Chandarpal moots mediation centre for Berbice

Stabroek News
October 21, 1999

In the wake of the increased incidence of suicide in the country, especially in the Berbice area, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is embarking on the establishment of a family mediation centre there.

Minister Indra Chandarpal yesterday confirmed that she had had discussions with the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and other individuals towards establishing the centre. She said Berbice would be used as a pilot project since most of the suicides recorded happened in this region.

According to Chandarpal, the search is on for a piece of land to build on or for a suitable building. The minister said she envisaged a centre where persons could participate in stress-reducing activities.

She opined that the high rate of suicides in the area might be as a result of hopelessness suffered by many persons especially young people. Chandarpal said that in most of these areas, people do not have access to recreational facilities, jobs and even proper schools.

The minister contended that there was a lot of anger, fear and frustration and the objective of the centre would be for persons to indulge in the kind of activities to could help alleviate the anger, allay the fears and make people aware of choices available to them.

She said there must be space at the centre where persons suffering from stress could involve themselves in physical exercises. There would be exposure to yoga as a way of managing stress and freeing up their minds. Punching bags would be a feature of this centre for persons to hit out at instead of someone else or themselves. Music as soother is also being looked at.

Most of all the centre should be a place where distressed persons could go to for counselling. "I am envisaging a place where troubled people could come and talk about their problems. Somewhere they know they could find someone who cares, who would listen. Someone who could make them feel good about themselves. It must be a place where they could be motivated and encouraged and where the choices, alternatives to suicide or violence could be made known to them. It must be a place where people could interact and share," said Chandarpal.

She stated that her ministry was concerned not only at the increase of suicide in the country, but also the increase in violent behaviour.

Chandarpal said she hoped to get the support of the private sector in Berbice and planned to set up a board with members from the region to get the project off the ground. She noted that it was a bold project, but expressed optimism that with the support of residents and all concerned persons it would be realised.

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