A Psychiatrist working at the Ministry of Health’s Division of Behavioral Health has underscored the importance of listening to people who open up about and show suicidal tendencies, explaining further that talking about suicide actually makes them think twice about committing it.

Dr. Constantine Dela Cruz, a Filipino psychiatrist at the Division of Behavioral Health, told the media during the press conference on Wednesday that during his 10 months of Psychiatry work in Palau, he observed how talking about suicide is considered a taboo by locals.

“When we encounter patients who have suicidal tendencies, it is important that we should be aware [that] by talking about it, we are not actually pushing the person to commit suicide but we are making them think twice about it,” Dela Cruz said.

Listening to the patient is actually the first step to reaching out to them, Dela Cruz said, adding that if one feels that he or she cannot handle the weight of the things being divulged by a patient, they can always refer the person to the counselors or the psychiatrists.

Dela Cruz, however, noted positively that since he began working here in Palau, he has not received any reports of a successful suicide by a patient entertaining suicidal thoughts.

Strong family ties in Palau also makes the Behavioral Health doctors look at mental health in Palau on a positive light, saying that a patient not getting any support system seldom happens here.

“Because of the strong family ties, we are in partnership with the families in providing mental health care,” Dela Cruz said.

Dela Cruz also said that they wanted to involve the family on mental health matters, hence, they are conducting family meeting and have been in coordination with the school officials.

The World Mental Health Day is commemorated every October 10.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. It is also found to be the second leading cause of death among people with ages 15-29.

Palau Behavioral Advisory Council (PBAC) Chairperson Elenita Bennie also said that PBAC has a 24/7 hotline available for those who want to ask for help. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)