Depression – a normal reaction a law student experiences after a bad recitation, a difficult exam, or a dreadful grade. Law students seemed to have mastered the art of feeling down, yet subsequently brushing it off all in one day.
This occasional feeling of sadness may be short-lived—but when it becomes persistent, prolonged, and severe, the risk of experiencing a major depression and committing suicide is likely to happen. Before, when I hear news reports about depression-induced suicides, I just treat them as the usual rundown of the day’s event—but not until our family experienced the loss of a loved one because of this condition.
It was then that I got curious about depression and its effects. When the cause of death is an accident, the pain and the grief can be alleviated by the fact that it was not the deceased’s fault; you could blame someone even to the point of suing him for his negligence. When the cause of death is murder or homicide, the fact that the accused can be held liable for the crime will mitigate the mourning of the family because in a way, justice is attainable. However, when someone kills himself due to depression, the sorrow and grief of the family deepen because there is that one question they can’t answer: WHY?
The bereaved family is left hanging as to what ran in the mind of the deceased moments before he took his life. It is difficult to accept that he took his own life. Sometimes, there is even a tendency to report a different cause of death, given that suicide is considered taboo in our predominantly Roman Catholic country.
People’s awareness on this kind of condition is limited. This may be due to the fact that it is not one of the leading causes of death as per national statistics. Further, instances of such may be underreported because of the prevailing societal notions.
Its increasing rate, however, should serve as a warning as regards the serious effects of this mental illness. Several forms of depressive disorders, as reported by the National Institute Mental Health, are Major Depression and Persistent Depressive Disorder. Major Depression is an episode in one person’s life, wherein the illness can interfere with his ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. Meanwhile, Persistent Depressive Disorder pertains to a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years.
Last 17 September 2013, Senator Grace Poe introduced a Senate Resolution urging the Senate Committee on Health to conduct a study in aid of legislation on the increasing incidence of suicide and depression cases in the country, with the objective of formulating a focused suicide prevention program. The Resolution was based on Article II, Section 15 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which provides that “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”
Senator Poe pointed out the situation here in the Philippines, where many people still think that depression is not an illness and that people who are depressed feel embarrassed to seek help. The inadequate understanding of its etiology may also be a reason for its non-acceptance, both by the person suffering from the illness and his family. The good senator also stressed out the importance of a focused suicide prevention program, as well as adopting the so-called renaissance in researches focusing on new ways to help people with suicidal tendencies and those suffering from depression.
Acceptance is the first step to cure major depression. The encouragement and support by the family and friends may help the person to understand that this is not something to be ashamed of. Like any other health problems, it can be cured by the proper medication and therapy. Educating ourselves continuously about depression will not only be useful for our benefit, but also for people within our circle who are suffering from this illness.
Our loved one left us without any answer, but maybe in studying this increasingly prevalent condition, we will be able to find one. P