Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris is concerned about the number of young men killing themselves – mainly because of involvement in drug-related activities.
She explained that the young men did not necessarily commit suicide because of drug taking but the pressures from, in some cases, being hounded by drug pushers for payment or being caught up in smuggling or trafficking.
The coroner heard 51 inquests last year, nine of which were suicides and six were young men, who took their lives between 2004 and 2008. In the case of the six suicides investigated by the court in 2009, five were young men ranging in ages from 18 to 28 years, with one 40 years old.
Marshall-Harris said that increasingly over the last few years there was the drug-related element attached to the suicides in the youths. Prior to that the suicides, she revealed, had been linked mainly to failed relationships, financial problems and latterly HIV diagnosis.
“There is a drug element in the more recent ones. They [young men] were not able to get out of the drug spiral and just ended it all,” Marshall-Harris stated.
Since taking up the appointment in 2001, Marshall-Harris has completed 607 inquests into unusual deaths and apart from the suicides the other cases include accidents, drownings, fatal ingestions, hangings and other freak incidents.
“I’ve noticed the last few years the suicides were not about the drug taking but that they felt hounded by the pressures of activities which involved drugs; not the actual drug use but areas such as trafficking, importation or the sale of drug. The pressure also from drug lords can lead them to that type of escape. They get too deeply involved in the trade,” the coroner stated.
In 2008 nine cases of suicides were adjudicated and five of them were men ranging in age from 24 to 39.
The drug scourge reared its head in other deaths, Marshall-Harris stated, particularly drownings where deceased was attempting to smuggle in drugs.
In 2003, just over a year after she was appointed coroner, Marshall-Harris heard 32 cases of suicides, many going back to the 1990s. Of that number 22 were young men, but the reasons were different.
Marshall-Harris said that in many cases relatives paid little attention to the warning signs and she appealed to Barbadians to be on the lookout for signs of depression in relatives or friends.?