SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - Suicide is often a taboo topic which conjures up feelings of anxiety, dread and hurt, as when a loved one or colleague chooses to take his or her life, the survivors are left with guilt, anger and a plethora of painful emotions as they grapple with why their loved one chose to take their life. Very few publications address suicide in the Caribbean, and moreover statistics for St. Maarten on suicide are lacking. According to the International Review of Psychiatry however, “The rate of suicide attempts in the Caribbean has been steadily increasing.”
“Every two days, someone dies by suicide in Trinidad and Tobago. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), T&T has the third-highest suicide rate regionally, behind Suriname and Guyana. These countries share high East Indian populations, who are most impacted by suicides,” stated a January 8th, 2020 article in “Wired.”
To proactively address these trends, the Counselling degree program offered at Grace Hill Bible University offers an entire course on suicide assessment and prevention which has been successfully delivered to its first graduates in 2019. The Master’s level counselling degree program, designed and developed by counselling veteran Dr. Erna Mae Francis Cotton, the visionary of Victorious Living Foundation, is currently enrolling students who desire to pursue their Master’s or are up to the challenge of learning the necessary skill sets to be able to identify behaviours that could indicate suicidal ideation while learning techniques and strategies to prevent suicide.
An article written by Damien Gayle in the Guardian.com dated September 3rd, 2019 stated “The rate of suicides in Britain has risen sharply to its highest level since 2002, with men accounting for three-quarters of the number of people who took their own lives last year.” A total of 6,507 suicides were registered by coroners in the UK – 11.2 per 100,000 people – in 2018, up 11.8% on the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The same article revealed an increase in the suicide rates of young people aged 10 to 24 with the overall rate for that age group reaching a 19-year high and the rate for young females reaching an all-time high.
BMC Psychiatry, dated November 2019 disclosed, “In the Netherlands, suicide rates showed a sharp incline and this pertains particularly to the province of Noord-Brabant, one of the southern provinces in the Netherlands.” Their findings indicate that “an important issue in effective suicide prevention is that approximately two-thirds of suicide victims were not receiving mental health care while they were probably in need of it, as suicide occurs mostly in the context of mental disorders.”
According to the World Health Organization, suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally, claiming close to 800,000 lives every year. “Despite progress, one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
With these grim statistics it is easy to lose hope and throw in the towel on suicide prevention; however suicide is preventable. WHO Director General stated on their website: “We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way.”
The former Minister of Education The Honourable Wycliffe Smith with faculty and staff of GHBU at their 2018 commencement ceremony.
2019 graduates and faculty of Grace Hill Bible University.
2019 graduates of Grace Hill Bible University Masters Counseling Degree Program.
GHBU graduates in Ministry and the Master's Counseling Degree Program at their 2019 commencement ceremony.