Government officials, religious leaders unite against suicide, domestic violence

GINA, Guyana, Saturday, September 17, 2016

Several government officials including Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, leaders from across all religious backgrounds and members of civil society gathered on Friday evening at the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex (ACIC) for “Voices against Violence Candlelight Vigil”.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and wife, Sita Nagamootoo with representatives of The Caribbean Voice at the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex’s vigil

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and wife, Sita Nagamootoo with representatives of The Caribbean Voice at the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex’s vigil

The event which highlighted the need for all stakeholders to play their part in the fight against violence, suicide and other social ills in society was organised by the ACIC in collaboration with The Caribbean Voice (TCV).

Held under the theme, ‘Connect, Communicate, Care’, the vigil was an initiative that intended to send a strong message to communities involved in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well-being.

Delivering the feature address at the event in the lecture hall of the complex, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo congratulated the ACIC and the TCV for planning the event.

“It is a great educational session, there are things said here this evening that I have not heard said before and with such simplicity addressing the issue of domestic violence, the issue of suicide, the issue of alcohol abuse, drug abuse as well.”

The Prime Minister appealed to the gathering to get involved in trying to save the life of a loved one, who might be a victim of domestic violence or someone who is affected by issues which can lead them to commit suicide.

“There is no one cause of suicide, suicide is sometimes done for the most pathetic reasons. I have had suicide in my family, one committed suicide for the sake of love. There is no such thing as love suicide, it is death and not love and even if you play around and if you play around or fool around, you can do that with any other thing, not your life,” the Prime Minister advised.

Prime Minister Nagmootoo explained that there is a great need to communicate, “Speak to each other, identify members of your family who are depressed, who might have a problem, try to help them solve the problem because you have one life and that life should be treated as a treasure.”

A section of the gathering at the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex’s vigil

A section of the gathering at the Anna Catherina Islamic Complex’s vigil

Representing Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Ally, Government member of Parliament John Adams said suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, but suicide eliminates the possibilities of it getting better.

“We need to rid our country of this scourge, it is now a national epidemic, it has no race, and it affects everyone. Last week we were in Region Six where we set up a regional committee that will deal with suicide. I trust that after we leave here tonight, the ACIC, along with the regional administration for Region Three can have a committee in place to deal with suicide to see how best we help those persons who are troubled.”

Adams stated that, “our Government is willing to work with any organisation that decides to help in saving lives. We need to put an end to suicide and these lights that we lit tonight must give us hope, all is not lost.”

Representing the Regional Executive Officer, Denis Jaikarran, Assistant Regional Executive Officer, Hardyal Hardatt, said officials of the 14 neighbourhood democratic councils within Region Three must be involved and engaged in the process of saving lives since they deal more directly with the residents.

“It is wise that we get them onboard so we can have a broad base within the region and the committees that we will form… life needs to be preserved and promoted so we have to sensitise our people and do that in the correct way,” the AREO said.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and wife Sita Nagamootoo

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and wife Sita Nagamootoo

In his remarks, Mental Health Therapist, Dr. Mark Constantine said Guyana has seen a startling rise in the number of suicide cases that have many families, friends, and even the nation, questioning why.

Dr Constantine expressed his belief that many people die by suicide because depression is triggered by several negative life experiences, and the person does not receive help, for that condition.

“Know what the symptoms of depression are and remember that any untreated mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and others, may cause suicide,” Dr Constantine advised.

In his remarks, Malcolm Harripaul who represented the Ministry of the Presidency called on the gathering and stakeholders to take a stand against domestic violence and suicide in Guyana since they leads to destruction of society.

Reverend Ronald Mc Garrell, representing the Universal Peace Federation called on the gathering to play a more serious role in engaging their children to find out the issues affecting them so the worst case scenario can be avoided.

General President of the ACIC, Hakeem Khan, in providing an overview of the initiative stated that the overall objective is to begin the process of community taking ownership for its safety.

“That process is expected to also create the environment for NGOs to collaborate with community leaders and organisations to hold community empowerment sessions and help implement anti-violence training,” Khan said.