SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu (The Philippine Star) - March 31, 2013 - 12:00am

There is no getting around the tragedy of Kristel Tejada’s suicide. That one so young and so full of promise should so lose hope that she would take her own life is so hard to comprehend. It is diffi cult to fathom the darkness that she must have found herself in – darkness without any speck or prospect of light – that she would swallow what must have been an awful dose of silver cleaning fluid.

Even with what her mother had described as patung-patong na problema – it is too simplistic and unfair to blame her death solely on her being made to take a leave from school for non-payment of tuition – such darkness, such hopelessness should not have been the lifeview of one so young.

I thought the proposal for a total ban on silver cleaning solution was an exaggerated reaction, until my goddaughter, who is an intern at a public hospital, told me that it is not that rare an occurrence. For example, a week after Tejada’s death, a teenager was brought in to the emergency room after drinking – you guessed it – silver cleaning solution. (I wonder how they so easily have access to silver cleaning solution, since I cannot fi nd any in the supermarket or hardware store. All that they have is metal polish, which the label says is not recommended for gold or silver as, I suppose, it does not contain cyanide.)

This teenager, who said she tried to kill herself because she could not fi nish her school project, survived, since she was brought to hospital in time for the activated charcoal pumped into her stomach to do its job of absorbing the toxins.

A study by researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK and the University of the Philippines-Manila on suicides in the Philippines covering the years 1974-2005 show an increasing trend in suicide attempts in adolescents and young adults, with family and relationship problems as the most common reasons.

While suicide rates are notably lower in the Philippines than in other countries, the study pointed to evidence of underreporting and misdeclaration (reported as accidents or “deaths of undetermined intent”), since there is still a stigma and disgrace attached to suicide.

To speak of death and suicide, especially of young people, at Easter seems like such an incongruity. Easter is a time of rebirth, a season of hope; a victory over death, a triumph over darkness. To one going through dark times of failure or disappointment, facing death or ruin, such words and ideas merely sound like empty clichés.

But like the women who on that fi rst Easter morning visited the tomb with spices to embalm the dead only to fi nd an angel with a surprising message of life, like Mary Magdalene who heard her risen Lord say her name and whose tears of mourning turned to joy, we too can affi rm the hope that Easter represents and, claiming its promise, survive the night to embrace the dawn.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucifi ed. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell the disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. Matthew 28:5-9a

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