FOR TOO long, suicide has been a shadowy almost taboo topic, lurking in the dark corners of society. But this needs to change.
“Talking about suicide opens the conversation and reduces stigma,” Wendy Jeremie, of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists (TTAP), said as she spoke on Saturday at the association’s latest community seminar.
With statistics that show a suicide every two days in this country, Jeremie said the association wants to point to these realities as well as long-held taboos, stigmatization and misconceptions which shows a need for suicide and suicide prevention as being topics which need to be pushed to the front of the national discourse.
Dr Katija Khan a clinical psychologist and UWI lecturer told participants at the seminar held at the Duranta Community Centre in Sangre Grande that TT has the third highest suicide rate in the region. Khan noted the general lack of understanding surrounding the topic and said people need to know that suicide has no “face” but transcends age, race, religion and socioeconomic background.
Equally important is the need for greater awareness of the multiple causes of suicide and that people susceptible to suicidal thoughts are not only limited to those with mental health challenges. More prominent but lesser discussed causes of suicide include domestic disputes and the misuse of alcohol.
“Read between the lines and recognize red flags,” Khan advised, adding that danger signs could include both verbal and non-verbal cues.
Clinical Psychologist and TTAP member Victoria Siewnarine-Geelalsingh, in her address, said people need to be empathetic to those who may have suicidal thoughts and how one approaches such a situation can be key to providing much needed help and hope. If you identify someone as possibly having suicidal thoughts the key thing is to employ empathy, active listening and compassion.
Hadiya Rodolfo who attended the seminar with her father, said the seminar was an important one in that it opened the minds of participants on the need to better treat with suicide and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. She encouraged more families to attend such seminars.
World Suicide Prevention Day was observed yesterday and as the TTAP moves to host more Suicide Awareness and Prevention seminars and related activities in the coming weeks its stated goal is for people to understand that suicide is preventable.
Anyone in need of help or who may know of others who need help can call the 24 hour Lifeline Hotline at 645-2800 or the Alive (suicide hotline) at 688-8525 or 650-5270. In addition, a psychologist can be sourced at www.psychologytt.org.