#MentalHealthPH: Reaching out to people who cry for help


Nikko and I met in 2012.

We were both participants in an exchange program attended by youth from different ASEAN countries. We cruised around Southeast Asia for two months. Being enclosed in just one ship and having nowhere else to go and nobody else to meet, I became really close to the people I met in the exchange program. I became quite close to Nikko, as well. I first met Nikko when we were in a group activity where we learned how to play traditional Brunei martial arts. Nikko was the typical guy with the “mysterious” aura.

He was usually quiet, just always observing people. Later on, we were partnered to practice some martial arts moves. We started talking and, being the friendly (and sometimes nosy) person that I am, we later on became good friends. I learned about a lot of things about his personal life through conversations over meals, or when we were just hanging out with friends. One day, the two of us were having one of those conversations about just anything. I vaguely remember what we were talking about then but this one is clear– he told me that he would never be happy again; that he tried to kill himself once but failed; that at one point of his life, he decided to just end it all.

I was dumbfounded.

My brain failed me and all that I managed to do was to look at him in the eye. I didn’t muster enough courage to say anything for a long while. I couldn’t ask why he did it. I didn’t think I had to (or, should) ask why. I didn’t even know if I should have asked that question. I waited for him to tell me more, but he didn’t. All I did was stay with him until we were called to attend another activity.

We never talked about it again.

The exchange program ended.

He went back to his country, and I went back to the Philippines. We still kept in touch through Facebook and Line but the conversations grew less and less.

November 18, 2015.

One of our common friends was calling me.

Nikko committed suicide. He was gone.

I was guilty. I regretted even though I was not sure what exactly I was regretting. I could have done more, maybe, but I cannot really say that I did anything less. Admittedly, I was angry, too. That’s the thing with suicide. There will always be two conflicting interests – those of the leaving and those of the left behind. Maybe he felt that taking his life was his best option at that time. Maybe it was his only choice. But can you blame me for thinking that he was mistaken, that he had us, and that no matter what it was he was facing, we were there to help him get through it? Can you blame me for just wanting him to hold on?

Our last conversation over Facebook was about this song, https://soundcloud.com/rory-viner

Could I have guessed he was crying for help? But if I’ve known, what could I have done to make him stop?


World Health Organization reports over 800,000 people die by suicide each year– that’s one person every 40 seconds. Up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. In the Philippines, the estimated number of suicides in 2012 was 2,558 (550 female, 2009 male).

This means that many, many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has tried to take his or her own life.

In line with this year’s theme for the World Suicide Prevention: Connect, Communicate, Care. Let’s talk about suicide, the second leading cause of death globally among people 15 to 29 years of age.

Here are the questions for this coming tweetchat:

T1: How to identify people having suicidal tendencies? What are the signs to watch out for?

T2: How to reach out to people with suicidal tendencies? What are the do’s and dont’s?

T3. How can social media be used as a tool to help address suicide tendencies, depression, and other mental health problems?

Let’s discuss how to connect, communicate, and care for people with suicidal tendencies this Saturday, 9PM. See you!


Article by: #MentalHealthPH

#MentalHealthPH is a  campaign that aims to create an inclusive and empowered community for people affected by mental health problems. The group aims to promote mental health awareness through social media to increase discussion and reduce stigma on Mental Health; provide a platform for the community to share their Mental Health stories; and, collaborate and link with other organizations/groups to unify initiatives in line with the group’s mental health advocacy. Sign up here to volunteer: bit.ly/mentalhealthph


Posted by: Narciso Tapia for #MentalHealthPH