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Suicide cases rise amid virus spread

Keith A. Calayag

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Loss of jobs and livelihood factor the increase in number of suicide cases during the prolonged community quarantine due to the local spread of the new coronavirus pandemic.

This was revealed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as he shared the information relayed by IATF-EID Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

“I received a phone call today from Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementor of the IATF national task force, regarding the alarming increase in the number of suicides during the pandemic,” Guevarra said.

The Justice Chief said Galvez is seeking help from the various churches and spiritual leaders in providing counsel and guidance to their members and followers as the number of suicide soars.

“The help of churches and spiritual leaders (is needed) in providing counsel and guidance to their members and followers who are undergoing depression due to loss of employment or livelihood, anxiety of being afflicted with or are dying from the dreaded disease, loneliness arising from isolation and lack of hope for a return to their normal lives,” Guevarra said.

“I share Secretary Galvez’s concern and respectfully request our spiritual leaders to bring this much needed message of hope to our suffering countrymen in order to stave of more incidents of self-destruction,” he added.

Galvez’s message was also shared in their online group composed of leaders from the Catholic and Protestant churches, Islam, Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), and other religious congregations.

Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has urged Congress to hear and approve mental health bills amid the rising cases of suicide in the country.

Rodriguez on Saturday said the prolonged pandemic has affected the mental health of many Filipinos.

“No work, less food to eat, the worries of being sick with COVID-19, being unable to go outdoors, pressure to earn for the family, sickness in the family, hearing depressing news of friends contaminated and dying with COVID-19, unable to continue school, inability to get physical comfort from friends and relatives — all these result in deteriorating mental health of our people.”

“I urge my colleagues to hear and approve the various bills on mental health including my House Bill 2732,” Rodriguez told Daily Tribune.

The lawmaker’s bill seeks to recruit, hire and train additional school-based counselors and mental health personnel to address mental health problems among the youth.

Also pending are House Bill 7210 which seeks to provide accessible mental health services through the creation of mental health consultation desks and government-run mental health hotline; and House Bill 6253 which seeks to grant mental health wellness leave to all employees in the private sector.

Earlier, a joint report of the Asian Development Bank and the International Labor Organization claimed up to a million Filipino youth are at risk of going jobless this year due to the pandemic if lockdown rules stretch.

The two development groups said youth employment in the Philippines and the rest of Asia-Pacific is “severely challenged,” reeling from community quarantine measures which have paralyzed the global economy.

Estimates show at least 687,000 to as many as 1.019 million Filipino youth could be rendered jobless by the pandemic.

The lower forecast assumes that infections are controlled in three months, while more layoffs are expected if it takes six months to manage the situation using various containment measures, including movement restrictions.

with ALVIN MURCIA

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