The Department of Health (DOH) observes the National Suicide Prevention Week every second week of September and the World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2017 with the theme of “Take a minute, Change a life. Tara, Usap Tayo”. This year’s theme encourages everyone to devote time and reach out for those who need someone to talk to and allow them to express themselves and their story in their own way and at their own pace.

This year, the DOH together with mental health advocates, stakeholders, and partners will be conducting various activities to promote awareness on the public health impact of suicide and the significance of suicide prevention in saving lives particularly among the youth.

As a kick-off activity, the “Suicide Prevention Run” is held today in Marikina Sports Complex. For the entire week, the DOH together with youth organizations such as Youth for Mental Health Coalition and MentalHealthPH; Philippine Psychiatry Association, and Natasha Goulborn Foundation will hold mental health caravan and forum on suicide prevention in various colleges and universities.

Each life lost is a tragedy that leaves behind a profound impact on families, communities and the entire nation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year close to 800,000 people die from suicide worldwide. It is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 years old. In the Philippines, the 2012 estimated number of suicide deaths was 2,558. 1

Suicide is preventable. One must understand that there is no single approach to resolve an issue as complex as suicide, but talking more openly about it and helping those in distress is a good start of preventing it. Remember, you can always #TalkToSomeJuan, give social and emotional reinforcement, live a positive and healthy lifestyle and be with supportive family and friends.

In this generation of advance technology, the public is advised to be attentive to each other’s needs at all times. Know the warning signs of suicidal behaviors such as withdrawing from friends, expressing hopelessness, unexpected joke about suicide, and engaging in self harm. Let us remember always to take suicidal comments very seriously.

If the person is at a high risk of suicide, ask him or her directly. It is important to discuss the issue openly without expressing fear or negative judgment and remain calm and in control. Be with the person, do not leave them alone, and remove anything that can be used to carry out the intention, inform the person’s immediate family, and keep emergency numbers ready for professional help. You may refer or call the suicide hotline, HOPELINE, at (02) 804 4673, 09175584673 or 2919 toll free for Globe and TM subscribers.

“World Suicide Prevention Day calls for a collaborative effort from each one of us. Government, non-government, and private organizations must relentlessly support efforts to prevent suicide. Simple acts of kindness, gentle words of hope, and listening heart can make all the difference,” Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial affirmed.