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Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 19 year olds. A few years ago, I have heard that Cordillera has the highest suicide rate in the country especially among males. That news saddened me but it never alarmed me that such could possibly happen in my family or among my circle of friends. I was just sorry but I did not do anything about it.
Just recently, I went to the wake of a dear relative who was a victim. It was a dreadful sight. Only then did I start paying attention to her previous posts in Facebook and realize that it did not happen just overnight. It was a product of years of depression. It started simply when her parents broke up and then many more horrible things happened after.
I just could not get it right away. Everybody says she is a happy child. She is good in school. They go to church. She cheers up everyone! Who would have thought she will end her life just like that? Digging in, I am learning that depression is not always what I knew it looked like. It is not always being sad outwardly. It is also cracking jokes or being the “class clown”, faking a smile, spending all day in bed, being emotionally distant, overeating or not eating at all, skipping work to sleep, not showering for days at a time, social isolation.
As I see her previous posts now, I cannot express enough how much regret I have that I did not get to check on this dear child. How I wish we can bring back time. How I wish I could have noticed her signs earlier. Too many “how-I-wish” but nothing can be done now. She already is lying in the coffin. Still, something inside me says something needs to be done. And that is why I am writing this column to raise awareness in a community where depression and suicide are rarely talked about.
Let us not wait for another crisis to rise before we do something to show we care. Let us take time to talk and listen to our spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, relatives, workmates, whoever is in our circle. Tell them you care, you listen, you help. Notice if anyone has stopped doing what he/she used to be passionate about. If you see someone falling behind, walk beside them. If you see someone being ignored, find a way to include them. Always remind people of their worth. One small act could mean the world to them.
To those who are experiencing depression, know that you are cared for. According to a Mental Health Awareness Non-profit Organization, depression is quiet. And much like a mask, people hide it with a smile. Nobody can detect it but yourself, because disguising is easy. The cheerier you are, the less they’ll suspect. But you can’t hide it forever. Everybody reaches a breaking point. But that’s okay. Don’t be ashamed. There are people out there who understand. You are precious. You are loved. You are not alone.
Choose to live, don’t leave.
“If your friend goes quiet for a while or starts to seem distant, don’t approach them with negativity or automatically think they’re being shady. Call them and ask if they’re okay. Invite them over. Pray for them. You never know what someone is going through that they aren’t telling you.” –Unknown Author
By Shereelyne F. Dangiwan