Due to 34 suicide cases: Caceres bishop launches suicide awareness drive

NAGA CITY--- Caceres Archbishop Rolando Octavus J. Tria-Tirona, O.C.D. D.D., has urged all parishes and institutions in the archdiocese to include in their pastoral ministries an awareness campaign to help prevent depression and suicide among the faithful amidst reports of 34 suicide cases in Camarines Sur from January to August this year.

Based from record of the Camarines Sur Police Provincial Office (CSPPO), 34 suicide incidents were recorded from January to August 25, this year. Out of this number, 26 cases happened beginning in the month of March until Aug. 25 or during the period of strict to moderate community quarantine measures.

To recall, Camarines Sur and other Bicol provinces were placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for two months from March 17 up to May 15, 2020. During the succeeding months, the province transitioned from modified ECQ (MECQ), general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ as a result of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

According to CSPPO, the suicide victims were mostly men aged 19 to 49. Most of them died by hanging while others died by fatally stabbing themselves. The latest suicide incident that occurred on Aug. 5, involved a 20-year-old male student from Manguiring, Calabanga who committed suicide by hanging himself.

Tirona, in his statement, said “I have recently been informed by authorities that there has been a sharp increase in the number of suicide cases in the Province of Camarines Sur. And it appears that a principal cause for such tragedy is depression. Indeed, medical research shows that depression and suicide are closely linked.”

The bishop’s statement also said that “Depression leads to despair or loss of hope. It is this sense of loneliness or feeling of helplessness that then impels a person to take his or her own life. Nevertheless, ‘it merits emphasis that early diagnosis of depression and implementation of proper treatment provide a good chance of suicide prevention’.”

“As pastors of hope, it is imperative that we help increase awareness on depression and suicide among our flocks. We must go out of our normal work routines, and actively seek the lost sheep,” he said.

Tirona called on “all parishes and institutions to include in their pastoral ministry an awareness campaign that Depression can be Overcome.”

He also ordered the Lay Formation Institute and the Family Ministry of Caceres to arrange a webinar and the production of pamphlets on addressing depression.

To recall, on Aug. 22, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra sought the assistance of churches and religious leaders to provide guidance for their members suffering from mental health issues as the number of suicide cases nationwide have increased amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Center for Mental Health has recorded a monthly average of 950 calls to its crisis hotlines from March to May this year.