Conquering depression, aborting suicide

“SUICIDE is painless,” so an old movie theme song goes.

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

We don’t have to go far to learn about the unusual number of deaths resulting from suicide. In the province of Iloilo, 67 cases have been recorded from January to September 2019 – a giant leap from the nine who did it in the entire 2018, according to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).

Nine suicides have also been recorded in Iloilo City, but it’s for the first nine months, between January and October, of the current year.

The above figures, however, do not make our city and province of Iloilo freakish. 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.

Following the death of Razorback drummer Brian Velasco on Jan. 16 this year, 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.”

The passage of the Mental Health Act in June 2018, according to its author, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, was 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.”

The law, in other words, is a tool to defeat depression.

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.”

It behooves us who are more fortunate to listen to those who appear to be 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.

And then I begged of him to imbibe 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.

He listened and allowed me to drive him home.

Who knows? By lending my ears and saying my two cents’ worth, I might have saved my friend’s life that night.

Castulo has more than regained his losses since then.

Indeed, as the late American inspirational writer Napoleon Hill has immortalized in his books, “What the human mind can conceive and believe, the human mind can achieve.” ([email protected]/PN)

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