Press Release
November 24, 2016

Villanueva alarmed over increasing suicide rates among Filipino youth

Senator Joel Villanueva has expressed alarm over the increasing rate of suicide cases among the Filipino youth.

During the organizational meeting of the Committee on Youth chaired by Villanueva on Wednesday, the National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC) of the Philippine General Hospital presented that 46 percent of the total suicide cases recorded since 2010 are from the youth; 30% are young adults aged 20 to 35 year old while the remaining 16% are teens aged 10 to 19 year old.

The 2014 global report on preventing suicide by the World Health Organization revealed that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 15 to 29 years of age across the globe. The same report cited 2,558 cases of suicide In the Philippines in 2012.

"The rate of youth suicide in the country is relatively low compared to neighboring countries in the region. But the bad news is that the suicide rates in the country have been on the rise. Incidence is highest on young adults aged 15 to 24 for both boys and girls according to the Philippine Psychiatric Association," Villanueva emphasized.

Aside from this, the senator also acknowledged that there are still cases which are left underreported due to social stigma against people with suicidal tendencies.

"Some people are afraid to report or consult their suicidal ideation because they do not want to be judged as someone with mental disorder. This stigma must be addressed and support system especially in schools must be readily available," the senator said.

Villanueva said education regarding mental health and suicide prevention must be intensified. He stressed the need to increase investment in research on these aspects, and a bigger budgetary allocation for medical support and services which are crucial to prevent suicide. We should also mandate schools to have suicide hotlines and the appropriate system to support this.

"Access to healthcare and support system are very limited. We should intensify public education and mandate the set up of support systems in schools and communities to help prevent suicide," Villanueva said.

National Center for Mental Health further reported that there are 490 psychiatrists all over the country; only 35 of which are child psychiatrists.

"Clearly, there is a need to expand the number of psychiatrists, especially child psychiatrists in the country. We must also empower, train, and increase our municipal health officers so we can pay more attention to undiagnosed, untreated individuals," he added.

In order to address the prevailing challenges in mental health and suicide prevention, Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 1163 or the Youth Suicide Prevention Act which seeks to establish the National Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council that will formulate strategies for youth suicide early intervention, prevention and response.

The bill also proposes to standardize collection and management of data and promote evidence-based research on youth suicide; and institutionalize the 24/7 national hotline for suicide prevention.

Aside from his proposed law, Villanueva also expressed his support on the passage of the Mental Health Act which he co-authored and emphasized the need to revisit the country's National Mental Health Policy Framework.

"Suicide is preventable, it is a public health issue that can be addressed. Together, we can do something about it," Villanueva said.

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