Di­rec­tor of Hu­man Ser­vices El­iz­a­beth Lewis ex­presses con­cern over alarm­ing 2014 sui­cide num­bers.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Toni Ni­cholas

Like the weekly re­ports of hor­rific homi­cides and rapes, sui­cides are fast be­com­ing com­mon­place here, talked about for a day or two, then for­got­ten fol­low­ing the usual mean­ing­less talk from some pre­vi­ously un­heard of psy­chol­o­gist. The min­is­ter of health, when cor­nerned, of­fers some drivel about par­ents and their sons. As for our churches, their rep­re­sen­ta­tives seem to have their own im­age con­cerns and lit­tle time for any­thing else.

Mean­while the popular com­plaint is that the is­land is un­der a cloud of de­pres­sion and men­tal dis­or­ders too long ig­nored. Ur­ban­iza­tion, ram­pant un­em­ploy­ment and the high cost of liv­ing have also been blamed for the un­prece­dented sui­cide rate, with no com­ment from the prime min­is­ter.

The year 2014 ended much as it started, with two re­ported sui­cides and one failed at­tempt. On Sun­day De­cem­ber 28 a 73-year-old man named Cle­tus Mark was rushed to St. Jude Hos­pi­tal after he was sus­pected of hav­ing served him­self a dose of poi­son. He died the next day. Po­lice con­firmed the man, a res­i­dent of Augier, Vieux Fort, had in­gested the deadly gramox­one.

On Christ­mas Day Ni­cholas Leonce of Fond As­sau was rushed to Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal after he too had in­gested gramox­one. He is re­ported to be in a sta­ble con­di­tion.

On Box­ing Day, the body of ‘Al­bert’ of Barre De­nis, re­port­edly in his mid-20s, was found hang­ing be­neath his house.

This week the Di­rec­tor of Hu­man Ser­vices and Fam­ily Af­fairs, El­iz­a­beth Lewis, spoke for ev­ery­one else when she said she would like to see a de­cline in the num­ber of sui­cides.

She added that there would be no de­cline if the au­thor­i­ties did not invest more in health­care. Pre­dictably, she added: “It must be a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­tween gov­ern­ment and the com­mu­nity, to en­sure that less peo­ple take their own lives. At Hu­man Ser­vices we are hop­ing that next year we can help to pro­vide per­sons with another way out and help them come to terms with the var­i­ous chal­lenges in life.”

Small con­so­la­tion for the rel­a­tives of those who had taken their own lives.

Over the last sev­eral months the Men­tal Well­ness Cen­tre has been at­tempt­ing to cre­ate a pub­lic aware­ness of the avail­abil­ity of psy­chi­a­trists, clin­i­cal coun­selors, so­cial work­ers, clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists and nurses, said to be “ready to help in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies.” Our own in­ves­ti­ga­tions sug­gest the prof­fered ser­vices are not al­ways avail­able.

Ac­cord­ing to the Men­tal Well­ness Cen­tre, sui­cide in Saint Lu­cia is the fourth prin­ci­pal cause of death among young peo­ple and the ninth lead­ing cause of death among older peo­ple, 94% of the vic­tims be­ing male.

Last Jan­uary 31, the body of Mal­colm Hip­polyte, aka My King, of Mon­gi­raud, was found hang­ing from his ceil­ing. In May Shem Sadoo, 29, of Augier, Vieux-Fort died sim­i­larly at his house. The fol­low­ing month the vic­tim was Ke­fran St. Clair, 27. She had hanged her­self at her rented apart­ment in Morne Du Don, Castries.

In July Ephrem Boul­lie, 61, a se­cu­rity guard of M&C, was found hang­ing from a rope in his bed­room at La Croix Main­got. Ex­actly one month later Dale Roberts, 51, a Bri­tish na­tional res­i­dent in Anse Ger, Des­ruis­seaux, was dis­cov­ered hang­ing from a tree. That same month 67-year-old Gre­gor Moncherry of La­borie was dis­cov­ered dead at the end of a rope at Saphire beach.

Vincent Col­ly­more, aka Ras, another La­bo­rian, hanged him­self on Septem­ber 19. On Oc­to­ber 22 Vic­tor Al­bert was dis­cov­ered dead at the Gros Islet Fish­eries Com­plex. A post-mortem re­vealed he died of “res­pi­ra­tory fail­ure sec­ondary to toxic in­ges­tion.”

In Oc­to­ber the na­tion was shocked at the news that the lat­est sui­cide was 15-year-old Ebony Dar­ius of Grand Riv­iere. She had hanged her­self in her bed­room closet. On Novem­ber 19 Barnard Mort­ley of May­nard Hill, a for­mer Saint Mary’s Col­lege stu­dent was found hang­ing from his bed­room ceil­ing. On that same day Gabriel Rene, 62, also hanged him­self.

The wild prom­ises not­with­stand­ing, the popular ex­pec­ta­tion is that things will be worse than ever in the New Year, eco­nom­i­cally and oth­er­wise. Per­haps the prime min­is­ter is wait­ing to ad­dress the sui­cides in his New Year mes­sage. Mean­while, many rel­a­tives of the dearly de­parted hold the politi­cians re­spon­si­ble for the at­mos­phere that ap­pears to be a breed­ing ground for sui­cides!

Are the 2014 sui­cide trends and fig­ures alarm­ing enough that the au­thor­i­ties will put out a call to

ac­tion in 2015?

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