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Gerard Hutchinson

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There have been multiple attempted suicides recorded in the country due to fears of contracting COVID-19, with one person succeeding. This was revealed by the head of psychiatric services at the North Central Health Authority professor Gerard Hutchinson during a Ministry of Health’s virtual press conference yesterday.

“We’ve also seen people who, in fearing that they had contracted COVID-19, have engaged in attempted suicide and have had to be admitted to hospital for this reason—particularly among the elderly population,” he said.

He indicated that one person, who tested positive for the virus, succeeded when they jumped from the third floor of the Arima General Hospital.

“Being unable to cope with the diagnosis (the patient) had jumped from the third floor at that hospital,” he said.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Prof Hutchinson noted that there has been a markable increase in members of the public accessing the various psychological services.

“Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in demand for these services by 30 to 40 per cent,” he said.

This he attributed to the levels of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic and the numerous stressors from the restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The lockdown measures, again issues related to social isolation, childcare and the financial and socioeconomic issues that have developed and emerged during this time.”

To manage this, he said the NCRHA had to “engage in interventions that support the family, support the social network within which people function and also attempt to encourage everyone to engage in activities that are focused on self-care and self-efficacy.”