Open, happy environment can curb suicide, DepEd says

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 6 called on teachers to provide students with an open and happy learning environment amid rising suicide cases, especially in Iloilo province.

While there is no specific data on the number of suicide cases among school children, DepEd Information Officer, Dr. Lea Belleza underscored the importance of learning environments especially the school as one of the several factors that can affect the phenomenon.

“The schools are there second home. Not all schools have guidance counselors so gabank gid kita sa aton teachers and advisers,” Belleza said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 recorded 128 suicide cases from January to August 2019 in the region, with Iloilo province topping the list at 43 cases.

Capiz recorded 26 cases; Negros Occidental with 23; Bacolod City and Guimaras (9); Antique and Iloilo City (7); and Aklan (4).

Recently, a 21-year-old architecture student studying in Iloilo City died of suicide.

According to Belleza, DepEd has been strengthening their advocacy on mental health by including topics of depression and mental health in some of the subjects taught in school.

“Mental health is already part of the curriculum of schools. We include topics on mental health in subjects such as MAPEH, Physical Education, and Values Education,” she said.

Belleza added that they are continually spreading the mental health awareness during PTA meetings, Brigada Eskwela, apart from several seminars for teachers on psycho-social support.

On top of these, Belleza reiterated the critical role of the teachers in providing an open, safe, and happy environment to the students.

Kung ara ka sa eskwelahan himuon naton ang aton masarangan para masave ang mga kabataan nga ini. As young adults, they are in the crossroads sa ila nga stage, ang kinanglan nila acceptance of whoever they are, ipafeel sa ila nga loved sila,” she said.

Belleza told teachers to reach out and be sensitive to their students.

“Remember nga ang mga kabataan eight hours sa eskwelahon so teachers should be on the look-out on the changes in their behavior,” she said.

In the same way, she also urged students to be open to their teachers especially when reporting bullying in school.

Ang teachers indi lang sila mangin sensitive but ang estudyante mangin sensitive sa ila peers, masugid sa teachers and open up gid,” she added.

By providing students with open and happy learning space where all of them will be given the opportunity to express themselves, Belleza said there will be no space for depression amongst school children.

“It should be a place where communications are open. It’s a happy and learning environment where everybody is given an opportunity to excel and be whoever they really are, inang place na wala judgment, people will accept you. There will be no space for depression of course it’s a mental issue pero indi na sila manumdum kung happy sila, indi sila manumdom nga magpalain sang ila kaugalingon,” she said.

In previous interviews, Dr. Johnrev Guilaran, a Disaster Clinical Psychologist and assistant professor at the Division of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences in the University of the Philippines Visayas explained that several factors can trigger the act of suicide.

For one, he stressed that those with genetic predispositions, those who experienced physical and psychological trauma; problems with interpersonal relationships; and even unemployment and poverty are highly vulnerable to suicide attempts.

He also warned of social media and media reporting as critical factors that can either help prevent or encourage suicide acts.

Globally, close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

Suicide is also the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-old, WHO added.

If you need help or any immediate assistance, you can call 321-5160/ 321-2841 local 186 (Western Visayas Medical Center); 320-2431 (West Visayas University Medical Center); and the hotlines DOH Adolescent Health CONNECT: 09985324047 (Smart), 09177759256 (Globe), and 09255469919 (Sun).