GUYANA: How Guyana Is Trying to Combat Its High Suicide Rate

October 20, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

BBC News

Efforts are underway to improve mental health outcomes and reduce suicide deaths in Guyana, which has the highest suicide rate of any country in the world. According to the World Health Organization, there are 44.2 suicide deaths per 100,000 Guyanese inhabitants, compared to a global average of 16. The factors that may contribute to the country’s suicide rate include a severe shortage of behavioral health services, lack of economic opportunity, and access to lethal agricultural pesticides. Negative associations with mental illness are also prevalent, which the Guyana Foundation has sought to address through community centers that offer wellness programs, training courses, and free counseling services. Anthony Autar, the managing director of one such center, emphasized the importance of skill acquisition and social connectedness in combating suicide. “When considering mental health issues, we also look at people’s ability to contribute to society. Learning a skill like catering or floral arrangement can improve their sense of worth and outlook for the future.” He added, “We often find people who come here are isolated and don’t have many strong connections. We encourage students to build friendships with each other; those relationships can help save someone’s life if they’re feeling suicidal.”

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