Let despair not lead ever to suicide . . .

Eleven days into the New Year, a troubling issue that we continue to suppress has once again sadly emerged.

At a time when there is much ado about new beginnings and big expectations for the months ahead, reports came of the unnatural deaths of two young men, believed to have taken their own lives. It was shocking and, no doubt, painful for family, friends and loved ones.

But we have been here before.

Suicide remains a taboo subject in this country, and indeed the unnerving silence has done nothing to reduce the incidence of it.

In 2015, there were more than four suspected cases, including the heart-wrenching incident of 12-year-old student Shemar Weekes who, police reported, was found hanging at his St Lucy home. Despite the public outcry, we again retreated into silence.

Why don’t we talk about suicide?

We aver that stigma and misconceptions contribute to this lack of constructive conversation; but we can no longer cower, especially since no one is being served by our failure to tackle the issue.

Like other disquieting issues –– child abuse and domestic violence –– public awareness and conversation stimulate and force action.

Last week, Senator Rev. Dr David Durant attempted to buck the trend when he publicly lamented the “rise in suicidal tendencies”. Saying he had seen an increase in the number of men and women seeking help because of traumatic experiences, Durant urged Barbadians not to dismiss the issue.

Pastor David Durant
Pastor David Durant

“We need to be more vigilant, more caring and more discerning to people who are around us, who are going through trying situations. Many come to a place of feeling hopeless [and] insecure. Fear . . . is a very big factor in people’s lives if they are not employed and bills are mounting up all the time; if they have gone through some form of rejection like a broken relationship,” the prominent pastor told Barbados TODAY.

Even more startling was his revelation that among those turning to his church for counselling for depression and thoughts of suicide were a growing number of young people –– a clear SOS!

It’s disturbing that our young and brightest would even contemplate such drastic action. We have a responsibility to break the trend.

Those agencies, groups and professionals responsible must step out of their comfort zones to restore hope and peace to troubled souls. It’s not enough to point fingers and talk, or conduct
another study.

The church instantly comes to mind. Certainly this remains the mission and responsibility of the religious who seek to emulate
a higher power.

And then there are families, friends and neighbours.Where do our responsibilities lie in helping those who experience thoughts of suicide?

We accept that the matter is sensitive and is best left in the hands of professionals. Still it’s really relatives, co-workers and friends who will first notice the early signs, or hear of the despair.

It’s no laughing matter when one hears repeated statements of uselessness, wanting to die and having no reason to live; or witness mood swings, isolation, or alcohol or drug abuse.

A lack of compassion or the feigning of ignorance is reckless.
No one sees a fire and ignores it, hoping the next passerby will raise the alarm. We are still our brother’s keeper. We can choose to lend a listening ear, or hold a hand and lead the desolate to the help they desperately need.

As a society we need to reach out and embrace each other more; break down the walls that surround this sensitive issue and seek out help before it’s much too late.

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