For the past 10 years, the University of Rizal System in Morong, Rizal, has been a staunch advocate of suicide prevention. The BS Psychology and BS Guidance and Counseling programs of their College of Science teamed up with the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) to commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2013.
This year’s theme addresses stigma as a major barrier in preventing suicides and giving proper help to those afflicted with clinical depression and other mood disorders. This year’s focus on stigma is a follow up to last year’s theme, which was “Suicide Prevention Across the Globe: Strengthening Protective Factors and Instilling Hope.”
The whole-day affair began with a dose of endorphins—a 6:00 a.m. fitness walk and Zumba dance craze at the campus quadrangle, followed by a mass led by Fr. Ben Guevarra. The mass was dedicated to the souls of suicide victims and their families left behind.
At 10 a.m. the psychology department held three lectures about suicide and mental health for over 300 students of BS Psychology and BS Guidance and Counseling. The first lecture, “Wellness of Daily Living,” was led by Dr. Dinah Nadera, psychiatrist and acting executive director of the NGF. The second lecture, “Dealing With Bullies and the Bullied,” was led by Mr. Francis Mina, university guidance counselor of UP Manila. The third lecture, “Positive Life Skills to Beat Depression,” was led by Ms. Reymily Sta. Ana, guidance counselor of Miriam College.
A number of interactive booths were also set up in the lobby. From infographics to a mood expression board, the educational booths allowed the participating students and faculty members to understand the importance of expressing one’s feelings and understanding mental wellness as a serious issue.
At 1 p.m. the students and faculty held a candle lighting and prayer vigil at the College of Science Green Park for the victims of suicide. A suicide survivor bravely stood up to talk to the crowd about his past ordeals and how he survived with proper help and support.
To end the fruitful day and to pay tribute to the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine,” the students and faculty members were treated to the comedy show, “Laugh Out Loud” at the University Function Hall.
The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation encourages other schools, groups, and corporations to conduct suicide prevention and mental awareness events similar to the one held yearly by the University of Rizal System. Mental ailments and suicidality can affect any age, gender, financial status, personality, educational attainment, religion or upbringing. In 2004, the World Health Organization tallied 4.5 million people suffering from depression in the Philippines alone. To learn more about this advocacy and to see how the NGF can help you with mental health symposia or seminars, visit www.ngf-hope.org or call (02) 897-2217.
If you are in emotional crisis or are having suicidal thoughts, call the 24/7 HOPELINE for confidential and non-judgmental listening:
(632) 804-HOPE (4673); 0917-558-HOPE (4673); 0917-852-HOPE (4673); 2919 (toll-free number for GLOBE and TM subscribers)
– Kate Alvarez/Melise Arnaldo