With suicide rate on the rise, experts advise public to slow down
By Rachelle M. Nessia
Dumaguete City (13 October) -- As people nowadays are subjected to more and more stress inside the home, at work and the environment, local mental health experts are urging the public to slow down and deal with stress effectively.
“Men and women face different levels of stress everyday and because of this each of us is prone to certain levels of mental health ailments,” said Glynda Descuatan, manager of a local cable company who also sits as Vice-Chairperson of the board of management of the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) Oriental Negros Chapter.
Descuatan said that it’s common nowadays for working people to take on two or more jobs in their desire to achieve financial security, causing a lot of stress.
This was echoed by Dr. Betsy Joy Tan, Chairperson of the PMHA board of management, who, along with Descuatan, was one of the guest speakers during yesterday’s Kapihan forum conducted by the Philippine Information Agency in observance of Philippine Mental Health Week this October.
Tan said students, even at the elementary level, are already suffering from stress due to the vast number of assignments and projects with too-close deadlines to meet.
“This is why we have asked the teachers that if it’s possible, they can reduce the load of projects and assignments at school and give students enough time to beat deadlines,” said Tan.
A formidable leader in the field of mental health in the Philippines, PMHA is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization formally organized in the 1950s which sets out to prevent mental illness and promote sound mental health for Filipinos.
According to Dr. Perpetuo Jose Lozada, a known psychiatrist in the province, the World Health Organization defines mental health as not just the absence of disease but to be healthy physically, financially, socially, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
He said there are biological as well as psychological causes of mental illness. “Even during the conception and pregnancy stages, the parent’s rejection or acceptance of the unborn child can already affect the child’s development inside the womb,” Lozada explained.
Strained relationships within the family can also lead to mental illness. “Is the child given enough opportunities in the home? Is he or she loved or rejected by the family members? Reassured and respected?” he added.
The World Federation for Mental Health has earlier set October 10 as World Mental Health Day with focus given this year to “Building Awareness- Reducing Risk: Mental Illness and Suicide.”
The WHO, according to Dr. Anders Nordstrom, acting director-general of WHO, has called for improved treatment for mental illness to reduce suicide, which too often, represents a tragic consequence of failing to diagnose and treat serious mental illness.
Records from the WHO website show that an estimated 873,000 people commit suicide every year, which represents 1.4% of the global burden of disease. Suicide among young people is of significant concern: in some regions, suicide is the third leading cause of death in the age group 15-35 years.
WHO data shows that as of May 2003, suicide rate among males is 2.5% and 1.7% among females in the Philippines.
WHO warns that at any time, 450 million people worldwide are affected by mental, neurological or behavioral problems and the rate is steadily rising.
In the last 45 years, suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide, disclosed WHO.
More than 90% of suicide cases are associated with mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and alcoholism.
Lozada said one of the symptoms of depression is sleeping difficulty. “Either you can’t sleep, which is insomnia, or you sleep all the time which is hypersomnia,” he explained.
Appetite is also affected, with the depressed person either losing it (anorexia) or eating too much (hyperbulimia).
To manage stress effectively, Tan advises that a person should learn to listen to the body’s signals. “Do you have trouble sleeping? Feeling depressed often or drinking too much? Getting sick often? The body has different ways of responding to stress. Some develop stomach ulcers, allergies, migraine which may already be caused by stress,” she said.
Another way is to accept responsibility and to be objective. “No one can cope for you but yourself…Take a step back and look at your life’s situation as if it was another person’s. Know your inner resources and talk it out with friends. Don’t try to cope alone. And take a positive approach,” she said.
She said that flexibility will also help. “Look at your mistakes as positive learning experiences.”
Tan also stressed that suicide is never a solution. “Don’t expect too much of yourself. Be realistic and set attainable goals. Trust yourself and trust your God.”
Lozada said society plays an important role in the promotion of mental health, such as provisions for the basic needs of life, proper education and nutrition and enough facilities for health. (PIA) [top]