Monthly Archives: May 2011

Treat depression

Depression is almost always a sign. About 25 percent of patients with depression have thought of committing suicide. And 10 to 15 percent of them have actually committed suicide, most of the time unsuccessful.

Depression is a mental illness involving deep, unshakable sadness and diminished interest in nearly all activities. It also means temporary sadness and loneliness common to most of us from time to time.Almost everyone gets depressed at one point. But in contrast to “normal” sadness, severe depression can dramatically impair a person’s ability to function in social situations and at work.People with severe depression often have feelings of despair, hopelessness, and worthlessness, as well as thoughts of committing suicide.

So says Dr. Genuina Ranoy, the psychiatric consultant of the Children’s Welfare Specialist Group of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Local study

There are no national data on suicide and depression in the Philippines. But Ranoy cites a study at the Medical City from 1996 to 2000, where at least 150 suicide cases have been recorded.

Of these cases, 117 or 78 percent are women while 33 are men.

The most common mode of suicide for women is wrist-slashing and drug overdose. It’s the same mode of suicide form men.

But generally, men use the more lethal form: using a gun to shoot themselves, intentionally causing vehicular accidents and jumping from heights.

The study observed that the common reason for women to commit suicide is a problem with the opposite sex. For men, it is often financial difficulty.

Ranoy said that suicide can also be determined genetically. “If you have a first-degree member of your family who has committed suicide, there is a greater increase for you to commit suicide, too,” she said.

“Lalo na kung mother or father mo, especially when you were physically involve, or you saw how your mother kills herself or you father kills himself. Mas magiging acceptable for you and suicide,” she pointed out.

If the coping skills needed to handle stresses does not develop during childhood, this increases a person’s vulnerability to commit suicide.


Suicide knows no class barriers. “Whether you come from a well-to-do family or a poor one, you can develop the same depression and commit suicide,” she pointed out.

She said patients who are severely depressed don’t commit suicide because they don’t have the initiative to do it.

“It should be noted that when patients recover from severe depression, it is the time that they commit suicide. This is called paradoxical suicide,” Ranoy said.

Described as strings of down emotions, depression is seen in people who are unable to sleep or has the tendency to oversleep; unable to eat or could overeat in the process.

“Almost everyday parating down ang feeling. They don’t have the energy. The usual activity that they take delight in previously is no longer enjoyable,” said Ranoy, managing editor of the Philippine Journal of Psychiatry (at the time of the interview).

She disclosed that a big percentage of patients with suicidal behavior also have homicidal tendencies.

“Persons with homicidal behavior think of hurting or killing somebody else not just themselves. It is more acceptable for them to kill other people than to kill themselves. People should take not onlysuicidal precaution but also homicidal precaution,” Ranoy said.

She said some medicines for chronic illnesses could also trigger depression. Medication for hypertension, diabetes, neoplasti, steroid and anti-cancer drugs, for example, may cause depression.


The attempt to kill oneself depends on the intention of the person to commit the act.

“There are suicides wherein the intention of killing themselves is low. They are called the borderline personality disorder. They try to commit suicide at the slightest feeling of depression or frustration in their lives. They attempt to kill themselves just to gain attention. This suicide act is also described as suicide gesture or threat,” Ranoy explained.

The mode of suicide, on the other hand, determines the intent of a person to commit suicide.

“Drug overdose or intake of corrosive materials, that’s a high intent of suicide. They really want to die because corrosive materials that include clorox and muriatic acid, once you have taken them, the chance for you to heal is low,” she said

A suicide letter left by the patient also shows the high intention of the person to die.

“It is more acceptable for the person who will commit suicide to leave a letter with the knowledge that their family know why they did it,” Ranoy said.

Some persons are extremely happy before taking their own lives.

“This is because they have already accepted the fact that they are going to die and don’t want anybody to know this.”

Then there are those who explicitly state the intention.

“There are others who will call a friend or relative before they do the act. However, the intent of killing themselves is low compared to the other one who stays in the room and don’t want to be bothered by anyone.”


People around or close to the person who commit suicide experience a third-degree pain.

“Guilt is always there…I should have done this to prevent this kind of condition. Although most of the time its not their fault, they could have done something,” Ranoy said.


Patients with depression undergo drug therapy. Through psychotherapy, psychiatrists also help patients look for the causes of depression.

A support system plays a major role in preventing suicides. “Those that are vulnerable to suicide and depression are those who do not have any support system. They are single, divorced or don’t have any active relationship with anyone so they are the most vulnerable,” Ranoy noted.

Support system could also come from friends and colleagues in the work place.Some government hospitals are offering therapy for poor patients suffering from depression.

Experts said the best way to prevent depression is to live a stress-free life by having a balanced lifestyle and by learning how to breathe or relax.

‘Child of Sorrow’

ANGEL’S mother may have wronged her repeatedly, but Angel has remained a child who always longs for a parent’s comforting embrace, especially in trying periods of her young life.

For children who silently suffering from abuse Angel appeals, “seek help from elders”.

For children who silently suffering from abuse Angel appeals, “seek help from elders”.

The 15-year-old Angel is a child of sorrow. Not only was she battered, she has also been raped allegedly by her stepfather for three years, since she was 11 until she turned 13.

The girl was able to testify in court and has tried hard to pursue her case.

Angel is apparently coping with her traumatic experience.

Social workers who attended Angel at the Marilac Hills in Alabang, Muntinlupa, the half-way house maintained by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for victims of child abuse, said that coping is critical because, without it, “no amount of rehabilitation or counseling could help the person.”

“When the child failed to cope from the trauma during her younger years, it’s possible that it would manifest when she becomes an adult,” the said.

Coping up with the trauma, social workers said, varies for each victim of abuse.

Sometimes, the conviction of the abuser sets the victim free. But there are those who still suffer from guilt despite the conviction of the suspect.

A majority of the clients housed in Marilac have on-going court cases. Their ages range from seven to 17 years old.


The brave girl that she is, Angel serves as an inspiration to other abused children at the half-way house for abused children in Marilac Hills.

She advised other children who may be suffering from abuse — or other forms of exploitation — to seek help from elders.

Parents may also learn from Angel’s bad experience, and she advises them to protect and love their children — always.

Terror and trauma

Children need not face their abusers while a case is being heard in court. A child’s testimony in video is now acceptable in court.

There are only 14 so-called “investigation studios” in the country, most of them in Metro Manila. There, the children can relate their experiences without feeling traumatized again.

This is because a trained social worker provides counseling along the way.

Children in half-way homes are taught to be independent until they are ready to face the world at the age of 18, says a social worker at the half-way house.

Other institutions will find a job for these children or train them in income-generating activities.

Angel pours her heart out in an interview

Angel pours her heart out in an interview

Social workers are there for as long as the children need counseling — or even just someone to talk with.

This is part of my article “Incest with an Angel” published by People’s Tonight on April 17, 2006.


“He never stop from hitting me even if I just gave birth to our child… One day I visited him to his post in Isabela and I found out he is seeing another woman. They have a 3-year-old child, while I’m pregnant with our first child then. That night, we were lying on the same bed. Before we went to sleep, he punched me on the face.”

Thus recounts a battered cop’s ordeal in the hands of her husband, whom she eventually stabbed and hacked 59 times when her sanity momentarily snapped in 1990.

Carmelita (not her real name), a former cop recalls how she went berserk when her husband tried to plunge a nine-inch fan knife into her chest.

“He tried to stabbed me. I fend it off. I got the chance to hack him and hit him in the neck three times. He ran away but I was able to catch up with him and then stabbed him more. It was the first time that I fought back. I was a battered wife for a long time. ” Carmelita recalls of her husband’s murder in 1990.

Carmelita, then in her 30s, surrendered to her colleagues who placed her under technical arrest.

Experts said Carmelita suffered from the battered wife syndrome (BWS).

BWS, according to a lady pscyhologists at the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), is a symptom of physical abuse.

From being a good provider, the ill-fated husband reportedly turned into an alcoholic and perennial womanizer.

The battered wife said her partner also had bizarre sexual demands.

Two years after killing her husband, Carmelita was meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua and was incarcerated to the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in 1993 where she served 10 gruelling years.

Her story served as one of the bases of lawmakers in ratifying Republic Act 9262, or an Act Defining Violence Against Women and their Children, in March 8, 2004.

Six years ago, Carmelita was released from prison and was reunited with her only daughter.

This is an excerpt of my article ‘Battered cop’s murder memoirs’ published by People’s Tonight in Oct. 15, 2006.

Website of Organizations Addressing Violence Against Women (in the Philippines)