Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob, in commemorating the 16 days of activism against domestic violence, has said five times more men commit suicide a year than women.
“We have approximately 20 women per year who have committed suicide, but we have about five times that number of men doing it,” he said on Friday. “We tend to only look at the females, but we have to pay attention to the men also. There is something that is causing our men to commit suicide.”
He spoke to Newsday during a walkabout in downtown Port of Spain with officers of the Special Victims Department and personnel from the Ministry of Social Development. The participants shared flyers on spotting the signs that someone may be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.
While there were no flyers on suicide, ACP Sharon Cooper said the flyers also highlighted signs that would indicate whether someone is having suicidal thoughts.
“Since we started today with the 16 days of activism against domestic violence, we are not just looking at women, but everyone,” she said.
Statistics from Mind Wise – a non-profit organisation focused on improving access to mental health resources in Trinidad and Tobago – show between 2015 and 2020 there were 586 reports of suicide. It said suicide rates could be highest in people over 70 and men, who are twice as likely to commit suicide than women. In TT 89 per cent of the reports of suicide from January-August 2021 were men and boys, the youngest of whom was nine. In 2020, 80 per cent of the suicides were boys or men.
Adolescent girls from 15-19 years old take their own lives at the same rate as boys, said the Mind Wise statistics.
The acting commissioner said the police intend to ensure every aspect of domestic violence is treated with the same respect. But he said they needs the public’s support.
“One of the ways to gain that support is to make them aware of the issues, what is really required and what service we provide, not just from the police, but from the ministry.”
In an earlier report by a joint select committee on domestic violence, Senator Paul Richards revealed that from March 2020-March 2022 there were 4,857 reports of domestic violence.
Jacob said there is still hope for people who are so overwhelmed they are thinking of suicide.
"There are people who are trained with the ability and know-how who can guide them and get them away from that thinking of hurting others or themselves," he said.
Anyone who needs help because of suicidal felings can call Lifeline (24-hour hotline) at 800-5588, 231-2824, or 220-3636.
In case of an emergency (attempted suicide), people can call 990, 811 or 999.