Teen placed in psychiatric hospital after attempting suicide

first_img…says conditions inhumane, NGOs outragedReports that a 15-year-old girl who attempted to take her own life has been placed in the National Psychiatric Hospital at Canje, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), has sparked outrage from several agencies.National Psychiatric Hospital at CanjeThe teenager has since said that she cannot live under those conditions and is pleading for assistance.She was reportedly placed there with only a piece of sponge to sleep on, which she said is smelly and the surroundings are unsanitary and inhumane.Only recently British High Commissioner Greg Quinn renewed calls in support of the decriminalisation of attempted suicide. In Guyana, suicide or attempted suicide is considered a criminal offence with punishment ranging from five to ten years’ imprisonment.It was in July that the British High Commissioner made the call as he noted that suicide was removed from the list of criminal offences in England and Wales since 1961 and such actions should follow through for Guyana as well because it eliminates the stigma for surviving family members. In Guyana, there is a holding centre for criminal juvenile offenders but none for juveniles who have issues in association with suicide attempts.Meanwhile, following several attempts at suicide, Police took the teenager to the National Psychiatric Hospital where she was admitted.According to a source close to the institution, it is the protocol to have persons on suicide watch placed in a ward without anything but a mattress to sleep on. In this case, the mattress is just a piece of sponge.According to the teenager, she attempted to take her own life on numerous occasions because she was sexually molested but relatives did nothing to help her.“I am not going to be able to live here. I can’t live under these conditions,” she said.The Caribbean Voice, an NGO which focuses on anti-violence with a specific focus on mental health issues inclusive of suicide and social justice, has expressed outrage.Managing Director Bibi Ahmad told this publication that the teenager would have been diagnosed by a medical person at the National Psychiatric Hospital.“They had to do an assessment of her before they put her into that facility and her mother would have signed a consent form before she could have been placed there.”However, Ahmad said that if there are reports of sexual assault, the psychiatric hospital should investigate further and get the Child Care and Protection Agency involved.“The Child Care and Protection Agency should be involved because it is a minor,” Ahmad explained.Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency, Ann Green when contacted told this publication that she was unaware of the situation but promised to investigate.Meanwhile, weighing in on the issue, head of the Humanitarian Mission Guyana Inc, Suresh Sugrim noted that there are no centres for underage persons who need special attention, noting that there is a huge stigma attached to the National Psychiatric Hospital.“These are teenagers who are in need, should be handled and taken care of differently from adults. The human rights activists need to be called in to remove that child from that institution immediately. I was offering the Mission’s facility at Port Mourant for full-time counselling for adolescents, and because of politicians in the region and their self-interests, it was shut down,” Sugrim said.The Mission, two years ago, had given a section of the building at Port Mourant to the Public Health Ministry for that purpose.“Without proper sleep, attention and professional medical help, nothing is going to change in the mental state of these adolescents! Isn’t a mental institution partly medical? Why is this place dirty and smelling? Why is it lacking the proper necessities a mental institution should have?” he questioned while noting that such situations could be one of the contributory factors of the region having such a high suicide rate.Efforts to get a comment from the National Psychiatric Hospital were futile. (Andrew Carmichael)last_img read more