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Contemplating Suicide? Call Us First Says Helpline

RESPONDERS on the National Health Service Helpline are asking persons who feel depressed, vulnerable or harbouring suicidal thoughts, to reach out to them before engaging in any harmful acts to themselves or to others as Saint Lucia this week recorded yet another suicide.

Police were on Wednesday investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of 25 year old Bianca Felix of Trouya, Gros Islet.

They reported that Felix’s lifeless body was discovered in her room, seated in an awkward position around 2:52 p.m. A scarf was found tied to the ceiling.

A post mortem which was conducted the following day revealed that Felix died as a result of asphyxia, secondary to hanging.

No foul play has been suspected in this matter.

This is the latest in a spate of suicides in the country that have claimed the lives of several young people, three so far for the year and several more last year.

Now responders on the Helpline, which was established in June of last year, are concerned at the frequency of suicidal attempts and are calling on persons with suicidal ideation (thoughts) to reach out to them on telephone number 203.

The Helpline, which is now entering its ninth month, receives a maximum of 12 calls for help on a weekly basis and since its inception has recorded 95 calls dealing with persons harbouring suicidal thoughts.

A report from the Ministry of Health shows that immediate support given to someone in a crisis situation greatly reduces occurrences of suicidal thoughts and distress.

The Ministry notes that callers to the Helpline appreciate the help they receive, one reason being the anonymous and confidential nature of the free service that is available to anyone at any time in need of assistance.

“During times of crisis, people often feel more comfortable talking to someone they don’t know, enabling them to discuss feelings and concerns in a way that may differ from talking with friends and family members,” the Ministry observed.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Health this week reveals that from its establishment on June 29 of last year to January 31 of this year the Helpline recorded 239 calls from individuals harbouring thoughts of suicide to struggling with relationship issues to dealing with family issues and so forth.

According to the statistics individuals call the Helpline for numerous reasons with the five leading reasons being stress related issues, 34 calls being received for that for the period under review; family related issues, 30 calls received; unemployment issues, 21 calls received; relationship issues 41 calls and suicidal thoughts topping the list of calls with 95.

Other problems such as substance abuse, mental illness and financial constraints, among others are also dealt with by the responders on the Helpline.

“The Helpline continues to put much effort into alleviating some of the distresses that individuals are faced with throughout the island by informing persons of the available resources for assistance in the most effective and efficient manner. Referrals are made to various government agencies such as the Crisis Centre, Division of Human Services, The N.I.C.E. office and other related human services organization,” a release from the Ministry of Health noted.

The Helpline receives calls from both male and female from as young as 13 years to as old as 80 years. In fact since its establishment the Helpline has received calls from 87 females and 94 males. There was a total number of 49 high risk callers out of which 28 were males and 21 females. Only one prank call was received in the period under review.

The six leading constituencies where most calls were recorded are Gros Islet with 32 calls, Castries Southeast with 22 calls, Babonneau with 16 calls, Castries North with 14 calls and Castries East and Dennery both with a total of 10 calls.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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