OPPOSITION Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Spokesperson on Youth, Sports, Culture and Gender Affairs Olivia 'Babsy" Grange, has expressed concern at the number of juvenile inmates of correctional institutions who are becoming suicidal.
Grange, in a release last night following an announcement that a juvenile inmate at the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre for women had attempted suicide last week, described the developing situation as alarming and demanding urgent attention.
"What could be the reason behind so many of our teenagers, who are wards of the state, turning to these suicidal tendencies in recent weeks? It is an alarming development which demands the immediate attention of the prime minister, the correctional services, the oversight ministries and, in fact, all Jamaicans who are concerned about the welfare of our children," Grange said.
She added: "Suicidal tendency has not been the norm in the Jamaican society. We are now called to answer this urgent question: Why is it that suddenly, so many of our children are trying suicide as a way out of their problems?"
She also noted that apart from the suicide attempt last week, within the past six weeks a ward of the state has committed suicide by hanging herself at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre, while three others have overdosed on antidepressants at the same facility in an attempt to end their lives. The Opposition spokesperson also noted that in all these cases, the wards of the state involved were teenage girls.
Grange also called on the prime minister to immediately remove these children to a facility that will best enable the appropriate and relevant psycho-social behaviours. According to Grange, an adult correctional facility is not a viable option to accommodate these children. "It is not in the best interest of our children nor the society. We, therefore, are calling on the prime minister to act with all possible speed in this matter; in fact, act now," Grange said.
"We cannot simply gloss over these incidents. It is obvious that something is terribly wrong and we must try to get to the root of it. I am imploring the prime minister to recognise the danger and take some action now in determining the root cause of this crisis before it worsens," she added.