I’ve suffered from clinical depression ever since I can remember and there were times when things were extra challenging but there was nobody to talk to. I remember calling Dial-A-Friend but it was very late at night and nobody was answering. I also called another hotline which redirected me to a number in Korea and the girl who answered couldn’t understand what I was saying. It was surreal. Actually the whole experience was surreal and that’s how it always is when I’m in one of my depressive episodes.
When I found out from my Plurk pals that there’s now a 24-hour depression and suicide prevention hotline in the country, I felt relieved because help is finally a phone call away. I noticed a spike in suicide attempts and deaths in the Philippines recently and I feel that they could have been prevented. The hotline is 804-4673.
Clinical depression goes by many names — depression, “the blues,” biological depression, major depression. But it all refers to the same thing: feeling sad and depressed for weeks or months on end (not just a passing blue mood), accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, lack of energy, and taking little or no pleasure in things that gave you joy in the past. A person who’s depressed just “can’t get moving” and feels completely unmotivated to do just about anything. Even simple things — like getting dressed in the morning or eating — become large obstacles.
Source: Psych Central
Depression and other mental illnesses are considered a social stigma in the Philippines. Usually it’s a hush hush topic and sufferers often keep the illness to themselves for fear of being shunned by friends and family. Clearly there is a lack of correct information and education on mental health here. Even if a sufferer chooses to seek treatment, it can be very costly. An hour of psychiatric session alone can cost from P1,000 to P2,000 plus the expensive medication. Sure, there is the Philippine Mental Institute but the cases they accommodate there are extreme mental illnesses and as far as I know the staff can hardly keep up with the number of cases they have to look after. The free hotline is a huge step in depression and suicide awareness in the Philippines and I hope more people will accept that it is an illness and treat those who suffer appropriately.
To know more about the suicide and depression hotline, visit http://ngf-hope.org/
FYI, I’m pro-choice when it comes to choosing how and when to die (Read my entry about it here) but when suicide is your call for help, then the hotline is crucial.