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Sep 7, 2017

Challenging the epidemic of suicide

Our viewers have probably noticed that this news station does not regularly report suicides. We understand how this can lead people to believing that Belizeans are rarely taking or attempting to take their own lives. That – is not the case.  While we restrain from covering suicides in the news to prevent copycat suicides; according to the World Health Organization approximately one million persons globally die each year as a result of suicide. That’s why on September tenth, there is a recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day. While we are in celebration mode this weekend, health professionals are hoping that you will “Take a Minute; Change a Life”


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

When a person makes a decision to take their own life, family and loved ones are left with a multitude of unanswered questions. It is a painful loss that many prefer not to talk about. But there needs to be a discussion; so that we can save the lives of others who may be contemplating similar actions. This is one reason why since 2003 organizations across began commemorating World Suicide Prevention Day and since 2013Belizehas joined in.  Juliet Simmons is a Counselor with the Mental Health Program of the Ministry of Health.. She explains why suicide is just as much a problem inBelizeas the rest of the world.


Juliet Simmons, Counselor, Mental Health Program, MOH

Juliet Simmons

“It is a very concerning situation for us especially for us at the Ministry of Health. Think globally, we have suicide being the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds and its also alarming for us here inBelizethat is the same age group it is common among. Why we have such a day, we all believe suicide is preventable. So thats the first message I want to be out there. It is 100% preventable. We need to take the warning signs very seriously.”


Suicides are deemed preventable as more often that not; there are warning signs. One of the greatest red flag is an attempted suicide.


Juliet Simmons

“If someone is talking about I’m so unhappy, I feel worthless, there is no hope for me anymore. That a sign they may have suicidal thoughts. Uf someone says I think I’m better off dead. That is a definite red flag and we have to respond to that. So what we want for anyone who hears they’re loved one, someone they care about, they work with, taken them very seriously and don’t just brush it off that this will pass too. They start to say goodbyes. They write their goodbye letters, they give their favorite things away to you. If you are wary to any means to suicide, to a firearm to pesticides; that is also a major concern.”


In celebrating this day, the Ministry of Health & the Mental Health Association are hoping people will recognize the extent of the problem inBelizeand how they can help.


Joyce Ellis, Administrator, Welcome Resource Center

Joyce Ellis

“It’s important Marleni because we never know. Something may happen this moment and we don’t know the state of mind because suite has to do with some sort of mental issue its not just that you decide you know what I want to get rid of myself. It has to be something prolonging something nagging that will bring on those suicidal thoughts. Everyone have known someone who has committed suicide so lets be mindful that and on the 10th of September during all this celebration take a moment to think about suicide. The amount loss we have in our country and by extension the world.”


Juliet Simmons

“Keep in mind theres also the impulsive the acts and that is where the means to suicide is a big part because if you are impulsive and if there is firearm or pesticides nearby they might act. But if these people are also talking to that friend who is listening can do a lot right in that few minutes there to convince them to let them know that they are loved; they are cared about and there are people in this country who can help them who have helped other people in the past and that have evidence that this can work.”

Simmons says the Ministry of Health is exploring mitigation strategies from a policy standpoint as well.


Juliet Simmons

“Reduce the means of suicide. So we are working very hard with other stakeholders to working on controlling pesticides and firearms because are two common means; there are other means as well – we are all aware of that – but those are common ones we can control. We need to work on the health system response. How we respond to people who are in crisis. We need to know all our frontline personal are aware and trained to handle these crisis and know how To do their part and make the referral to the professionals.”


The day is being celebrated under the theme: “Take a Minute; Change a Life”


Joyce Ellis

“Just by intervening in a situation you could actually hinder or help someone from committing suicide just by doing what I do everyday with my participants – a feelings check. And because we know them one on one we would know that he or she is in some sort of distress and we see how we can assist them. It takes less than a minute to check in with an individual to see what is happening with them during the day and at the feelings check I notice really changes modes and moods for the individual.”


Juliet Simmons

“What people want to know is that someone cares about that and that listening ear right there can change the course of life.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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