On Friday we told you about former Belize City Mayor David Fonseca who took his own life at his mother and ex-wife's residence in Stuart's Alley in Belize City. Reports on Friday were that he shot himself in the head with a nine-millimeter pistol and his body found in bathroom of the house with the gun in his hand. The news sent shock waves across the nation and over the weekend, another resident, this time from the Cayo District took his own life. In recent years, the country has witnessed rapid progress and development. However, despite prosperity, many Belizeans are committing suicide at an alarming level.
The Ministry of Health today expressed concern at a rise in the suicide rate and while there is evidence that suicides are preventable, almost a million people worldwide still die from this condition every year. The Ministry recognizes that while we do not fully understand this condition, most experts have suggested that the factors are varied and complex. There is also very strong evidence to suggest that there are often multiple contributing factors including mental illness and substance abuse; and a person’s risk of suicide may increase with a painful loss, social isolation, feelings of hopelessness or being a burden to others, and may not be seeking help.
The release goes on to state that the Ministry has made some important advances towards this objective over the last few years by establishing mental health clinics at each district hospital. The clinics are staffed with trained mental health professionals that can assess at-risk individuals and provide the appropriate treatment. The Ministry believes that due to the taboo culture surrounding mental health illnesses, many people do not seek help because people fear being labelled and judged; but failure to discuss mental health issues, in particular suicidal feelings, can have devastating consequences to individuals and families.
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