The Most Holidays, the Highest Suicide Rate

A few decades ago, the population of Guyana hovered around 500,000. Today, the population of this country is less than 750,000. Why is the population so low? The line at the passport office is always out the door, with people waiting on the porch and down onto the sidewalk. Everyone wants to get out of Guyana. I’ve heard once or twice that “you’re nothing until you’ve gotten out.” This is a sad realization to come to. I’ve done the opposite; I’ve come from one of the places that so many Guyanese people have tried to get to. It’s sad to come to the realization that so many of the people who live here don’t appreciate their home. They just want to leave.

I lived in the state of Alaska for two years. The suicide rate there is the highest in the United States and was particularly high in the region of the state that I lived in. Once again, I find myself in a land with a high suicide rate. Guyana has the highest suicide rate in the world. It’s so hard to stomach a statistic like that. It’s hard to think about suicide at all. People who commit suicide are desperately searching for a way out of the pain. This has been a particularly tough subject to deal with over the course of my lifetime considering the number of teen suicides in the LGBT community is through the roof. It’s almost as if teenagers should be congratulated on making it through their transitional years, just for persevering. Then, living in Alaska where the rural Eskimo population struggles so much with suicide, having that be a daily occurrence in the news at the radio station I worked at, I’m drained. Suicide isn’t something that should cross any human beings brain—ever. And here I am, living in the country with more self-inflicted deaths than anywhere else in the world. So, I ask the difficult question, what’s really going on here? 

On a much, much happier note, Guyana also celebrates more holidays each year than any other country. With so many different races and religions living (relatively) peacefully together, there are lots of opportunities to take time off. The Guyanese also happen to be particularly good at acknowledging their history with days off. Hence, Arrival Day, Independence Day, Caricom Day, Freedom Day, Labour Day, and Emancipation Day, along with a number of religious holidays, including Boxing Day and Good Friday which are tacked on to the same vacation days as Christmas and Easter. It’s good to be in Guyana if you’re looking for a few extra days off during the year. I think there are somewhere between 12 and 15 holidays throughout the year, and the best part just may be that, wherever the day lands, that’s the day you get off, unless it’s on a weekend, then the holiday gets moved to the nearest Monday or Friday to create a long weekend. For example, this month of May is packed with FOUR additional days off. We had May 1st and 5th off, and will have the 11th and 26th off as well. The 5th and 26th both happen to be Tuesdays, so the week is broken up. I love going to work for one day and then getting another day off. Even better, I like going to work on Wednesday, knowing I only have two more days to go until the weekend again. It’s kind of fun, unique. We don’t have anywhere near this much time off in America. What do we get, 5 or 6 holidays a year? We have no idea what we’re doing!

So, I conclude this happy/unhappy imbalance and confusion with this:

Time > $$$

One thought on “The Most Holidays, the Highest Suicide Rate

  1. I can understand taking one’s own life. When the quality of life is so onerous that you have no hope it can look like the only good option. Sad.

    It is nice that they actually celebrate the holiday’s reason for existing. Sad that here, few really think about what Memorial & Veterans days are about. Or Christmas for that matter.

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