Teen suicide public debate

May is Child Depression Awareness Month

Did you know that the teen suicide rate in Bermuda is much lower than the average in countries like the US, Canada and Britain? In fact Bermuda Hospitals Board Child and Adolescent Services Department (CAS) do not have a single child suicide in its statistics over the past twenty years.

“There have been attempted suicides,” said Department head Dr Sharon Apopa, “but we don’t have a record of any completed attempts.”
It is on this backdrop that CAS invited the Dynamic Debaters & Learners team to discuss the matter.

“Six students from various schools on the island will debate whether the low rate is due to something unique in our Bermuda culture or if it is because helping services like CAS identify at risk students early and intervene,” said CAS Occupational Therapist and Child Depression Awareness Month organiser, Moffat Makomo.

May is Child Depression Awareness month and the free public debate is one of three activities CAS has organized for community participation.
The debate will take place on Monday 9 May from 12:30 – 1:30pm in the 1st Floor Conference Room at the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute.
“It is free and the public is invited,” said Mr Makomo, “I would encourage folk to arrive early as seating will be available on a first come first served basis,” he added.

Messages to children and teens

On Friday 6 May, the CAS team will be on the ground floor of the Washington Mall asking the public to write messages of encouragement for local children battling clinical depression.

“Staff will be on hand to share information about child depression, the signs, symptoms, services we offer to help and how to contact us,” said Mr Makomo. “We will also ask folk to write a note or thought that they think will be comforting and help our children overcome their difficulties with depression. We will take these messages back to our facility and display them for our clients to see. The messages will act like notes in a large greeting card from the country to our children managing their depression,” he said.

“In 2015 CAS received 387 referrals, 202 were accepted for service and of those 20 were diagnosed as having depression,” said Dr Apopa. “That’s almost ten percent of the clients we see.”

Middle school poster competition

Students at Dellwood and Whitney Middle Schools are designing posters on child awareness about depression. Their creations will be on display at a private event for them and their parents on Thursday 19 May.

“The competition helps acquaint teens with information on depression including risk factors, symptoms and where to go for help,” said Mr Makomo.

If you suspect your child is depressed or have any questions on depression in children and teens please contact Child and Adolescent Services on 239-6344. The 24-hour emergency help line is 236-3770.

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