THE deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have sent sent shock waves through the world, reflected in news and social media. The suicides have resulted in numerous social media posts and articles being done on mental health. Mental health/disability advocate; public health practitioner, media and communications specialist and founder of CreateBetterMinds, Caroline C. Ravello says people who commit suicide should not be seen as selfish.
She told Newsday there is no real number to reflect those suffering with anxiety and depression in TT. “Because we know statistics are necessary, we throw around figures a lot, but we have not engaged a national benchmarking of mental health in TT. It is an important place at which we must start, because if we have the statistics, we can then have an evidence base for prevention. TT is still in a reactionary mode.”
She said most of the services being offered in TT, however, have people who are committed to assisting those who are suffering.
“I think the broader issue is that mental health still remains stigmatised in TT.” She said the lack of education and engagement by the State greatly impacts the continued stigmatisation of mental health being widely discussed, unlike programmes and campaigns promoting physical health. She said this results in a reduction in the likelihood of those in need of help comfortably seeking assistance, which is not so much the case in countries where the State invests in organisations that promote mental health and provide help for those suffering. “When we speak of mental health in TT, people think of mental illness. Mental health is the health of everyone with a mind, therefore mental health is important to everyone. It is frightening how stigmatised it still is in TT.”
Ravello said it is good that people have expressed concern for mental health today in response to Bourdain’s suicide death. She said it is unfortunate that not enough people are taking note of the people close to them who are suffering. The non-governmental organisation she directs is one which conducts training across the island. A core focus of their training is the identification of someone suffering, and ways of helping.
As someone who has suffered with anxiety and depression herself, Ravello said it is not reasonable to say that people who resort to suicide are selfish. “When someone suicides – even though they love their family– deciding to suicide is because the pain the person is carrying feels like it is too much to carry.”