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There are 48 psychiatric hospitals in Venezuela and most of them lack resources | via: Radio Fe y Alegria

María Iriarte | Venezuela | May 10, 2023 | Image: Rayner Peña | EFE 

Unofficial translation made by HumVenezuela…

Fabiana Santamaría, legislator of the Legislative Council of the state of Mérida, warned that the mental health of Venezuelans is in crisis and is not being properly attended, because there are only 48 public psychiatric centers in the country and most of them do not have resources, lack personnel and the facilities are deteriorated.

“There is no national public policy on mental health and there is no uniformity or continuity in prevention policies. We see that different initiatives are being carried out without coordination and that is worrying because in the end mental health is as or more important than physical health,” he said on the program Háblame Bajito on Radio Fe y Alegría Noticias.

She emphasized that the suicide rates that are known are thanks to the work of the Venezuelan Violence Observatory (OVV), but that there are no real statistics. Without the data, it is difficult to carry out an investigation to determine which are the risk factors.

She also pointed out that the lack of sufficiently equipped public psychiatric centers makes it even more difficult to address this crisis.

For example, knowing that 80% of the cases of suicide are male, the legislator explained, it would be possible to know if it is due to the burden of not being able to provide enough at home as fathers of a family.

Older adults and adolescents: population at risk

She added that most suicides occur in the elderly and adolescents, which would indicate that in the former it would be because they no longer have a purpose in life, or because they feel that they are no longer useful or productive in society.

While with the latter, she affirmed that she verified in different groups of young people that they perceive that in Venezuela they do not have opportunities for development, for which they consider two options: to leave the country or to commit suicide.

However, she said that suicide is multifactorial; that is to say, there are multiple risk factors. However, indicated that in the last cases registered in Venezuela, the economic issue and the separation of families linked to migration are evident.

“Many children have left the country to support their parents economically, but it is not only that. It is the emotional abandonment, the feeling of isolation, not being able to go out in the street because of insecurity, we are not seeing healthy cultural or sports activities in the country”, she declared.

Unattended crisis

Santamaría considered that the national government has abandoned senior citizens as if they were not part of society. “In the interior we do not see that the elderly have anywhere to go for recreation, there are no policies where entrepreneurship is encouraged”, she said.

In this sense, she wondered why not involve them and create education and entrepreneurship centers, where they realize that they are still useful and that they can contribute.

In the case of young people, she insisted that we cannot wait for a political and economic change to begin to propose solutions, but that it is essential for the State to provide them with opportunities.

“We, since the campaign we have undertaken in Merida, have focused a lot on culture and sports, as ways to channel the negative thoughts they have, to drain those feelings of depression and get something that connects them again with life”, she said.

According to OVV’s annual report, at least 1104 suicides were recorded in 2022. On the other hand, in 2021 the rate was 1164 and in 2020 1150 deaths. Merida remains as the state with the highest number of cases.