It is the walk not talk that makes the crit­i­cal dif­fer­ence

Stabroek News - - EDITORIAL -

The Caribbean Voice (TCV) notes Ms An­nie Bali­ram’s mis­sive cap­tioned ‘I have ad­vanced a fun­da­men­tal hy­poth­e­sis on sui­cide’ in Stabroek News of Septem­ber 11 in re­sponse to our cor­rec­tions to in­ac­cu­ra­cies and over­sights in her orig­i­nal let­ter on sui­cide in Guyana. TCV has no in­ter­est in any on­go­ing de­bate with Ms Bali­ram and cer­tainly has no in­ten­tion of nit­pick­ing, en­gag­ing in se­man­tics or ar­gu­ing in the ab­stract while the sui­cide con­ta­gion stalks our na­tion. For us, time, ef­forts and re­sources are best de­ployed in do­ing what is of paramount im­por­tance, sav­ing lives and em­pow­er­ing peo­ple.

Suf­fice it is for us to say that The Caribbean Voice has to­tal con­fi­dence in our 70 plus vol­un­teers and sup­port spe­cial­ists, with a range of skills and ex­per­tise, in­clud­ing psy­chol­o­gists, clin­i­cal coun­sel­lors, re­searchers, poll­sters, so­ci­ol­o­gists, men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als, med­i­cal per­son­nel and so­cial and com­mu­nity ac­tivists. Fur­ther­more our sui­cide pre­ven­tion ac­tivism is grounded in nu­mer­ous re­search and stud­ies as well as anec­do­tal and em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence on sui­cide in Guyana, all of which are in sync with re­spect to all the sig­nif­i­cant in­di­ca­tors. And the re­sults of our three years plus of ac­tivism have af­firmed the pre­vail­ing lit­er­a­ture, in­clud­ing that em­a­nat­ing from in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions like WHO and PAHO.

So while we look for­ward to the global im­pact of Ms Bali­ram’s revo­lu­tion­ary ‘model’ we will con­tinue to ed­u­cate, en­lighten, ad­vo­cate, lobby, train, coun­sel, net­work, en­gage in out­reach and foster col­lab­o­ra­tion, while de­bunk­ing myths and mis­in­for­ma­tion, pro­vid­ing cop­ing skills, de­vel­op­ing self es­teem, arm­ing Guyanese with the where­withal to iden­tify warn­ing signs and take ac­tion proac­tively, en­sur­ing that all who so need have ac­cess to coun­selling, and thereby grad­u­ally driv­ing back the scourge of sui­cide.

In fact, over the past three years The Caribbean Voice has in­vested about five and half mil­lion dol­lars in sui­cide pre­ven­tion and anti-abuse in Guyana. We have stretched ev­ery dol­lar to the max­i­mum since we have no over­heads what­ever and our lead­er­ship fund, out of pocket, are costs as­so­ci­ated with our work.

Dur­ing this time we have en­gaged in over 300 suc­cess­ful coun­selling cases; held over 20 work­shops that trained over al­most 2,000 per­sons, in­clud­ing hun­dreds of stu­dents, and en­gaged in an­other 20 out­reaches that net­worked with a few thou­sand per­sons. We also held more than 50 meet­ings; at­tended over 25 dif­fer­ent fora, widely dis­sem­i­nated in­for­ma­tion (ar­ti­cles, let­ters, in­ter­views and posts) across nu­mer­ous me­dia plat­forms, tra­di­tional (in more than fifty me­dia glob­ally, in­clud­ing New York City’s Daily News, the BBC, Vice News, ITV and Al Jazeera), and on­line (Face­book, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram, Google, Linkedin, Pin­ter­est, Tum­blr, Youtube) reach­ing mil­lions; en­gaged in lob­by­ing for a range of mea­sures with the sui­cide helpline com­ing into be­ing (prom­ises to place coun­sel­lors in schools and to de­velop a model to tackle pes­ti­cide sui­cide were made but not de­liv­ered); com­mis­sioned two sur­veys and held four press con­fer­ences.

As well we held the first and only truly Na­tional Stake­hold­ers’ Con­fer­ence on Sui­cide and Re­lated Is­sues that was at­tended by over 70 stake­hold­ers. Also TCV part­ners in Voices Against Vi­o­lence, which or­ga­nizes the an­nual Anti-Vi­o­lence Can­dle­light Vigil that, in two years, say, 500 plus can­dle­light vig­ils have been held across Guyana. And we launched the an­nual El Do­rado Awards, which have so far, hon­oured over 30 af­fir­ma­tion agents on the so­cial land­scape with an­other 18 to be hon­oured this year. Our work has a na­tional reach and we have es­tab­lished re­gional sub groups in six re­gions with the re­main­ing four to be set up next year. In recog­ni­tion of our work we were in­vited by the lo­cal UN rep­re­sen­ta­tive to make a pre­sen­ta­tion at a spe­cial ses­sion of Guyana’s par­lia­ment.

More­over, we are bol­stered by the tremen­dous suc­cess thus far in re­duc­ing the sui­cide rate from 44.2 per 100,000 to 30.6 per 100,000 and by the in­creas­ing num­bers of Guyanese who reach out to TCV and other en­ti­ties to seek coun­selling for self and oth­ers, as the taboos re­lat­ing to sui­cide and men­tal health suc­cumb to the self­less work of in­creas­ing num­bers of sui­cide pre­ven­tion NGOs and ac­tivists. We are also heart­ened by the in­creas­ing num­bers of stake­hold­ers ‒ lo­cal govern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tions, po­lit­i­cal par­ties, busi­nesses, me­dia, NGOs, FBOs, CBOs, spe­cial in­ter­est groups and even govern­ment agen­cies ‒ who put aside var­i­ous di­vides to join hands on this jour­ney.

Again we com­mend Ms Bali­ram’s pas­sion­ate rhetoric and in­vite her to trans­form that pas­sion for the talk into a zeal for the walk, be­cause at the end of the day it is the walk that re­ally makes the crit­i­cal dif­fer­ence.

Yours faith­fully, An­nan Boodram The Caribbean Voice

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.