On World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), the
Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization held a World Suicide Prevention Day official ceremony on September 9th at the Battlefield Park in Belize City to once again bring awareness to this tragic event as well as promote suicide prevention and demonstrate our joint responsibility to save lives that would otherwise be lost to suicide. In the spirit of this year’s theme 'Connect, Communicate, Care' the WSPD flag was raised to connect with the Belizean public on the issue of suicide prevention, to communicate with those who need assistance, and to show that we care about this very important issue.
During the short ceremony speakers included the Deputy Director of Health Services, Mrs. Augustina Elijio who spoke of the achievements and continued efforts to address suicide as part of the Ministry of Health’s Strategic Plan. She highlighted a couple of them. “We have improved Mental Health Programs through the employment of diverse staff. We now have 5 psychiatrist instead of only one which was only three years ago. Some of our clinics now have service offered through a professional counselor and therapists which broadens the type of mental health service we can access. Medical officers are now trained in the management of common mental health disorders and we have acquired a minivan for community mental health services in the Central Health Region.” She concluded her message by encouraging partners to continue to promote lifestyle choices that support good mental health.
The burden of suicide on families and communities is usually acknowledged only when someone dies by suicide. The Mental Health Unit of the Ministry of Health continues to make every effort to bring this tragic event to the forefront although we are aware of the unwillingness among many Belizeans to engage meaningfully on this issue. The trend over the past five years shows that men between the ages of 25 and 35 are dying more often by suicide related to alcohol abuse. Teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 18 are most often attempting suicide due to interpersonal issues. Suicide deaths are preventable if we focus more on our mental health, connect with the people around us who may be in psychological distress and encourage them to seek help.
Since 2003, WSPD is commemorated annually on September 10th through the
sponsorship of the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the
World Health Organization. The image on the WSPD flag was adopted from the official international banner of the IASP.
Other speakers included Ms. Juliet Simmons, Professional Counselor with the Mental Health Unit, Ms. Aimee Jex, Psychologist, Ms. Elizabeth Ross, testimonial speaker and the Mayor of Belize City, His Worship, Darrell Bradley. The World Suicide Prevention Day Flags was raised at the conclusion of the ceremony and similar flag raising activities were also done in noticeable places in all districts.
For More Information contact:
Nursing Administrator, Mental Health Unit
Ministry of Health
Also visit www.iasp.info/wspd/