In Saint Lucia suicides used to be an uncommon occurrence, accorded to some sort of supernatural spell overcoming the victims. It was all wrapped in voodoo. People had no real understanding of why suicides occurred or the state of mind of the suicide victim which led them to carry out this act. Truth be told, people still do not understand suicide in large measure because they have not been in the individuals’ shoes. The act of taking one’s own life is a religious taboo and against the law in this country.
Time has evolved and more information has been coming to light that tells us how suicides are closely related to depression, great inner pain and turmoil and bipolar conditions. Since 2013 the island is being confronted with alarming statistics capturing so far, ten cases of suicide over the past eighteen months in Saint Lucia and four suicides for the first three months of 2016.
The situation is a culture shock, a stark reality and is mind boggling. Reasons and explanations for the increase and frequency of these acts vary as grieving families and psychotherapists make news appearances while a largely helpless and confused public looks on.
The feelings of helplessness have apparently gripped the authorities too. As we listened to the Member of Parliament for Babonneau Alvina Reynolds on the news, it was clear that once again this official had no answers to the nation’s pressing issues which fall within her portfolio. Never mind that the recent statistics for suicides are highest in Babonneau. And instead of finding out the root cause one of the minister’s mouth pieces Virginia Albert Poyotte blames the media for labelling the community.
To my mind there should have been a robust national response in place one year ago, if not earlier. This very disturbing spate of suicides has been a dark cloud over the country all throughout 2014 and now we hear that a response is being “fast tracked”? Can the political directorate ever accomplish anything in a timely and urgent manner?
Somehow the minister’s comments and facial expression always manages to convey that she is “lost in wonderland”. She has no answers. Perhaps there was a response to be rolled out in the next twenty years but now it will be fast tracked to 2016. Heels –dragging on the suicide crisis here is unacceptable. The Castries Seventh Day Adventist Church on May 15, 2015, almost one year ago mounted a response well before the dawdling Health Minister and Cabinet colleagues can say what they are doing to address this issue on the ground by a particular time frame.
Why a government response you ask? Obviously, the government is responsible for providing sustainable social services in this country. The anti–suicide campaign must be tailored to include in your face, one on one interaction with people; much like the Jehovah Witnesses carry out their home visits. A lot more has to be said and done by all other sectors to implant in the minds of the citizenry that Human Life is way too valuable to end so sadly.