Intensifying counseling for adolescents, parents seen to curb suicide incidence

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 Dec) – There is a need to intensify counseling services for adolescents and parents to curb the increasing number of youth attempting suicide in Davao Region, an official of the Commission on Population (POPCOM) 11 said.

Citing the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality (YAFS) study in the Davao Region on “Suicide Attempts, Self-Esteem, Level of Happiness, and Life Satisfaction Among Youth in Davao Region,” POPCOM 11 regional director Bai Agnes Sampulna said in press conference Monday that the suicide ideation among the youth in the region grew faster at 13.4 percent compared to 8.7 percent in the national level in 2013.

She said POPCOM 11 has been doing the Learning Package for Parents Education and Development that provides a venue for parents and their adolescent children to talk and address their issues.

Sampulna added there is also a need to enhance the in-school teen centers to make counseling more accessible to students who need help.

The youth who attempted suicide is also higher in Davao with 36.8 percent compared to 25 percent at the national level in 2013, she said.

Sampulna said the common reasons for the increasing number of children thinking of ending their lives include, among others, poverty, family problems, emotional neglect from parents, sexual abuse and discrimination against bisexuals in the community.

Most of those who committed suicide did it by wrist slashing (62.2 percent) and hanging (22.5 percent), she said.

Sampulna said she is also wary of the growing number of children who engage in premarital sex that can result in unwanted pregnancies because this could also push the young women to commit suicide “because of shame.”

A briefer released by POPCOM 11 showed that 16.7 percent of the youth aged 15 to 19 years old have begun childbearing while 4.4 percent of them have engaged in sex with someone they met online or through text messaging. The youth population in the region was 903,278 as of 2013.

Sampulna said sexual education must be taught in teen centers and schools.

The YAFS study noted that the female youth with no history of suicide exhibited higher self-esteem and are the most satisfied with their lives.

It said youth with suicidal thoughts have lower self-esteem, lower life satisfaction, and are less happy. The study also showed that better educated youth also had higher self-esteem and were relatively happier relative to those with lower education.

Among the policy recommendations of the study include providing a special focus on mental health status of young people and understand the factors that predispose them to engage in such risky behavior; more open discussion on the issue should be encouraged in various venues like the family, school, and the church to make the public, particularly the young, better understand the causes and consequences of such behavior.

It also recommended to strengthen school-based centers of POPCOM 11 as well as the existing Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program to provide the youth, particularly teachers, and social workers with a venue to discuss the promotion of self-esteem and coping mechanisms to handle stress and risky behavior.

It added there is need to build and strengthen partnerships among different agencies, development organizations, the youth and the community, especially in the referral system as well as the early detection and handling of suicide cases. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)