By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI
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While I was in London in August, a 10-year-old boy, who had tried to commit suicide twice, and who was receiving counselling, told me: “I am learning not to fear death”. Red flag! Family breakdown, child abuse, and child neglect can be traumatic. Our task is to be alert, to know the signs—including depression, and to know where to seek help.
T&T has the third highest rate of suicide in the Caribbean—with Guyana and Suriname first and second (WHO study). As reported in the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian on July 18, 2018, “According to the World Health Organisation statistics, every year, almost one million people die from suicide, a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. In the last 45 years, suicide rates have increased by 60 per cent worldwide. Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15–44 in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10–24 years age group. These figures do not include suicide attempts, which are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide” (www.who.int/mental_health).
Suicide is a public health issue which we must address e.g. by developing and implementing a comprehensive national suicide prevention strategy. What are we doing to strengthen family life, deal with bullying, address poverty and social exclusion?
Remember that some individuals from middle-class and well-to-do families also commit suicide. Let us pray for those who have taken their lives, and reach out to their families with love and compassion.
As Dr Roshan Parasrama said in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday (March 9, 2017): “No single approach could impact alone on a complex issue such as suicide. He added that responsible media reporting on suicides has been shown to be an effective strategy for reducing suicide rates.” It is hoped that the shortage of staff at the Children’s Authority will be addressed soon.
In the midst of death, there is joy in knowing that some of our loved ones have passed away, having lived long and fulfilling lives. I attended three funerals on three consecutive days recently.
I was asked to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of Mary Joyce Robinson on Thursday, September 27. She was my Latin teacher at Holy Faith Convent, Couva. Extracts from my eulogy are included in this issue of Catholic News. St Paul’s RC Church, Couva, was packed. Current and past staff and students came from far and wide to bid Mary Joyce God-speed as she returns to her Creator. She really was a teacher par excellence.
The following day I went to Grenada to join the hundreds who packed their Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for the funeral of Bishop Emeritus Sydney Anicetus Charles.
As I sat, watching his smiling face on the Order of Service, I remember all the wonderful discussions we had whenever he stayed with my family in London. What a holy, humble man he was, totally dedicated to serve all God’s children.
Bishop Harvey’s powerful homily brought tears to my eyes as he reminded us of the challenges/racism that Bishop Charles and the five other locally trained Diocesan priests faced after their ordination in 1954.
The image of the then Fr Charles closing the door of the presbytery and experiencing what Bishop Harvey called: “the radical loneliness of priesthood”, at the time in which he was ordained, contrasted sharply with the outgoing, funny bishop that I came to know and love dearly.
He was a good Shepherd, sanctifying, governing and teaching the faithful. Let us celebrate his legacy of faithful service during his 64 years of priestly ordination. We are deeply grateful for the gift of his life.
On the Saturday, I attended the funeral of my cousin, Dr Dhanrajie Dial-Seupersad, T&T’s first female paediatrician. She received a National Award in 2007. She and Petronella Manning-Alleyne had set up the first local neo-natal unit.
Her dear husband, neurosurgeon, Dr Ralph Seupersad, will certainly miss her. They were married for 54 years. The moving tributes paid to her e.g. by members of the medical fraternity, show that she was highly respected in her field. She was a generous person with a deep spirituality rooted in her Hindu faith. Indeed, her guru often stayed at her home in Maraval during his visits from India.
Let’s keep our lamps lit and the flame of our faith burning. Feed the flame with the Eucharist.
Let’s keep our lamps lit and the flame of our faith burning.