Mental Health and the Cycle of Violence in Guyana

For Guyanese people, suicide and abuse are facets of everyday life.

The nation’s suicide rate recently dropped from 44.2 to 29 out of every 100,000 people and yet, with a population under 800,000 people, Guyana still has one of the highest rates in the world.

The risk factors for suicide, including substance abuse, family dysfunction, and a lack of coping skills, also tend to perpetuate cycles of violence across generations. Since 2010, at least 142 women have been slayed by intimate partners, a rate that tops the highest-ranking regions of the United States.

A severe lack of clinical mental health services often leave religious leaders, police officers, volunteers, and other inadequately trained staff to act as first responders in mental health crises.

As the country works to reform its mental health system, Bishop and Rawlins traveled to the three regions in Guyana with the highest rates of suicide to explore these trends and the complex social narratives at play.

Walter Rodney Commemoration

After our first full day in Guyana, Madeline Bishop and I met a contact at the commemoration for Walter Rodney hosted by the Working People’s Alliance, a socialist political party.