THE posting of police personnel on the two bridges that connect Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities has succeeded in stopping at least three persons from killing themselves.
Many more will probably be saved.
Police Regional Director Debold Sinas ordered the fielding of the police personnel on the first bridge, named the Sergio Osmeña Bridge, and the second one, the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, following recent incidents of persons killing themselves by jumping off them. Police are there from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Mandaue City Police Director Jonathan Abella was honest enough to admit last week that the police assigned to the bridges need proper training in handling people with mental health issues, depressed individuals who might have suicidal thoughts. These are usually sensitive and dangerous situations where a wrong move or word could trigger the suicide attempt. The police feel they are not equipped to handle such situations and they cannot predict behavior.
Abella said there is a professional way of dealing with depressed individuals and bridge policemen have to know the right thing to say or do. He added that he will coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the training.
This is where those in the medical profession and the strength of community could come in to address a social dysfunction, the recent incidents of suicides not only on the bridge but inside rooms and buildings.
News reports on these incidents routinely mention the hotline available to depressed individuals. The Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) has its Center for Behavioral Sciences that offers psychiatric and psychological services. It is along B. Rodriguez St. Ext. in Cebu City.
The national service 24/7 suicide prevention hotline called Hopeline, launched in 2016 by Natasha Goulborne Foundation, may be reached at (02) 804-4673, 0917-5584673, or 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers. These services will give people access to professional help.
Dr. Rene Obra, head of the VSMMC center, said what could trigger people to think of killing themselves are love problems, peer pressure and problems within the family or school. He also said social media does not help as suicide posts could lead to copycats. Bullying among teenagers is another factor.
Obra said guidance counselors in schools have to be on alert for students with thoughts of hurting themselves.
The series of suicide incidents call for a comprehensive training program to engage a wider circle of the police, school officials, those in the medical profession, the church and local government to address this social dysfunction.
The comprehensive approach using the strength of the community will be an effective and long-term way of stopping persons from killing themselves, whether from bridges or inside their rooms.
This should be better than having those closed-circuit television systems that monitor these persons yet not have anyone there to help them.