Crew members of the Calypso Sprinter water taxi look on as passengers come onboard a short distance from where Amrit Doogah, 34, died by suicide at the Port of Spain Waterfront on Monday. – Anisto Alves
A MAN died by suicide on Monday afternoon by jumping into the sea at the Port of Spain Waterfront, leaving eyewitnesses deeply disturbed, they told Newsday.
Witnesses said Amrit Doogah, 34, of Seventh Avenue, Malik, clambered onto the seawall a stone’s throw from the Chalet Des Femmes (Breakfast Shed) and jumped into the waves, drowning within minutes. Newsday was told a fishing boat was first on the scene, with fishermen pulling him out and trying to revive him even as he was frothing at the mouth because he had inhaled seawater into his lungs.
The police arrived afterwards.
Two eyewitnesses said they had never seen him before. He was described as being tall and thin and of East Indian descent.
An eyewitness said Doogah was in an agitated state, pacing up and down and not interacting with people trying to help him.
When Newsday arrived, all that was left of the man’s presence was his black slippers discarded offhandedly under the blazing sun, yards away from a clump of bright green vegetation at the seawall where he had jumped into the sparkling waters.
Nearby, scores of public service workers streamed home, entering the elevator up into the walkway, oblivious to what had happened just yards away and hours before.
Newsday spoke to two witnesses, who were both in a state of shock. They were reluctant to talk and did not give their names.
The first witness said he had seen the man pacing up and down in an anguished state of mind since morning. He had offered the man a drink of juice but the man had been in his own little world, disengaged from anyone else.
“I always try to reach out to people – offer them a little juice or something – but he wasn’t saying anything.”
The witness was shocked when the man jumped and he remained deeply grieved hours later.
“I am just mentally recuperating from this right now. I don’t think I could speak.
“He jumped. He was agitated from all this morning.”
He said the fishermen did their best to save him.
“He couldn’t swim. A boat was coming and they pulled him out.”
The witness reckoned the man had not died from the the impact of hitting the water but by drowning. He said people had tried to resuscitate him, but to no avail.
“He looked like there was something wrong with him.”
He was personally upset that the man had defied the scriptural injunction not to end one’s own life.
The source did not agree with Newsday’s suggestion of erecting a fence along the waterfront, but urged the deployment of security guards and maybe lifeguards.
“Boats dock, so there is no need to put up a fence. Just have some security guards there.”
A woman told Newsday she was nearby but although she had not witnessed the death, upon learning of the tragedy, she had wept.
“He was here walking up and down. Then somebody said ‘He jumped off,’ so I started to cry.”
She said the man had been pacing the area, mentally preoccupied but not telling anyone what was on his mind.
“He wasn’t in his right mind. But he wasn’t saying anything.”
Asked how she was coping with knowing someone had just died by suicide very close by, she said, “I really take it on. This is the first time I saw something like that.”
The media have several reports of past suicide incidents/attempts at the Port of Spain Waterfront.
On April 4, 2015, Satyam Mahabir, 32, of Golconda, died after jumping into the sea at the waterfront on a Thursday night, having earlier been heard muttering incoherently but not explaining his reason for suicide. On August 17, 2021, a man of African descent in his late fifties or sixties jumped into the sea at the waterfront while talking about his domestic problems.
A man narrowly escaped death on October 29, 2019, when he jumped into the sea at the waterfront, only to be saved by coast guard and defence force personnel.
Anyone experiencing difficulties and in need of assistance may contact Lifeline’s 24-hour hotline at 800-5588, 866-5433 or 220-3636.