NASSAU, BAHAMAS – When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? When are you going to find a job? The inability of one to answer these questions is what local psychiatrist Dr. David Allen said he believes may ignite the grave thoughts of suicide.
According to Dr. Allen, mental illness is a long-ignored health condition in The Bahamas that is overlooked.
He also warns the police force that although murder rates are decreasing, there may be a disadvantageous effect.
“You cannot build a culture if you have increasing homicides and increasing suicides. Now, we are getting on top of homicides, I hope. We are all working hard. We have to now put the support under our young people so they don’t go the route of taking that same energy they use to kill others to kill themselves.”
While suicide has many contributing factors, Dr. Allen believes that the church has a significant impact on those who opt to take their own life.
“The church is not teaching the scriptures as it was written – that human beings are not just physical, they are spiritual. In fact, we are spiritual beings trying to live out a physical existence. So, if our young people don’t realize that they have a soul, and if they don’t have a job and they don’t see a future, they are either going to kill people or kill themselves.”
Following Dr. Allen’s claims that the church has dropped the ball as it pertains to properly handling those who seek their help in moments of crisis, Anglican Archdeacon, Fr. James Palacious, told Eyewitness News Online that there are moments when religious leaders fail to properly address the emotional well-being of individuals.
“We do not pay close attention to uncharacteristic ways in our people. Sometimes in the church, we are guilty of that. We say to people ‘oh just go and pray about it.’ Yes, you can pray about it, but God has sent physicians, He has sent psychiatrists, psychologists, and others to help us. So, we must know as theological professionals when to refer people to others who have specialized training in the areas – especially in the area of emotional illnesses,” Fr. Palacious said.
“We must not pretend or try to be what we are not. Many of us are not trained in these areas and we must be able to contact another pastor or individual who is trained in order to properly refer them.”
In a recently published medical journal, Research Director at the Renascence Institute International, Keva Bethel, revealed that the number of suicides in The Bahamas during 2000 amounted to 12, which then took a downward trend all through to 2013, despite sporadic spikes in 2008, 2009, and 2012.
Her study also conveyed that suicides are more common among males than females.
“From our study, the suicide rate among males was 3.7 and the rate among females were 0.5. That’s more than seven times the difference. We had 96 victims of suicide during that 14 year period and 83 of them were males and 13 of them were females.
Dr. Allen shared why males are more prone to being victims of suicide than males, explaining that males take a more violent route that has an expedient outcome, while females take much more passive avenues.
“Men use hanging and they use guns. Women use pills. So, more women attempt suicide, but more men complete the suicide.”
Dr. Allen added that as mental illness continues to grow nationwide there are some signs to look out for. If you or a loved one begin feeling the urge to give away your belongings, finding yourself wanting to be alone most of the day, leaving social events way before it’s time to end, and even fining yourself sleeping more than usual, you should immediately contact The Family: People Helping People Program at (242)-698-0155 or the Bahamas Crisis Centre at (242)-328-0922.
This article was written by Matthew Moxey for Eyewitness News Online.