When kids kill themselves, part 2
Up to the day Kristel Tejada was laid to rest, protests were still ringing through various student and interest groups. The issue of late has been focused on education reforms, particularly among state-owned universities. It is un-surprising that many will regard young Kristel’s suicide as something ‘heroic’ for creating awareness on the issue–a virtual can of worms waiting to be opened.
How’s this for a resulting event? Students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), who study by paying P12 (30 US cents) per unit, threw the financially strapped university’s tables and chairs from the fourth floor balcony and burned them. In protest of an impending tuition fee increase. All for education reform.
When young people kill themselves, I think it is easier for those who are left behind to to look for one specific reason that will explain such a decision. Sometimes it is easier to find someone or something to lay the blame on.
While I agree that there are inherent flaws in UP Manila’s tuition and scholarship systems, I think people were too quick in blaming young Kristel’s suicide on the institution and on (some of) its people. This simplistic view is a reflection of our society’s ambivalent feelings and attitudes towards mental illness.
It was very clear to me that Kristel has been clinically depressed for months before she committed suicide. And like for most Filipinos, this was most probably un-diagnosed–attributed to ‘just the blues’ that seem to be omnipresent in many adolescents. True, the tuition fee-related incidents leading up to her suicide was probably the ‘trigger’ that resulted in her decision to take her own life. But to blame everything on UP Manila is a further disgrace to Kristel and what she went through.
We need to understand the complexities of depression along with the complexities of our own emotions, without fear of judgement or stigmatization.
I was clinically depressed for most of 2010 and 2011. thoughts of killing myself occupied a lot of space in my mind. My reason? I can’t name one specific reason, even now. It was everything: a confluence of unfortunate events that seemed to work against me. At the same time, it was nothing: I felt there was nothing I could do to feel better and death was my only way out. Even now, two years later, I’m still struggling to find the good and happy among everyday things. I have good days and bad days.
At the height of my depression, it didn’t matter how kind the words spoken to me or how compassionate people behaved towards me; nothing swayed me from my goal, which was self -destruction. Fortunately, I changed my mind. But this happened on my own, not through family or friends. My mother, in particular, was baffled by what I was going through. Only an aunt, who’s a veteran nurse, understood me.
I have told my family or friends not to feel guilty if they weren’t able to really help me that time. At most, the help I needed from others were either company when I sought it or solitude when I needed it.
All I can say is people deal with depression in very unique ways. And sometimes, no matter how much we disagree, for some people, suicide is the only way of dealing/ coping with it.