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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 16, 2024
HomeCommentaryEditorial: Reflecting on Tragedy and Urging Action for Mental Health Care in...

Editorial: Reflecting on Tragedy and Urging Action for Mental Health Care in the U.S. Virgin Islands

The recent and tragic death of nine-year-old Ja’Qeada Issac on St. Thomas has shaken our community to its core. While official details surrounding the circumstances are still coming to light, the collective grief and anguish felt by those who knew the family — and even those who didn’t — has been palpable.

In the face of tragedy, it’s important that we come together not only to mourn but also to reflect on the broader issues. Regardless of what is or isn’t being said, what’s rumor and what’s truth, what is real is the great and desperate need for better mental health services within our community. It’s clear that in this instance — and so many others that have impacted us lately — that there were signs of distress and a need for intervention long before this occurred. The loss of this young girl shows us what is at stake if we all fail to act.

As a community, we must reflect on our collective responsibility. If there were indeed warnings, if social media posts or concerning behaviors went unnoticed or unheeded, then it prompts us to question whether we missed opportunities to support our most vulnerable members. By fostering a culture of empathy and support instead of stigma, we can create a stronger community where everyone feels valued and cared for.

We must aggressively advocate for improved mental health care in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s unacceptable that our community members have been left without access to vital services for so long.

And, as we approach an election year, it’s crucial that we hold our leaders accountable for laying the groundwork for comprehensive mental health care. We cannot afford to ignore the systemic issues that have hindered the recruitment and retention of qualified professionals in this field, including licensing barriers, inadequate pay, and a lack of facilities. When are we going to address these challenges and take decisive action to ensure that every individual in our community has access to the support they need?

No death — least of all the tragic loss of a child — should remind us of the urgent need for change.

Let us honor her memory by demanding change — by advocating for a future where mental health care is not a luxury but a fundamental right. The time for action is now. Our families, our community, and our future depend on it.





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