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Facts About Suicide in the Philippines and Where to Seek Help

Medically reviewed by Melissa Caraan, MD · Psychiatry · Philippine General Hospital

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Oct 20, 2022

Facts About Suicide in the Philippines and Where to Seek Help

Due to the pressures of conforming to societal norms, many individuals may be fighting their own personal battles behind closed doors. Fortunately, these issues are slowly coming to light. This can be seen in the way that international health programs are now emphasizing the importance of mental health. This new focus stems in part from the growing trend of suicide cases, which is the third leading cause of death in teenagers. In this article, we discuss important facts about suicide in the Philippines and the different mental health services that are available to Filipinos. 

What Is Suicide?

By definition, suicide is the act of injuring oneself with the intention of causing death. Oftentimes, this stems from a number of factors, including unresolved personal struggles and societal and environmental conditions. It can also be a reaction to other mental health symptoms.

A suicide attempt is an attempt to end one’s life that results in survival. Meanwhile, suicide that ends in death is a completed suicide. Individuals who died from a completed suicide may or may not have attempted suicide in the past. 

Some commonly used methods for suicide are poisoning, hanging, or firearms. 

Prevalence of Suicide in the Philippines

In the Philippines, mental health is not yet considered a top national concern. But in recent years, both public and private organization have started to raise awareness about mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

According to data from the Department of Health (DOH), intentional self-harm is one of the leading causes of death in Filipinos ages 20-24. Meanwhile, a 2011 study showed that 16 percent of students ages 13 -15 years old have contemplated taking their own life. Likewise, 13 percent have already attempted suicide.

While there’s a lack of extensive studies and data about suicide in the Philippines, the numbers show that improvements in national mental health programs are necessary. Similarly, it is important to raise awareness of the growing mental health crisis and of the available mental health services in the Philippines.

Why Does A Person Commit Suicide?

Many factors (often interconnected) can compel a person to take their own life. People who have suicidal thoughts usually think that they no longer have anything left to live for or that life is no longer bearable. Likewise, mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder can also escalate to suicidal thoughts.

There may also be a link between family history and a person’s risk of committing suicide. If someone in the family has died due to suicide, other members of the family may be prone to suicidal thoughts as well. There also additional risk factors associated with an increased risk of suicide or having suicidal thoughts:

  • Those with prior suicidal attempts, depression or other mental disorders.
  • Experiences of extreme stress or trauma.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Experiences of physical or sexual abuse from family members or other people.
  • Extreme pain from a medical condition.
  • People who are ages 15 to 24 years old, or over 60 years old.
  • Unfortunately, there is a cultural stigma surrounding mental health and those with mental illness that can prevent people from seeking out help. This stigma may be a result of a lack of public education on mental health and suicide in the Philippines.

    What Are The Warning Signs of Suicide?

    If you suspect that a friend or loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to be aware of the indicators to look out for.

    1. Talking about death or wanting to kill themselves.
    2. Purchasing items that can be used in suicide like sleeping pills or firearms.
    3. Sudden changes in appearance, reckless behavior, or extreme bouts of mood swings.
    4. Giving away belongings for no reason, or going into self-isolation.

    It is important to also know the signs of suicide in teenagers because they make up a high percentage of those who are most at risk of suicide. 

    1. A decline in their performance at school.
    2. Suddenly engaging in sex or promiscuous activity.
    3. Sudden changes in personality and in sleeping or eating habits.

    The elderly are also at risk of suicide. Because of this, it’s good to know the warning signs for them.

    1. A diagnosis of a serious medical condition.
    2. Isolation from friends or family, or living alone especially after the death of a partner.
    3. Experiencing life changes like retirement or the death of a loved one.

    Where Can I Seek Help?

    In the Philippines, several institutions are offering free counseling for those who are currently struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

  • New National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) Crisis Hotlines – 0917 899 8727  and 989 8727
  • Ateneo Bulatao Center for Psychological Services – 426-5982
  • Mental Health First Responders (MHFR) – [email protected]
  • Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) – 0917 565 2036
  • Psychological Association of the Philippines – 0915 422 5189 and 0947 571 7629
  • If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, then it’s best to seek medical advice or seek counseling for a suicide risk assessment. Following the assessment, doctors can offer a course of treatment involving therapy and medication.

    Key Takeaway

    Suicide is the act of harming yourself with the goal of ending your own life. There is also a culture of stigma surrounding mental health and suicide in the Philippines. As a result, this is a growing mental health issue that needs to be brought to the light. If you or someone you know seems to be struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out and encourage them to seek out the help of a medical professional before it’s too late. 

    Learn more about Mental Health here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Melissa Caraan, MD

    Psychiatry · Philippine General Hospital

    Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Oct 20, 2022

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