Reach out, help is available

Although Covid-19 was the antagonist of 2020, in its shadow hid a quieter enemy. Suicide has been affecting many throughout the world since the onset of the pandemic, with some nations' suicide rates increasing by 145 percent. Last year, Guam averaged 3.25 suicides a month.

“For both suicide and depression, I think there's a big misconception that talking about it will make things worse or lead to more severe problems,” said Dr. KristiAnna Whitman, project director of Guam Behavioral Health & Wellness Center's Focus on Life.

Dr KristiAnna Whitman

“Talking about our challenges can really lead us to help. We need to encourage open and honest conversations about our vulnerabilities and really help to reduce the stigma that's associated with seeking help. Suicide is preventable and depression is treatable.”

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has yet to release the official suicide count for 2020. Based on the preliminary numbers, Guam had 26 suicides from January to August. Records from 2019 showed a total of 31 suicides.

Over the years, Guam endures a disturbingly high rate of suicide among its youth and adult population; close to 60 percent of all suicide deaths on Guam occur among those 30 years and younger. Suicide is the fifth