BLIND SPOT: School Suicide Squad


It’s Teachers’ Day. No. Actually, it’s Teachers’ Month. Well, in case you’re not too aware, September 5 to October 5 is National Teachers’ Month, and the day after, October 6 is World Teachers Day. This brings the national month-long celebration on the same level with the arts (with National Arts Month) and children (in National Children’s Month). Beyond the national level, the celebration is on the same plane with World Tuberculosis Day, World Wildlife Day and World Braille Day, among others. A few weeks ago, while sipping goto at an eatery outside a mall, I was troubled at hearing a news report of a Grade 3 pupil airing complaint of physical abuse from his/her teacher. According to the report, the family will be standing their ground and refuses to transfer the child to another school, and would pursue filing of charges against the teacher in question. This was local news. A few weeks before this, we were left with revulsion in the report of students’ bags which contained personal property, most notably valuable electronic gadgets, being insensitively set on fire by a certain school administrator, in the guise of disciplinary action due to non-compliance to some school policy. There were talks that this type of “discipline” has happened before, that there had allegedly been a time when students’ rubber shoes were chopped (with a bolo, I suppose). Appreciation goes out to the prompt address by authorities; that is suspension of the person responsible. In some incomprehensible expression of camaraderie, colleagues were indignant over the supposed harsh sanction. Are they implying that the action being chastised is to some extent, justifiable? That was nothing short of revolting. “Deep sympathies were expressed to the bereaved family of a 21-year-old grade school teacher who killed herself on July 12. The teacher was “single and newly-hired, and was assigned to a multi-grade class (one class with different grade levels)in an upland school in Leyte. She committed suicide by hanging herself. It was revealed that the suicide was due to depression.” (https://www.sunstar.com) “in March, a female teacher was found hanging at the back of a classroom at the Leyte National High School in the same city. “(www.pna.gov.ph) A 23-year-old teacher from Bacoor City, who has started teaching kinder pupils since the second week of June, committed suicide In just two months, the teacher allegedly experienced massive and stressful workloads.” (https://philnews.ph) Oh my, I think I’m going to have nightmares of burning school bags and teachers hanging on a noose; gruesome. What a melancholic, muddled mishmash of abuse and agony. May I underscore that these events occurred just this year, within the past seven months, in close succession with each other. These events occurred locally, and interestingly in neighboring regions. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Happy Teachers’ Day, Happy Teachers’ Month. Whisky Tango foxtrot! What is happening. Shall we attribute these events to isolated coincidental events? I heard someone say that young teachers’ emotional intelligences are so low nowadays. Maybe that would classify as hasty generalization. Although, we could not immediately discount its possible truth, in respect of probability. Such claims require thorough scientific investigation prior to such declarations, and in turn, would require further research. “The suicide incident is a wake-up call for public school teachers to learn how to manage work pressures, according to Edgar Tenasas, DepEd-Leyte assistant division Superintendent. He further adds, “Preparing lessons and making report to track down learners have been part of teaching profession for decades,” (www.pna.gov.ph ) Yes. You have to admit. He raises valid points there. A job is a job; and lest we fail to take note, tasks are undeniably easier now because of information and communication technology. “Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) has since urged Education Secretary Leonor Briones to look into the workload of teachers following” the suicides. (https://newsinfo.inquirer.net) DepEd claims it “will work to ensure that the mental health of teachers and other education stakeholders are recognized and well taken care of.” Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla further said, “We have to be responsive to needs related to this – the implementing rules and regulations of the mental health law ongoing, support system of teachers need to be strengthened, more de-stressing activities, find hobbies or interests,” (https://www.philstar.com) Is she implying that the Department is going to recommend hobbies and interests on top of the job’s regular tasks? It seems that these guys would try anything just to avoid lightening work load. If these cases made it to the news. It is highly probable that there is a considerable number of teachers in service today, who are in the brink of physical and/or emotional abuse, or currently struggling in battles of anxiety and depression. The above incidents are just unpleasant representatives. It has been going on for a while. It just so happened that schools have just culminated Teachers’ Day celebrations. Happy World Teachers’ Day. “The one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.” Galatians 6:6