Suicide prevention: Music, mindfulness and talking can save a life 

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — Suicide prevention advocates are encouraging the public to reach out to their loved ones, especially those showing signs of or suffering from depression.

Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet in 2017. For every suicide, there are many more people who attempt suicide every year. A prior suicide attempt is the most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.

Jean Goulbourn, the president of mental health advocacy group Natasha Goulbourn Foundation said the number of calls in their suicide prevention hotlines escalates every time high profile suicide cases occur.

On Friday, when news about the reported suicide of TV host Anthony Bourdain broke, they got a total of 90 calls in their hotlines, more than double the normal 40 calls they receive daily, she said. She said the public should be more mindful of their love ones in times like this.

Goulbourn, who lost a daughter to suicide in 2002, has a few reminders to help those suffering from depression. “What's most important is mindfulness, it is the ability to be able to take 10 deep breaths. Sit down in quiet and just keep on breathing very very slowly. To remove the anxiety,” she shared.

She also suggested that people struggling with suicidal thoughts should listen to music and write their feelings on a journal.

“Within 30 minutes of being able to write down your feelings that's one of the biggest support and help,” Goulbourn said.

Dr. Gia Sison, national adviser of the Youth for Mental Health Coalition, wrote for CNN Philippines Life last year, saying that no one will never know if a person will be committing suicide or not, but there are warning signs.

Suicide is linked to depression, a clinically diagnosed mental illness which affects at least 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. A media report citing the Philippine Psychiatric Association estimated that one in five adult Filipinos have mental disorders.

Some symptoms of depressive disorder, as listed by the Department of Health, are excessive guilt or feelings of worthlessness; diminished ability to concentrate, or indecisiveness; significant weight loss or weight gain; lack of sleep or oversleep; fatigue or loss of energy; psychomotor agitation and slowness; and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

“I believe that just talking about it makes the intensity of the stigma a little bit less. I have handled patients who have had suicidal thoughts, and I have found that just allowing and accepting the thoughts behind the idea of suicide may be one of the major ways to fight it,” she said.

Sison said that thoughts of suicide represent an attempt to solve problems for some people. “It may even represent a desire to make things better. Acknowledging such thinking can open doors,” she explained.

Those who need further help may call suicide prevention hotlines below. These are open for 24 hours, seven days a week:

  • (02) 804-HOPE (4673)
  • 0917 558 HOPE (4673)
  • 2919 (toll-free number for all GLOBE and TM subscribers)

Other online platforms spreading mental health awareness include Silakbo PH and PRISM. Inquiries on clinics, psychologists, or psychiatrists near you can also be fielded to the Psychological Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Psychiatric Association. The organizations also post updates on mental health services.

CNN Philippines’ Makoi Popioco and Jerald Uy contributed to this report.