The new lead for Jersey’s Mental Health service, Dr Miguel Garcia, is using World Suicide Prevention Day to raise awareness that anyone can have suicidal thoughts.
Dr Garcia, who is the Associate Medical Director for Mental Health in Jersey, who works for Health and Community Services, is calling on islanders to talk about suicide in a bid to get rid of the stigma surrounding discussing the issue.
This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day, which falls on Tuesday 10 September, is collaboration – with the message that everyone across society can play a part by raising awareness, showing compassion to those in distress and questioning the stigma associated with suicide and suicidal behaviour.
Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for more than 800,000 deaths – which equates to one death every 40 seconds. In Jersey, latest figures show that between 2006 and 2016 there were 129 suicides.
Dr Garcia said: "Suicide has a devastating effect on any community, especially one as small and close-knit as Jersey. It is vital that we all – from the Government to third sector organisations and from family to colleagues – join together to stop suicide.
"It is only through collaborative work that we can better communicate and raise awareness to avert a suicide attempt. What we need to remember is that anyone can have suicidal thoughts. Talking about suicide doesn’t cause people to kill themselves, but not talking about it might."
In his role, Dr Garcia is working closely with the Suicide Prevention Group, which has a new interim head, nurse consultant Ronan Mulhern.
Mr Mulhern takes over from Director of Public Health Policy Martin Knight and will identify how services can be developed to reduce the suicide risk in the island and will work with the third sector and charities to support one another’s initiatives. The Suicide Prevention Group is also due to review its membership to ensure that at risk sections within Jersey’s community in Jersey are represented.
Dr Garcia said: "Mental Health is a priority for the Government of Jersey and suicide prevention must first start with good mental health. I am looking forward to working with the Group and across all our mental health services with colleagues to ensure that the provision of mental health services for islanders are as good as they can be."
Dr Garcia added that there were many organisations in Jersey which islanders with mental health issues can approach for help including the Recovery College, the Samaritans, YES and Mind Jersey.