Recognizing the importance of suicide prevention, the Belize Mental Health Program of the Ministry of Health joined the international community in the observance of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2015. In San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, San Pedro High School students paid recognition to the day by donning yellow ribbons on their uniforms during the September 10th/Battle of St. George’s Caye Day parade and celebrations.
San Pedro High School Freshman, Gaven Zapata, observes World Suicide Prevention Day along with the school
A press release from Belize’s Ministry of Health indicated that in 2014 there were 24 cases of death by suicide from across the country. The Ministry encourages individuals suffering from any mental disorder to seek information and appropriate assistance. Most of these individuals fear degradation, judgment or labeling because of their condition. It contributes to the problem of having fewer people seek the help they need.
Several studies conducted to date have shown that people with depression and anxiety disorders are at higher risk of having suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide. Diagnosing and treating depression and anxiety disorders are both necessary to decrease suicide crises and spread awareness of these issues.
The Ministry of Health has medical officers at all health centers and hospitals across the country trained on how to diagnose and treat depression and other mental disorders attributed to suicidal behavior. Additionally, mental health clinics are situated at all district hospitals and at the Cleopatra White and Port Loyola Health Centers in Belize City.
Other activities implemented by the Ministry of Health aimed at addressing the issue of suicide include training teachers to recognize students who are at high risk for suicide; organizing various public awareness events that addresses suicide behavior; and improving the data collection system to better understand the patterns of suicide behavior in Belize.
The theme for this year was ‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives’. The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) co-sponsor World Suicide Prevention Day every year on September 10th to help raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health issues.