Why did an apparently happy young man of Pottersville hang himself?
A 31-year-old man who was found hanging in his home on June 22, reportedly left work early that day, saying that he had an appointment to keep, according to a work colleague.
Russel Carbon, who was employed at Courtesy Car Rental, left work a little after 10:00 a.m. but did not reveal any details to his colleagues about the appointment. His girlfriend reportedly discovered him hanging from a ceiling later that day.
The work colleague said other co-workers agree that Carbon did not exhibit any sign of unease, discomfort or depression prior to his death.
"No one saw it coming," the colleague said. He added that Carbon went to work as normal, dealt with customers, dispatched vehicles and closed contracts on rentals that were returned.
The colleague said Carbon was a jovial person who was outgoing and who looked forward to life. Carbon, who was employed by the vehicle rental service for five years, was also described as efficient, punctual and helpful.
A resident of the community also described Carbon as a appearing to be a happy person who showed no signs of distress up to the time of his death.
Up to press time, the police had not issued a statement and it was therefore not clear whether foul play had been ruled out.
Amidst public speculation that Carbon might have committed suicide, this newspaper spoke to Government employed Psychiatrist, Dr Griffin Benjamin who said that in 90 percent of cases, suicide victims give some clue of their suicidal tendencies/intentions beforehand.
Dr Benjamin, who pointed out that he did not know Carbon personally or as a patient, said that often, someone in emotional turmoil might give a clue to someone in authority. Dr Benjamin explained that such persons often seek some form of help, even though they may not directly reveal that they are having suicidal thoughts. A qualified person would be able to recognise the threat of suicide and recommend further investigation, he added.
Further, he stated that depression is often responsible for the majority of suicide behaviour.
Dr Benjamin added that it is not common for persons in their 30s to kill themselves and explained that attempts are most widespread among teenagers with successful suicides most common among senior adults.
Their motivation is to put an end to a problem they cannot resolve, he explained.
Subtle telltale signs of a person intent on taking his/her own life include giving away their possessions and saying farewell, which can be done in a jovial, light-hearted way which masks their true intentions.
The island's second Government-employed psychiatrist, Dr Nadia Wallace noted that persons with suicidal tendencies may withdraw from society and not interact as they used to generally. They also lose interest in things they previously enjoyed and may write a suicide note but craft it in such a way that a lay person may consider it a casual letter.
Additionally, they may escalate their use of mood changing substances to hide their troubles. But these substances could cause them to lose their inhibitions, making them more impulsive and likely to end their lives under the influence.
She said that another sign is that such persons may become easily agitated by things that would not normally upset them.
According to Dr Benjamin, figures made available for the period spanning 2006-2011 reveal that the average suicide rate in Dominica is one to two persons per year.
However, this is just a fraction of those who attempt suicide. He disclosed that there are attempted suicide hospital admissions of up to two persons per week in Dominica.
Most of these persons are women and he said that their attempts can often be considered as a way of getting attention.
He and Dr Wallace agreed that successful suicides are mainly committed by men because of the means they choose. These include using firearms and hanging themselves while women often opt for overdosing on medications.
Persons with suicidal tendencies often feel a sense of worthlessness and hopelessness.
However, suicide can be prevented if the symptoms are recognized and such persons can be helped through their hours of difficulty, Dr Benjamin said, adding that this is why screening is important. He pointed out that some countries routinely screen pregnant women, dialysis patients and mental health patients.
Meanwhile, a standard operational procedure is being developed to enable primary health care givers at various health facilities to recognise the warning signs and act appropriately. It is expected to be launched in August.