ILOILO CITY — In the wake of the rising suicide cases among teenagers, an Iloilo board member is pushing for the passage of an ordinance that would create a mental health board and mental health programs.
Iloilo 5th District Board Member Carol-V Espinosa-Diaz, chairperson of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) committee on social welfare, said the ordinance seeks to intervene with the alarming cases of suicide.
“We want to intervene, and at the same time we want to (be) pro-active about this and take steps,” she said in an interview Friday.
Based on the record of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO), a total of 67 suicide incidents were recorded in the province from January to Sept. this year.
Of the 67 cases, 22 who died by suicide were 10 to 19 years old; 14 are aged 20 to 29; 16 are aged 30 to 39; five are aged 40 to 49; while 10 are aged 50 and above.
A provision in the ordinance stipulates the help that would be extended by the local government unit, barangays, and schools to address youth suicide.
“Suicide is brought about by several factors that we might disregard, but it is already very blatant and existing in our society,” she said.
The ordinance is pushing to form a mental health board that can respond to emergency crisis 24/7.
Espinosa proposed for the mental health board to be led by Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. and its members to include the Iloilo police, provincial health personnel, among others.
To respond to concerns of teenagers, the ordinance seeks Iloilo to have its 24/7 hotline that will be manned “by trained personnel on how to approach mental disorder.”
“There are teenagers dealing with mental disorders, they are actually clinically sick but there’s no proper intervention and it leads to suicide,” she said.
Espinosa said her proposed ordinance will also intensify the province’s mental health awareness campaign in schools.
“We will require the mandatory, psychological counseling and assessment in educational institution. We will make sure that a teenager has undergone counseling before he or she graduates,” she said.
Espinosa’s ordinance was passed on the first reading during the SP’s regular session on Oct. 8.
While the SP intervenes through passing ordinances, the province had in place 49 school-based multi-purpose teen centers run by the Iloilo Provincial Population Office (PPO).
Teenagers with concerns can approach peer helpers at the teen centers for help and guidance.
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Creation of Iloilo mental health board pushed