JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health is urging persons to seek help in times of need in order to prevent suicides.
  • Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said mental health services are available in the public health sector where persons can access support and treatment.
  • He was addressing the World Suicide Prevention Day Seminar hosted by Choose Life International at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Thursday, September 10.

The Ministry of Health is urging persons to seek help in times of need in order to prevent suicides.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said mental health services are available in the public health sector where persons can access support and treatment.

“We therefore urge members of the public to call the various Regional Health Authorities (RHA), the Ministry of Health head office or visit their local mental health clinics, health centres and hospitals if they need assistance,” Dr. Ferguson said.

He was addressing the World Suicide Prevention Day Seminar hosted by Choose Life International at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Thursday, September 10.

A 2012 study done by the Ministry and its partners revealed that 688 students or 20 per cent of the population interviewed was identified as being at risk for suicide.

“Of the 53 victims of suicide in that year, males outnumbered females 5:1, and 14 were in the 11to 24 age group (youth).   Among suicide attempters however, 113 or 83 per cent were females. These disparities are similar to international findings,” Dr. Ferguson said.

He noted that although Jamaica’s suicide rate still remains relatively low, every suicide is preventable and every life is important.

“The important message that we want to reinforce is that suicides are preventable and there has to be a concerted and unified effort to deal with this problem. Multiple sectors, including health, education, labour, agriculture, security and business have a role to play in suicide prevention,” Dr. Ferguson said.

He noted that many suicides happen impulsively, when there is a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

“It is therefore important that we recognise our collective responsibility to provide support to persons, who are affected by mental health issues and may be in need of mental health intervention,” he said.

Currently there are 139 community mental health clinics islandwide across all parishes. In addition to this, all general clinics offer screening and treatment or referral for common mental health disorders including depression.  There are also 20 child guidance clinics islandwide to facilitate children and adolescents.

Dr. Ferguson informed that the Ministry’s community mental health service has an Assertive Outreach Programme, which brings mental health care to communities and also connects them to existing services.

He noted also that each RHA has a crisis response team, which can be contacted during a psychiatric emergency.

Some of the warning signs and symptoms of suicide include: talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself; looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a weapon; talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live; talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain; or talking about being a burden to others.