WHAT really drives a person to commit suicide?

Dr. Lucila Bance, director of the counselling department of USt, said factors could range from dysfunctional families, changing family structures, economic depression, to climate change, globalization and technological changes. For some students, academic problems could be a serious problem.

In an article on MedicineNet.com, Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler said stress is predisposed by the external and internal factors that affect the physical, emotional or psychological balance of the individual.

External factors include the physical environment, job, relationships, home, challenges, and difficulties of everyday life, while internal factors are those that could influence one’s ability to handle stress like nutritional status, overall health and fitness levels, and emotional well-being

To some, the amount of stress can be so great that it can even lead to thoughts of violence, depression, or even suicide.

According to Dr. Alex Lickerman of Psychology Today, a website about diverse topics on psychology, there are six primary reasons that could lead a person to take his own life—depression, psychosis, impulsion, help-seeking, religious or philosophical reason, and last-resort escapism.

Lickerman said escapism is the most common cause of suicide and to some rare cases, a psychological problem.

Overcoming the struggles

There are methods to detect stress.

“Stress comes from varied sources and is inevitable,” Bance said. “The way an individual handles stress depends on the nature of his personality. Knowing oneself is the key to managing stress and the most common is using cognitive-behavior therapy.”

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a psychological approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions and malevolent, unbalanced behavior.

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She said that having good health habits, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having a support group were an effective form of stress handling and management.

Bance said that not all kinds of stress are harmful.

“There is eustress which motivates people to perform better. It is normal for any person to experience stress we just have to have effective ways of facing them,” said Bance.

For Roland Adrian Ignacio, a first-year Engineering student, he believed that suicide only happens when the level of stress is too high to bear that it deteriorates the physical and mental health of the person.

“Suicidal tendencies also occur because the person looks into more radical and extreme forms of escapism like alcoholism or drug addiction” said Ignacio.

Suicidal ideation

According to the suicide prevention programme by the World Health Organization, there are about one million people committing suicide every year worldwide. The estimate translate to a mortality rate of 16 per 100,000 people, or one suicide every 40 seconds.

In the Philippines, the rate of suicide has gone up in the last 20 years, according to studies made by the National Statistics Office. The rate has gone to nine out of 400,000 from significantly lower rates before.

In UST, there have been two confirmed suicide cases in the past eight years.

There are professional methods for psychologists like Bance to detect and prevent suicidal character tendencies of students.

Bance said that early warning signs are also indicators of declining performance like absences, tardiness, poor grades, poor interpersonal relations, being aloof and poor control of emotions.

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She said that monitoring, support, devotion and understanding student dilemmas by their parents are strong provisions for better stress handling and suicide prevention. Alfredo N. Mendoza V

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