The Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Cornelius A. Smith, appealed to Bahamians to tear down the walls of stigma and silence that surround suicide, learn the warning signs, talk about the epidemic and become a part of the solution.
“Take the time to notice the changes in friends, family and colleagues: take the time to ask, that the time talk and take time to care. One small act like the decision to reach out to your neighbor, the offer of support to a friend, or the encouragement of someone in need to seek help can make a difference. It can save a life,” he said.
The Governor General addressed a Tea & Talk reception hosted by the Public Hospitals Authority (Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre) in conjunction with Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization/Americas in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at Government House. The theme for the event was “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.”
The Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands also addressed the event. He referred to results of the Ministry’s publication of the national STEP survey being conducted to assess health habits and risk factors for diseases. (STEP, is a simple, standardized method for collecting, analyzing and disseminating data in World Health Organization member countries.)
He said the results indicate that more than 17,000 Bahamians (6.3 percent of the adult population) have “seriously” considered attempting suicide in the last year. He is somewhat relieved that the number of suicides reported in the local news for 2019 (six) does not compare to the number of 2.6 percent of those surveyed who indicated that they had a suicide plan.
“Even one suicide is one too many. Suicide is devastating and has far-reaching effects on the family, community and country,” said Minister Sands. “We are all touched by the aftermath of suicide. Some struggle with grief, others are plagued by confusion, guilt, anger and disbelief. What is even more insidious are those presently dealing with thoughts and feelings of suicide; those having to suffer in silence. I refer again to the findings of our STEP survey where thousands of brothers and sisters are silently struggling with thoughts of suicide.”
Minister Sands said suicide is a multifaceted issue that requires a combined effort from everyone to reduce it. He expressed optimism that the event would provide a constructive forum for sharing information, breaking down the stigma of illness and suicide, and fostering collaboration among those in the community and healthcare system.
World Suicide Prevention Day is observed annually on September 10 to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent incidences of suicide. It’s been six years since The Bahamas has joined in recognizing the day.
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