Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says more public education is needed to raise awareness about mental health issues to offer help and hope to persons suffering from the disorder.
“We need to significantly increase public and private sensitization to the issues of depression and other mental health challenges in workplaces, schools, churches, prisons, public and private sector organizations and indeed all public and private spaces,” the Minister said.
He was delivering the keynote address at the Choose Life International (CLI) World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) Seminar, held on September 14 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, in Kingston.
The seminar was held under the theme: ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’.
The Minister commended the non-governmental organization (NGO), CLI, for organizing the seminar, which sought to train individuals how to detect signs and how to provide support to individuals suffering from suicidal thoughts.
“I thank Dr. Donovan Thomas, President and Founder of CLI, for the admirable work which he and his hard-working team continue to do. While many are content to sit, talk or just look, CLI has been doing. They have been helping to restore hope to many Jamaicans, who for one or several reasons, are overwhelmed by the heaviness, urgent and never-ending demands of modern life,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Thomas told JIS News that the seminar was staged for all well- thinking Jamaicans with a passion for helping this vulnerable group.
“We have brought together students, police officers, guidance counsellors, pastors, youth leaders and medical doctors willing to help grapple with the issue of how to help people at risk for suicide,” he said.
The seminar featured presentations by Clinical Director of the Medical Services Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Dr. George Leveridge;
Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Judith Leiba-Thomas, and Consultant Psychiatrist at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), Dr. Terrence Bernard.
Topics covered included: ‘Understanding the Suicide Mind’; ‘Teens, Schools and Suicide: When Educational Goals Collide with Hopelessness’; ‘The Impact of Social Media on Suicidality’, and ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’.
World Suicide Prevention Day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. It is co-sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO).