Statement: Re- Zidane Malone & Mazza Baptiste
The Silver Lining Foundation (SLF) extends its deepest sympathies to the families of 14-year-old Zidane Malone, who sadly took his life on October 28th, 2016, and 13-year-old Mazza Baptiste, who tragically ended her life on October 30th, 2016. Zidane was a student of the Five Rivers Secondary School while Mazza was a student of the Cowen Hamilton Secondary School. They both had bright futures ahead of them and we now grieve the loss of these young, gifted souls with their peers, friends and family.
There is no single cause for suicide. Persons who are truly considering ending their lives often display changes in behaviours. We are reminded to observe these behaviour changes that may include increased bouts of sadness, depression or aggression, heightened emotional and social withdrawal, frequent talking about having no reason to live or feeling trapped or being a burden.
As human beings, we sometimes forget or take for granted to express how much someone means to us, how much they are loved. We are all innately not only glad to know each other but also glad to watch each other grow and develop into who we are meant to be. Sometimes, life’s trials and tribulations shield our eyes and make us blind to this. We must work to remove this veil from our eyes and not allow ourselves to succumb to feelings of worthlessness or insignificance. We must all continuously be aware of how much we enrich the lives of those who know us and make this notion known.
This is the fourth report of suicide by a young person that we have received this year alone; four too many. It is becoming more and more evident that there is a fundamental need for parents to foster a relationship of trust, honety and open communication with their children. It is also evident that school counselors, psychologists and social workers must take an active role in their students’ lives. The myopic mind-set that we, in the Caribbean, have towards mental health awareness and treatment is a key hindrance to people, especially our youth, reaching their fullest potential. Seeking help does not imply that you are weak; it only demonstrates that you recognize the strength of your will to live.
The SLF has and will continue to encourage persons to seek out help if they believe that they suffer from mental health condition. This tragedy reminds us that we, as a wider society, must do more to end bullying and peer pressure and to encourage the development and sustainability of safer spaces to have open and honest dialogue. We must remind each other that help is available and that several people who actively address their mental health condition(s) lead productive and enjoyable lives. Zidane’s and Mazza’s passing, and the passing of those before them, acts a call to action to begin the groundwork for the creation of these safer spaces and to take a serious and active role in tackling bullying and mental health awareness.
Mental health is not a matter to be taken lightly. We, as a wider society, must aggressively tackle the issue of mental health, rather than dismiss it as simply “problems” or a “phase”. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Sadly, far too many people battle with the ills of mental health. Zidane’s and Mazza’s battles, and those before them, exemplify why we should always be kind: everyone is fighting their own internal battle. We must collectively work to encourage and safeguard each other, especially our nation’s youth. We must inspire each other to live authentically and remind one another that treatment is available and further encourage them to seek these forms of treatment for suicide attempts, depression and other mental health disorders. We must open the lines of communication and create safer spaces for open and honest dialogue about issues such as these, in efforts to tackle them head-on.
Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost someone who has lost their battle with some variant of a mental health condition. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with those who have passed on due to the loss of that internal battle. For George Kazanjian, Faith Gajadhar, Christian Street, Zidane Malone, Mazza Baptiste and all who unfortunately ended their struggle with feeling like they had to endure this pain by themselves. May their souls find and rest in eternal peace.
If you or someone you know struggles with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please talk with someone. If you feel like there is no one that you can talk to who will listen with compassion and respect, seek out suicide prevention lines to refer you to accessible resources or contact any of the following:
Childline (toll free, 24-Hours): (868) 800-4321
Lifeline (24-Hour): (868) 645-2800
Families in Action 24-Hour Hotline: 628-2333
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-7283