LISTEN — Six letters, but feels like a bullet of solace to the eight billion people in this world who are experiencing a dimmed light. On October 14, 2022, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, the Guidance Counseling and Testing Unit (GCTU), hosted "Seeding Hope: A Free Suicide Awareness and Prevention" webinar in collaboration with the PATTS Peer Facilitators (PPF).
Prof. Yeng Gatchalian, a registered Psychologist who has been practicing for almost twenty years, was the esteemed speaker to address mental health issues. During her discussion, she highlighted, "Those who committed suicide didn't want to die; they just wanted to alleviate the pain." In the first hour, she focused on discussing the protective and triggering factors of a suicidal person—that what they need is a shoulder they can lean on, and someone who actually listens.
In the last two years, the pandemic had a pernicious effect on every individual's mental health, resulting in an increased suicide rate of up to 57.3 percent. "A conflicted home set-up was one of the reasons [...]," she stated. Along with millions of issues we are all facing, mental health is one to defeat, but whom should we call for help when the people around us are causing it? She compared her experience to the fact that she could not be a psychologist when her child once felt a deep sadness because she had to be a mother. That was a strong message, which means that we should be the person they expected us to be and not the other way around.
Amid the open forum, Prof. Gatchalian was asked, "How can we help or be there for people who are experiencing deep sadness when we are also struggling with ourselves?" Then she answered, "[...] start with yourself." Her answer was all about putting ourselves first in the queue of priorities because we cannot navigate with someone swimming in the ocean of emotions. The two-hour session ended with giving a certificate of appreciation to the speaker.
For a fortiori, we should always be the person who can say, "I once lit up someone's candle, even made it into a torch." Be the one to save the day!