NOBODY can be sure the death of 17-year-old Grade 12 student Jonah Villarin could have been prevented. Villarin jumped from the seventh floor of the Asian College of Technology International Education Foundation (ACTIEF) school building along P. del Rosario St., Cebu City and landed on the concrete parking lot on the ground floor.
But while one can’t truly say Villarin’s life could have been saved, it also does look like the people who could have done so can’t say it wasn’t for want of trying. Reports say Villarin had attempted to commit suicide twice before, also inside the school, and even confessed to having ingested a dozen packs of monosodium glutamate, one dozen capsules and Biogesic tablets.
School authorities, especially the guidance counselor, possess, to a certain degree, knowledge of the girl’s problems, including the serious allegation that she was physically, verbally and psychologically abused by her parents. They saw her erratic behavior. As for the parents, they already knew of the problems their daughter faced, with the mother admitting that she was “sensitive.”
Yet, despite the knowledge, the lack of a sense of urgency to deal with the girl’s condition showed. No, we don’t want to go into the blame game here. Rather, we just want both the school authorities, the family of the girl and others concerned to do some serious soul-searching and to learn some lessons from the experience. As for parents and children out there, they can be enlightened by the lessons from this incident.
The website MedicineNet.com noted that overall, “there may be between eight and 25 attempted suicides for every suicide death.” “The majority of suicide attempts,” it added, “are expressions of extreme distress and not just harmless bids for attention.” Meaning, every attempted suicide should be given the urgent attention and intervention it deserves.
School authorities, the families of children with suicidal tendencies and medical practitioners should not wait until the situation worsens before acting on attempted suicide cases. By then it might already be too late. The Cebuano admonition for that is, “wa ra bay pagbasol nga mag-una.”
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 30, 2017.
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