Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is urging Jamaicans not to become complacent with the country’s comparatively low suicide rate, particularly at this time when persons are coping with the stress of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He said data indicate that prior to COVID-19 approximately one million people died globally each year due to suicide, and while the rate in Jamaica, at 2.1 per 100,000 or about 47 to 56 deaths per year, is low by comparison, it is still a matter of concern.
The Health and Wellness Minister, in a message to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, pointed out that dealing with COVID -19 has created mental health challenges for many persons who struggle with the circumstances that are brought on by the pandemic.
“From quarantine to isolation and the changing information about the pandemic, many are experiencing not only fear and anxiety but also depression,” he said, noting that the incidence of domestic violence has also increased over recent months.
As such, he said that raising awareness about suicide and providing support and resources to prevent tragedies is of utmost importance.
“As the race to save lives continues due to COVID-19, it is now more important than ever to work together to prevent suicide, as well as to promote and support overall mental health,” he noted.
He noted that families, communities, schools and places of employment, the private and public sectors, along with civil society, all have a role to play.
Minister Tufton encouraged Jamaicans to take notice of their family members and neighbours.
“Talk to each other and do not hesitate to seek help if you suspect that you or a loved one needs mental health support,” he advised.
World Suicide Prevention Day was observed under the theme ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’.
Research findings indicate that family disruption, relationship problems, social isolation, trauma, grief, loss, and economic problems are among the risk factors for suicide.