The will to fight depression

By Herbert Vego

DID veteran actor Ronaldo Valdez really commit suicide due to depression? This has never been confirmed by his two children.

But the 77-year-old actor was reported to have shot himself with a caliber .45 pistol inside his room at his house in New Manila, Quezon City, on December 17, 2023.

He had been grappling with depression following a prostate cancer operation in December 2022. According to the National Center for Mental Health, a person may cut his life short to escape the pain or depression that he could no longer cope with.

The dictionary defines depression as “a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.”

No doubt many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

I recall that, following the death of Razorback drummer Brian Velasco on January 16, 2019, the Department of Health (DOH) issued an official statement attributing it to suicide resulting from depression.

The DOH’s statement also said, “In the Philippines, 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorders, with suicide rates in 2.5 males and 1.7 males per 100,000.”

We have a tool to defeat depression — the Mental Health Act of 2018 (Republic Act No. 11036) — which, according to its author, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, is meant to “integrate psychiatric and psychosocial and neurologic services in regional, provincial and tertiary hospitals, improve our mental healthcare facilities and promote mental health education in our schools and workplaces.”

There has been no update, however, on whether the law has served its purpose.

Depression is not just a local problem. Every year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more or less 800 000 people take their own life, not to speak of many others who attempt but fail.

No doubt many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

I remember the song “Suicide Is Painless” as sung by the Ron Hicklin Singers for the 1970 film MASH. Its chorus portion says, “Suicide is painless. It brings on many changes. And I can take or leave it if I please.”

There must be a grain of truth to those words. A person may cut his life short to escape the pain or depression that he could no longer cope with.

We who are more fortunate should listen to those who are losing enthusiasm for life. For example, I did it years ago during a beer binge in a restaurant with my friend Castulo, depressed because his vast rice plantation had gone with the flood.

“What have I done to deserve this punishment?” he cried.

I encouraged him to pour out what was in his heart and mind.

I cited a moral lesson from the spider that never gives up rebuilding a “home web” each time man destroys it.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” I recited an uplifting quotation.

I reminded him that fires, floods, earthquakes and many other natural disasters that are inappropriately called “acts of God’ should be regarded as hurdles to overcome, not permanent obstruction. It’s the only way to win the game of life.

I asked him to read the Bible and other inspirational books, just as I had done to defeat my own bouts with personal and family problems.

Thank God, he listened and asked me to drive him home.

Who knows? I might have saved my friend’s life that night.

-oOo-

MORE POWER’S MODERNIZATION PLAN WINDING UP

THE five-year modernization plan of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) is going into the homestretch, to be completed within the year 2025 with the infusion of an additional investment of P1.1 billion. The amount brings MORE Power’s total investment in Iloilo city to P3 billion.

One recalls that the city’s sole power distribution utility (DU) invested P1.9 billion in emergency capital expenditure to kick off rehabilitation of the power system taken over from the previous DU. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic rehabilitation work had to slow down.

With the easing of health protocols, however, MORE Power made up by fast-tracking “relief and recovery” works to stabilize the city’s power system which had suffered negligence from the previous franchisee. Linemen buckled down to replace old, dilapidated, and irreparable facilities.

As revealed to us by MORE Power President/CEO Roel Z. Castro, the additional P1.1 billion infusion has enabled the upgrading of power substations across the city and the establishment of additional substations to attain a looped system to ensure optimum efficiency and reliability of the distribution network.

Right now, the DU is busy preparing for the energization of its Diversion Substation. This necessitates an eight-hour power interruption on Sunday (Pebrero 4, 2024) in portions of San Rafael and Bolilao, Mandurriao. For details, please see the MORE Power Facebook page.

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