New screening tool to identify self-harm/suicide cases

GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Mental Health Unit of the Ministry of Health has recognised that the rate of self-harm, classified as attempted suicide in Guyana is more than double the rate of actual suicide cases.

Self-harm which can lead to suicide is deliberate self-inflicted injury to an individual which is typically a manifestation of a psychological or psychiatric disorder

The Mental Health Unit will therefore be embarking on a measure to reduce or even eliminate the instances of attempted suicide and self-harm. The unit will be implementing a self-harm screening tool that will identify and counsel persons who have attempted suicide or practised self-harm.

The screening toll is a questionnaire which will aid in the fight against suicide. Director of the Mental Health unit, Dr. Util Richmond-Thomas revealed that the pilot screening tool is expected to be rolled out in three major hospitals in Regions Two, Three and Six.

Dr Util Richmond-Thomas, Director Mental Health Unit, Ministry of Public Health.

“We have developed a tool for detecting persons who are indulging in self-harm and we will be piloting it soon, we will be piloting it in three hospitals; West Demerara Regional Hospital, Suddie Hospital and New Amsterdam Hospital. The aim is not only to get statistics or to get data; the most important aim is really to treat because when we find these persons we’re going to make sure that they get the treatment that they need,” the director explained.

These three regions, combined, account for more than 50 percent of the attempted suicide cases in Guyana.

Meanwhile, a recent breakdown of suicide cases per region shows that Region Six accounts for 30.9 per cent of suicide deaths in Guyana while Region Three is second with 22 per cent, and Region Two, 13.4 per cent.

The screening tool will also serve as a data gathering element which will guide the MoPH in effectively providing services needed to target areas to combat suicide. It must be noted that all information provided by persons taking the questionnaire will be treated with strict confidence, protecting their identities.

Persons identified as those more prone to commit suicide or have recurrences of self-harm will be given the necessary treatment.

Dr. Richmond-Thomas said, “For every one suicide there has been about 20 attempts at least, so people practice a lot before they actually get the courage to commit the final act so it means that if we can have good control over the persons who are indulging in self-harm, not only will we improve greatly their quality of life, but we will also make a significant impact on the suicide rate.”

Additionally, psychiatric services are offered at the National Psychiatric Hospital in Berbice and the psychiatric clinic at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, and will continually be available to persons who may have been diagnosed with a mental disorder which would make them prone to suicide.

Additionally, outreach services from the Mental Health Unit, referred to as satellite clinics by, will be rolled out in various hinterland regions targeting those cases that are mostly unattended and unable to seek treatment on the coast.

By: Delicia Haynes

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