BAGUIO City is seeing a rise in mental illness and suicide incidence compared to the previous years as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Ricky Ducas, Health Services Office (HSO) mental health coordinator, revealed on Wednesday.
According to Ducas, while the city is unable to currently accurately tally the incidence of depression and anxiety as mental illnesses take many different forms that can often be unreported, there has been a noted increase in the incidence of mental illness in the city overall.
“We have seen an increase in mental illness incidence due to the combination of biological compositions of individuals plus the experiences we are having during the pandemic,” Ducas said.
At the same time, the city has logged already eleven complete suicide cases or suicides that have resulted in death in the first quarter, double that of last year’s first quarter suicide incidence and more than a third of last year’s entire total of 30 suicide cases.
Ducas said that based on the data, most of the city’s suicides occur among men and young adults.
The HSO is making moves to provide psycho-education and psycho-social support at the grassroots level in the city’s various barangays in partnership with the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and the HSO’s population department.
According to Ducas, while the reception to the programs have been overall positive, the lack of manpower and appropriate resources means the initiative is forced to limit participation to targeted vulnerable sectors as opposed to being open to the general populace.
At the same time, Ducas said that there remains an issue with discussing suicide properly in the city due to stigmas and preconceptions.
“When we are talking about suicide, there are still barriers and hindrances making discussion difficult, so what we are doing now is that we are visiting the barangays ourselves to educate them properly,” Ducas said.