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Suicide a serious medical problem

12:04 AM July 27, 2016

In reference to lawyer Joel Ruiz Butuyan’s column “Seven Filipinos commit suicide every day” (Opinion, 7/25/16), it’s good that people are beginning to realize and address this medical problem. Depression is a problem that strikes not only the young. It is a problem that could affect people of all ages. Age and gender don’t matter.

My father, who was an officer in the German Air Force and French Foreign Legion, suffered depression, coupled with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, after the age of 60. He passed away lonely in a retirement home.

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My grandfather, who was a military scientists and researcher in the German SS (Schutzstaffel) committed suicide at the age of 70. So did an uncle of my father, who was a professor and doctor of mathematics of the University in Heidelberg, at the age of 52.

You see, even people who think they are “very tough” (like those with military training), highly intelligent, or too old to think about killing themselves, could still be hit by depression and become

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suicide victims.

While in the middle of my work for my doctoral degree, I also fell into this “deep black hole,” suffering from fear and hopeless. I didn’t overcome it by praying as religious ministers often counsel. No, someone who is in such situation needs medical help. And one’s IQ, no matter how high it is, will not matter.

Ernest Hemingway, Vincent van Gogh, Jack London, Sigmund Freud, Yukio Mishima and Robin Williams are just a few names that remind us of the complexity of the problem. Going into a state of depression is as serious a medical condition as brain cancer.

That is why, the more we talk openly about it, the better for everyone. It’s not a cause for shame. Let’s talk about the problem and not discriminate against people with depression and treat them as if they’re “crazy or dangerous freaks.”

—JÜRGEN SCHÖFER, [email protected]

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TAGS: Depression, mental illness, suicide
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