Suicide is Painless –
The game of life is hard to play       Suicide is painless
I”m going to lose it anyway                 It brings on many changes
The losing card I ‘ll someday lay    And I can take or leave it-
So this is all I have to say               If I please…
(A pop song popularized in the 1970s by Johnny Mendel)

IT IS PUZZLING TO REALIZE  THAT this popular song played on the radio we played as disk jockeys-realizing that it has been close to 50 years ago. But it is as real then and more so now.

For an authoritative source like the WHO (World Health Organization) presented statistics stating that in 2015- 1 million people committed suicide every year which means one such death happens every 40 seconds. By 2020, it will be 1.5 million.

The suicide mortality rate is 16 for every 100,000 persons in the world and wealth has nothing to do with it. The affluent European Union (EU) reports 15.4 suicide deaths for every 100,000 higher than the largely poverty-stricken Africa with only 7.4 per 100,000 persons.

What pushed people to commit suicide? Mostly it is depression. In 2015, the Global Burden on Diseases group publicized that as of 2012 -300 million people were stricken with depression. Although the Philippines only ranks as No 147 among nations with the highest suicide casualties, it has the record of the highest depression numbering 3.3 million Filipinos. Among Southeast Asian nations.

For every 100,000 Filipinos, 2.7 male and 1.7 represent the Filipino mortality rate. That is not a small number, Watson.

Last week, Paris Jackson, the daughter of the late musical icon Micahel Jackson cut her wrists in apparent suicide but survived. Why would an heiress with a net worth of US$100M ( P5.3Billion) want to take her life at so young an age?

She could not live with the fact that two of Michaels’ friends accused him of molesting them in a documentary “Leaving Neverland”, the latter being the name of Jackson’s wide playground for kids and toys built by “The Thriller” singer. It’s as if, if the allegations are true- that the sins of the father should descend on the daughter which should not be the case.

In the first place, we cannot choose our parents.

Just last year – two famous celebrities Kate Spade and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, took their lives- one after the other. Who would ever think that the contemporary King of ComedIc Genius like Robin Williams would hang himself to death? Or that another comic -Jim Carrey – seems to now be going through a weird episode in his life? Millionaires, all.

Just this January 2019, closer to home, the famous drummer of the rock group Razorback (Brian Velasco) jumped from the balcony of his high condo -recording the gruesome death on his cellphone. Last we heard, also a high school kid in an exclusive girl school in Pasig with high academic standards, also jumped to her death last year.

Just two weeks ago, Ray (not his real name) with multi-businesses, set to marry his second wife-to-be (from Australia) and about to witness the debut of his first daughter (from a previous marriage) hanged himself with a nylon chord which almost severed his neck from his anatomy.

 He was in prime health, a  jolly good fellow and often joined visits to orphanages and the like. Are there earth-bound problems so huge that one gets the nerve to leave behind a young family and a fiance? Earlier, Ray was looking for a gun which meant he had thought -long and hard about what he would later do. Why and more whys?

Only his mind and Ray’s God knows the real truth. It is especially traumatic in the predominantly-Catholic Philippines where many people put a stigma on people with mental challenges and once upon a time the same church had earlier disallowed the burial of suicide victims in Catholic cemetery and rites. This has to change.

Very recently, as well, the whole world went agog with the so-called “Momo Challenge”- a series of Youtube and What’sUp series that showed scary graphics and sounds and often suggesting to the viewers to do “acts of violence, self-harm, and suicide”.

Children flocked to the forbidden sites out of curiosity and some were reported to have nightmares due to it. One child suicide in Indonesia was traced to the influence of the “Momo Challenge” but was later debunked. Parents are still warning their children to stay away from Momo (incidentally referring to a witch in Tagalog) and some of the gory graphics are inserted in even wholesome cartoon shows.

The Northern Island Police posted on its Facebook page warning against this. And famous celebrity Kim Kardashian posted on Youtube for all to please remove all remnants of Momo and its Gruesome Challenges.

One other challenge is social media and its obsession with the rich, famous and beautiful. One study, at least, pointed out that viewing these “demi-gods” on social media often triggers a sense of “not being up to it” of insecurity if you will-  that can lead viewers to depression.

There is a need, therefore, to be alert Gatewatchers of what enters into our senses. Parents should be aware of what trauma and challenges children are going through. Communities should form “Talk Therapy” groups where similarly situated persons can voice out their frustrations and depressions without being given value judgment by their peers.

It is a good thing most hospitals now have departments specifically addressing mentally challenging issues and patients. Last we heard even community clinics are visited regularly by psychiatrists and psychologists to talk to rural patients. These are laudable moves.

One well-organized group addressing this issue is the Natasha Goulbourne Foundation (NGF) which offers 24/7 HOPELINE under telephones(02)8047673 and 0917 5584673 or 0917 558 2919.

They can counsel or can refer you to alternative options perhaps nearer to your areas. Depression and suicide are a real challenge today- we cannot pretend that they do not exist.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com