Issue of October 7, 2018
     
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Sociologist outlines risk, protective factors vs suicide

In understanding suicide, what are the risk and protective factors?

Sociologist Mark Anthony Quintos said it is important to have a comprehensive understanding on suicide in order to help save people who come to a point that they want to end their lives.

Quintos, who spoke among the youth, members of the academe, and religious leaders in a recent forum on suicide prevention among the youth, said individual disposition, family, religion and values, peer groups and romantic relationships, affiliations/organizations, education, and community are among the factors to be considered in understanding suicide.

The forum was initiated by the Jesus is Alive Community-La Trinidad led by Pastora Resurreccion Santos-Montenegro.

Quintos said that for the individual aspect, smoking, consumption of alcohol, and the experience of being in a rehabilitation center are risk factors for suicide.

In terms of family, living away from the other members and too much regulation and permissiveness from parents are among the risk factors.

Growing up being cared for by his parents, good relationship with siblings, and perceived good relationship between parents are protective factors against suicide.

On religion, a change in the person’s religious denomination and when this is done at a later point in his life is a risk factor for suicide among the youth.

“When you change religion in the young adult stage, like 20 years old and above and you encounter problems, you become lost kasi nagbago ang paniniwala mo. Suddenly you start to doubt yourself. You will ask: Alin ba sa pinaniniwalaan mo yung tunay na totoo at alin ang hindi?” Quintos said.

He said the religious factor becomes a risk for problematic young adults because it is usually at this stage that their parents could only do so much when they cannot look for a job or when they feel that they are not loved.

“When a young adult could not find help from his parental figure, he turns to his “sacred” parental figure, which is his God. Kaso ‘pag may doubts ka kung tunay ba ‘yung pinaniniwalaan mo, you are shaken. Hindi mo na alam kung sino ang masasandalan mo. That becomes a threat that may lead to suicide,” he said.

The protective factors in religion, however, includes the person’s belief in the value of life and the belief that doing good is necessary for salvation.

“There are religious beliefs and views that help prevent suicide. Example, the belief that doing good is necessary for salvation. When you do good, you actually feel the positive reward and that reward is intrinsic. Hindi na kailangan ng material reward. The intrinsic reward you get from simply doing good and helping others is enough to make you happy and that happiness is enough to protect you from suicide ideation and suicide attempt,” Quintos said.

When religious activities are done as a family affair, it also becomes a protective factor against suicide.

Membership in religious organizations in schools is also a protective factor because of the bond and the sense of belongingness and acceptance that it provides the youth.

For the peer groups and romantic relationships aspect, a youth joining fraternities, sororities, or gangs are exposed to the risk factors for suicide.

Quintos said this is because a lot of these groups engage in physical or verbal abuses among their members or before someone is accepted in their group.

Being a member of dancing, singing, and theatrical groups is also a protective factor because it provides the youth a sense of acceptance and inclusion, but Quintos said sometimes, it becomes a risk factor.

“This is because as art-based groups, members of choir, dance, or theater groups aim for perfection. At kung hindi nila maabot ‘yung tono at hindi nila ma-perfect ‘yung dance move or ‘yung script, it leads to self-criticism that makes them feel bad about themselves, which becomes a risk factor for suicide,” he said.

Having a lot of romantic relationships is also a risk factor. “The more romantic relationship one has, the more break-ups he will have and that is an emotionally traumatic experience, which is a risk factor for suicide.”

The experience of being bullied, threatened, and exposure to friends or acquaintances who attempted to commit suicide are also risk factors.

In terms of education, the perception that one’s classmates are helpful in school and having an access to a guidance counselor are protective factors.

Quintos, however, said that access to guidance counselors could become a risk factor when the former fails to meet the expectation of a problematic youth, especially if the concern is a family problem.

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