A Parliamentary discussion has started in a bid to find solutions to the suicide epidemic plaguing Guyana.
Elected members of the National Assembly met on Wednesday with the United Nation/Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (UN/PAHO/WHO) and members of civil society to start a new discourse on the issue.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland delivered opening remarks and said he was pleased that both sides of the House came together to deal with the sensitive issue.
Even as the Speaker said he is eager to find out what more could be done to address the issue, he reminisced on the differing and opposing views that Parliamentarians have on issues.
“This time I believe we are all focused on one issue here today and those different voices have come together to find a way to treat this issue that is baffling the country greatly,” he added.
The organizations recognized the need for a conversation to be generated on the issue of Suicide with the aim of increasing awareness among Parliamentarians and support staff of the Parliament Office and to strengthen prevention and control efforts and cooperation with the United Nations (UN).
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mikiko Tanaka said the UN appreciates the opportunity to hold discussion and reflect with Members of Parliament.
While the issue of suicide is not new to Guyana, Tanaka said it is still a surprise that Guyana has such high suicide rates.
“Regardless of the numbers every suicide matters and every suicide committed and attempted comes from different circumstances,” she added.
Against this background, the UN Resident Coordinator believes that this discussion is needed to address the both sensitive and sometimes dishonourable act.
She said the UN intends to work with Parliamentarians to open space in communities to talk about the issue and care for those at risk.
She is also hopeful that the talks will result new legislation to address the act which is currently criminalised by law.
The one day meeting examined an overview of suicides in Guyana and the National Suicide Strategy.
Additionally there was an update on activities conducted for suicide prevention and control by the Social Services Committee and a sharing of experiences in addressing suicide in Regions #2 and #6.