The Department of Health (DOH) has launched various programs in collaboration with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Natasha Goulborn Foundation (NGF) to curb the number of suicides in the country.
Among the programs launched by DOH in collaboration with NGF is the Hope Line project which established a call center that may be contacted by people contemplating suicide. The project was piloted in Cebu City.
Jean Goulborn, founder of NGF, said responders would listen to callers for about ten to 25 minutes.
Responders are trained to give advice depending on the gravity of their callers’ situation.
People facing extreme situations are advised to seek consultation with specialists while those with mild cases are told to go to churches with counselors to seek advice.
Guidance counselors from the University of Santo Tomas and the NGF have started to train youths from different dioceses in Metro Manila in peer counseling.
The said youths will then train representatives from all schools in the country.
Despite criticisms of the pilot project, Hope Line is set to be launched in other parts of the country.
“There is no hundred percent or perfect program, yet [Hope Line] has helped many people,” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial.
“We will not back down because it is a very good program,” she added.
Ubial also announced that the National Center for Mental Health, through its chief, Dr. Bernardino Vicente, has committed to the establishment of wellness center where activities promoting mental health could be hosted.
Non-government organizations and the private sector can use the space for related exhibitions, including yoga and meditation demonstrations.
The target launch for the center is three to four months, said Ubial.
The initial capacity of the center is around 50 to 60 people a day, she said.
In January, the DOH spearheaded a program in the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan) region geared towards enhancing the emotional resilience of youths.
Dubbed “Wellness Emotional Resilience for Filipino Youth,” the program involved an educational campaign that included topics on communication skills, interpersonal skills, family building, sexuality, building self-esteem, dealing with harassment and responsible usage of social media.
A survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010 among Filipino government workers in Metro Manila showed that ten percent were depressed or have experienced depression.
Depression is the leading cause of suicides worldwide, taking around 800,000 lives every year.
Vicente said females undergo more suicide attempts but males are more successful. He said only one of four suicide attempts of females is successful while males usually need just one attempt.