By Shanea Johnson
There are a number of reasons why persons commit suicide, some of which include: divorce, an unfaithful spouse, miscarriage, depression and often times STRESS. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress is defined as “the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.”
In my opinion, there are some challenges that can be overwhelming and difficult to deal with and some people may see suicide as the only option to get away from these challenges.
Since the arrival of the novel coronavirus, the lives of approximately one million people have been claimed worldwide with a total to date of 111 deaths in Jamaica. As a result, there are a number of medical professionals who have growing concerns about the mental health of Jamaicans. As if trying to access sanitizers and tissue wasn’t enough stress, according to the Daily Observer, there is a fear that “social isolation and economic fallout could lead to an increase in the number of suicides locally.”
Long before the spike in COVID-19 cases, I have been concerned about the mental stability of Jamaicans and other people faced with COVID-19. During these unprecedented times, everything seems uncertain and many have lost their jobs, which in most cases is their only source of income. Imagine being a single mother with five children and losing your only source of income. It would be natural to become worried about your children’s well-being. How will they eat? When will they eat? Often times I wonder what a person thinks before they commit suicide. Perhaps they believe ending their life is a better option than to live in misery or maybe they think taking their life will resolve all problems.
As such, I believe it is imperative for employers to put programmes in place that will assist their employees to better cope with the stresses of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, this can go a far way to assist with the mental challenges being faced as people oftentimes need someone to talk to about their issues and are open to advice. I believe that churches are large bodies of influencers and as such they should consider the need to have mental stability as a focal point or matter of interest. Often times you realize that some members of the congregation are suffering in silence and that this realization is made when it is too late. Let us practise what we preach, which is to love one another as Christ loves the church. This simply means that we can show interest in each other’s well-being and be that listening ear when someone is in need.
Similarly, I must applaud those employers who have seen the need to put programmes and other strategies in place to assist their employees to cope during this pressing time. One such employer is the Ministry of National Security, which has implemented “Tele-Therapy” sessions where employees can call in and relay their issues to therapists who will assist them in finding solutions. We must work together to survive as this pandemic passes over. Additionally, President and founder of Choose Life International, Dr. Donovan Thomas noted that with the negative psychological impact of COVID-19, there has been an increase in the number of people seeking assistance. It is evident that we need to help those in need and it is important to get the help you need as early as possible and not deny your reality.
I can only imagine the struggles of online classes, lack of internet access among other things. My biggest concern is the mental health of young people with this new norm. Some might be worried about completing studies and I can imagine that parents too are concerned about their children in this new environment of learning, especially those with special needs who will need increased physical attention in order to learn. It is indeed a hard time and it is inevitable to not be concerned.
Some young people are fearful of change and will easily give up at times especially in the face of uncertainty. And sometimes when they are frustrated or simply cannot get their way, you will hear them scream, in the Jamaican tongue “Mi wi kill mi self enuh”. Oftentimes this expression is taken lightly until reality strikes – a child commits suicide.
According to a 2019 U-Report poll conducted among young Jamaicans, 53 per cent of persons aged 13-39 stated that they have considered suicide. Recently, police have reported that eight-year-old Jasmine Keeling is suspected to have committed suicide in her backyard and there is another suspected case of suicide involving 31-year-old Patrick Miller. I was baffled by these reports especially that of the eight-year-old. What could have caused an eight-year-old to commit suicide? I am left to think that maybe it was a murder staged as a suicide. What is really happening? I think parents need to talk to their children more and exercise greater concern about their well-being.
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