Suicide And How You Can Help Prevent One

Okay, this isn’t going to be an easy topic to tackle but Tvtropes and Cracked both have their own page about suicide and what can be said or done to prevent it so I decided that it’s high time for GRP to have something similar. We all know that suicide is another issue that is somewhat uncomfortable to discuss with fellow Filipinos but as a site devoted to change, I’m hoping we can do our part in helping. Now look, I’m not a professional or anything but so are most of the people who will probably be reading this. I’m just doing this in case one of you average folk out there ever find yourself in a situation where someone you know is going to commit suicide or is at least contemplating it.

However, what’s written here are mostly just recommended actions. They are not to be taken as an “instruction manual” of any kind as different suicides involve different people and situations. Instead, let this serve as an amateur’s guide of sorts in case you encounter this kind of predicament.


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Helping HandLet me note that most suicides are caused by depression. Not all suicides are due to depression, mind you, but it’s pretty much accepted that depression plays a huge part in the rate of suicides. There are varying reasons for depression and suicide from general sadness, mental instability, financial problems, heartbreak, loneliness or even just boredom, but none of these are to ever be taken lightly. While suicide might be prevalent among certain people like those afflicted with PTSD, people with troublesome or no romantic relationships or those afflicted with debilitating or life-threatening conditions, it should be noted that just about anyone is likely to commit suicide no matter how small their problems may seem so long as they happen in a way to deeply affect the person in question. It can be anything from anything terrible happening or just a sequence of bad things happening in their day, it all adds up to the point that they want to kill themselves. Triggers for suicide can range from their family leaving them to something as seemingly insignificant as being ignored by people.

Unfortunately, here in the Philippines, due to the backward nature of most people, suicide is poorly understood and few people know how to handle such issues properly. While there are many professionals in the country who probably know how to defuse the situation, it’s sad to note that most of the common people probably do not and only make things worse. That’s one of the reason why I’m putting this up here to start with.

Warning Signs

I’m not saying this with any certainty but I have always believed in the maxim “better safe than sorry”. Here are just a few things to watch out for if you think someone you know might be planning to commit suicide. Again, I’m not saying that doing or saying any of the following is enough to mean that someone is contemplating suicide but I will repeat what I said about it’s better to be wrong about the issue than to dismiss the thought and find the person in question dead later. Anyway, take note of the following:

  • The person is giving away prized possessions because they say they “don’t need them anymore”
  • Traveling to places and doing things not previously explored because they’d like to “see everything before they go”
  • Collecting items and weapons that can be considered lethal (i.e.: poisons, razors, guns etc.)
  • The person makes frequent mention of preferences for their funeral such as:
    • What they’d like to wear when they’re buried
    • What music they’d like to be played for their funeral
    • Who they wish would come to their funeral
    • Making out wills and arrangements for family members
    • Making unexpected calls and saying goodbye as if never to be seen again
  • Tell-tale phrases like the following:
    • “I wish I could just go to sleep and never wake up.”
    • “I’m going somewhere far away and never coming back.”
    • “Will you miss me if I died?”
    • “Would anyone remember me if I died?”
    • “I wish I hadn’t been born.”
    • “If I see you again…”
    • “I’m probably better off dead anyway.”


Like I said, not that many average Filipinos know how to handle a suicide issue and, worse yet, they often look at it from the wrong perspective. Here are just a few of the many misleading ideas on suicide:

  • “Suicidal ideas go away on their own.”
    • No, they most certainly do NOT. If a person is depressed, their thoughts aren’t going to go away anytime soon. Even with professional help and even medications, it may take time for suicidal ideas to go away.
  • “If you’re not a professional, then there’s probably nothing you can do for them.”
    • While it’s true that professionals have a better grasp of the situation, it doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones that can prevent a suicide. Even a common person can help especially if he/she is a lover/friend/relative/acquaintance of the suicidal person.
  • “Calling the authorities is the best solution.”
    • Okay, maybe in some other country where all emergency personnel (including police and firefighters) are trained to handle suicides, it might work. But remember, we’re in the Philippines, I doubt most cops even know how to approach a potential suicide. Worse, I doubt they’d even really care. Instead, try to approach someone who may know the person in question with someone who is particularly close to them like a spouse, family member or best friend.
  • “Men are more serious about suicide than women.”
    • This is somewhat true, but never underestimate someone’s desire to commit suicide. Don’t ignore women attempting suicide or saying they will commit suicide because they are every bit as capable of going through with it but often lack the resolve in going about it. Suicide isn’t just about gender, it’s about a person’s mindset and resolve.
  • “Only teens are prone to suicide.”
    • EVERYONE is prone to suicide. Teens, middle-aged people who have lost their jobs or their families and elderly folk who give in to despair are all potentially suicidal.
  • “People who are suicidal are dangerous.”
    • This can be somewhat true as well but it’s important to help in whatever way you can. If you’re doubtful about how you will approach the situation, it might be better to call someone who knows the person in question better. Otherwise, if left with no one near to hand, bring a friend or two with you just in case things get difficult.
  • “It’s easy to tell when a person has suicidal ideas.”
    • No, it is not. Yes, suicidal people do cry a lot, but they often choose to hide this from other people as this may be seen as a sign of weakness. A person can even seem euphoric before they commit suicide so always be on the look out for anything suspicious they might be up to. You see, some suicidal people even become seemingly happy because they’ve already made plans to commit suicide, so watch out for this sudden change in mood. Just because they seem happy means they are already “okay”.
  • “Medication/hospitalization will fix suicide.”
    • Medications to ease depression can help calm the person down but remember this works differently on different people. Some might even use their medications to kill themselves.
  • “Simple solutions like religion/sobriety/positive thinking will fix the problem.”
    • No, they won’t. They aren’t enough. To fix issues of this sort, you may need more than just simple solutions. Suicidal depression also doesn’t disappear overnight.
  • “A person who talks about suicide won’t really do it.”
    • Well, this does help them blow off steam but don’t take this at face value. They could still be planning suicide as we speak. Again, it’s better to assume that they will rather than dismiss the idea and find them dead later.
  • “Avoid talking about suicide because they might get the idea to do so.”
    • Talking about suicide actually helps ease their tension. It’s better to have it out in the open rather than wait for them to go through with their ideas.
  • “Suicidal people don’t want help-professional or otherwise.”
    • Most suicides are essentially a cry for help. Most people who have committed suicide have a history of seeking professional/medical help. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

What to Do

  • Approach with caution always, especially if you don’t know the person in question. Like I said, they might be dangerous so keep your distance.
  • Get someone who might be close to them to speak to them such as a family member or close friend (if you don’t qualify as either).
  • Get some friends or other people to help you defuse the situation but keep them back. Let them move in later when things have been properly accounted for or when things go pear-shaped such as when the person in question starts fighting back with a lethal weapon.
  • Talk to the person but remember to be cautious.
    • Here are a few tips on how to do this correctly:
      • Be yourself. Let the person in question feel your concern. Sometimes, the words you say won’t even matter. Let your voice and manner ease the person’s problems.
      • Listen to the person’s problems. Let them unload everything. While the topic might be negative, it’s more important to hear them out as that will drain their negativity.
      • Be sympathetic, accepting and patient.
      • Give them hope. Tell them that their suicidal depression is just temporary and that there are things that they can look forward to. Tell them that their lives mean something.
    • Here is what you should NOT do:
      • Do NOT argue with suicidal people.
      • Do NOT mention: “Look on the bright side!” “You have so much to live for!” “Your suicide will hurt your family!” etc.
      • Do NOT lecture them on the value of life or that suicide is wrong.
      • Do NOT promise confidentiality or total secrecy. Keep their secrets but be prepared to call the authorities or the right people when worst comes to worst.
      • Do NOT lecture them on their lives.
      • Do NOT offer solutions to their current problems.
  • Disarm the suicidal person. Remove razors, poisons, guns or explosives from the person about to commit suicide or move them away from high ledges and windows or get them out of their cars.
  • Wait for the person to calm down before leaving the scene.
  • Keep tabs on said person and make sure that they are never alone.


If things don’t go accordingly and the said person goes through with their suicide, do NOT blame yourself. Remember, you did what you could as an amateur and that counts for something. It wasn’t your fault. It was THEY who chose to end their lives, NOT you.

And please, feel free to add corrections or voice your views in the comment section below.

23 Replies to “Suicide And How You Can Help Prevent One”

  1. ..Yes, one death by suicide is one too many, and suicide is a topic that should be discussed from time to time because of the lessons that could be learned from how culture, economic conditions, sudden changes in society could contribute much to depression. Here are the top 10 countries with highest rate of suicides.

    1. Lithuania: 31 per 100,000
    2. South Korea: 28.1 per 100.000
    3. Guyana: 26.4 per 100,000
    4. Kazakhstan: 25.6 per 100,000
    5. Slovenia: 21.8 per 100,000
    6. Hungary: 21.7 per 100,000
    7. Japan: 21.4 per 100,000
    8. Sri Lanka: 21.3 Per 100,000
    9. Latvia: 20.8 per 100,000
    10. Belarus: 20.5 per 100,000

    Sociologists and psychologists go over this list whenever depression is a subject of serious study. If economic condition is the only factor, South Korea and Japan should not be in the list — culture is the biggest contributing factor with these two. If religion is the only factor, Lithuania, Slovenia, Hungary, Latvia and Belarus should not be in list, where sudden upheaval is the biggest factor.

    It is worth noting that some sociologists say that PHL because of its easy going ways will never find itself in that list. (Sometimes, there is an advantage with a populace that is delusional. Hehehe. I wonder, however, how this will hold if there is a sudden upheaval in the country.) PHL, in fact, always finds itself in some lists reporting the top 10 or top 20 countries with the “happiest people”.

    I know quite a bit of South Korea for I have been there many, many times. They are the exact opposite of PHL. Honor, word of honor in particularly, is very much part of them. Do you know that contracts there are normally not stamped by a notary public? Lawyers are seldom used. But the pressure of society is sometimes too much. A Korean who loses a job would normally not tell his family about it. He will pretend that everything is okay, leaving the same time each morning and then just finding various places where he can spend his time to loiter whole day. Family will only know something changed when he has finally found a new job. If he can’t find a job in time before family notices, then you could have a suicide candidate right there. If he commits suicide, family will be heartbroken, but will understand. My first hand experience of how bad the situation there is is that I almost got crushed by somebody who jumped out of a 15 storey bldg. He fell just a meter in front of me in a busy sidewalk in the Myeong Dong district of Seoul. That thud, that sound, I will never forget, but as I stood there stunned for over a minute, it is incredible how all the people just didn’t even stop. They just continued walking as if nothing happen even stepping over the busted head where blood was starting to flow out. Something about the culture of Koreans that will never be comprehended by a Pinoy. But, it is probably why there is so many Korean in PHL, where society’s pressure on individuals is almost non existent. Both are in the opposite ends of a pendelum.

    1. Interesting. But I wish we could at least make it midway on that pendulum. Not over pressured but still able to understand the more important things in life.

  2. Dear Grimwald,

    it is good that you take suicide out of the taboo-athmospere. On the other hand, indeed, yes, you are an amateure.

    Some people who commit suicide will leave a “goodbye”-note.

    You mention a few causes for people to commit suicide. Pls add “bullying” (or is that a western aspect?) and pls add sexual herassment.

    Example of the latter (based on true story):
    your 14/15 year old daughter is online and meets a nice guy who pretends to be also 14/15/16 (but in reality he is older). He asks her to show her breasts on cam (or make pics of her breasts). The guy can now easily make screen shots of her breasts (and maybe other body parts). After a few days he asks to do it all again and if she refuses he will send all the pics to HER school fiends and FB friends.
    After the guy sent all the pics to her school friends, her life began to change. She got bullyed by her own school friends. Final result: suicide.

    Again this may be a western situation only (and thus not applicable to Asian (e.g. Philippines countries).

    In my country (the Netherlands), the most used “tool” to commit suicide is by jumping in front of a train.
    Can you imagine you are the train driver?
    Can you imagine you being her dad?
    Can you imagine how it looks like – you being her dad – to identify your own daughter?

    1. Thank you for the enlightenment.

      I’ll be sure to add your points in another future article. I think we should bring up issues of depression and suicide more often so we can think of more solutions on how to handle them. Keeping these things in the dark will just allow them to fester and rot within the system.

      It’s better to air it out so the negativity can dissipate. Besides, guides like the one above should help at least some of our readers to prevent suicide in others. It’s one of my (tiny) contributions to GRP and Philippine society. As long as it helps save lives, then I’ve made at least done SOME good in my life.

      1. Grimwald,
        I really do appreciate this specific topic (Suicide) but maybe its better – especially in your country – to settle/arbitrate another taboo and that is sex-ed. Now dont get me wrong. But I think writing a blog about sex-ed can work miraculous/miracles. No need to be graphical (unless you must) but just write it (if you consider doing it) from a technical-biological aspect. You can emphasize both the beauty of it (intimacy, passion) and the dangers (pregnancy, STD, AIDS/HIV) and how to avoid pregnancies (even without using any contraceptives).

  3. It is worth noting that some sociologists say that PHL because of its easy going ways will never find itself in that list. (Sometimes, there is an advantage with a populace that is delusional. Hehehe. I wonder, however, how this will hold if there is a sudden upheaval in the country.)
    There goes the usual jab. 🙂

    Poor PHL, she always gets it whatever the issue is. Even if it is to her advantage, some people will try to reverse it just to poke fun at her. 🙁

    Anyway, I think one factor that makes suicide abominable to Filipinos is religion.

    And it is very easy to understand given the fact that in the Bible, there is one notorious person whose story was best known to have ended in suicide.

    1. No one wants to be identified with that person. No wonder even corrupt politicians abhor going out via the suicide way.

      I think corrupt politicians should be on top of the list of suicide candidates for betraying people’s trust and confidence.

  4. Religious beliefs, also cause Suicides…like those Islamic Radicals, who believe that: killing themselves and the Infidels, are a gateway to Paradise, to have sex with 72 virgins.

    Most suicides are caused by Depression. There are many types of Depression…and the lack of neurotransmitter : “Serotonin”, alone is just one of the causes…there are many neurotransmitters, we still don’t know. They are located in your brain and stomach…Chemical Imbalance of these chemicals, are suspected to be the cause.

    We still have to learn much about the mind , the brain and the emotion.

    If Depression is in you. Seek a good Psychiatrist, for help. Counseling must come from a good PsychoAnalyst…there is Hope for you. Just be patient…

    1. In addition to this: look for people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is one to the symptoms of incoming Depression.
      Psychiatrists and Psychologist can treat and counsel them…they can be cured, with our modern medicines and medical technology…

      1. Not necessarily. Sometimes you live not because of strength but because of weakness. What courage to one is cowardice to others depending on the kind of life one has. The Japanese who took his own life out of embarrasment and humiliation for wrong decisions is seen as courageous. A corrupt Filipino politician who simply loves life and continue to enjoy it is a coward.

  5. Hey, Grimwald, in your list of “Should Do” and “Should not Do”, I find two seemingly contradictory statements

    Should do

    – Give them hope. Tell them that their suicidal depression is just temporary and that there are things that they can look forward to. Tell them that their lives mean something.

    Should NOT do

    – Do NOT mention: “Look on the bright side!” “You have so much to live for!” . . . . [emphasis mine]

    Care to clarify what’s their difference?

    BTW, nice article.

    1. Okay, by giving them hope you just give ’em something to look forward to. Maybe a reason to get up the next day or something.

      But don’t lecture at them.

      Here’s something to consider:

      Correct: “Your wife will probably be sad if you die.”

      Incorrect: “Why would you want to die if you’ve got such a beautiful wife?”

      1. Please seek Professional Medical help, if you have Depression. It is the best thing to do…Depression can be healed, with our modern medicine and modern medical technology.

        We just know about 1% (out of 100%) of the illness, but , we are advancing in Research deliberately…brain, mind, emotion, consciousness, subconsciousness ,culture, collective unconsciousness..etc..are all involved. Too many factors…the brain is the most complicated part of the human body…

  6. Does the Philippines even have a suicide hotline? I’m willing to bet they just leave it to the good ol’ Catholic church to handle such matters.

  7. Why would you want to prevent suicide in a country like the Philippines? The godforsaken country is so dystopian and evil, those who contemplate suicide might actually be doing themselves a favour. Why would you prolong your misery in a place like this?

    I’m sorry that’s just how bad it feels sometimes, and I’m not sure migrating would solve it either.

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