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Sep 8, 2022

Recognizing World Suicide Prevention Day 2022

September tenth is recognised worldwide as Suicide Prevention Day and starting today, Belizeans have been wearing the colour yellow to bring awareness to the issue. Now here at this station, we don’t normally report on acts of suicides, but in tonight’s newscast, we speak to professionals in the private and public sectors about suicide prevention services that are in place. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

During this time of the year, there is a focus on suicide prevention as the world, including Belize, heightens the awareness on this issue. It is also during this time that the country records an increase in the number of deaths by suicide.


Juliet Simmons

Juliet Simmons, Psychologist, Mental Health Program, M.O.H.W.

“World Suicide Prevention Day is actually September tenth, so you know countries around the globe are doing many different activities to build more awareness on how we can prevent suicide. At the mental health program at the Ministry of Health and Wellness that doesn’t stop us. We continue to push out agenda. We need to continue to educate the public on how we can prevent suicide.”


According to data, thirty-one deaths by suicide were recorded in 2021; it’s the highest number in recent years. Of those cases, only six were women; twenty-five were men who chose a more lethal method like a gun to the head rather than ingesting pills or poison. Women, however, are making more attempts.


Juliet Simmons

“There’s different mental health conditions that could impact a person to the point that they have suicidal thoughts. The most common one would be major depression disorder. Once somebody has depression, a severe depression, it is highly likely they will have suicidal thoughts. And once there is attempt, a person has attempted once, the risk is even greater for that person. So we have to continue working with that person to prevent another attempt or to prevent the death.”


…and according to psychologist Juliet Simmons, there are conditions such as schizophrenia, bi-polar and some of personality disorders as well, so mental health illness is a big factor in suicide gestures. News Five sat down with Mental Health Counsellor and Managing Director Christa Courtenay of Monarch Counselling and Consulting. She speaks about some of the signs to look out for.

Christa Courtenay

Christa Courtenay, Mental Health Counsellor

“One is isolation; it’s a main one. You find some people you feel like they are isolating, maybe they are just an introvert, but it is always okay just to ask. If you see somebody pulling away, not participating, especially if they use to and now it is a change in behaviour or a shift, those are things we want to pay attention to. If it is someone used to be more shy and now they are taking more risky behaviour or really acting out. Any major shift is something that we want to pay attention to. Not all mental health conditions will lead to having suicidal thoughts or ideations or creating a plan or even attempting, but you do find that often when people don’t get the help that they need or they start to feel very alone and isolated or they are really fighting to try and deal with their issues but they are not making progress, they get really tired and that often leads to sometimes the suicidal attempts or thoughts. And expressing that someone, you can be really afraid that they are not going to know how to react or respond and so they tend not to. So if we make it more safe for people to say I am not okay.”


There are school counsellors in almost all high schools across the country and they are trained in how to recognise the signs for suicide, how to start the conversation and when to make the referrals to clinics and other professionals. Courtenay and Simmons say that there are services available in the private and public sector for persons to get help.
Christa Courtenay

“ is the website that we put together; we are always updating it as we get more information or there are more providers. So we try to keep information on private clinicians who are available that you can access and what their fees are who accepts insurance, etc. And also public resources and especially as the ministry works to expand them to make them a lot more robust in the districts, not just in the city, those things will also be updated on the site often.”


Juliet Simmons

“We are proud of what we’ve done, but there is still a long way to go. So services, there’s more services today than there were fifteen or twenty years ago.”


On Saturday, the public is asked to remember those who have been lost to suicide and those still breathing by lighting a candle at eight p.m.  Duane Moody for News Five.

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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