Suicide is a global and societal concern. In fact, World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes suicide as a public health priority. Over 75% of suicides happen in low and middle-income countries (WHO, 2021). According to the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA), suicide is the 25th leading cause of death in 2020 from 31st in the preceding year here in the country. About 4,000 lives were intentionally taken through self-harm last year. Mental health groups and advocates rose for an immediate call to action as those who are struggling with mental illness and issues are in need of social and accessible programs and hotlines especially in the time of global health crisis where its reach to mental health professionals became more limited.
Children and adults born with cleft/cleft lip/cleft palate — a condition associated with speech, hearing, feeding, and dental problems — struggle with being victims of bullying, heightened insecurities, and discrimination. But even to this age, ridiculous remarks flood the social media comment section as if these individuals do not exist and/or lack feelings. Triggers then affect their emotional and mental states. Such circumstances may lead to suicide ideation and attempt. The social stigma and the attached cultural superstitions on the condition bring a massive effect on one’s psychological health. Stories are untold, shamed, and invalidated because of the prejudice it has in the general public.
Considered as Person With Disability or PWD, treating them with respect and empathy is not up for debate. Like anybody, they have their respective aspirations and goals. But how do they reach their fullest potential if bullying and ableism are what hinder them to hope for another day and go after their dreams?
#WorldSuicidePreventionDay is observed annually on September 10. The purpose is to raise awareness and combat the stigma it has among individuals regardless of age and gender. Organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention, this year’s theme is ‘Creating Hope Through Action.’
Life can be much more difficult with a weak support system. As we are in the middle of a global pandemic, lengthened lockdowns, and being stuck at home, we advocate for family support, and care for these are important for recovery, healing, and self-esteem boost. In fact, families are one of the primary sources of strength. Strengthening this type of support by listening with empathy, affirming them and extending patience can go a long way.
In the same manner, we, together with Noordhoff Craniofacial Philippines Foundation Inc. (NCFPI), believe that we need to take the first step by addressing and paying attention to the primary and immediate needs of our patients. By doing this, we also contribute to their well-being and good mental health. Aligned to this year’s theme, we unswervingly create hope through our services and interventions. The lack of corrective surgery and the inability of families to pay are only a few of the many struggles our patients face. The good news is, NCFPI offers treatment and hospitalization of craniofacial, cleft lip, and/or cleft palate patients from the indigent sector of the country.
We believe that we can face the world by facing it together.
Although society is gradually becoming more inclusive, we are far from the finish line. Discrimination, inequality, and injustice are present to this day. There are still those who think it’s okay to be cruel to people who are different. But even so, we stand with them and we remain steadfast in our advocacy in improving their quality of life and promoting care in the public society. In NCFPI, we build a generation who can speak for themselves and for others. This is our hope in action.
Valuing our patients also means we value their mental health for it is crucial to all kinds of health and their successes. Struggling to cope with certain difficulties in their lives can cause them to feel suicidal or die of suicide.
Suicide is an emergency, but it can also be prevented. By taking the time to listen, we can save a life.
The Department of Health, through the National Center for Mental Health, has a crisis hotline to assist those who have mental health concerns.
Call NCMH Crisis Hotline:
· 1553 (Luzon-wide, toll-free landline number)
· 0917-899-8727 and 0966-351-4518 for Globe and TM subscribers,
· 0908-639-2672 for Smart and Sun subscribers.
For cleft and craniofacial treatment and hospitalization, refer to the contact numbers below:
· The Smile Train Craniofacial Center (TSTCC)
Main Office: Joshua Center, 2nd Floor Unit B, 1428 Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila 1004
+63 (02) 252 3600
· Our Lady of Peace Craniofacial Center (OLPCC)
Our Lady of Peace Hospital, Coastal Road, Brgy. San Dionisio, Parañaque City 1700
+63 (02) 829 5720 / +63 (02) 829 5775 loc. 122 (every Mondays only)
· +63 917 637 5582 (Social Worker)
· +63 917 710 5290 (Dental Appointment)
— by Rinnah Ramirez (NCFPI Volunteer Writer)
National Center of Mental Health http://www.ncmh.gov.ph/
Mental Health First Response – https://www.mhfirstresponse.org/crisis–treatment-centers.html
2021 World Suicide Prevention Month’s Theme https://www.iasp.info/2021/04/15/world-suicide-prevention-day-new-theme/
Prevalence of Suicide – https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/suicide