Desperate times, desperate measures
(First of two parts)
Famous for its beaches, food and festivals, Cebu is a place where you’ll never run out of things to do. For the tourists, there are always the beautiful resorts to visit and exotic locations to check out. For the locals, there are those nifty little shops that serve artisanal food and drinks to try out or the huge malls where anyone can hang out.
Yet behind this landscape of a vibrant place full of life is a lesser-known issue that pervades even though seemingly swept under the rug through the years.
Something which reared its ugly head once again just recently and in the most public way.
It was a Monday that started off quite normally for most Cebuanos until late in the afternoon when viral messages started flooding everyone’s social network. A girl in her teens had just climbed the third floor railing of an uptown mall and was about to jump to her death.
The scene relayed hundreds of times on Facebook and Twitter did not come as a shock to many, though it aroused the public’s interest.
While people collectively held their breaths as the real-life drama unfolded, sadly other scenes came to mind such as that of a guy who attempted to jump from a second-floor ledge of another mall in Cebu barely a month ago.
Fortunately, both were saved just in time by quick-thinking rescuers.
Fast forward to last Friday, another incident was reported. This time, in a creek along Mango Avenue where a 45-year-old man was found hanging lifeless from a tree.
The man, a fruit vendor, who plied his trade near Redemptorist Church, had just come from a heated argument with his live-in partner over money.
CEBU AND SUICIDE
Dr. Renato Obra, chief of the Center for Behavioral Sciences at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) reveals that statistics gathered by VSMMC tend to show that Cebu has the highest number of suicide incidents nationwide.
“I don’t know what it is with Cebu that we have the highest number of incidents of suicides nationwide. We are the highest, for some reason,” Obra said, as more and more people have been reported to commit or attempt suicide everyday.
Obra believes it is time to take matters seriously.
He said one of the most important steps to take in tackling the problem is to remove the stigma attached to mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a state of well-being in which the person realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to the community.
Mental health is not only related to the prevention of mental disorders and the treatment and rehabilitation of those with mental problems but also includes the promotion of a person’s well-being.
“It doesn’t follow nga mu-adto mo ug psychiatrist, psychotic na mo,” he said. “Mao man gyud na ang mentality sa mga tawo nga kung mo duol na gani ug psychiatrist, mangutana na dayong kung nabuang ba siya (It doesn’t follow that if someone goes to a psychiatrist, he is already a psychotic. That is the mentality among people that if someone goes to see a psychiatrist, they ask if the person has gone crazy),” says Obra.
Removing the stigma attached to mental health can save more lives as it will enable more people to seek professional help whenever mental or emotional issues bother them, he adds.
SUICIDE IN GENERAL
According to Obra, there are a number of theories why people take their own lives.
First is the “Egoistic Theory,” which can be seen in people who are single, divorced or separated and with a loose support system.
The victim, Obra says, does not feel strongly supported by membership in a cohesive social group and when depression hits, fails to find anyone to share his or her problems with.
Egoistic suicides occur in a society where there is excessive individualism and low social integration.
The “Altruistic Theory,” on the other hand, refers to someone who is strongly attached to a group. Altruistic suicide is committed for the benefit of others or for the community and is most evident among suicide bombers, Obra said.
Third is the “Anomie Theory,” which is characterized by a rapid change in the standards or values of societies which leads the person to feel alienated and without a purpose.
This can be seen in people who have achieved a certain stature in their lives and for some reason, find themselves having to start all over again or are facing negative societal backlash.
In addition to these theories, Obra said some people commit suicide, not for the purpose of killing themselves, but as a form of “psychodrama” to attract the attention of the other members of the family. This is usually common in girls, he says.
Among males, they have a tendency to employ methods that will more likely result to a completed suicide.
Unfortunately, with the fast growth of Cebu and its increasing population, it is now confronted with not just regular urban problems like poverty and high crime rates and traffic gridlocks; it also has to contend with suicide cases that are on the rise and alarmingly so.
(Conclusion: What to do to avert a suicide, who to call and where to go.)
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