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Guyana: Alcoholism fuelling social breakdown in Baramita-Gov’t working to tackle unusually high suicide rate

BETWEEN 2005 and 2016, more than 73 persons have committed suicide in Baramita, Region One, most of them by hanging. From then to now, the number has risen to 78, with the latest two victims-a 24-year-old mother of four and a 16-year-old boy–having taken their lives earlier this month.

This is considered a particularly high rate for the Indigenous village of some 3000 people, and on the ground it is believed that this scourge has much to do with the over-consumption of alcohol in the village. The surge of domestic and sexual violence in the community was also well documented in a November 2016 report by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), highlighting the struggles of the interior community, where the main economic activity is mining.

“What we discovered is that the vending of strong alcohol has a bearing on this tendency to violence and to suicide. It appears as though the effect on their psyche has been tremendously strong. And we believe this could have something to do with this whole issue of suicide and of course domestic violence,” explained Mervyn Williams, Ministerial Adviser in the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.

The village is also affected by other social ills such as: high school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, and rape. Sexual abuse of young girls and women is also rampant. With sexual abuse and exploitation on the rise, young girls are now known to be the perpetrators of physically violent crimes in order to protect themselves from being raped time and again, the GHRA report stated.

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