-but debunks a media report of 82 suicides on the Essequibo Coast in 2013

(QUOTE) “This is an issue that is really scary at the moment, and I must say this issue is more scary than anything else when it comes to suicidal behaviour. And according to our analysis has become a trend and trends are not very easy to reverse, because the whole idea of trend tends to take on a new mental state of awareness.” Dr Simon.

THE findings of a study conducted by the Guyana-based American University of Research (AUOR) on ‘Suicide Prevention and Self-Awareness in the Essequibo’ has found that suicides now constitute such a grave problem locally, that serious intervention is needed to stem the increase of suicidal behaviour in our land.

The study was done on the Essequibo Coast during the first week of February by a team of Researchers from the AUOR headed by President, Dr. Eton Simon. The study sought to determine the prevalence and root causes of suicide, and to map out strategies aimed at preventing the spread of suicide in the Essequibo.

The Study

Dr. Simon, who presented the findings to the media at the AUOR offices last Wednesday, while acknowledging that suicide has become a dangerous trend locally, nevertheless debunked the statistics appearing in a news story in a section of the media last month claiming that for the year 2013 there were 82 suicides in the Essequibo.

On the contrary, the AUOR study conducted from Supenaam to Charity, Essequibo Coast supported by statistics from the Records Department of the Suddie Hospital spanning 2009 to 2013 showed that for 2013, 16 people died as a result of suicide and not 82.
Heading the 13-member team of researchers was Dr. Eton Simon, President of AUOR, along with Dr. Yeaswantie Beckhoo; Ms. Leila Ramson, Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission, Ms. Aisha Mc Doom Singh; Jenel Williams, Project Officer and Psychology Student; Zairol Neisha,Co-ordinator, Guyana Professional Counselling Association and Adviser/Mediator in the High Court. Other participants included students of psychology at AUOR.

The project was funded solely by the American University of Research, a research, analysis and consultant institute, whose objective is to conduct research to find the root cause of social problems.

Suicide data:

Suicide data presented by the research team revealed the following figures over a 5-year period: For 2009 – 21 deaths; 2010 – 18 deaths; 2011 -17 deaths; 2012 – 20 deaths; and 2013 – 16 deaths. Notwithstanding that fact, reported attempted suicides were: for 2009 – 65; for 2010 – 90; for 2011 – 80; for 2012 -150; and 2013 – 113.

Causes: Of the total of 92 suicides over the five-year period 2009 to 2013, 67 were by poison ingestion, while 25 were by hanging – numbers which all point to the fact that, according to Dr. Simon, suicide has become a trend, and constitutes a serious problem locally.

Trend: “This is an issue that is really scary at the moment, and I must say this issue is more scary than anything else when it comes to suicidal behaviour. And according to our analysis has become a trend and trends are not very easy to reverse, because the whole idea of trend tends to take on a new mental state of awareness,” Dr. Simon disclosed.

He said based on that mental state of awareness it becomes an addiction. And that addiction will take tremendous input to reverse, adding: “So I strongly believe that serious intervention must be given, to stem the increase of suicidal behaviour in Guyana.”

He gave examples of trends in Guyana and what these lead to, making reference to the culture of dumping garbage at street corners, in alleyways, in front of businesses and even a church cited. The end result is that it eventually gets into people’s psyche, and eventually they begin to pass garbage strewn along the way, without making any big deal of it.

Trends, Professor Simon noted, are behaviour patterns that consume the human mind and when those trends consume the human mind they become very difficult to reverse.

He pointed to other dangerous trends being embraced in our culture, such as alcoholism, stressing that we need to be aware of them, because once they become ‘trend’ — it means that individuals would have become addicted to that behaviour and it’s not easy to reverse. “That is why we need to be very cognizant of these trends – these abnormal behaviours that are manifested in this culture today,” he reiterated.
Appalled at what came out of the news article on suicide in the Essequibo, Dr. Simon said the AUOR-led team, travelled to the region, conducted the research and further took the initiative to perform a pioneering role in addressing suicide.

In Essequibo a total of 2,370 people-12 years and older were interviewed, including parents, students’ teachers, persons who have themselves attempted suicide; random sampling from the public; as well as visits were made to public places where the team interacted with friends of persons who attempted suicide.

The team of researchers held workshops and counselling sessions with various target groups including an Amerindian Captain and his tribe at Wyaka in the Essequibo;

The team did a television presentation on suicide; held coaching and workshops on suicide prevention and other social issues with students and staff of the New Opportunity Corps (a remedial school); with persons who had attempted suicide, as well as their relatives.

Why people commit suicide: The AUOR cited reasons for committing suicide as including: Frustration, unemployment; domestic issues/domestic violence; relationship issues; peer pressure; bullying; parent/child conflict; child abuse; sexual abuse depression/stress.
Dr. Simon cautioned that in dealing with problems there are two basic approaches: Dealing with the symptoms, which is reactive or instinctive behaviour, which invariably people do, and land themselves into deeper problems; or ‘getting to the root cause’ which is in effect, the source of the problem.

“If you want to find the solution to problems you should look for the root cause of that problem, which is the underlying issue. When we start looking at the source – we come to the place where we would find the seed or foundation that was planted in the mind,” he emphasised.
Findings of the American University Research:

* Statistics from the last five years have revealed that a large number of persons have attempted suicide. Further information to be revealed by Dr, Beckhoo
* Technological advance has created an imbalance between parents and children
* Relationships and domestic issues are also vital contributing factors to suicide rates.
* The age range of the majority of suicide victims was from 12 – 20.
* The majority of persons who have attempted or committed suicide are males.

Future Plans:

The team has gathered extensive information on suicidal behaviour and is also in the process of designing a strategic plan to reduce this abnormal behaviour, which includes ‘user technology’. The University will establish a ‘Counselor-on-demand’ system, whereby a person can just punch in a code and have live counselling from one of the University’s counselors. And this is because of the realisation that persons have a stigma when it comes to mental health.

* Self-awareness and self-development training are also on the cards.
* Creating Youth Awareness group to work with other youths to share knowledge on self-awareness and self-development.

Recommendations:

Residents recommended: Establishment of Counselling Centres and recreational facilities; creation of more jobs to address the unemployment issue which proved to be a root cause of suicide; sensitisation on suicide through the use of TV programmes; formation of youth groups, outreach programmes to individuals and families.

AUOR recommended: TV programmes, establishment of community centres; social awareness training; self-development training; coaching; establishment of youth clubs, counselling; and religious involvement.

CONCLUSION:

The American University of Research concludes that the fundamental sources of suicide include: genetic/biological factors; cultural factors; psychological factors and environmental factors. It sums up that: “The lack of effective mental processing is the root cause of all suicidal behaviour, since all abnormal behaviours are psychologically induced and mental processing is the key.”

Dr. Eton Simon is president of the American University of Research, a research, analysis and consultant institute (based in the United States), whose objective is to conduct research to find the root cause of social problems. The Guyana branch, the American University of Peace Studies, was established in 2003 and has been here for more than 10 years.

[by Shirley Thomas][via Guyana Chronicle]
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