March 21, 2023

The Baguio City Health Services Office (CHSO) has reported an increase in suicide incidents in the city in 2021 and majority of those who committed suicide were male.
City Health Services Officer Rowena Galpo said their mental health program recorded 37 suicide incidents involving 32 males and five females. Ages ranged from 10 to 70 and above years.
Of the 37, four are not Baguio residents.
Nurse I Ricky Ducas, mental health responder and coordinator of the program, said the 2021 number represents a 23 percent increase from that of 2020 when the city listed 30 cases. In 2019, there were 27 cases recorded.
“The increase in our suicide cases is alarming and the upturn in male suicide mostly belonging to the young adult age group is staggering,” Ducas said.
He said young adults are among the most vulnerable to suicide as their developmental milestones on love and belonging are rooted on their peers and the community.
The CHSO also noted rampant reports of deliberate self-harm among the youth and assessments showed links to dysfunctional family condition and exhaustion from the pandemic.
Mental health experts explained these are the parasuicidal type of self-directed violence where the patients’ intention was not really to take their own lives.
Ducas said on the whole, there was an increase in the number of common mental health concerns in 2021 particularly depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
He said most of those diagnosed with said mental health problems under the CHSO’s mental health program belonged to the younger age groups followed by the working age category.
There was also a noted increase in patients who sought professional help as compared in the previous year because people now tend to be more open about their mental health issues especially the youth but the challenge remains to be that their parents and elders tend to discount the mental health problems.
“Minsan pumupunta ang bata na mag-isa to seek help at kapag tinanong nasaan ang guardian for consent, sinasabihan daw kasi ng mga parents or support system na gawa-gawa lang nila or napapanood lang nila or worst is nasabihan sila na ano ang ikaka-depress eh binigay naman ang mga pangangailangan nila at nakakakain naman sila,” Ducas said.
He said another growing concern is the fact that persons undergoing mental health issues turn to alcohol use as their coping mechanism and this poses another problem as this can lead to abuse and other health issues.
To help address the problem, the city’s mental health program will step up its service to provide free assistance to individuals seeking consultations, basic medications, and other interventions.  This is on top of the health and wellness program information-education-communication campaign strategies regularly conducted for the public.
As part of the strategies on the early detection of mental disorders among individuals, the CHSO made available a helpline that could be immediately contacted by people suffering from mental disorders open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 0919-069-6361.
Beyond said hours, people can reach the National Center for Mental Health 24/7 hotlines at 0917-899-8727, 0966-351-4518, and 0908-639-2672.
The city’s mental program works in partnership with the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Psychiatry Department, Baguio Emergency Medical Service, Baguio City Police Office, the Office of the City Social Welfare and Development and the Mental Health Council. – Aileen P. Refuerzo