NGF and DOH Eastern Visayas Tacloban celebrate World SuPre Day

Last September 7, 2012, at the Patio Victoria Hotel in Tacloban City, several high school students were awarded for participating in an on-the-spot posting making contest to commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day, being observed by the Department of Health with the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation.

The theme of the poster was taken from the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) which initiated this program 10 years ago. This year, the theme was: Suicide Prevention across the Globe: Strengthening Protective Factors and Instilling Hope”. Each student was given only 3 hours to create a poster reflecting the theme. No identifying marks were to be placed on the poster. Posters were graded according to relevance, creativity and visual design, and were judged by several members of the DOH.

First place winner, Gino Paul Lumpas, who is a senior at the Eastern Visayas Regional Science High School, stressed the importance of faith and having a strong social support system in order to be mentally and physically fit. “I believe that people should be more open about it,” he said. Other winners too mentioned the importance of having people to talk to when having suicidal ideations. “I think that people don’t talk about it because nahihiya sila,” one student confided, “but we need to talk about it, or the more we’ll get confused.”

The poster making was the concluding event of the DOH Forum on World Suicide Prevention Day which is held globally every September 10 to call into action support for programs for suicide prevention, remembering lost loved ones and support for suicide survivors. Assistant Secretary of the DOH, Paulyn Ubial stressed the importance of creating a mental wellness program nationwide- with particular emphasis on depression and how it remains the main cause of suicide.

According to the WHO, every 40 seconds, a life is lost to suicide globally. Dr. Minerva Molon who is the Assistant Regional Director of the DOH, Eastern Visayas Cluster, suicide is not an illness but a cause of one. Thus, it is important to recognize if a loved one or a friend may be suffering from a mental illness. Recognizing these symptoms early on can significantly reduce the number of suicides. The first and foremost symptom of a mental illness is drastic mood change.

More importantly though, NGF President, Jean Goulbourn emphasized the need for more preventive measures for depression and suicide rather than methods of intervention. “Let us not treat the symptoms, but the cause itself,” she says. Being physically and mentally fit can be done through simple activities and proper lifestyle changes. These include: eating healthy at regular intervals, walking for at least an hour every day, avoiding vices such as smoking, drinking excessively, or taking illegal drugs. Participating in social activities, such as hanging out with one’s friends, or even engaging in restful habits such as drawing, painting, listening to music have been researched to significantly increase a person’s well-being.

For more information on depression, please contact the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation at (02) 897.2217, 896.2068 or ngfoundation@gmail.com