Article Category: Short Article related to Standing Committee section (SCORA)
Name: Duanie A. Moran
University: National Autonomous University of Honduras
E-mail: [email protected]
Just Another Birthday
This year on February 14th, I had a night shift in the Pediatrics Emergency of a hospital in Honduras. Between 11:00 PM and 12:30 AM, three patients with suicide attempts came through the door, one after the other, all girls between the ages of 13 and 15. One of them, the one who took aluminum phosphide, a pesticide that comes in a pill form, did not survive.
On February 15th it was my birthday. It started like no other birthday, I was writing a clinic history on the verge of tears. Like most people of my generation, I spent adolescence battling my mental health. Somehow, I reached 23 years of age that day knowing that there was a better future. In a way, I feel we have failed these girls.
Perhaps we fail them as a society by not caring about mental health in the same way that we care about physical health. Mental health is a major element of the WHO definition of health, yet mental health services, especially at the primary care level, are still in diapers.
Maybe, they were overwhelmed by the violent reality we live as women. At least 2,795 women were murdered in 2017 for gender reasons in 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, this being the most extreme expression of violence against women.(1) They might have also been sexually abused, perhaps they had an unwanted pregnancy, or they simply did not tolerate the disabling machism that was dealt with in Latin America.
Probably, we failed that precious girl who will never graduate from high school, with whom her father will no longer be able to dance, whose mother can no longer sing to her, by not properly regulating the sale practices of that pesticide, which is commonly known as a suicide method. Per month, an average of 33 Hondurans commit suicide with this pill. (2)
I don’t know at what specific point we could have prevented those three suicide attempts. We can start with raising awareness of mental health, providing truly comprehensive health services, or demanding better legislation. What I do know is that it is our duty to try because we all thrive when our girls thrive.
1 Caribe, C. E. para A. L. y el. CEPAL: Al menos 2.795 mujeres fueron víctimas de feminicidio en 23 países de América Latina y el Caribe en 2017 [Text]. CEPAL. Last modified November 15, 2018 https://www.cepal.org/es/comunicados/cepal-al-menos-2795-mujeres-fueron-victimas-feminicidio-23-paises-america-latina-caribe
2. Toxicólogos de la UNAH realizan investigación sobre “pastillas de curar frijoles.” (n.d.). Last modified June 24, 2020 https://blogs.unah.edu.hn/dircom/toxicologos-de-la-unah-realizan-investigacion-sobre-pastillas-de-curar-frijoles/