TRINIDAD: Why did this teen kill himself?

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – THE family of a 15-year-old boy who hanged himself outside the family’s Williamsville home on Sunday is baffled and confused over his death.

Neil Ramoutar was found hanging from a rope tied to a mango tree at the back of the house at Gordon Avenue.

Neil’s father, Sheldon Ramoutar, said his son seemed happy.

On Saturday, Neil and his older sister went to a magic show at the Williamsville Community Centre. After they returned, they watched a movie and retired to bed around 11 p.m.

“The next morning around six o’clock a neighbour saw Neil on the road. We don’t know where he was going, or who he was meeting. When he came back home he did this,” said the father.

Sheldon Ramoutar, a father of three, said he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and was a single parent.

“Neil was a quiet person. Sometimes he would act like he was not hearing you when we talking to him, but he was always very respectful and was well liked by everyone in the village.

“He had friends at school. He took part in school activities like the marathon, a dance competition, and other school programmes.

“His school principal said that he was a good pupil,” said the father.

An autopsy was performed at the San Fernando mortuary yesterday.

Suicide can be contagious

Secretary of the Association of Psychiatrists of Trinidad and Tobago (APTT) Dr Varma Deyalsingh said yesterday suicide is the second most common cause of death among young people between ages 15 and 29.

He said it is important to know the risk factors and parents ought to be ready to support their children.

“Once you have a child within this age it is a disturbing and frightening fact of modern life.

“While parents might be concerned with vaccines and proper nutrition, the new parent needs to recognise signs of depression, which can look different in different children.

“Some children withdraw, have sleep and appetite changes and lose interest in previous enjoyable activities if they are filled with gloom and doom lasting more than two weeks, others can become aggressive and irritable and show violence and one may mistake this as a rebellious youth acting out,” said Deyalsingh.

Some of the risk factors include a previous suicide attempt or deliberate but non-suicidal self-harm, such as cutting.

Be supportive 

Suicide by a family member increases the risk of suicide among others within the family, and a history of foster care and adoption also has been linked to higher risk, he said.

“LGBTQ teens who experienced negative reactions or rejection to the ‘coming out’ process, children and teens who have mental illness such as depression, mood disorders, eating disorders have a higher risk of suicide. ADHD, which is increasing worldwide, also increases the risk.

“Substance use is a factor in roughly one to three youth suicides.

“Suicide can sometimes be contagious. In these cases, one teen’s death may touch off copycat behaviour,” said Deyalsingh.

Deyalsingh said teachers and parents should pay extra attention to how a peer’s suicide affects their children, since as many as one in every five teens experience depression at some point during adolescence.

“I think all children over age 12 should be screened for depression at their yearly check-ups or entrance at school. We need to talk openly about the situation and point out that the victim probably didn’t realise how many people cared about them and that resources are available to help.

“Children who are bullied, and those who bully others, are at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and actions.

“Cyberbullying now allows others to continue the bullying in your home and not just in school.

“Authoritative parental style, where there is too harsh of a parenting style, can push a child. There is also examination stress and pressure to perform,” he said.

Deyalsingh said it is important to be supportive and non-judgmental towards young people.

He said a general practitioner and/or paediatrician can assist and connect families with mental health professionals.

He advised that there are free services in the Ministry of Social Development, in schools there are guidance counsellors, child support services, as well as three child guidance clinics.

Deyalsingh said that there are two child psychiatrists in Trinidad and Tobago, and there is an urgent need for more to deal with the increasing depression being seen among children.

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