CHILDREN are very dependent by nature and because of their fragility, the simplest problems that a normal adult can handle and survive will readily overwhelm their innocent minds. Therefore, children need the steadfast support of their family and friends. But what happens when the family fails to provide that support?

A tragic headline was the alleged suicide of Mariannet Amper, a sixth-grader from Davao City who reportedly hanged herself last November. Basing from her alleged journal entries and a letter addressed to a public service television program, Amper seriously lamented her family’s poverty, underscored when her father told her he could not give her the P100 she needed for a school project. The 12-year-old girl was found a day later inside their makeshift house hanging by a thin nylon rope wrapped around her neck.

The incident immediately became a cause celebre. Politicians and the media quickly blamed the overwhelming poverty of the masses for the suicide. Even Mariannet’s father, Isabelo Amper, pointed to their impoverishment as the culprit.

But psychiatry says otherwise. As I have learned from my Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing subject, people with suicidal tendencies, regardless of age, have multi-factorial causes. According to a statement made by psychiatrist Dr. Ma. Luz Querubin in the Inquirer, suicidal tendency is a psychosocial behavior that develops when the child faces long-standing problems interpersonally and intrapersonally. Consistent exposure to these stressful stimuli would make the child manifest episodes of depression, hopelessness, and even low self-esteem.

Querubin added that although poverty is a risk factor, it cannot solely trigger the suicidal tendency. It is the lack or absence of support system that compounds the child’s problem, leading her to lose hope and meaning in life, and eventually commit suicide. After all, many poor Filipinos do not resort to killing themselves despite their hopeless condition and even suicide cases of children born to well-to-do families have also been recorded.

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These expert opinions clearly suggest the need to further strengthen family relationships, most especially parental guidance and support. Amper’s family may have been poor and their situation may have been unfortunate, but the young girl would not have committed suicide if the family members most especially her parents recognized their daughter’s clamor for understanding of the depressing scenarios playing amidst her childhood. She could have been shielded from these harsh realities if only her parents exerted more effort to help her cope up with these problems. It is important for parents to acknowledge their roles as primary care givers of their own children.

There isn’t any antidote to diminish the growth of suicidal tendencies. The best prescription remains faithful to having a sturdy support group and a loving family to come home to, which will help provide people who suffer a branch of hope to cling on to.

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