Iloilo suicide and Internet connectivity

By: Alex P. Vidal

“To run away from trouble is a form of cowardice and, while it is true that the suicide braves death, he does it not for some noble object but to escape some ill.” – Aristotle

ILOILO Board Member Matt Palabrica suspected that the most common reasons why young people in Iloilo committed suicide were likely problems in the family, love life, school, and money.

The upsurge of suicide cases involving Iloilo youngsters has alarmed Palabrica that he made an appeal for collective action from the provincial government, school and health authorities, and the police, among other sectors.

Palabrica based his concerns on the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) report where of the 179 cases of suicide recorded from 2016 to June 2019, 35 involved young adults or those who are between nine to 21 years old.

Could it be also because of the rising Internet connectivity which, aside from the potential to transforming children’s lives for the better, also makes them vulnerable to sexual abuse, online harassment and bullying, recruitment by extremist groups, and other risks?




A new United Nations (UN)-backed report published on October 1, 2019 cited a study by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development which underlines the need for everyone to ensure children remain safe as they explore “the digital world”.

The study was produced by the Commission’s working group on Child Online Safety, comprising senior representatives from the UN, non-governmental organizations, law-enforcement agencies, regulators, and private companies.

The report lays out staggering statistics showing the extent and scale of the problem.

In just one year, for instance, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found more than 105,000 websites hosting child sexual abuse material.

“It takes a village to keep children safe both online and offline. Therefore, all the stakeholders need to prioritize children, collaborate and generate collective actions to prevent and address all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation of children online,” members said in a press release.

The report recommends that countries take immediate action, as no Government has developed fully effective protection systems.




Steps that protect children online include establishing a single national authority with the ultimate responsibility for child online safety, as well as ensuring robust legislation is in place, among other measures.

The report also highlights the differences in Internet access depending on where young people live. Globally, there are more than two million people under the age of 18. Around 71 percent of youth are already online, according to UNICEF research, cited in the report.

However, millions are still waiting to log on. Currently, 60 percent of young Africans are not online but the number of users on the continent is growing by 20 percent a year.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America, connectivity has not yet reached all children. With the expansion of affordable broadband to these parts of the developing world, there is an urgent need to put in place measures to minimize the risks and threats to these children, while also allowing them to capitalize on all the benefits the digital world can bring to our societies,” the report said.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)