Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Over the past year, people have struggled with practical matters like work, academics, financial stability, what to eat, filling in the hierarchy of needs, and the difficulty with mental health. As if we weren’t already struggling pre-pandemic, but the surge of COVID-19 has heightened everything else right in front of our faces. There was an increase in the number of those suffering from depression, great anxieties from the overload of responsibilities, and the excessive exposure to social media during this time has not been helping. Because of this, many have also resulted in committing themselves to a suicide death.
There had already been numerous studies circling about the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives. Many organizations and companies would set up webinars upon webinars tackling and educating the masses on areas of mental health and putting it into a discussion, toto avoid the tendency of it being again overlooked and stigmatized. But, regardless of how much effort we put into these programs, it is not enough to protect everyone’s mental health and provide access to care.
Globally, the rates of suicide this 2020-2021 have an average of 8.22%. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), for every 16 persons in a 100,000 population in at least 40 seconds, someone is committing suicide worldwide. Still, because of the consequences of this pandemic, it has developed into 20 seconds shorter and faster.
Suicide is a Social Issue
We need to understand the how’s and why’s of suicide, not only for us to support others but also to help ourselves. Yes, it is a social issue because of its relations with one’s social conditions. As we know it, it is the process of an intentional end of one’s own life. Before, it was either glorified or condemned, just as how the Christian church declares it as unacceptable. Still, today the occurrence of suicide is understood as a disorder from interferences with psychological and environmental factors.
It is commonly seen as a form of deviance, avoidance, or secrecy; then again, it was a cultural taboo for the longest time, but times have changed, and there is indeed a need for awareness and education. Suicide has different causes and characteristics, but there are warning signs we can be on watch of:
Talking of suicide - thoughts of being better off dead or talks self-harm and dying
Seeking for lethal means - looking for pills, knives, or any item to use for death
Focusing on death - it is unusual to see creations or stories about death
Show no hope for the future - feeling trapped as if there’s no possibility for a better life
Isolation - when there is an increase in avoidance of contact with friends and family
Self-hate - expressing guilt, worthlessness, and shame
Destructive behavior - reckless driving, alcohol and drug abuse, etc.
Saying goodbye - unusual and random conversations as if it’s their last
Writing their will - making arrangements for those whom they plan on leaving behind
Aside from knowing what the warning signs are, we must also understand what motivates individuals to commit suicide. Still, immediately it is from life stressors, may it be from peers, difficulty in school, work, problems at home, or maybe even because of substance abuse.
Where do we go from here?
Regardless of who you are, you are essential to everyone’s life, and being in the know helps many. So, what can you do to help? The most important action one can do is talk about it, asking those you worry about, especially if you see signs on them. But of course, we should also be aware of our approach and how we talk to them about it. But, most times, your presence to some is already enough. Show your emotional support for them, provide solutions when asked for, but if you don’t know it yourself, it is best to keep quiet, be honest and simply offer a company.
Roles we can take in handling thoughts of suicide:
Like family, we should show support by educating ourselves, offering the option to seek counseling, and never disregarding or belittling their struggles, and taking thoughts and threats seriously.
As a friend, it would be best to offer company, invite them into conversation into their comfort, then gradually speak of the situation and try to resolve it with them, but not to take anything by force, instead when in difficulty, seek help from adults and professionals. This is also beyond your control as a friend, and when there is a show of signs, inform the family.
As strangers, it pays to know and understand these unfortunate occurrences. Still, the best action would be to stay kind with individuals regardless of how we see them because everyone is struggling, and maybe in your little way, unknowingly, you are already helping so many.
Do not be afraid of speaking about this hard-to-swallow pill. But, keep in mind to be sensitive. Let people know that you are willing to listen, learn and be present for them in their hardships. If you are having trouble just as so, let this knowledge be of help to you, and remember to keep in mind that you are not alone and seeking help is never a sign of weakness, but rather bravery.
Here is a list of suicide hotlines in the Philippines:
DOH Mental Health Psychosocial Support Team
Monday to Friday, 8:00 am - 12:00 midnight
09016 343 7016
0933 644 3488
Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center - Center for Behavioral Sciences Teleconsultation
0929 287 3688
Tawag Paglaum Centro Bisaya
24/7 call-based hotline for suicide prevention and emotional crisis intervention in Cebu City
0939 936 5433
0927 654 1629
Hopeline, Natasha Goulbourn Foundation
A depression and suicide prevention hotline to help people who are secretly suffering.
0917 558 4673
0927 654 1629
Globe and TM subscribers may call toll-free (FREE CALL) at 2919
National Mental Health Crisis Hotline
24/7 Crisis Hotline to assist people with mental health disorder ranging from counseling to psychiatric emergencies and suicide prevention.
0917 989 8728
In Touch Community Services
24/7 free and confidential counseling support.
0917 800 1123
0922 893 8944
List of Suicide Prevention Hotlines in the Philippines. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.webbline.com/kb/suicide-prevention-hotlines/#comments
Sayo, G.J. (2019, November). SUICIDE [PowerPoint slides]. Department of Psychology, National University.
Suicide Rate by Country 2021. (2021). Retrieved from https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/suicide-rate-by-country
Suicide Statistics. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.befrienders.org/suicide-statistics