Suicide: To die or not to die-A A +A
Friday, September 6, 2013
THE Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) reported the Philippines has suicide rates (per 100,000) of 2.5 for men and 1.7 for women as of 1993. This fact may be appalling for Filipinos but the numbers are way too small compared to those in other Western countries.
In fact, the Philippines has one of the world's lowest suicide rates. The 2000 Philippine Health Statistics from the Department of Health (DOH) showed only 1.8 per 100,000 people to have inflicted harm on themselves. In comparison, European countries had the highest figures which ranged from 30 to 42 per 100,000.
Suicide is a major contributor to premature mortality around the world. Approximately 32 percent of the world's suicides occur in Western Pacific region. "While knowledge as an important and neglected health issue, it remains a low priority in most Western Pacific countries due to competing health problems, stigma and poor understanding of the condition," wrote Maria Theresa Redaniel, May Antonnette Lebanan-Dalida, and David Gunnell, authors of "Suicide in the Philippines: time trend analysis (1974-2005) and literature review."
According to their study, the incidence of suicide in males increased from 0.23 to 3.59 per 100,000 between 1984 and 2005.
Similarly, rates rose from 0.12 to 1.09 per 100,000 in females. Among females, suicide rates were highest in 15-24 year olds, while in males rates were similar in all age groups throughout the study period.
The most commonly used methods of suicide were hanging, shooting and pesticide ingestion. In non-fatal attempts, the most common methods used were ingestion of drugs or pesticide ingestion.
Family and relationship problems were the most common problems reported.
"While suicide rates are low in the Philippines, increases in incidence and relatively high rates in adolescents and young adults point to the importance of focused suicide prevention programs," the study concluded. "Improving data quality and better reporting of suicide deaths is likewise imperative to inform and evaluate prevention strategies."
Suicide, the process of purposely ending one's own life, has always been viewed negatively in most culture. But not in Asia, where 60 percent of all the suicide deaths in the world are reported from. In fact, two of the countries with relatively huge suicide rates are Japan and South Korea, which have a very high level of competition that starts right from childhood.
"Although some attempted or completed suicides come as a shock even to family and friends, clear warnings are given in most cases," notes "The Merck Manual of Medical Information." "Any suicide threat or suicide attempt is a plea for help and must be taken seriously. If the threat or attempt is ignored, a life may be lost."
For health purposes, the Merck manual calls it as “suicidal behavior.” It says: “Suicidal behavior is an all-too-common health problem. Although most suicidal behavior does not result in death, 10 percent of people who try to kill themselves using a potentially fatal means do die from their actions.”
According to the Merck manual, suicidal behavior is an unmistakable signal that a person has feelings of desperation and hopelessness. Among those with high-risk factors for suicide are males, having painful or disabling illness, living alone, having debt or living in poverty, under bereavement, experiencing humiliation or disgrace, and depressed.
Other high-risk factors: persistence of sadness even when other symptoms of depression are getting better, history of drug or alcohol abuse, history of prior suicide attempts, family history of suicide, family violence (including physical or sexual abuse), suicidal preoccupation and talk, and well-defined plans for suicide.
"Suicidal behavior includes attempted suicide, suicide gestures, and completed suicide," the Merck manual states. "An attempted suicide is suicidal action that is not fatal. If an attempted suicide involves a suicidal action unlike to have any potential of being fatal, it is called a suicide gesture. A person taking such an action (for example, ingesting six acetaminophen tablets) may be making a plea for help or attention without having any intention of actually ending his life. A completed suicide is a suicidal action that results in death."
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 06, 2013.