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Sep 13, 2021

Suicide Prevention: High Stress Occupations and Risk Factors

You may have missed it over the holiday weekend, but the Tenth of September was also World Suicide Prevention Day.  A joint release from the National Commission for Families and Children and the Special Envoy says they join the global observance of the day which is designed to raise awareness and provide a worldwide commitment to preventing suicide. In Belize, the statistics from 2020 show there were thirty-two suicides in Belize—twenty-three males and nine females. But of those who attempted suicide, the women outnumbered the men with fifty women and forty-six men trying to kill themselves. This morning on Channel Five’s Open Your Eyes, Leon Leslie, a clinical psychologist address the issue of suicide prevention in Belize.  Among the questions posed by the hosts was in regard to last week’s announcement by the commissioner of Belize that almost twenty officers were being monitored or on “suicide watch.” Leslie says the police officers and those in other high-stress jobs do need support and counseling.


Leon Leslie

Leon Leslie, Community Counseling Center

“The police, along with nurses, B.D.F., so its not only the police, but what I am seeing with these people, they work under a high stress environment. Belize, and we are still lacking in that area, we provide only through the EAP Program, Employee Assistance Program, assistance for these officers. If they do not want to come in willingly, they go through the EAP. They work, as I said, you’re on the frontline; imagine coming close to someone and you don’t even know if that person has COVID. Imagine things running through your head, “What if this person has COVID, I catch it, I take it home.” So there is a lot that processes in people’s mind that we don’t see that playing through cause how this is the way you think, and it happens so fast it’s almost like automatic in your head. When these officers discharge a weapon, for example, or even respond to a murder scene. These officers, in my opinion, and I hope we reach that point, should be given counseling for a period of time, given a time off. Take a week or two. Let’s see that you’re not experiencing any trauma. To see a dead body or to be around the smell, it is a lot. To respond to dealing with an intoxicated youth, for example, it is a lot because you have to maintain your patience. And at some point, as a human being, your emotions need to be addressed and a lot of them don’t address. They use coping mechanisms with whatever they know how to. In Belize sadly, our coping mechanism is consuming alcohol.”


According to the NCFC, suicide has several complete and underlying triggers which can range from the fallout from arguments, living in poverty, unemployment, feelings of hopelessness and the pain felt after the loss of a loved one. The NCFC urges all Belizeans to reduce the stigma associated with suicide and promote mental well being. 

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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