Suicides in Guyana: Hinduism NOT a risk factor – by Veda Nath Mohabir

letters_iconSuicides in Guyana: Hinduism NOT a risk factor

Letter by Veda Nath Mohabir

I find two oddities in The Daily Chronicle, June 29 report (by Tejram Mohabir) on suicides in Guyana.

Religion was cited as a ‘common risk factor’ for suicide among Guyanese (along with Trinidadian and Surinamese) East Indians: “In Guyana, Dr. Harry identified culture and to a lesser extent religion as common risk factors of suicide. “ with “30 percent [of those committing suicides] each are Hindus and Pentecostals”.  

Question: What is similar or blameworthy in the beliefs shared by Hindus and Christian Pentecostals which trigger the pathology?

To my mind, the only commonality is their Indianness.  Very many Indians (especially Hindus, who are seen as following a heathen religion) have been converted to Pentecostalism, as they are targets by proselytizing Christian churches in Guyana, India and I’m told by a reliable source, T&T. Pentecostalism, as with other Christian sects (and Abrahamic religions) subscribes to a Judgement Day; and a belief in a unique prophet or saviour is critical to be ‘saved. Hinduism subscribes no such eschatology – which is why it is easy to convert Hindus who share a more complex and nuanced philosophy of life such as Dharma (universal law), Karma, Reincarnation, Moksha (liberation/release from the karmic cycle of births and deaths), as well as,  Autars (Avatars such as Rama, Krishna and Buddha). Thus, there is no similarity between the two religions which could be considered a ‘common risk factor’.

Furthermore, if Hinduism was a factor one would expect India with 80% Hindus to be way over the top, while Guyana is ‘tops’.  As I showed in my book, Under Attack! The Caribbean Indian, using 2002 Guyana Census figures, while Indians were 43.5% in 2002 (falling from 48.6% in 1991) for the same period,  Hindus declined from 35.0% of the population to 28.4% while Pentecostalism rose  from 7.5% to 16.9% of the population. So, with less than a third of Guyana’s population Hindus, they are said to push Guyana to the top of the world. Yet, India with 80% Hindus, is much lower down, at 10.6/100,000 people or No. 43, citing WHO 2009 figures (rate of 11.2 in 2012 per report in the next para.), whereas the global rate is 16/100,000. . The Chronicle article gives the global average of 11.4 which is still higher than India’s.

One can conclude that India’s suicide rate is clearly not driven by her predominant Hindu culture. As well, men (as in Guyana) have a higher incidence of suicide than women at a ratio of 2:1 in 2012. What then is responsible for this disparity? The cited report states: “It is observed that social and economic causes have led most of the males to commit suicide whereas emotional and personal causes have mainly driven females to end their lives.”

The other unexplained oddity is that, in T&T, more women are said to commit the act, whereas in Guyana ( as in India), more men. How does one reconcile this divergence in Caribbean countries with similar ethnic makeup?

Finally, there is what is called a ‘clustering’ effect which is not acknowledged in the article.  It was reported that when Marilyn Monroe died of ‘acute barbiturate poisoning’  ‘the rate of suicide [likely in the USA] rose by as much as 12 percent’. Perhaps the most tragic case of ‘clustering’, or the contagion effect, happened in the top ranked heavyweight boxer, George Chuvalo’s, family. He revealed: “The worst time of my life [1985] was when my son died of an overdose and my wife died (of suicide) in a four-day period…” But those were not the end his harrowing tragic losses. Two more sons died of drug overdosing in 1993 and 1996. In another report, a family in Guyana had a son self-inflicting death by drinking pesticide; and the stepmother reported her former husband and his son died of suicide, while she herself thought of it once.

So, while the causes are varied (including the introduced  ‘clustering’ effect such as family history/conditioning and the availability and use of pesticides/herbicides in Guyana) it has been shown that Hinduism is clearly NOT a risk factor.

Veda Nath Mohabir

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  • rennydiokno2015  On 07/06/2015 at 1:14 am

    Reblogged this on

  • de castro  On 07/06/2015 at 3:02 am

    Very interesting article…using statistical facts to disprove religious myth.
    My first thought was that all potential jihadist should read this article.
    Wonderful read write on veda….


  • Thinker  On 07/07/2015 at 2:39 pm
    It is interesting to note that within India itself there are vast differences in Suicide rates, further refuting the role that Hinduism is supposed to play.

  • Ron. Persaud  On 07/09/2015 at 3:34 am

    Suicide must be an ‘Environmental’ rather than ‘Genetic’ manifestation. Our ‘Genetics’ favor survival rather than (self) destruction. I will add that suicide is a “modern” disorder. Up to 1959 there was one instance of suicide among the Wapisianas in the South Rupununi. I would expect that the rate has gone up, commensurate with the extent of “Civilization” and “Modernization” of the society. Here is a link to suicide rate by country for 2012.
    I could not find any factor(s) that would explain the data.

  • de castro  On 07/09/2015 at 6:53 am

    Statistics are assumed to be “factual” but commonsense must prevail.
    Decisions are usually “statistically”: based but one must remain sceptical on
    how those statistics are formulated…..

    Guess that makes me a sceptic…..hopefully not a cynically so.
    Suicide is a very emotive subject.
    The right to die in critical illnesses ….” Mercy killing” etc a taboo subject.
    In some countries cite Switzerland it is legal… sure many will soon follow.

    Guess in certain circumstances it should legalised.
    Jury is out !

  • Thinker  On 07/09/2015 at 9:34 am

    Kampton, the discussion is NOT about physician assisted suicide. In British Guiana attempted suicide was illegal. It remains so in Afghanistan and probably a few other places stunted by the clergy.

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