Large number of suicides in western Suriname cause for concern

PARAMARIBO, Suriname (CMC) — The authorities in Suriname have expressed concern about the number of people committing suicide in the western town of Nickerie.

In 2021, there were a total of 62 suicide cases in the district known for rice production and to date, 23 suicide cases have already been registered.

According to experts in Nickerie, it is high time for a serious approach to this problem.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a report published in 2018 says that suicide deaths in Suriname reached 128 or 3.59 per cent of total deaths, placing Suriname at fifth place in the world for suicides. The majority of the population in Nickerie, a predominant agricultural district, is of East-Indian descent.

Professional expert Joyce Abboud presented the figures during a recent discussion with the theme ‘Suicide in Nickerie, what can we do about it’.

Of the 62 suicide cases in 2021, 41 were male and 21 were female. The age group was 29 to 64 years.

District Commissioner, Senrita Gobardhan, states that the various actors have a special task in tackling this issue.

“The victims, especially children and young people, must have a safe place,” she said.

She argues for a transitional house for which she is looking for a suitable location. Gobardhan is also thinking of a helpline in Nickerie, discussions for young people and setting up a working group and a platform in which various actors have a seat.

Participants in the discussion agreed that an urgent approach is needed in prevention, counseling and education about suicide in Nickerie. Following on from the discussion, psychologist Patma Behari delivered a session on suicide prevention to a group of school leaders and teachers.

Many causes of suicide can be traced back to the relational and personal sphere, that according to Behari, is linked to shame, fear, guilt, sadness, anger, loneliness, depression and vulnerability.

She has pointed to the symptoms of individuals considering suicide and urged teachers to observe whether children are quiet and withdrawn, eat poorly or make certain statements.

Alcohol abuse, neglect of school and/or work, and strange behaviour can also be symptoms of people considering taking their own life.

Behari also noticed that help can be given by listening to these people, giving good advice, motivating them and not forcing them to do things and above all not to judge people.

According to research, the most common way for Indians to take their own lives is by ingestion of pesticides, as many work in agriculture.

Other forms of suicide include use of firearms and more recently jumping from the Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge in Suriname’s capital, Paramaribo.

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