Dr. Fenton Ferguson was speaking at a Seminar held in commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day 2015 on September 10, 2015 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
“The important message that we want to reinforce is that suicides are preventable and there has to be a concerted and unified effort to deal with this problem. Multiple sectors, including health, education, labor, agriculture, security and business have a role to play in suicide prevention,” he said.
He noted that although Jamaica’s suicide rate still remains relatively low, we must work together to put the necessary measures in place and be proactive to prevent suicide and save lives, since every suicide is preventable and every life is important.
Some warning signs and symptoms of suicide include:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a weapon.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
“We therefore urge persons not to take signs and symptoms lightly, but to talk to a friend or call the various Regional Health Authorities, the Ministry of Health head office or visit their local mental health clinics, health centres and hospitals if they need assistance,” Dr. Ferguson stated.
The Ministry of Health currently has 139 community mental health clinics island-wide, across all parishes. In addition to this, all general clinics offer screening and treatment or referral for common mental health disorders including depression. There are also 20 child guidance clinics island-wide to facilitate children and adolescents and an Assertive Outreach Programme which brings mental health care to communities and also connects them to existing services.
World Suicide Day 2015 was celebrated under the theme “Preventing Suicides – reaching out and saving lives”. This year’s Seminar was held in partnership with Choose Life International which has donated 1000 copies of the book “Confronting Suicide: Helping Teens at Risk” to the Jamaica Library Service for placement across the island.