Villanueva bill to establish ‘anti-suicide hotline’
A bill that seeks to address youth suicide in the Philippines by establishing a 24/7 “suicide hotline,” among others, has been filed at the Senate.
Senate Bill 1163 or the “Youth Suicide Prevention Act,” filed by neophyte Senator Joel Villanueva, sought to “increase public awareness on the risk factors of youth suicide, prevent youth suicide, and develop a support mechanism to young individuals displaying suicidal behavior and/or have previous history of suicidal behavior.”
The bill proposes the creation of the National Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council, which would formulate strategies for youth suicide early intervention, prevention and response in the country.
The Department of Health (DOH) is also tasked, under the measure, to establish a 24/7 hotline “to provide assistance to affected youth.”
“The existing suicide prevention hotline of the DOH shall be strengthened to ensure that the suicide intervention, prevention and responses are appropriate for the youth,” said the bill.
Villanueva said suicide among the youth is a global problem that needs to be addressed, citing the 2014 global report on preventing suicide by the World Health Organization (WHO), which showed that suicide was the second leading cause of death among people 15 to 29 years of age.
“Nevertheless, the complexity of the issue hampers family members, school authorities, peers, and even the youth themselves, from effectively addressing the issue,” he said in the explanatory note in the bill.
“Poor understanding of dynamics of suicide, coupled with the stigma associated with the behavior and its risk factors (including mental health problems and substance abuse), further limit the capacity of families and communities in providing early intervention and in preventing suicide among the youth. These also hinder families and communities from extending appropriate response to adverse behaviors related to suicide,” the senator said.
In the Philippines, Villanueva said, the same WHO report estimated that the total number of suicides in 2012 was 2,558.
“While the statistics are reportedly low (especially in comparison to other Asian countries), the stigma associated with the behavior may have resulted in the underreporting of suicide incidences in the country, especially among low and middle income households,” he said.
“Currently, the Philippines needs more reliable data in order to better understand suicide behavior and establish effective prevention strategies in the country.”
The senator then sought the passage of the measure. RAM/rga
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