Suicide cases rise in Zamboanga City
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines — Nelly, 20, a working student, struggles to make ends meet for her and four siblings after they lost their mother in a suicide in November last year.
“It is really very hard. I don’t know whom to call or approach for help. But we just have to accept that she is gone so that we can move on,” said Nelly, trying to control her emotions.
According to her, their mother had lapsed into depression after their father died in a vehicular accident just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March last year. Later, the lockdowns squeezed her mother’s earnings as a masseuse in a spa.
There were times that “we didn’t have anything to eat in a day,” Nelly said.
Her brother sold some of the household wares online but these were not enough for the family’s needs. Nelly said the heavy burden to keep the family afloat amid the crisis could have pushed their mother to end her life.
The local police has counted 33 such cases in 2020. And as the pandemic continues to rage, 37 more cases were recorded from January to Oct. 16 this year, said Police Lt. Agnes Miro, spokesperson of the Zamboanga City Police Office.
This has worried health authorities, in addition to the deaths due to COVID-19 infections that climbed to 872 as of Oct. 20, up 100 cases from the 772 count on Oct. 9.
Lolina Bajin, a licensed psychologist at the military’s Camp Don Basilio Navarro Hospital here, has proposed that a community-based suicide prevention program be established to prevent similar deaths, which are mostly due to family issues that are made pronounced due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
A barangay hotline that can be contacted anytime by depressed individuals would be a helpful tool to arrest potential suicides, Bajin explained, adding that a support system is crucial.
“We need to have something in place, knowing the importance of psychological first aid. A referral system is a must nowadays,” she added.
Based on police records this year, the youngest among those who committed suicide was 15 years old while the oldest was 77. Most are males.
The adults were either farmers, construction workers, tricycle drivers, or unemployed.
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