September 10, 2021
Disclaimer: If you (or someone you know) are currently experiencing a psychological emergency, you may immediately contact the National Center for Mental Health Crisis hotline at 0917 899 USAP or 0908 639 2672.
Filipinos are known to be cheerful and social. We like having lunch with friends or talking about how our day went over coffee. Even in the face of calamities or national issues, we do our best to laugh at our problems or even create memes to make light of our situation. No wonder why we’re fond of saying, “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
But that’s also probably why it’s hard to talk about mental health issues like suicide and depression in our country. The idea of having chronic sadness and hopelessness feels so detached from our concept of who we are.
Sadly, health statistics show that there’s a steady increase in the number of Filipinos who are chronically sad or depressed.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, suicide-related deaths in the Philippines rose by 25.7% in 2020 compared to the previous years. This means that more Filipinos are actually dying of suicide than because of malnutrition.
Because of this alarming trend, mental health professionals are advocating for people in communities to have access to mental health education and to equip them on how to properly respond to psychological emergencies.
If you’re constantly having thoughts of ending your life because of your problems or emotional struggles, we want to give you some practical advice on how you can manage your thoughts.
1. Open up to someone you trust. Opening up is very important because the people around you may not necessarily know what you’re going through—not even your closest friends or family. Depression can be deceptive. It doesn’t always manifest in sadness or self-harm. Sometimes, it just creeps into your thoughts and lingers for too long until it becomes too hard to ignore.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, open up to a person you trust. This person might not necessarily know how to resolve your issues or fully understand what you’re feeling, but they can be there to listen to you and provide comfort or companionship.
This person could be your best friend, your parents, a pastor, a person you consider your ate or kuya, or even a psychotherapist you’ve met online. This person could be anyone; the most important thing is that you trust him or her.
Once you’ve decided who to open up to, ask that person for permission to contact him or her whenever you’re having thoughts of suicide. It is a sign of both humility and wisdom to ask for help when you need one, especially in matters of life and death.
Don’t believe the lie that you will just be a burden to others when you open up your problems to them. The people who are dear to you would be more than willing to listen, help you, and be there for you.
2. Throw away the things that trigger you to do self-harm or suicide. Suicidal thoughts are not constant; they come in waves. Before the next wave of thoughts or depressive episodes happen, get rid of anything that you can use to harm yourself. Sharp objects, toxic chemicals, or ropes—throw them away, take them out of your room, or remove them from sight.
3. Create a suicide prevention plan. Make a list of all the things, people, and circumstances that trigger your suicidal ideations, along with the thoughts, emotions, and behavioral reactions that you feel during your episodes.
Listing them down makes you aware of your triggers and will help you counter them. After that, list the things that you can do to alleviate the emotions. You can try breathing exercises, going out for a jog, taking a bath, watching your favorite movie, or calling your trusted person—whatever works for you. The thoughts may not go away in an instant, but establishing a routine with the things that build up your mood could help you big time.
4. Seek professional help. Mental health care in the Philippines is becoming more accessible nowadays. There are a lot of services available both from public and private sectors all over the country. You may check this link for a comprehensive list: http://www.silakbo.ph/help/
5. Replace the lies with the truth. Depression, anxiety, and mental health crises are all true. But that’s not the whole truth.
You may be feeling the pain of your past, the sting of guilt and shame, or the weight of regret for the wrong things you’ve done. But the truth is, Jesus Christ already defeated sin and death so they no longer have authority over our lives, and what’s more, in Him we find healing, even for our mental health concerns.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by sadness or emptiness at times. But the truth is, God’s grace is sufficient for us in moments of weakness, and His power is made perfect in us. He helps us overcome.
You may be feeling tired and hopeless, wanting to give up the fight. But the truth is, God gives rest to those who are weary and tired. You don’t have to go through your battles alone.
You may be feeling rejected, abandoned, or ignored. But the truth is, you are loved with an everlasting love by no less than your Maker and Father.
If you’ve reached this far in this article, congratulations. It shows that you are seeking help and are taking steps to take care of your mental health. Keep fighting. You are worth it, and your life is worth living. There are people who love you and are willing to help you get through this.
Remember, while depression and suicide are a tough opponent, they are not undefeatable.
Depression is curable. Suicide is preventable. Recovery is possible. Most importantly, hope is available in God.