Every 10th of September, the world comes together to promote action towards suicide prevention. Dating as far back as 2003, International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) together with the World Health Organization (WHO), came up with the idea of this movement to raise awareness that suicide is in fact, preventable, to improve education regarding suicide altogether, and to break the stigma surrounding various mental disorders.
Although relatively lower when compared to other Asian countries, rates of suicide in the Philippines are not on the same tier as other nations but the numbers are still there. During a senate hearing last year, Senator Joel Villanueva cited a report from the National Poison Management and Control Center of the Philippine General Hospital which reflected that 46% of reported suicide cases recorded from 2010 onwards was from the youth.
The same report also states that children as young as 10 years old compromise around two to three percent of that overall 46.
Every day, seven Filipinos commit suicide. This is a real problem. It is tangible and it is a silent battle being fought by thousands and thousands of Filipinos, most of whom are afraid to speak out of fear of being ostracized.
Just this year, the Philippine Senate approved the Mental Health Act which hopefully ensure the integration of mental health care into public health systems. It will require the government to provide basic mental health services to the people such as psychiatric services. Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal sponsor of the bill, describes this move by the Senate as “historic” seeing as that it was the first of its kind in the country.
Mental illnesses such as severe depression are often the main factors that lead a person to complete suicide. The whole month of September is declared as Suicide Prevention Month to remind people that there are ways to combat this, that this is a battle not everyone has to face alone.
Institutions such as the University of Santo Tomas have opened its doors to offer psychological services, free of charge, even to non-Thomasians. The Ateneo has also established steps and protocols aided to foster its student’s mental health. Moves such as these, as simple and small they may sound to some, truly make a difference. In a study conducted by a UP student named Tristan Yuvienco, as cited in an article by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, in a survey consisting of 135 students with ages ranging from 16 to 24, 96% reported to experience moderate to intense depression.
We have the whole month of September to improve education regarding suicide and how it is closely intertwined with mental health, but the battle does not end there. If you are in need of help, do not be afraid to seek it. If you feel as though someone close to you is in need of it, be that hand that reaches out towards them. Help can come in various shapes and sizes – go out and save a life. It doesn’t have to be someone else’s, it could simply be yours.