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Suicide incidents in the Philippines have jumped 10-fold over a 20-year period, taking the lives of mostly young people in their 20s, various studies on the phenomenon said.
Dr. Dinah Palmera Nadera, a fellow of the Philippine Psychiatriatic Association who studied the phenomenon in her “Suicide in the Philippines: A Second Look,” attributed the increase to slightly better suicide reporting and to increased suicide risks like poverty and inequality as well as clinical depression.
Although the overall suicide rate in the Philippines remains low at 2.1 per 100,000 (as of 1993, according to World Health Organization figures) and suicide reporting remains poor (with police normally classifying it as “death under inquiry”), the increase in suicides is notable, Nadera said.
From death certificates of the National Statistics Office between 1984 and 2005, suicide rates among males surged from 0.23 to 3.59 per 100,000 while those among females rose from 0.12 to 1.09 per 100,000.
At a WHO-sponsored consultation with media on suicide prevention, Nadera said the “greatest proportion suicides are from 20 to 29 years, (with) the mean age of non-fatal suicides (33.85) similar to that of fatal suicides (33.16).”
These figures, based on a review of case records of selected hospitals and police stations in Quezon City, Manila, Cavite, and Rizal, also showed that for every four fatal suicides among males, there is one female; and for every 1.7 non-fatal suicides among males, there is one female.
According to the 2000 Philippine Health Statistics of the Department of Health, the incidence of intentional self-harm is 1.8 per 100,000 population.
Citing the DOH’s Adolescent and Youth Health Program, Nadera also said that intentional self-harm is the 9th leading cause of death among the 20-24 years old in 2003.
The 1993 WHO data ranks the Philippines 90th among countries with the highest suicide rates at 2.1 per 100,000 population, with 22.5 males and 1.7 females committing suicide.
Other key findings
*A great majority of the suicide behaviors (85.8 percent) are carried out in the home.
*The leading method for fatal suicide is intentional self-harm by hanging, strangulation, and suffocation. *For non-fatal suicide, the leading method is intentional self-poisoning by and exposure to other and unspecified chemicals and noxious substances.
*In most cases, there is no statement of suicide intent. But when present, direct expression of intent was mostly through suicide notes.
*Indirect suicide intent was mostly through previous suicide attempt.
*Factors that helped lower suicide risks include: spirituality, family support, peer support, and “positive expectancy."
*Suicide incidents peaked during April although no pattern was found as to the day when most of these took place.
*For both fatal and non-fatal suicides, most happened between 8 a.m. and 12 noon and least between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. Nadera noted that several suicides have left the house purportedly to work or go to school but would return to commit self-harm.
Suicide is most prevalent in Lithuania (2009) with a suicide rate of 34.1 per 100,000, with males committing it at 61.3 per 100,000 population.
South Korea (2010) ranks second with 31.2 suicides per 100,000, followed by Guyana (2006) with 26.4, Kazakhstan (2008) 25.6, and Belarus (2010) 25.3.
The 6th to 10th place are held by Hungary (2009) 24.6; Japan (2011) 23.8; Latvia (2009) 22.9; China (2010) 22. 23; and Slovenia (2009) 21.9.
(Note: The following crisis lines have counselors available to listen and give advice: 0917-572-4673, 0917-558-4673, 0917-852-4673, 0917-842-5673, 211-4550, 211-1305, and 893-7606.)