Healthcare professionals at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) are battling to save the life of a teenage female student who consumed a poisonous substance, the second such case in weeks.

The student is said to be from a community on the Windward (eastern) side of St. Vincent, but the circumstances surrounding her ingestion of the poisonous substance are still not clear.

A well-placed source told I-Witness News that the student is among at least four persons who are being nursed at MCMH, “having consumed one substance or the other”.

I-Witness News understands that two other females and one male, none of whom are teenagers, are being nursed for similar reasons.

The development comes even as Sandra Williams of Richland Park struggles to understand why her 13-year-old daughter drank a herbicide which claimed her life.

The girl, who consumed the poisonous substance on March 30 died in hospital on April 11.

She did not tell her mother why she consumed the poison, but asked for her mother’s forgiveness before she died.

After her death on Tuesday, counsellors from the Ministry of Education were deployed to Emmanuel High School Mesopotamia, which the student attended.

Professionals have noted that while some people may think that suicide is the answer to their problems, it should never be an option.

They have noted that things change over time regardless of your situation; there are always other options; one can never predict the future in that even if the thing that you are afraid of does happen, there are circumstances and factors that you can’t predict which can be used to your advantage.

Persons having suicidal thoughts are encouraged to seek help immediately when they feel as if suicide is the only option and to focus on the facts of their situation and not their thoughts

Suicide prevention information

HELPGUIDE.org says that any suicidal talk or behaviour should be taken seriously since it’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide but is a cry for help.

While a suicidal person may not ask for help that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted, the resource says.

“Most people who commit suicide don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting,” the online resource said, adding that suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously.

“If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. Speak up if you’re concerned and seek professional help immediately! Through understanding, reassurance, and support, you can help your loved one overcome thoughts of suicide.”

While many suicidal persons might not exhibit any change in behaviour, the American Psychological Association said that you should be concerned if someone you know:

  • Talks about committing suicide
  • Has trouble eating or sleeping
  • Exhibits drastic changes in behavior
  • Withdraws from friends or social activities
  • Loses interest in school, work or hobbies
  • Prepares for death by writing a will and making final arrangements
  • Gives away prized possessions
  • Has attempted suicide before
  • Takes unnecessary risks
  • Has recently experienced serious losses
  • Seems preoccupied with death and dying
  • Loses interest in his or her personal appearance
  • Increased alcohol or drug use.

If you suspect that someone is contemplating suicide, you can contact a religious leader, social worker, counsellor or officials at the government’s Social Welfare Department.

Helpguide.org further says:

Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

  • I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
  • Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.
  • I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.

Questions you can ask:

  • When did you begin feeling like this?
  • Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
  • How can I best support you right now?
  • Have you thought about getting help?

What you can say that helps:

  • You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
  • You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
  • I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.

When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute — whatever you can manage.