Suicide survivor tells youth: ‘Hold on’


Original Article and Image from:  ABS-CBN
Posted at 03/20/2013 4:32 PM | Updated as of 03/20/2013 7:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Nineteen years ago, when he was in fourth year high school, Marco Araneta tried to end his life.

Araneta, who was at the time an honor student at the Ateneo de Manila High School, said he let go of the railings and fell off a six-story building because “nothing can amaze me anymore.”

Lucky for him, he survived the incident, although he broke some bones in his arms and legs. His doctors said something broke his fall, which Araneta attributed to God.

“It happened on October 4, 1993, the Feast of the Guardian Angels,” he said in an interview on “Mornings@ANC” on Wednesday. “My doctors told me that something broke my fall, but I remember that I really fell on concrete.”

“Now I super believe in God… because how could you not die [after] falling off six stories?” he added.

Araneta then moved to the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City for college. While using crutches, he “slowly learned to be very independent again.”

“I started in college in UP, just like Kristel,” he said, referring to UP Manila student Kristel Tejada, who recently committed suicide.

After college, Araneta worked at the Mind Museum as a science education officer. Currently a consultant at Hopeline Special Project, he said he does not want today’s youth to suffer the same ordeal.

“Looking back on that day, I feel terrible about feeling that way. I even remember listing down the reasons why this world is not good enough,” he said, adding, “The best things happened to me after that. That’s what I’ve been telling people, that it’s just a storm passing.”

He told today’s youth, especially those who tend to isolate themselves through gadgets and the Internet: “Hold on and let things pass, because the greatest things will happen to you tomorrow.”

Support and communication

Araneta said one of the factors that drove him to attempt to commit suicide was his pride, saying that he was “too proud to talk” about his own problems and issues with others.

“That’s the worst part, when you’re too proud to talk about it, you don’t think anyone is in a position to help you, or in a better position to solve your problems. Sometimes, we think that our problems are for us to solve, but sometimes, there are people who are better equipped, who have better resources to solve your problems,” he explained.

Constant communication and support from family and friends, and sometimes even professionals, will help a person “hold on” to their lives and look forward to the future, said Jean Goulbourn, president and founder of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping people overcome depression and its effects such as suicide.

Goulbourn said the first step to improving a person’s perspective in life is recognizing that he or she needs other people’s help.

“He has to first acknowledge that. There has to be acceptance, the lack of shyness and the lack of pride, as Marco said,” she said, reacting to Araneta’s statements.

Goulbourn said, however, that this is hard to do in the Philippines because of the stigma attached to depression and suicidal thoughts as well as the corresponding treatments.

“In the States, it’s very common [to get therapy for depression],” she said. “But in the Philippines, the stigma is so strong… Even in my conversations with school officials, when I request that I would like to give them a lecture or a talk, even the psychology department heads do not want to use the term ‘depression.’”

“And the word suicide, when I talk to psychologists, they flinch at the word and they are psychologists,” she added. “They keep on telling me to please change the word.”

Another factor, Goulbourn said, is the effect of technology on today’s youth and parents.

“Most of today’s youths are very involved with the Internet. There’s a lack of communication between parents and children,” she noted.

“The Internet has its plus points, but it also has its minus points,” she added. “Some want to escape from reality [through the Internet].”

Signs and symptoms of depression

According to studies made available to the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation, the Philippines has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia.

Dr. Violeta Bautista, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, said depressed people usually display intense sadness and a loss of interest in the activities of daily life.

Here are some common symptoms:

* Moodiness that is out of character
* Increased irritability and frustration
* Finding it hard to take minor personal criticisms
* Spending less time with friends and family
* Loss of interest in food, sex, exercise or other pleasurable activities
* Being awake throughout the night
* Increased alcohol and drug use
* Staying home from work and school
* Increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain
* Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks, such as driving fast or dangerously
* Slowing down on thoughts and actions

Meanwhile, here are some warning signs that an individual may be planning to commit suicide:

* Making a will
* Getting his or her affairs in order
* Suddenly visiting friends or family members (one last time)
* Buying instruments of suicide like a gun, hose, rope, pills or other forms of medication
* A sudden and significant decline or improvement in mood
* Writing a suicide note

When a person sees any of these signs, he is advised to seek help from a friend or relative and go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

He should also express his concern to the person who is attempting to commit suicide, and take him or her to a doctor or a guidance counselor.

“Personal attention is a potent weapon against suicide… Especially since today there’s this pressure to look perfect, that ‘oh, there is nothing wrong [with me],” Araneta ended.