STAY POSITIVE, STOP SUICIDE: Councilor pushes positivity club to curb suicide incidents

Councilor Julie Grace “Love-Love” Baronda

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ALARMED by increasing suicide cases in the city and province of Iloilo, a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) of Iloilo City filed an ordinance requiring elementary and high schools to establish positivity clubs to serve as front lines in assisting mental health problems of students.

Councilor Julie Grace “Love-Love” Baronda, the proponent of the ordinance, said positivity clubs will lead and promote mental health programs in schools.

“They will be the champions of mental health programs sa ila nga mga school kay nakita naton ang mga different schools wala pa sini. I was in consultation with different mental health groups as well as the health department, psychologists, and psychometricians last time. Nakita namon nga it is needed may ara establishment sang positivity clubs sa mga schools,” she said.

While there are guidance counselors in some schools, Baronda said that they still need to be equipped with skills to help them implement mental health programs in their schools.

Nakita man naton sa mga different guidance counselors na they also need help bala on how to implement and as well as pano matrickle down ang different programs sa different schools,” she stressed.

According to Baronda, they are still in the ground work level in the crafting of the ordinance.

“With regards on how the positivity club will operate dira namon malantaw sa committee hearing. In the long run, we are looking at training peer groups to lead in their schools but before that, there will be several things that we need to look at,” she said.

Baronda said their first move is to conduct needs analysis and needs assessment on schools where a roadmap for the training will then be formed.

“During the hearing, dapat ma-set out anay ang needs analysis and assessment para mabal-an namon kun ano nga mga different programs ang kinahanglan namon i-train sa mga different institutions kag trainers nga available, didto lang naton makita kon paano kita maroadmap as well as ma-set out ang mga protocols para sa mga mental health programs naton sa city,” she furthered.

Last October 8, 2019, Councilor Rudolph Ganzon also delivered a privilege speech about suicide cases in the city during the regular session of the SP.

In his speech, Ganzon emphasized the role of parents in ensuring that communication lines at their respective homes are open.

“As a father, I am appealing to all the parents – biological and adoptive ones – to take back the reigns of parenthood. Let us not delegate our parenting responsibilities to schools or worse of all to technologies and gadgets. May we focus more in raising children who are emotionally strong – able to process and acknowledge their feelings, mentally stable and a home environment that fosters an open communication line, with children able to speak their minds free of judgment and prejudice,” he reiterated.

He also called on fellow public officials and authorities to promote a mentally healthy community and address the suicide incidents with great urgency.

“As a public servant, I am enjoining all of my fellow council members both in the City and in the province to take look into this matter immediately and address this concern with great urgency. Time is of the essence as we battle with an illness that is asymptomatic but leaves a permanent and irreversible damage to the lives of the people in our community,” he added.

Since January 2019 up to present, the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) recorded 16 suicide incidents in the city.

Out of this number, 14 died of suicide.

Recently, an 18-year-old teenager from Pavia, Iloilo died by suicide in a lodge in Molo, Iloilo City.

Once passed, Baronda said the ordinance will be the first in the country.

As of now, the ordinance has been passed on first reading and is awaiting the schedule for the first committee hearing.

One person dies of suicide every 40 seconds or around 800,000 people die every year because of suicide, based on the data from World Health Organization (WHO).

Suicide is very common among people 15-29, WHO added.

In Western Visayas, the Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 recorded 147 suicide cases from January to August 2019, with Iloilo province topping the list with 59 suicide incidents.

Apart from alcohol and drug uses, several factors are linked to suicide incidents, according to 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.

He explained that persons with genetic predispositions, as well as persons who experienced physical and psychological trauma and problems with interpersonal relationships; and even unemployment and poverty are highly vulnerable to suicide attempts.

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).