Rising suicide rates in the time of COVID-19
That self-inflicted deaths transpire due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis is tragic. This is more tragic than death from the disease, because chances of recovery from COVID-19 is high and a life could have been saved. Several articles have been published on the increasing suicide rates among the population since the pandemic began. Yet when this tragedy happens in the community where we have regular human interactions, it hits home more deeply. We ask questions, such as: Have we as a community failed to be compassionate enough to our neighbors that they felt so isolated and alone? Have we promoted the stigmatization of COVID-19 victims?
The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) reported that the number of calls to their suicide hotline more than doubled from March to August 2020. News reports also said Filipinos tend to think suicides are linked to mental illness and lack of faith. However, the increase in suicide rates at this time has in fact become a global phenomenon, due to factors such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, hopelessness, feelings of entrapment and being a burden to family, substance misuse, loneliness, domestic violence, child neglect or abuse, unemployment, and financial insecurity.
How do we extend help to those among us who may be vulnerable? And what if we ourselves are at risk? We need to have a good, realistic grasp of our own fears about COVID-19 and religiously follow the health protocols. We need to understand that should we test positive, we have to follow the required protocols and not be afraid. Testing positive is not a death sentence. We only have to look at the numbers of those who survived, and most of them we know in our own community. We also need to understand that those among us who test positive need not be totally isolated. The social media environment can help. Reaching out is easy. The bottom line is, suicide is preventable and life is sacred. And should we identify one at risk for suicide, including ourselves, please call the hotline.
The NCMH crisis hotline is 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP or 1553 (landline- toll-free). The life we save may just be our own.
Lily Perete Orticio PhD, MBA, former president, Philippine Charities Foundation, South Florida
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Center for Mental Health hotline at 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP; or 1553 (landline to landline, toll-free).
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.