The Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, called upon the community to be more vigilant and attentive to those who are vulnerable and at risk of suicide. This appeal was made this morning during the official function held at Gold Crest Hotel in Quatre Bornes to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.
Speaking on the essential role that the community must play in the fight against suicide by supporting and protecting those who are vulnerable and at risk, the Minister invited the population to lend a helping hand and ear to someone in need. It is through adequate communication that the suffering of those who are struggling with suicidal tendencies will be alleviated, she highlighted.
"Suicide is preventable, and is an issue which requires our undivided attention," stated Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo said, adding that in order to deal effectively with this problem, the risk factors should be identified so that immediate assistance may be provided to those in need of help. Mental disorders such as depression, personality disorders and substance abuse, financial difficulties, troubles with relationship, and bullying constitute risk factors which can trigger suicidal tendencies.
She also stressed on the need for consulted efforts to find long term sustainable solution to the problem of suicide. "Effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts," she said. The functions of the Life Plus Unit operating under the aegis of her Ministry were moreover underlined by Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo. She recalled that the Unit is using its professional expertise to assist those who are at risk through primary prevention techniques as well as multi-sectorial and holistic approaches.
Also present at the event, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Mauritius, Dr Laurent Musango, commended the efforts of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare for the integrated and coordinated approach in suicide prevention. Stressing that suicide was not only a problem of public health but was also an economic and social issue, Dr Musango said that according to WHO's figures, close to 800 000 people take their own life globally and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt.
Workshop on role of the community in suicide prevention
The official function was followed by a workshop on the role of the community in suicide prevention, targeting some 100 representatives of both public and private sectors, and of non-governmental organisations as well as other stakeholders. The objective of the workshop was to provide a platform to determine the role to be played by all relevant stakeholders and the community to curb the rising tide of suicide and to come up with practical ways to do so.
The World Suicide Prevention Day, an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, was endorsed by the WHO in 2003 and observed annually on 10 September. The theme for this year is 'Take a minute, change a life'. In Mauritius, the rate of suicide is around 6 per 100 000 persons annually. Sixty-six suicides and 356 cases of attempt at suicide had been reported in 2016.