There was a cry in the community for the youths—for the youths to come out and stop doing this type or taking this alternative to their problems. Shortly after Miss Christy Yanos, who was the young girl that passed away, two weeks after we had another attempted suicide by another teenager. There was another one yesterday, but this is a thirty-one year old guy living here in Benque but we should be very careful to say this is a connected cases because we have to actually analyze, sit down with the family and come up as to why the causes.”

Ellis Salazar

The latest case of suicide in Benque Viejo involves thirty-one year old Ellis Salazar, who hung himself in his room over the weekend.  Only last month a sixteen year-old girl was buried after she took her own life in Benque.   Doctor Guerra-Cocom says she is taking an interactive role to fight the problem.

Lesbia Guerra-Cocom

“I will be contacting the organizer of the recent event that happened this weekend with Miss Kelly Guerra to offer my assistance, my advice as a medical doctor and a public health practitioner. I did contact this morning the Deputy Regional Manager at San Ignacio Community Hospital, Miss Polido, to make here aware of what is happening in Benque Viejo and for us to sit down as a community and sort out the problem and address its roots.”

Because addressing root causes of suicide is important, Doctor Guerra-Cocom says that she and many more parents are worried for their children.

Lesbia Guerra-Cocom

“We need to sit down and address—I mean this is my call—we need to sit down and address. It’s not only doing thing in isolation. Because we have to remember that a community is not just a sum of citizens, but is actually a hub—it’s actually an interaction between people and institutions.”

Marion Ali

“Do you think it is a social problem or is it something much more sinister than that?”

Lesbia Guerra-Cocom

“Benque is a small community and you hear a lot—there’s a lot of stories, a lot of opinions and basically people are saying that it can be that this group of girls were involved in the emo-culture. I have a teenage girl and she will usually come and tell me mommy I have these friends that are playing with the Ouija or that I heard that they are making pacts.”

The organizers of the campaign against suicides have made this symbolic coffin with the marking, “Suicide is not the answer – Choose Life”.  Marion Ali for News Five.

Later in the newscast, we’ll have the personal account of a survivor.

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24 Responses for “Benque teen suicides”

  1. Earl Grey says:

    YOU CAN’T RUN FROM YOUR PROBLEMS…………… you have to solve them SOONER OR LATER…. in this life or the next.

  2. Benqueno says:

    These kids who are adopting this EMO style of living are calling for personal attention in particular to their parents….however they will not admit it….it can be overcome with counseling….in other parts of the world EMO is a flashy style of dressing in full BLACK…listening to ROCK/POP music some take it to the extent by ending up on a rope….that crap is nonsense …..

    And for the organizers i hope that it has a positive objective for YOUTHS WITH PROBLEMS…and whatever founds they do receive from the public is used on YOUTHS…and PLEASE WE DONT WANT ANOTHER SHACKRON group which seeming has A POLITICAL agenda ……the last thing we will realized is that the ORGANIZERS are running for Mayor or Area Rep…candidates and at the end of the day WHO CARES FOR THE YOUTHS ANYWAY….but youths voting for them….we will be watching closing where this group is heading…..I know my people….

  3. islander says:

    I am pro choice, let the kids commit suicide…. heck we have moms doing it while they are in the wombs so this is the message that is being sent to the kids.

  4. belizeanpride says:

    it’s a pity for real that our youths are taking away their lives and we as a community, as a family and friends need to be concern. it’s nothing nice to loose a family or friend due to problems that they keep intimate and later result to this act becuase of family communication between parents and youths.

  5. cg says:

    Happy are those who are aware of their spiritual needs…….obviously something has been missing in these people’s lives and no human remedy was able to fix it. The world is sadly turning away from God and end up not knowing how to solve their problems in the end. As the Bible says, only God knows their heart and all the worries it contained. They are resting for now.

  6. chabelli says:

    I believe that Benque has a unique economic downturn;I tries to get a job and the truth is there is no opportunity. The recession has taken a toll not only in Benque but the outside pressures are coming on us like a ton of bricks we need more employment opportunities and a more user friendly mental health community oriented service. It is deeply regrested that we wait one too long -before identifying a socio-economic and psycho social problem.

  7. Jasmine says:

    It is so difficult to face this problem; but as a Benquena I feel so proud that my people have take a stand and are willing to help. As a public officer in the Ministry of Health I would like the organizers to have the Ministry assist them in the areas of Mental Health. Dr. Claudina Cayetano can be of great assistance as well as other Psychiatrists Nurse Practitioners (PNPs).

  8. Elias Avella says:

    Belize spends less that one percent from it’s GDP in mental health. We need to pour money into the Mental health Program so that it can be responsive; following the guidelines set by the Pan American and World Health Organization. We need to fully commit to support the Mental Health Association and organizations like the Belmopan Mental Health Consumer Association for Users, Families and Volunteers. These organizations are rich in human resources, with great understanding of the gamut of mental health problems– according to the DSM4–but lack funds the funds to be reformers for better mental health. Unfortunately as many succumb to depressive illnesses, we stand helpless to act.

  9. check it out says:

    some 30 years ago or maybe 40 Bengue was thriving Belizeans all across the country looked forward to Bengue Fiesta, Verdes Football team was a source of pride during Easter the River came alive, but all that is gone now. It appears as this community is dying. the once prominent families have migrated, no economic activity, no industry….with all of this suicide starts to look like an option

  10. belizeang says:

    I 100% agree with CG, their is no end to this problem only through Jesus Christ can we obtain salvation from this evil system of things remember who is ruling this world not God but the Devil. The end is near let’s prepare ourselves and our youths , raise awareness that God is alive and he can be a real person to whoever seeks his divine guidance no therapist or medication is the solution it makes the problem worst then we will have a whole bunch of crack heads and a different kind of problem.

  11. Kelly Guerra says:

    When myself as the coordinator decided to organize this parade. I did it with a clean heart to help my people in Benque. God knows that! The churches, government and private sector participated in this event because we all need to be together to help our youths. I have always worked with youths but this was the first event ever to be done so massive. I thank God for that! If I invited the mayor and the minister is because they are from Benque as well. It has never been my intention to make it Politics, I am not interested in such. I am just Kelly Guerra AY leader trying to help my community. Please I request that this event is not used for no political purpose. An EMO presentation is next. Then a panel of psychologists will also be in benque trying to help parents and youths. I am only concern with the youths doing this with a loving heart

  12. BZNinCALI says:

    I am not sure the suicides should be separated from the murders because I believe they go hand in hand. Too many of our children are angry, depressed & self destructive. As a youth growing up in Belize city, I did not fear the boys who hung out on Dean St, Plues St , Bonfire or anywhere else for the most part, some were fresh, none were violent. We talked to our friends after school, we played softball, football, basketball, rugby, a bunch of us went to house parties together & we didn’t dare disrespect the parents in that home. So we’d grind on each other when they weren’t looking but a fight was out of the question. When my mother got on my nerves, I had my aunt & grandparents whom I could speak to in confidence, who reminded me/us that we did matter. We all survived in our tiny spaces, our family yards & maintained a sense of community which we have lost in much of the country. Our young people need positive ways to expend their energy & interact with each other. As a teenager I loved going to the 7PM mass on Sundays because 7Am was torture after a fun Saturday night, our children deserve a heck of a lot more than they are getting right now.

    Benqueno, I agree with you, it is unfortunate when community based organizations get caught up in politics because many of us get turned off.

  13. spanglish says:

    I CONGRATULATE ALL THOSE THAT TOOK THE STAND TO WALK FOR THE LIVES OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. I HAVE A CONCERN, I AM MORE THAN SURE THESE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE BEING INTRODUCED TO DRUGS, DRUGS CHANGE THE ENTIRE MENTAL HEALTH OF THE PERSONS USING IT, PARENT NEED SOME KIND OF PARENTING COUNSELING, AND THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY TO CONTINUE TO STAND ON BEHALF OF THE LIVES OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE, FINALLY WE NEED TO PRAY, PRAY AND PRAY, SATAN IS LYING THE THEM, STEALING AND KILLING THEM, BUT JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH CAME TO SAVE HEAL AND GIVE LIFE AND LIFE IN ABUNDANCE. BELIZEANS ITS TIME FOR FASTING AND PRAYER ON OUR KNEES!!!

  14. ramiro says:

    i dont belive that is happening he was my best friend from school we grow up together i now there family and god forgive him what he did becouse is somthing very bad to god to take our own life rest in pease rip miss mas pesames a todos su familia

  15. sweet love!!!!!!!!!!!!!! says:

    i dont get why LESBIA GUERRA IS TAKING ABOUT IT SHE HAS TO BEGING FROM HOME SHE NO SEE FO SHE DAUGHTER HOW SHE DRESS AND HOW SHE ACT HOW YOU THINK SHE WILL HAVE THE ONFORMATION ABOUT THE EMOS BECAUSE SHE IS A EMO OPEN YOUR EYES LESBIA ……………. STOP DOING POLITICAL

  16. yo says:

    Take a complicated problem, simplify it with ignorance, keep medical & govt healthcare professionals out of it, and do some hand waving; now you are on your way to a solution if not a bigga disaster.

  17. Bzean Momma says:

    Sometimes the road to ruin is paved with good intentions. Organizers of rallies and mass demonstrations against suicides that are reactive in nature must be careful about sparking off a spate of copycat suicides. Young people who are impulsive and seeking attention may see this as the ultimate attention getter. I urge the organizers to seek the advice of people who are trained in this field before they plan something else of this nature.

  18. Belizean100 says:

    Yes, Dr Guerra stop thinking Political…we already know you want to run for Mayor or Area Rep, on the opposition party…I mean we do not need people with hidden intentions involved in delicate matters as such. We need people that come clean. I bow down to Mrs Kelly Guerra for taking the initiative and uniting people with different creed, race, gender, etc. I think it is a social matter where everyone should get actively involved.

  19. garcia says:

    god bless benque viejo del carmen gracias a el pueblo q apoia a todos los benquenos i gracias a erwin contreras q simpre esta apoiando a todos

  20. concernedd citizen!! says:

    LOL!! seems like most ppl commenting are UDP activists! Dr. guerra is just another member of the community! remember she has been the ONLY medical doctor that has remained in the town!! & why shouldn’t she be concerned?,she is also a MOTHER!, and also a FRIEND to those who grief! COME ON PEOPLE! stop being so IGNORANT!! STOP THE BS & LET’S JOIN HANDS TO MAKE BENQUE A BETTER PLACE!

  21. Simply Bzean says:

    I concur, “concernedd citizen”!! But then again, what else can we expect to come out of people’s mouth?? There was no mention about any politics in the whole article and and that is precisely what alters any changes in today’s society. People need to be OPEN MINDED, MATURE & most importantly give RESPECT where and to whom necessary. Dr. G is simply another concerned Benquenia, a human being, who is simply trying to assist the community with the experience and knowledge that she possesses as a medical doctor; which most of us lack!!! Give the lady the credit she deserves for a model in the community; surrender to so much IGNORANCE invading your shallow minds about any politics and stand as a community to assist the youths in need. Know your limits, STOP POINTING FINGERS, & most importantly GROW UP by leaving politics behind and start working TOGETHER AS 1 CONCERNED COMMUNITY!!!!

    Remember: A healthy democracy requires a DECENT society; it requires that we are HONORABLE, GENEROUS, TOLERANT and RESPECTFUL.

  22. frustratedbenqueno says:

    I agree with almost everyone but why are people talking about politics here?
    Did you see tv?
    when the parade was going on.. many people used it for politics and its just stupid.
    i am not defending anyone but many ppl commented here talking about how other people have done a good job… when i cannot see what the heck they have done in the community.? its good to see how some people at least try to give good advice like Dr.G

    we should shut up and sit down
    and listen to what educated and mature people have to say about these problems.

    EMO is a type of culture not a group… These people commit suicide because they have very bad emotions and they have nobody to talk to. just because you dress in black or listen to rock/metal means your a ‘emo’. your just a normal person who likes the type of music and you show your love towards the music

    thank you dr. G and kelly guerra for giving good advice to the youths

    but kelly dont use any more public events for erwin or any other desperate udp candidate

  23. trevin f says:

    soy gordo i feo i ni asi me kiero matar…por ke yo se resolver mis problemas..

  24. edward allen bowen says:

    miss dr lesbia i dont want to hear about plitics and emos…i just want to know about your daughter ianthe becuase we are both emos and we love each other….hop u doing ok suegra jajajaja and for mi brally angelo jijijiojijijijijijiji

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