“A simple message can save a life”– from a girl who have been saved many times.
Every forty seconds, someone in the world dies by suicide. That is close to 800,000 people every year. Making it the 2nd leading cause of death among ages 15-29 globally, according to World Health Organization(WHO).
In the Philippines, with a population of 110 Million, there are 2,558 suicide cases for every 100,000 Filipino. These statistics, though, does not reflect the number of attempts, which according to WHO is higher. Because behind each suicide are more than 20 attempts.
However, despite the continuous rise of deaths caused by suicide, people still tend to sweep it away under the rug. Filipinos still overlook this crisis, pretending that it’s not a real issue. Thinking that there are more serious problems to be addressed than what they call “a selfish act.”
Many people may wonder. Why would one consider it?
There might be a thousand reasons to live, but there might also be a lot of reasons not to for those with debilitating mental illness. Though it is an invisible illness it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just like any other physical injury or disease, it affects the part of brain that alter one’s perception, emotion, thoughts and consciousness about the self, others and the world like how cancer affects cells and certain organs.
In fact, 90% of suicide cases are caused by psychiatric disorders such as major depression, psychosis, bipolar, substance use disorders and others.
What are the warning signs?
There are common signs and behavior to look for a friend, a loved one or just someone you know who may be in distress and contemplate suicide. These are social withdrawal, persistent down mood, talking about wanting to die, saying that they feel empty, worthless, alone, hopeless and a burden,
But with all the changes that happened around us- superfluous use of social media, and with the pandemic going on, any of these could be potential warning signs to observe online:
- Constant sharing or posting on social media about hopelessness, worthlessness, loneliness and wanting to escape or disappear
- Posts may also be in form of graphics and artworks that represents the aforementioned
- Tweets or posts about personal, relationship, family problems or stressful events
- Sharing negative or disturbing contents
- Sharing suicide, depression or dark memes (Some may disagree, but really maybe those shared posts were a cry for help)
What can you do to help?
If you notice someone’s posts on social media were similar to the ones mentioned, do not ignore or one day you’ll hate yourself for your “What if…” and “I should have” s.
Instead, you may do the following:
First, do not judge them. Many would think that those who shares such posts online are only desperate for attention, but be not one of those who do.
Ask them questions. At first, they may tell you that they’re completely fine, but keep asking questions until they open up to you. It usually works.
Listen. Just be there and listen to them. Make your conversation about the person, not about you. So, don’t throw old and worn-out advice like “Think happy thoughts,” “Just be positive and it will be okay” or “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Really, those won’t help.
Offer help. Ask them what can you do to help. Support them.
Make sure they’re safe. If they’re in a crisis and presently shows suicidal tendency, continue the conversation, keep them away from potential lethal objects, and encourage them to seek professional help or an online counseling.
Or sometimes simple action means a lot. So, in a random day, open your social media account, search for their name, and send them a short, “Uy, kumusta?”
Crisis Hotline: National Care for Mental Health 0917-899-8727 (USAP)
Free Online Emotional Support: Mental Health First Response
Telehealth Services: Online Counseling and Psychological services
Resources: Mental Health Resources in the Philippines