The Global School-Based Student Health Survey (GSHS) is a collaborative surveillance project designed to help countries measure and assess the behavioral risk factors and protective factors in 10 key areas among young people. The key topics addressed by the survey are: alcohol use, dietary behaviors, drug use, hygiene, mental health, physical activity, protective factors, sexual behaviors, tobacco use and violence and unintentional injury.
The 2007 Report for the Global School-based Student Health Survey Trinidad and Tobago revealed that for both male and female students, aged 13-15 years; a total of 11.5% had most of the time or always felt lonely during the past 12 months. 18.1% of students had seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months and 8.7 of students who have no close friends. However in 2011, there was a decrease to 17.0 % of students who ever seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months.
Trinidad and Tobago’s suicide rate has increased in recent years, and according to Professor Hutchinson, “many cases have been attributed to failed relationships and family issues”. According to the WHO (2016), Trinidad and Tobago ranks at number 43 out of 183 countries, with an average of 12.9 suicides per 100,000 among both sexes in 2016. Suicide is a serious potential consequence of treatable mental disorders that include major depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorders, and anxiety disorders. Not every young person who are diagnosed with these conditions will experience suicidal ideation, however, all suicidal ideation and behavior must be taken seriously.
Annually, over a million lives worldwide is lost due to suicidal behavior and suicides among young people account for nearly a third of all suicides globally, and suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 15 to 29 year age group, with non-fatal suicidal behavior estimated to be 25 to 50 times more common (World Health Organization, 2014).
Suicidal behaviors includes: threats to hurt or kill oneself, attempts to access the means to kill oneself, talking or writing about one’s own death, exhibiting revenge-seeking behavior, talks about feeling trapped in an unhappy situation and not seeing any way out, feeling no reason to live or having no purpose in life, withdrawal from friends, school, work, family, and all other important relationships, engagement in risky behavior without caution.
The theme for World Mental Health Day 2019: focus on suicide prevention, serves to remind us that persons who exhibits suicidal behavior can be helped. Providing support to persons who are vulnerable and who have made an attempt on their life is paramount, as well as conversations to let them know that they can seek crisis intervention immediately or as soon as possible. Self-help groups for people bereaved by suicide are important. In the medium term, increased training in suicide assessment and intervention for mental health professionals. For the long term, there is a need for Trinidad and Tobago to establish more policies and programs, and to advocate for resources regarding the promotion of youth mental health.
American Psychiatric Publishing. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th Ed.). Washington (D.C.).
World Health Organization. (2014). Preventing suicide A global imperative. Geneva: World Health Organization.