DOH 8 calls for more prevention efforts amid rising suicide cases

By Sarwell Meniano

February 13, 2024, 5:01 pm

<p> <em>(DOH image)</em></p>

 (DOH image)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) has called on the public to be more sensitive to the feelings of individuals with suicidal thoughts to help curb the rising suicide cases in the Eastern Visayas region.

Reports reaching rural health units revealed that 95 people in the region committed suicide in 2023, higher than the 49 cases in 2022.

Police stations in six provinces also logged 204 suicide cases from January to December 2023.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Dr. Arleen Grace Rosal, senior medical officer at the DOH-managed Eastern Visayas Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, said the number of cases has been rising and alarming.

“In the Philippines, one in 10 students seriously attempted to commit suicide. To prevent this, we must be sensitive to the feelings and needs of people suffering from mental health,” she said.

Rosal said a person talking about wanting to die, feeling remorse or shame, and being a burden to others tends to take own life.

Those vulnerable are people with feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, being trapped, or having no reason to live; being extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage; and those with unbearable emotional or physical pain.

“Do not take it for granted if you see someone with behavioral changes. Even if he or she is joking about committing suicide, it is already a red flag,” she added.

Among the behavioral changes are planning or researching ways to die, withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye, giving away significant items, or making a will; taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast, displaying extreme mood swings, eating or sleeping more or less; and using drugs or alcohol more often.

The DOH advised family members and friends not to leave the person with suicidal tendencies; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects used in a suicide attempt; take the person to an emergency room; and seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

As reported to police stations, most of the victims suffered depression after dealing with personal and family concerns, financial difficulties, broken relationships, and illness.

Winnie Dorego, DOH Eastern Visayas mental health program manager, said the number of cases is distressing since suicide incidents are preventable.

“Addressing mental health does not only lie in the health sector. I would like to reiterate that you please stop the stigma, as we need solidarity,” she said.

Resting and avoiding negative news and information are ways to keep away from getting stressed. Keeping healthy and eating nutritious food, doing exercise, avoiding alcoholic drinks and smoking, and abstinence from illegal drugs can help a person maintain good mental health.

Dorego asked those suffering from depression to talk to trusted individuals, look for diversion like gardening or doing artwork, and seek help from health professionals.

The DOH Eastern Visayas regional hotlines for suicide-related calls are 09474238423 and 09665316464. The National Center for Mental Health helplines are 09190571553 and 09178998727. (PNA)