Posted: Friday, September 8, 2017. 11:43 a.m. CST.
By Ministry of Health: Carla, a 33-year-old hairdresser living in the Stann Creek District became suicidal about 5 years ago. At that time, she was in a dark place where she just “did not feel normal”. She describes experiencing racing thoughts, constant crying and an immense sadness, “I felt isolated, like nobody cared”, and soon she began to think that no one would hurt her if she were dead. She attempted to take her own life several times and felt that Depression was taking over her life. She knew she needed help and eventually she reached out to a psychiatric nurse practitioner (PNP) at the mental health clinic at the Southern Regional Hospital.
At the clinic “the nurse listened to me and allowed me to talk” said Carla. She also received medications to help her with her Depression. She stresses that the overwhelming support she received from her family members and her employer complemented the treatment she was receiving from the PNP. The PNP also arranged family sessions where Carla’s condition was explained and family members were taught how to support her. The support from her employer was remarkable as she constantly encouraged Carla to adhere to her treatment regimen and she was allowed time off if she was not feeling well. She was allowed time off as well to attend clinic for her appointments and when she needed a break during the work day, it was not a problem.
Today Carla continues to be employed as a hairdresser, a job she has held for 11 years now. She takes care of her two children and still attends clinic regularly. She says she now looks forward to doing that every day. “I encourage people to seek help and talk to someone if they are thinking about taking their lives. It made a difference for me.”
If you are concerned about someone dear to you who is at risk of taking their own life, you aren’t alone. The World Health Organization reports that more than 800,000 people die by suicide globally every year and many more attempt it. In Belize, men between the ages of 25-35 die most often by suicide. Young people between the ages of 15 – 29 are also of great concern.
The message of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September is “Take a Minute, Change a Life”. This theme encourages everyone to reach out to someone – a colleague, close family friend or a family member who might be going through a difficult time– this can change a life. The Belize Ministry of Health, The International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization reminds you that suicide is preventable and as members of the community, we are responsible to look out for those who may be struggling. Taking a minute to reach out to someone can change the course of their life.
A person requiring mental health services particularly those who are thinking about ending their lives, can receive counseling, medication, family and peer support at any of our eight mental health clinics countrywide. The clinics are staffed by counselors, PNPs and psychiatrists who work directly with clients. These facilities are operated by the Ministry of Health and the services are free.
Note: The name used in this scenario is fictional but the location and occupation are true.
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