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

On Tues­day this week a de­com­pos­ing body dis­cov­ered at an ad­dress in Gar­rand, Babon­neau was iden­ti­fied as that of 50-year-old farmer An­toine Henry. Rel­a­tives claimed Henry had lately not been him­self and had talked about tak­ing his own life. No one be­lieved he was se­ri­ous.

On Thurs­day, char­tered ac­coun­tant Frank My­ers, in a tele­vised in­ter­view, said most peo­ple who kill them­selves do so be­cause they be­lieve their lives are not worth liv­ing, and are con­vinced their sit­u­a­tion will not im­prove. Asked if he thought the Saint Lu­cia sit­u­a­tion was re­lated to un­em­ploy­ment, My­ers re­ferred to sui­cides in Amer­ica and other de­vel­oped coun­tries where peo­ple had killed them­selves be­cause they could not face the fu­ture as they imag­ined it. He said job­less­ness was a lead­ing fac­tor.

Mean­while, in Saint Lu­cia, sui­cide con­tin­ues to be politi­cized. While gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers seek to deny any con­nec­tion with the is­land’s dis­mal un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures, those sup­port­ive of the op­po­si­tion party point to the fact that over the last few years the sui­cide rate has been noth­ing short of shock­ing. In 2012 the is­land recorded four­teen sui­cides; there were eleven in 2013 and then 15 in 2014. So far this year there have been five. These fig­ures do not take into ac­count the num­ber of at­tempted sui­cides, which is on the in­crease.

Joanna Joseph, the di­rec­tor of Turn­ing Point and the Well­ness Cen­tre, on Thurs­day ad­dressed the sui­cide is­sue dur­ing an in­ter­view with Cal­abash TV.

“We have been aware for a while now that de­pres­sion is on the rise,” she said. She had also noted an in­crease in the num­ber of sui­cides. Joseph fur­ther ac­knowl­edged that cur­rently there seem to be more men­tally dis­turbed in­di­vid­u­als “on the street.”

She added: “We have been aware of the sui­cide cri­sis but are in no po­si­tion to say pre­cisely why peo­ple were tak­ing their own lives. We do know that sui­cide usu­ally comes at the end of de­pres­sion. It may be the last phase of de­pres­sion.”

Joseph ex­plained that while other con­di­tions can con­trib­ute to de­pres­sion, it could not rea­son­ably be de­nied that Saint Lu­cia’s eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion is a prime fac­tor. She said: “It is a fact that what peo­ple com­plain about most is their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion at this time. Peo­ple are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a lot of fi­nan­cial hard­ship and that af­fects sleep. The most vul­ner­a­ble are fall­ing be­tween the cracks.”

She urged peo­ple to use the toll free hot­line [203] to seek help while adding that the helpline is only part of the re­sponse. “We need peo­ple to un­der­stand that men­tal prob­lems must be treated with the same ur­gency given vic­tims of ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dents.”

Joseph ad­vised that chronic in­som­nia, as well as over-sleep­ing, could be ini­tial signs of de­pres­sion. From there, she says, per­sons may reach a point they con­sider al­to­gether hope­less.

“We need to take de­pres­sion a lot more se­ri­ously than we do at this time,” Joseph ad­vised. “Ig­nor­ing the in­di­ca­tors could lead to sui­cide. We need to quit laugh­ing when peo­ple say they will kill them­selves.

Since men are ev­i­dently more likely to com­mit sui­cide, Joseph ad­vised that they be taken se­ri­ously when they speak of harm­ing them­selves for what­ever rea­son.”

On Septem­ber 10 Saint Lu­cia will join the rest of the world in ob­serv­ing World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day. The Min­istry of Health, through the Well­ness Cen­tre, has or­ga­nized a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties around the theme “Pre­vent­ing Sui­cides, Reach­ing Out, Sav­ing Lives.”

Job loss, home re­pos­ses­sion and debt are the main

risk fac­tors lead­ing to sui­cide dur­ing eco­nomic down­turns, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in the

Bri­tish Jour­nal of Psy­chi­a­try which showed that sui­cide rates “rose sig­nif­i­cantly” af­ter the 2007 global

eco­nomic down­turn.

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