JCF concerned about increase in suicides
The Jamaica Constabulary Force has expressed concern about a worrying increase in the number of suicides, especially cases involving older men.
The JCF is therefore calling for greater attention to be paid to mental health and suicide prevention in Jamaica.
Data from the JCF indicate that there were 27 reported suicides between last November and January, a significant increase compared to previous years.
Of these, 23 were men, most of them being over the age of 40 years.
For last month, the JCF registered 14 reported suicides.
In comparison, January 2021 and January 2022 had 3 cases each.
For last December, 10 suicides were registered compared to 7 in December 2021 and 3 in December 2020.
The JCF noted that the yuletide season is often correlated with an increase in self-reporting of higher levels of mental ill-health, and that this is a cause for concern.
Of the 10 suicides in December 2022, half of them were men from St. Ann.
However, among the 14 suicides registered last month, St. Ann was the only parish where there was no registered suicide.
It said between January 2020 and January 2023, 173 suicides were recorded.
The JCF said there is need for interventions at a level outside the realm of policing.
It said, while the reasons for the increase in suicides are not yet fully understood, some experts suggest that the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, and its associated economic and social challenges, may be contributing factors.
The JCF said the pandemic has brought unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty to people’s lives, and in the case of older men in particular, the isolation and lack of support, can be devastating.
Additionally, many older men may be grappling with financial difficulties and the loss of their jobs, which increases the risk of depression and suicide.
The JCF said the high rate of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, also contribute to feelings of hopelessness and depression.
It cited one reported suicide this year, which involved a retired man, who was battling a terminal illness.
The JCF said community organizations are working to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and to provide support to persons who may be struggling.
This includes education campaigns to help people understand the warning signs of suicide and how to get help, as well as peer-support groups for persons who lost loved ones to suicide.
The JCF is encouraging families, religious groups and non-governmental organisations to play their part in preventing suicides, by reaching out to others, and offering them the support and resources they need to overcome challenges.