MANILA, Philippines – During the seasons of love and giving, more people try to kill themselves using toxic substances, a poison expert from the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) College of Medicine said Friday.
According to Dr. Lynn Panganiban, former director of the National Poison and Management Control Center (NPMCC), they observed that poison-related suicide cases tend to increase during Valentine’s Day and Christmas.
“Most of the time it’s relational, there is a problem in the family or their loved ones. We rarely see cases related to job loss,” she noted in the initial “Health Update Manila” forum last Friday, organized by UPM’s Information, Publication and Public Affairs Office (IPPAO).
Panganiban added that they also see a spike in suicide attempts during the enrolment period, apparently over lack of money to pay for tuition.
She said they also observed that those who commit suicide are also getting younger. “We were seeing suicidal incidents among teenagers… (as early as) 12 years of age and the cause is not accidental,” Panganiban said.
IPPAO director Dr. Michael Tee said that around 3,332 poisoning cases “or around 10 cases a day” were referred to the center in 2010.
“But not all of these are suicide-related. There were also cases of accidental poisoning. Majority of the attempts to commit suicide during these seasons (Valentine’s and Christmas) are depression-related,” Tee added.
Panganiban claimed that of the 3,332 poisoning cases last year, 20 percent were caused by “silver jewelry cleaner,” which contains cyanide. She warned that some of the victims are children who accidentally swallowed the poisonous chemical.
Based on the NPMCC’s documentation, the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have banned in November 2010 the use of solutions with cyanide and other toxic substances in cleaning silver jewelry. The two agencies have warned the public against buying such “unregistered or unlabeled silver jewelry cleaning solutions” that are proliferating in the market.
Panganiban said the second most common “toxicants” were sodium hypochlorite (16 percent); followed by kerosene (12 percent); paracetamol (11 percent); pyrethroid (10 percent); organophosphate (nine percent); hydrochloric acid (eight percent); ethanol (six percent) and iron supplement and methamphetamine (both four percent).