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Suicide on the rise!

HighlightsSuicide on the rise!

Photo: Iveth Quintanilla, Mental Health Coordinator

by Charles Gladden

BELMOPAN, Wed. Mar. 20, 2024

Since entering the month of March, there have been a number of murders, and in addition to those murders that occurred, there were several cases of suicide that were reported that caught the attention of the media.

The first incident occurred in Corozal Town where a suspected murderer took his own life inside the cell of the Corozal Police Station by removing his pants and wrapping them around his neck.

Then a week later, the Belize City Council Administrator was reportedly killed by her husband who then turned his licensed firearm toward himself and fired a single gunshot, killing himself. Additionally, Tuesday’s digital edition of Amandala highlighted another case of suicide where a 29-year-old man was found motionless inside a room with a cloth belt wrapped around his neck. Reports indicate that the man had been battling depression.

Depression is one of the main causes of people attempting to take their own lives. Expert clinicians say another cause may be stigma, where individuals are afraid to speak about their mental well-being. This type of suicide is more prevalent in males.

“When it comes to mental disorders, normally at the teen [and] young adulthood, that is when mental disorders normally manifest; so, having a mental disorder like depression, anxiety, [and] bipolar disorder, these are factors that can lead persons to make that decision and dying by suicide,” said Iveth Quintanilla, Mental Health Coordinator at the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

“When it comes to mental disorders, there can be different factors. It can be pre-disposition, it might be related to genetics; so, if someone in the family has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, there’s a high probability that someone in the family might suffer from the disorder. It also has to deal with experiences that you go through in life; if you went through a traumatic experience as a child, later on in adulthood you can suffer from a mental disorder,” Quintanilla added.

According to the suicide statistics at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, there were 29 suicide attempts that ended in death – 21 males and 8 females – for 2023. Quintanilla noted that persons who are dying from suicides are between the ages of 20 – 35 years.

“That [is] the time people are beginning careers, when they’re getting married [and] having children; and if we do not fit in that role, people will feel pressured as well; so, these can be factors that can lead to that,” she said.

She further noted that there are some signs that persons can display when they are suffering from depression.

“They might express that they want to die, or feel guilty, or ashamed, or being a burden to others. When it comes to feeling, they are feeling hopeless, worthless, sad, or they might be [in] extreme emotional pain. We also look out for changes in behavior; sometimes they get extremely irritable [and] angry. When it comes to adolescents, they become withdrawn; also, if there is more use of substances, that is also an indicator,” Quintanilla noted.

She added that persons suffering from mental health issues can seek assistance at any health clinic that is situated countrywide.

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