Let Us Seriously Ponder About Suicide

By: Lucell Larawan
The suicide rate has grown in the province. Years ago, I could not hear what I usually hear now twice or more in a week—a 21-year-old or a teen using a rope to hang himself. What is happening among my fellow netizens?

Eight per month suicide rate in my province may not be relatively high. But still if I hear that these people ended their lives for the past month, I cannot take that without being alarmed—these are real men or women who just had a mood swing or those who became hopeless. And how can these victims’ families take the tragedy? Trauma is not meant for the soft-hearted. Their families, friends and relatives will always have unresolved questions to ponder.

As I read the World Population Review, the country ranks just 163rd in terms of suicide rate with 3.2 per 100,000 and a yearly average of 3,413. Suicide affects people of all religions, nations, genders and classes. No one is too strong to say that they mentor others to be mentally healthy and that they are examples of strength and wisdom: even pastors of mega-churches in the US have reportedly committed suicide, the latest of whom is Jarred Wilson last September, 2019.

If I look at countries with high suicide rates, I can tell the causes. South Korea, which is ranked 10th in the suicide rate, gives a picture: the elderly end their lives because in the twentieth century, children, generally, do not anymore care for their parents, unlike what had been traditionally practiced. Among Korean teens, the cause of suicide is the pressure their families place on them who are expected to excel academically. If the teens fail this expectation, they feel dishonoring their families and commit suicide.

In Japan, where suicide borders the crisis level, suicide is the leading cause of death among men who are 20-44 and among women who are 15-34. In some circumstances, suicide is an honorable way to die among the Japanese. We note the kamikaze among the Japanese pilots during World War II—those who self-destruct towards an Allied warship. The Japanese military had long practiced suicide since the time of Samurai warlords.

What can be surprising is that for a country with lower suicide rates like Sweden, with 12 cases per 100,000, some people still end their lives. The cause: seasonal affective disorder (SAD) due to  20 hours or more of darkness in some areas during winter.

With reports of young men hanging themselves with a rope, the government and non-government sectors must respond immediately. Churches must put up professional programs for those who undergo their low moments, not just catering the spiritual issues. Suicide cannot just be ignored. We should care about people who need help. Most likely, the victims were once depressed with no proper medication and counsel from professionals when they need them most. Depression—a medical condition—should not be treated lightly. If one has signs of depression or talks about committing suicide, people around them must reach out immediately. A little delay can mean another life taken.

I am glad that there will be a Suicide Summit this October 19 (I need to check if this is the exact date) at the Bohol Cultural Center with invited specialists who will enlighten us with coping strategies. In addition, the Diocese of Tagbilaran, with the help of NGOs, has just organized PAGKABUHI to give counsel and other forms of help to the most vulnerable.

If we feel down, we must always hope in the Lord and find strength in his promises. Without them, there are many stressors around that are big risks among us.

Before one feels hopeless and alone, he must remember the Bible saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? (Psalms 8:4).” The thought that God cares for us should give us hope. If you feel bombarded with circumstances, apply the meaning of the Biblical admonition: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6-7).” Pray. Read the Bible.

Where will people who committed suicide go? I believe God will not condemn someone who did not act in his right mind. Just my opinion. I believe saving grace will still work perfectly in times of sickness. A medical condition is a medical condition. No one, no matter how theologically learned he is, can boast that he and other people of his breed are better on their way to bliss and the victim will just be condemned.  That view is too simplistic, arrogant and naïve. (The one who thinks like this assumes that he or she went there with a perfect body and does not anymore need to see dimly in a mirror).