(Contributed photo)

MANILA – Health authorities must train their sights on increasing psychological support after a study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) found out that about 1.5 million in the youth sector attempted suicide in 2021.

The results of the study might be another effect of the Covid-19 pandemic when the youth were forced to stay at home and attend their classes online, according to Senator Christopher Go on Friday.

A similar study in 2013 showed 574,000 young Filipinos attempted to end their lives.

In 2020, 33.4 million of the nearly 110 million population were under 15 years of age, or 30.7 percent, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Alam n’yo, umpisa pa lang ng pandemya, marami na pong na-i-ulat na nakaka-experience ng depression. May mga hindi nakayanan ‘yung mahabang quarantine. ‘Yung iba pagdating mula sa ibang bansa, ‘yung mga OFW [overseas Filipino workers], nahihirapan rin mag-adjust. Marami rin nawalan ng kabuhayan (You know, during the start of the pandemic, a lot were reported to have experienced depression. There were people who had a hard time during long quarantines. Others who came from other countries, the OFWs, struggled to adjust. A lot of them have also lost their livelihoods),” he said in a statement.

Go said the country has the weapon to address the issue by way of Republic Act 11036, or the Mental Health Act, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018.

The law mandates that “timely, affordable, high quality, and culturally-appropriate mental health care is made available to the public; mental health service are free from coercion and accountable to the service users; and persons affected by mental health conditions are able to exercise the full range of human rights, and participate fully in society and at work free from stigmatization and discrimination.”

Go, who chairs the Committee on Health and Demography, asked health authorities to make sure that the government's programs for mental health are given enough attention.

Hinihikayat ko po na magkaroon ng sapat na pondo para sa ating mga (I am calling for enough funds for our) mental health program. Nakatutok rin po ako dito. Handa po akong tumulong sa ating mga kababayan na mabigyan po ng importansya, sapat na pondo itong (I am on this. I am prepared to help our people to be given importance, enough funds for these) mga mental health programs,” he said.

The UPPI study also revealed that, between 2013 and 2021, "suicide ideation" among the Filipino youth increased.

Suicide ideation, according to the World Health Organization, involves “thoughts, wishes, preoccupations, and contemplations with death and suicide” or simply thinking about dying but not necessarily by committing suicide. (PNA)