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DOH: Online bashing may be behind depression, suicides

/ 12:58 AM April 08, 2017
Philippine Department of Health spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag, right, answers questions from reporters beside Dr. Gundo Weiler, World Health Organization representative, during a press conference in Manila, Philippines on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. Philippine health officials announced that a 45-year-old female from Iloilo City, central Philippines was the first confirmed case of Zika this year due to local transmission. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Department of Health spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag. AP 

Online bashing is now being seen as a factor in the rising number of people suffering from depression and contemplating suicide, prompting the launch of various studies on its effect on Filipino netizens, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

DOH spokesperson Enrique Tayag on Friday said various local academic and support groups that seek to prevent suicides are looking into this “new face of depression on social media.”

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“Some people have difficulty coping with online bashing and we want to protect the vulnerable adolescents,” he said in a media briefing marking World Health Day, which this year carried the theme, “Depression: Let’s Talk.”

“Experts are now studying the contribution of social media to depression,” Tayag stressed. “Although it is a way to connect to other people, it also has a backlash because of online bashing. So you end up losing connections.”

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The DOH cited data from the National Center for Mental Health showing there were 3,479 callers to the Hopeline suicide prevention hotlines in 2016.

Of this figure, 605 callers considered themselves to be depression cases, 479 showed signs of depression while 496 made “suicide-related” inquiries.

Tayag said the studies would check if there were callers who sought help after being shamed or harassed online.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said depression could be usually detected if a person loses interest in things he or she usually enjoys and becomes unable to carry out ordinary tasks, like taking a bath.

But she said depression should not be taken as a sign of weakness and that sufferers seeking help should not be stigmatized.

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