Medical Perspectives | Others

January 28, 2020



Comparative data on attitudes toward suicide indicate the urgency of the situation. In the 2011 WHO Global School-Based Health Survey has shown that in the Philippines, 16% of students between 13-15 years old have ever seriously considered attempting suicide while 13% have actually attempted suicide one or more times during the past year.[1] Four years after, in the 2015 Global School-Based Health Survey, 12% said they seriously considered suicide, while 17% had attempted suicide at least once.[2]

 

The suicide rate in the Philippines is at 2.9 per 100,000, one of the lowest in the Western Pacific region.[3]  Department of Health statistics from 2003 puts intentional self-harm as the 9th leading cause of death among 20-24 years old.[4] In 2012, 2,558 suicide cases were reported, with 8 out of 10 of the reported suicides  were male.[5]

 

First things first, know the warning signs of a potential suicide. Some indirect warning signs of suicide are sense of purposelessness or meaninglessness, chronic anxiety or anger, social withdrawal and mood changes.[6] Some risk factors to watch out for are family history of suicide, history of child abuse, stressful life circumstances, aggression and other mental disorder.[7]

 

One of the most prevalent suggestions on how to handle potential suicides is to "listen to him/her without judgment and avoid arguing and contradicting that person's thoughts."[8] During the interaction with the person, one should watch out for changes in behavior, such as mood swings or differences in normal sleeping or eating patterns. Vigilance over a person who has spoken of or declared a desire to commit suicide should be done, over a 24-hour period to ensure that no attempts are made.[9]

 

The impact of social media on suicide-related behavior has also come under scrutiny. A substantial quantity of information and content about suicides is online and accessible to the public. The online and live suicide of Razorback drummer Brian Velasco was a particularly jolting incident that further fueled the discussion on how social media can influence suicidal behavior. Monitoring the online content that persons with suicidal tendencies read or engage in is a good way to understand their state of mental health.

 

There are indicators that whenever a suicide happens, especially involving celebrities or those featured in the news, there is a spike in the number of calls to suicide hotlines. After the news on the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation hotlines received more than double the normal number of daily calls. During such events, people should be more vigilant on the condition of persons with suicide-related behavior.[10]

 

The suggested actions all point to the need for mindfulness, non-judgemental attitude and kindness to prevent suicidal attempts and related behavior. While it is hard to predict when a suicide attempt may be made, it is not hard to be vigilant and to take time to reach out. This could make the difference between life and death.

 

 

[1] DOH.gov.ph. [2018]. Mental Health Program. Retrieved from https://www.doh.gov.ph/national-mental-health-program

 

[2] Reyes, A., Gonzales, J. [2017]. Mental Health of Filipinos. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/multimedia/infographic/10/12/17/mental-health-of-filipinos

 

[3] Reyes, A., Gonzales, J. [2017]. Mental Health of Filipinos. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/multimedia/infographic/10/12/17/mental-health-of-filipinos

 

[4] DOH.gov.ph. [2018]. Mental Health Program. Retrieved from https://www.doh.gov.ph/national-mental-health-program

 

[5] Reyes, A., Gonzales, J. [2017]. Mental Health of Filipinos. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/multimedia/infographic/10/12/17/mental-health-of-filipinos

 

[6] Perlas, C. [2018, June]. Suicide Prevention - Know the Warning Signs. Retrieved from https://ph.theasianparent.com/...

 

[7] Perlas, C. [2018, June]. Suicide Prevention - Know the Warning Signs. Retrieved from https://ph.theasianparent.com/...

 

[8] Bonalos, P. [2015, September]. How to help someone who is suicidal. Retrieved from http://nine.cnnphilippines.com/lifestyle/2015/09/08/depression-suicide-suicidal-signs-help-World-Suicide-Prevention-Day.html

 

[9] Bonalos, P. [2015, September]. How to help someone who is suicidal. Retrieved from http://nine.cnnphilippines.com/lifestyle/2015/09/08/depression-suicide-suicidal-signs-help-World-Suicide-Prevention-Day.html

 

[10] CNN Philippines Staff. [2018, June]. Suicide prevention: music, mindfulness and talking can save a life. Retrieved from http://nine.cnnphilippines.com/news/2018/06/09/suicide-prevention.html

 

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