Why are so many Saint Lucians killing themselves?

On Tuesday this week a decomposing body discovered at an address in Garrand, Babonneau was identified as that of 50-year-old farmer Antoine Henry. Relatives claimed Henry had lately not been himself and had talked about taking his own life. No one believed he was serious.

On Thursday, chartered accountant Frank Myers, in a televised interview, said most people who kill themselves do so because they believe their lives are not worth living, and are convinced their situation will not improve. Asked if he thought the Saint Lucia situation was related to unemployment, Myers referred to suicides in America and other developed countries where people had killed themselves because they could not face the future as they imagined it. He said joblessness was a leading factor.

Meanwhile, in Saint Lucia, suicide continues to be politicized. While government supporters seek to deny any connection with the island’s dismal unemployment figures, those supportive of the opposition party point to the fact that over the last few years the suicide rate has been nothing short of shocking. In 2012 the island recorded fourteen suicides; there were eleven in 2013 and then 15 in 2014. So far this year there have been five. These figures do not take into account the number of attempted suicides, which is on the increase.

Joanna Joseph, the director of Turning Point and the Wellness Centre, on Thursday addressed the suicide issue during an interview with Calabash TV.

“We have been aware for a while now that depression is on the rise,” she said. She had also noted an increase in the number of suicides. Joseph further acknowledged that currently there seem to be more mentally disturbed individuals “on the street.”

She added: “We have been aware of the suicide crisis but are in no position to say precisely why people were taking their own lives. We do know that suicide usually comes at the end of depression. It may be the last phase of depression.”

Joseph explained that while other conditions can contribute to depression, it could not reasonably be denied that Saint Lucia’s economic situation is a prime factor. She said: “It is a fact that what people complain about most is their financial situation at this time. People are experiencing a lot of financial hardship and that affects sleep. The most vulnerable are falling between the cracks.”

She urged people to use the toll free hotline [203] to seek help while adding that the helpline is only part of the response. “We need people to understand that mental problems must be treated with the same urgency given victims of vehicular accidents.”

Joseph advised that chronic insomnia, as well as over-sleeping, could be initial signs of depression. From there, she says, persons may reach a point they consider altogether hopeless.

“We need to take depression a lot more seriously than we do at this time,” Joseph advised. “Ignoring the indicators could lead to suicide. We need to quit laughing when people say they will kill themselves.

Since men are evidently more likely to commit suicide, Joseph advised that they be taken seriously when they speak of harming themselves for whatever reason.”

On September 10 Saint Lucia will join the rest of the world in observing World Suicide Prevention Day. The Ministry of Health, through
the Wellness Centre, has organized a number of activities around the theme “Preventing Suicides, Reaching Out, Saving Lives.”

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One Response to Why are so many Saint Lucians killing themselves?

  1. Finbar Sonny-Richards says:

    I would willingly contribute in any way possible to the work and initiatives organised by Ms Joseph in memory of my dear half-brother Bowring who it was reported to me took his own life in 1996, what was also unfortunate I was only informed of his death a year after the event.
    But truly in such circumstances there is an underlying fear that delays to inform immediate family indicate the death may have occurred by fowl means and as always it is always the family of the deceased you suffer with some form of ill-health and post traumatic symptoms in search of an answer and in need of support.
    Failing the good nature of immediate spouses,how are relatives living abroad informed about death in their family in St Lucia ?. Are there press reports, post-mortem analysis etc. available.

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