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WHO: TT men killing themselves

By Andre Bagoo Friday, September 5 2014

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report done in 2012 has revealed that more men than women are killing themselves in Trinidad and Tobago. The report which finds that one persons dies by suicide every 40 seconds globally, notes there were 192 suicides in this country during that year. By way of comparison, the murder toll in 2012 was 388.

The WHO report, released ahead of next Wednesday’s commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day, states 146 males were reported to have committed suicide in 2012, while 46 females were reported.

The percentage change in age-standardised suicide rates over the period 2000 to 2012 was an increase of 36.4 percent for males, with a decrease of two percent for females. Overall, WHO said there was an increase of 3.8 percent.

The rate of suicide per 100,000 people was 13, with the rate for men at 20.4 and at 6.2 for women.

A breakdown by age groups indicated the bulk of suicides was for males between the ages of 50 to 69 years (43.4 per 100,000). This was followed by males above 70 years (32.7 per 100,000); males 30 to 49 years (31.1 per 100,000); males 15 to 29 (10.9 per 100,000) and males five to 14 years (one per 100,000).

The report, described as the first of its kind, found that globally there are about 800,000 suicides annually. For every death, there are many more people who try to kill themselves.

The WHO report came as concern over suicides has returned to centre-stage in Trinidad and Tobago with reports of two suicides at the Golden Grove Prisons, Arouca, within three weeks.

In April, 15-year-old Jemel Miller hanged himself after an argument with a relative. In May, a 13-year-old SEA pupil also reportedly committed suicide one day before the examination.

In March, a pastor was also said to have killed himself after going on a rampage, but that matter was subject to conflicting reports amid a police probe.

In November 2012, it was reported that 14 percent of students aged 13 to 16 in Trinidad and Tobago made a suicide attempt and 17 percent had seriously considered the option of suicide within the 12 months according to the Global School Based Student Health Survey released then.

Nidhi Kirpalani, a clinical psychologist, yesterday said there is a belief that suicide is under-reported.

“There is a high rate,” she told Newsday. “These figures represent only what is reported and only completed suicides. There are also attempted suicides where persons may end up in hospitals or even treat themselves at home.”

She noted the Association of Psychologists has a referral list of persons who are trained to deal with cases of depression. Kirpalani further stated some symptoms of depressions.

“The signs of depression are not noticed in men as easily as in women,” she said. “For example, there is a stigma in relation to males crying and women tend to cope differently and are more likely to express emotions openly. Men tend to have more aggression, absenteeism from work, alcohol consumption.”

Of the larger number of male suicides, she stated, “It does not mean more males than females necessarily are susceptible.

“It may relate to the chosen ways of suicide. For example, more males tend to use hanging, females tend to use cutting and taking pills where the success rate is lower. Perhaps men are more likely to complete while women are more likely to have more unsuccessful attempts.”

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