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Suicides put spotlight on mental health

GeneralSuicides put spotlight on mental health

Tragic suicides call on need for suicide prevention measures

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 18, 2024

In just a couple of weeks, two tragic incidents have highlighted the need for enhanced suicide prevention measures and mental health support within the country.

The first incident occurred on the morning of National Heroes and Benefactors Day, March 9, when married couple Stephanie Lindo-Garbutt and Oswald “Wally” Garbutt were found dead in their Freetown Road home in an apparent murder-suicide.

The discovery was made by Oswald’s brother following gunshots in the couple’s bedroom.

The incident, which occurred while their teenage son was at home with them, in another section of the house, was a grim conclusion to what neighbors described as a relationship marred by jealousy and domestic disputes.

Oswald Garbutt was known for his involvement in the popular Blue Steel Sounds DJ group, while his wife was the City Administrator at the Belize City Council.

Merely days after, on Friday, 15th March, Belize City police were called to a distressing scene at #34 Fabers Road Extension, where they discovered the lifeless body of 29-year-old Chaz Holland.

Holland, a salesperson suffering from depression since the loss of his father three years ago, was found with a cloth belt around his neck, in what appears to be a heartbreaking act of suicide.

Despite seeking counseling, Holland’s struggle with depression tragically ended in loss, leaving a grieving family behind.

The Mental Health Association (MHA), in response, has expressed deep condolences to the families affected by these tragedies and called for significant changes to prevent future incidents.

In light of the recently launched Belize National Suicide Prevention Plan, the MHA acknowledged the critical need for support, and outlined key recommendations such as mandatory mental health evaluations for gun license applicants, and the implementation of a Red Flag law to temporarily remove firearms from those deemed at risk.

“It’s very sad that we have been having some suicides. We try to look at it from a holistic point of view. The mental health aspect is so very important, so we have to speak with the Ministry of Health and their mental health facilities, and also we have to look at it from the protection point of view, of families, of people that are going through difficult situations, of vulnerable people,” Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs told us today.

“Our Ministry is very concerned about it, and will be reaching out to the Mental Health Ministry but also the Mental Health Association. It is so important to look for triggers, to look for what can cause somebody to go into depression and other things such as that.”

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