Why Benguet youth commits suicide?-A A +A
Monday, September 16, 2013
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Shocking research on suicides in the province has alarmed officials over the week.
"If we continue to expound on these problems, we can prevent it," Benguet State University president Ben Ladilad said in last week's suicide forum.
Ladilad lauded efforts of researchers from the BSU Research and Development team led by Ruth Batani and researchers, Stanley Anongos Jr., Mursha Gapasin, Rachelle De Guzman, Betty Listino, Beverly Sa-Ao, Tecah Sagandoy and Gregorio Taag to put in the forefront the reality of suicides in the province.
The BSU research focuses on the alarming suicide phenomenon prevalent among farmers and their kin using pesticide and herbicides.
Researcher data shows from the year 2008 to 2009 a suicide cluster was formed in areas along the mountain trail affecting the age brackets of those 15 to 24 years old.
In the early 70s suicide was identified as the 10th leading cause of death in Benguet.
Ladilad said the youth must try not to be swayed by simple problems and strive to be stronger persons.
Representing the team of BSU researchers, Gapasin explained the factors leading to a string of self-induced deaths in the province.
The research journal "Pansig'dan: Promoting Wellbeing in an agricultural community in Northern Luzon" focused on understanding suicide in the context of cash crop farming with areas along the Mountain Trail selected as research sites.
Although researchers cannot pinpoint the reason behind the string of suicides in the province, factors leading to the deaths have been cited.
Gapasin said farmer problems have been culled during the research showing the failing vegetable market, market risks, degradation of land, full agricultural trade liberalization, increasing chemical dependency, acquisition of farm inputs and a basic disregard for health as some pressing problems farmers face.
From the research, it was also revealed farmer-parents have been suffering from a basic lack of time to attend to their children's needs coupled with lack of integration while parent and child bonding has been limited because of work in the fields.
Suicide cases in the areas of research show deaths have occurred almost every week from youth below the age of 25.
Reasons behind the deaths have been culled by the research team from relatives, friends and coworkers of the deceased through interviews and face to face conversations showing unrequited love; scolding by parents; teasing; being called or in the local language "inayagan da" through dreams by friends or relatives who previously committed suicide; family problems; husband and wife conflicts; honor; shame and misunderstanding with drinking mates; and depression.
The research also indicated most of the suicides happened during an intoxicated state.
Some reinforcing factors from the research have likewise attempted to collate data to the cause of deaths of these highland youth attributing quality of interaction in the community and family may promote suicidal behavior.
The local term "Ba-es" and suicide as a means of getting attention was cited in one case when a female victim remarked during the wake of an earlier suicide the deceased looked beautiful inside the coffin.
More research showed the victim was undergoing problems in school, with her mother and avoidance to help in the family farm. The victim shortly ingested a chemical compound and died, asking forgiveness for her act and asked not to be taken to the hospital.
Another practice, "Toknang," defined as satirical humor as another factor to be considered. This is a known way to tease or joke an individual publicly. But for individuals undergoing a suicidal phase the ridiculing may turn out to be deadly.
A cultural factor has also been cited by the researcher in the occurrence of the string of suicides attributed to the "ginnuyud" factor, when the dead calls on the living to commit the same suicide.
In the Cordilleras, it is believed souls of suicide victims are unwelcome in the afterlife and thus continue to dwell in the land of the living. Traditionally, high priests recommend offering two pigs, one for the souls who died of natural causes and another swine to be offered for the soul of the suicide victim.
Village elders say the souls of the dead would not want to eat with the souls of the suicide victims because their souls have foul odors, like the pesticides they used to kill themselves.
It is also strongly believed the souls of the dead suicide victims linger and even join drinking sprees of the living and thus influence the intoxicated to commit the same act.
In 2002, the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey show the Cordilleras having the highest incidence of suicide as well as suicide attempts in the entire country.
The research team has recommended the institutionalization of school counseling centers accessible and friendly to the youth, the conduct of community integration activities as well as a restriction of chemicals being disposed for farming communities.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 17, 2013.