QC mulls to establish 24/7 suicide prevention hotline

MANILA Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte is mulling over the establishment of a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline in the city in the aftermath of the growing number of Filipinos committing suicide, especially youngsters.

Belmonte noted that the suicides of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade in the United States, as well as the many suicide cases in the Philippines, should serve as a reminder to the government to address the sensitive issue of mental health, particularly depression that often leads to suicide.

We in the Philippines are not spared from this increasing global trend. Perhaps our city can establish a helpline similar to the ones in the US and other countries with growing suicide rates, she said in a statement Monday.

The city official also expressed her grief over the deaths of Bourdain and Spade.

Now, I’m sure everyone is convinced depression when unheeded can lead to suicide. It is a public health issue and government needs to step up its efforts, Belmonte said.

Back in graduate school, Belmonte said that she witnessed the suicide of a fellow student.

A student jumped from our school building and struck the ground just a few meters from where I was standing. The memory is still very vivid in my mind, she added.

In 2011, Belmonte linked up with Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF), various government agencies, universities and non-government organizations (NGOs) in marking the World Suicide Prevention Day through various activities in Quezon City.

At that time Jeannie Goulbourn told us, we were perhaps the only city government that took her advocacy seriously, Belmonte said.

She was referring to the founder of NGF, an NGO which is dedicated to bringing depression to light through the use of educational lectures, confidential crisis lines and referrals to partner psychologists.

Goulbourn established the NGF in 2007 in memory of her daughter Natasha, who died in Hong Kong on May 25, 2002 from overmedication after a bout of depression.

Citing government data, Belmonte said that at least six individuals commit suicide every day in the country such that in 2016 alone, 2,413 suicide cases were recorded and from 2012 to 2016, there were 237 suicide cases among children aged between 10 and 14.

In its 2017 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the age-standardized suicide rate in the Philippines is 5.8 for male and 1.9 for females per 100,000 people.

According to the WHO fact sheet for 2017, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds, and 78 percent of global suicides occur in low and middle-income countries such as the Philippines.

In 2016, the Department of Health launched Hopeline to serve as the national support hotline for depression and suicide prevention nationwide. (QC LGU PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency