Tuesday, March 5, 2024
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Young people please tell us how to heal the world

This week we focus on the suggestions from different stakeholders as Grenada grapples with the issue of suicide. However, our stand is that the time has come to listen to the young people to understand what is driving them to that state of madness where they will choose to kill themselves sometimes when they can’t have their own way. A statement from the Ministry of Social and Community Development-Statement on Suicide revealed that so far this year, five people have died by suicide, and the goal of the Psycho-Social Support Unit at the Ministry is to reduce the factors that increase suicide risk and promote good mental health and resilience.
Maybe healing the world is the answer as opposed to treatment for people after they start showing signs of mental illness since we all agree that mental illness is real and can happen regardless of age, class, socio-economic background, race, or ethnicity. Depression and anxiety are identified as the most common forms of mental illness which can lead to suicide. So is suicide preventable? Indeed, the present situation requires strategies at all levels of society so let’s bring in the young people to get their take. After a young lawyer seemingly succumbed to the pressures of life and allegedly committed suicide, the Grenada Bar Association has promised to join partners in national development in standing in solidarity to help youthful Grenadians. This is commendable; the more, the merrier. But again we are begging to involve the youth in dealing with this problem.

The Grenadian Voice reached out to International Social Skills and Behaviour Modification Specialist, Dr Neals Chitan for his suggestions to fix the problem. He wrote: “A better place for you and for me!!

Released in 1991 by my favorite pop singer, the hit song “Heal the world” brings a sober reminder of our personal responsibility to help heal the world and make it a better place for you and for me! How do we deal with what seems to be a diabolic virus invading the psyche of our Grenadian people, leaving us afraid, anxious, depressed, homicidal and suicidal? Despite our patriotic pride to refer to our nation as one of the safest spots on the planet, we cannot bury our heads in the sand and ignore nor doubt the numbers. For the year to date, we have recorded almost twice the number of homicides for 2022. This situation is causing thick clouds of sadness, grief and frustration for everyone through the length and breath of Grenada with no sign of abating as we hear, see and intervene in more and more cases of suicidal ideation on a daily basis.

And so, as an International Social and Behavioral Interventionist, the question is posed to me from street corners to media interviews, as to why the sudden incline in suicides and suicide attempts. I listen as colleagues try to answer the concern and attempt to bring hope and settle the psychological unrest that plague our people. The “Copycat syndrome” explanation seems to be a plausible answer used to allay the fear and quiet the soul. However, I think we need to move beyond the copycat answer. The term “Copycat” refers to a thoughtless impulsive following of an action by someone. Surely, I have heard myths like, “it happens in threes” which some use to quiet the fears and rest our minds that it will soon be over. But, where there are two, who wants to be the third one to complete the cycle so that our mind can rest, and we get back our normalcy?

Individuals who are contemplating suicide are not thoughtless!! They are people whose minds are going day and night at a grinding pace searching for answers and coping mechanisms for the pain, trauma and hurt that they’ve been enduring for possibly a long time, if not a lifetime. They reach a point of such darkness and hopelessness that they welcome any form of release, which sometimes come as a result of someone else’s “bravery” to end their own misery. With the belief that no one cares and that the pain is too unbearable, the news of suicide to a fellow suffering soul suggests an option and gives the courage to a sufferer to follow and easily end it all. However, in their quest to avoid the pain, hurt and trauma they feel, they themselves become the source of acute trauma and pain on surviving children, parents, relatives, friends and community, possibly causing others to continue the cycle.

To break the cycle, it would take friends, relatives and neighbors who care and love enough to recognize behavior change, pain, withdrawal and loneliness in people and lovingly engage them at a personal level, letting them know that they really care about them, while putting an arm of support around them and referring them to trained professionals who can help them process the pain.

To model my own advice, I have stepped out of the crowd and organized community meetings and sessions, teaching folks about the causes of trauma and emotional pain while also exposing the red flags of mental illness so that as friends, relatives, neighbors and community we can be more enlightened so that as Michael Jackson said “together we can heal the world and make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race” God bless our nation!!


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