In observance of Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, the Holy Cross of Davao College (HCDC), in collaboration with the HCDC College Guidance Office and the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA), held a ‘psych forum’ on October 27 at the Sedes Sapientiae Auditorium to dispel the stigma surrounding mental health and raise awareness about suicide prevention.

As part of this year’s HCDC Psychology Day celebrations, which focused on the theme “Pagsibol – Make Mental Health & Well-being for All a Global Priority,” students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree took part in a forum to learn more about the subject and find ways to alleviate suicide prevention issues.

Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) medical doctor junior consultant Dr. Davie Janine S. Padillo, registered guidance counselor and clinical emotional freedom techniques (EFT) certified practitioner Dr. Gina R. Lamzon, and Philippine Mental Health Association executive director Teofilo Limikid attended the forum.

Through a roundtable discussion, the speakers addressed the rising concerns regarding mental health and shared strategies for preventing suicide.

“Ako aduna na’y mga kaila who already committed suicide and then dili nako makita sa ilahang mga nawong nga ing-ato ilahang buhaton so ing-ana kalisod ang mental health, kaya ra itago ug lisod makita. The most abused facial expression of human is smile (I knew some people who have committed suicide and I cannot see in their faces that they will do such thing, this is why mental health is hard, it can be hidden and it is difficult to see. The most abused facial expression of human is smile),” Limikid said.

Limikid also shared data of PMHA-Davao from March 2022 to October 2022, which showed 33 individuals have committed suicide in which 28 are men and 5 are women.

He also emphasized the alarming nature of the situation, as the majority of suicides in Davao City were committed by young people.

As crusaders for mental health, the speakers emphasized the student’s role in advocating awareness about mental health issues especially in social media platforms to combat the prejudice and discrimination against it.

“We can never give what we don’t have so before we can be a crusader or a mental health advocate, we have to practice self-love, self-care and self-compassion,” Dr. Lamzon emphasized.

“Suicidal people think that there only option is to end it their lives. They feel alone and isolated. If you have that friend or classmate, just be there to listen. Be that friend,” Dr. Padillo said while highlighting how to reach out to individuals who have these thoughts.

De Mar Bangeles, head of the HCDC College Guidance Office, added that the institution is prepared to accept students who require assistance.

“We have a referral link in our institution’s pages in which you can contact the office of guidance and counseling if you have emergencies so that we can facilitate on what would be the best course of action,” he said.

The guest speakers also encouraged Psychology students to participate in dialogues about mental health and suicide prevention.