Local Counsellor gives advice for World Suicide Prevention month

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This month is World’s Suicide Prevention month and local social worker and counsellor, Koren Norton said knowing where to seek help is of great importance, just as it is for us to be able to recognise/identify the signs of depression and other issues which could lead to suicidal thoughts and actions.
Norton said instead of brushing off someone when they come to you for help, people should take it seriously and recommend professional help if they themselves cannot help.
She highlighted some of the signs of depression.
“It could be the person is withdrawing from the public or from other persons, sometimes there are changes in their appetite. A lot of times you would see a change in the person’s sleep habits, a person who is sleeping too much, they just don’t want to get out of bed…or they start making plans, writing letters, speaking in a very hopeless manner as if there is not going to be a tomorrow or next week, it tells you.”
“Sometimes they try to reach out for help and they are ignored or it is laughed off, if you can’t help them refer them to someone who can…don’t tell them ‘take it to the Lord in prayer of drink some tea’,” she said.
Norton said the society is quite a reactive one as opposed to a proactive one which pays attention to people and what’s happening around them.
According to her, it is important for everyone to be aware of where to go for help.
“Sometimes what happens is that the public does not pay attention until there is an actual suicide and when that happens everybody is all reactive, giving condolences and saying how sorry they are. But, then after it dies down, people go back to their regular lives and they forget that we have people among us who are suffering with depression, who are under undue stress, who are having a lot of other conditions that would lead to the person becoming suicidal.
Yes, it is good for us to be supportive towards the family but outside of that what is more important is recognising the signs, making sure there are enough resources available in Antigua so that if somebody is severely depressed or feeling suicidal, is being bullied, had a bad break up or something they know where to go to get help, that is what is most important,” she advised.
Last year, the country recorded 12 attempted suicides and seven cases where individuals actually managed to end their lives.
This was a staggering increase in comparison to statistics from 2016 which show that there were three attempted suicides with only one that actually resulted in a lost life.
To those in distress or contemplating suicide, trained counsellors are available at 24-hour emergency hotline at 463-5555.

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