Family support for mental health urged amid rising youth suicides
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Family support for mental health urged amid rising youth suicides

OPEN-MINDEDNESS toward mental health within families is important to prevent depression and suicidal tendencies among children, an official of the Mandaue City Substance Abuse Prevention Office (MCSAPO) said.

Ebenezer "Ben" Manzano, head of MCSAPO and an action officer of the Mandaue City Anti-Drug Abuse Council, stressed the crucial role of parents in providing support to their children.

He believes the importance of having an environment where children feel comfortable expressing their concerns, particularly related to school, without fear.

Manzano also underscored the significance of allowing children breaks from their academic and household responsibilities and encouraging them to engage in activities they enjoy.

He recommended establishing clear rules and boundaries to provide structure and security for children, stressing that children will be more likely to agree to guidelines this way.

Regarding emotional support, Manzano advised parents to create a safe space for their children to express their feelings without judgment. He encouraged parents to model healthy emotional expression and facilitate open communication.

"Be open and encourage them to express their feelings. Be a positive role model to them. Talk to your teen boy that it is okay to be emotional. Encourage them to feel love, anger, happiness, sadness, or whatever it is they are going through," Manzano told SunStar Cebu, on Thursday, February 8, 2024.

Is the path warm?

Depression is a mental disorder where people experience a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest, stopping them from doing their normal activities.

As a person's depressive disorder worsens or remains unattended by their loved ones, it could lead them to commit suicide.

Manzano referred to a method called "Is Path Warm," introduced by the American Association of Suicidology in 2006, that helps parents identify the signs of depression that could lead to suicidal thoughts.

"Is Path Warm" is an acronym for the following:

Ideation -- This is when a depressed individual is talking about wanting to die, looking for ways to die, talking about death, or in cases of children, particularly teenagers, posting an intent to kill themselves or writing a letter about their death.

Substance abuse -- When the victim shows increased or excessive use of alcohol or drugs, among others.

Purposelessness -- Refers to a state where an individual shows little or no interest in life and lacks a clear reason for living.

Anxiety -- A feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. It is often accompanied by physical symptoms like agitation, restlessness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.

Trapped -- When a person feels like they have no escape from their problems or circumstances. They may resist help or feel like there are no solutions to their problems.

Hopelessness -- A state where an individual shows no interest or hope for their future. They display lack of plans for their future.

Withdrawal -- When an individual isolates themselves from their friends, family, and society. They often choose to be alone in their room and sleep for longer hours.

Anger -- A state where an individual is easily enraged and displays uncontrollable anger. They may even plan to seek revenge against their perpetrators.

Recklessness -- When an individual acts recklessly or engages in risky activities without thinking about the consequences.

Mood changes -- When an individual experiences dramatic mood shifts. They may report feeling very down and suddenly shift to become cheerful and lively.

More interventions

Manzano reported that MCSAPO intervened in three mental health cases in January 2024, as part of Mandaue's mental health program implementation.

In 2022, he said only two cases involving minors were admitted to MCSAPO for mental health rehabilitation.

But he expects that the number of individuals who may be reporting mental health challenges may increase as they collect and collate data from different health offices and agencies in Mandaue City.

He also anticipates further assistance to these individuals once the mental health system is fully operational.

On February 7, 2024, a 15-year-old Grade 10 student reportedly committed suicide by jumping off a high-rise condominium in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City.

Initial investigation of the Mandaue City Police Office revealed that the victim was going through a family problem a week before the incident happened.

The parents, however, did not notice any suspicious behavior from their child in the past few days.

With this, Manzano urged parents to seek professional help for their children if needed.

MCSAPO, an office of the Mandaue City Government, provides primary interventions like psychosocial processing, psychological first aid, and referral systems.

Manzano said the office is currently in the process of hiring consultants like psychiatrists and psychologists to expand their mental health services.

These services will include diagnosing mental, neurological, and substance abuse disorders, counseling, and psychotherapy.


Individuals suffering from depression and needing assistance may call the following numbers:

* HopeLine Hotlines at (02) 804-HOPE (4673); 0917 558 HOPE (4673); and 2919 (toll-free number for all GLOBE and TM subscribers).

* DOH suicide prevention hotlines:

0917-899-8727 (USAP)

0917-989-8727 (USAP)


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