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Electronic gadgets, social media, rapid urbanization contribute to youth suicides

By CONG B. CORRALES,
Associate Editor

THE influx of electronic gadgets, social media, and rapid urbanization have contributed to the recent spate of suicides among young people, a mental health professional said over the weekend.

MENTAL HEALTH. Dr. Jose Coruña Jr., a consulting psychiatrist at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, says that the influx of electronic gadgets, social media, and rapid urbanization of the city have contributed to the recent spike of suicides among young people. (photo by Cong B. Corrales)

Dr. Jose Coruña Jr., a consulting psychiatrist at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, said it also does not help that there is a dearth for public mental health professionals in the city.

“The high rate of suicides among teenagers occurs mostly in highly urbanized cities because of its fast pace that individuals are left feeling isolated, alienated,” Coruña said.

He cited a US medical report that suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-old people. This, he said, is consistent with what’s happening here.

In the World Population Review released this August, the country ranked 163rd among 183 countries with a suicide rate of 3.2 per 100,000 population or roughly 3,413 cases of suicide.

Of these suicide cases, Coruña said, males, are more likely to succeed in offing themselves since they employ a more lethal method. He said male suicides usually use a gun, hang themselves, or ingest pesticides. However, Coruña added, that the female counterparts try to commit suicides more.

The same World Population Review pointed out that males have a higher suicide rate of 4.3 than their female counterparts at 2.0.

“But females mostly try to commit suicide by overdosing on medicines or sleeping pills. That’s why even though females’ suicide attempts are higher the method is less lethal. Ergo, a lower suicide rate among females,” Coruña said.

Even with these grim numbers, Coruña said, the lack of mental health professionals in the city exacerbates the situation. Even more appalling, he added, is that there is an even lesser number of public mental health professionals.

“Limited kaayo ang mental health services diri. We are a highly urbanized city yet wala kaayo mga mental health specialists,” he said.

An alumnus of Xavier University’s Dr. Jose P. Rizal School of Medicine who did his residency at the government-run Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Coruña said he felt he had to give back to Cagayan de Oro City to help in any way he can to promote awareness on mental health issues.

“Taga diri gud ’ta. Being a government-trained mental health specialist, I decided to give back to my hometown especially to people who could not afford mental health services,” Coruña said.

The age-old stigma attached to mental health, Coruña sadly noted, is also posing a challenge in the promotion of awareness of mental health issues.

“I also treat patients who have minor mental health issues like anxiety and stress. Naay mga pasyente nga makurat nga ga ingnan ko nga ‘dili ra diay mga buang imong gatambalan.’ We really need to educate our people that without mental health there is no health,” said Coruña.

For the World Mental Health Week this year, Coruña said he has been invited more to give lectures about mental health issues, adding that this is a good indication that people are opening up more on a virtually taboo subject among Filipinos.

“Although public mental health services are still in its infancy, paingon na gihapon ta sa level nga open na mga tao maghisgot about mental health. Ma-recognize tana sa mga tao nga ilang mga relatives who are suffering mental health issues mahatagan og professional help og dili lang pasagdan or worse, ginakulong sa balay,” Coruña said.

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