I meant no harm for drummer’s family

February 12, 2019

IT is probably high time for our health authorities to address the problem of mental illnesses that drive people to take their very own lives.

Recently, in a span of barely one week, I was aghast to have written about five incidents of reported suicides. All of them jumped off a tall building and all such cases, except one, happened in Manila alone.

Of late, a 27-year-old single mom reportedly leapt to her death at a condominim building in Malate, Manila, late morning of January 31.

The victim, identified as ‘Cristine’, of Davao City, was said to have jumped from Unit 1207 at the 12th floor of the Burgundy West Tower located at 820 P.Ocampo St., Malate, Manila and died upon landing on the fourth floor of the  said building. Barangay Chairman Jaime Adriano responded in record time of less than two minutes, hoping he could persuade the victim to not jump, but he did not make it on time. He was with barangay kagawad Ligaya Ama and barangay tanod Nonoy Eresmas.

Days before that, Chinese-American national Shau Chang Yee, 69,  jumped off  from one floor to the other near the escalator at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in what was ruled also as a case of suicide. Shau initially survived but later died in the hospital where he was rushed by the airport medical team for treatment,  assisted by APO1 Elominado Junida and PO3 Jayron Siviliano. Arriving in the country from Hong Kong  last January 28, 2019 via Cebu Pacific flight 5J-119, he stayed for a couple of days more within the airport terminal.

For still unknown reason, the said passenger was said to have leapt from the fourth level of the NAIA Terminal 3 and landed at the third floor, at the departure check-in area near escalator 14.  He later died of severe head injuries.

The day before, 30-year-old Johnny Deinla of Sitio Calauan, Cantoria, Masbate, died instantly after he reportedly jumped off a footbridge at the corner of  A. Mendoza Avenue and Paredes Street in Sampaloc, Manila. A security guard saw the victim initially walking on the said footbridge, sit on the ledge and then suddenly jumped, hitting the ground head first.                  

Before that, Chinese national Xia Xiao Cheng, 34, jumped off  from the 17th floor of the Pearl Manila Hotel located on General Luna Street in Ermita, Manila. Said to be working at a company holding office at the second floor of the same building from where he reportedly jumped to his death, he landed on the deck of the adjacent building, the Cathedral of Praise.

The first of this series of apparent suicides was that of Razorback drummer Brian Velasco, which happened last month. Velasco shocked many when he had his suicide on Facebook live, showing  his friends and followers how he jumped off from the 34th floor of the City Land Tower located on Vito Cruz Street in Malate, Manila at around 9:45 a.m.  The 41-year-old drummer landed first on a canopy and then straight to the ground floor driveway, head first. Reportedly, it could be heard over the live feed that someone tried but failed to stop him.

Speaking of which, I would like to clarify, albeit belatedly, that when I wrote about Velasco’s suicide, I meant no harm and I was merely doing my job, just like all my colleagues in the tri-media  who also wrote and featured the story .

I’m talking of this in reply to a message from one Dr. Tess Reyes, who said that in behalf of her batchmates who read my story, they are asking me to take down my online article and questioning why I had to write certain details such as the victim’s address and a quote from his friend, saying they are protecting his daughter from trauma.

As I’ve stated in my reply to that message,  I, just like any other journalist, am duty bound to write all the details attendant to stories  I cover with the sole intention of delivering news.  

Besides, even if I opted to skip that story, it would have been useless since all the other media organizations used it just the same, considering its weight. It was not only I who wrote that story and the details and circumstances surrounding the incident, so it is but unfair to single me out, although I take no offense to the criticism.   

It is also not incumbent upon me to provide a helpline for those suffering from mental illness as suggested by Dr. Reyes, since what I wrote was a straight news article and not even a column, in the first place.

I feel sorry for the family of Velasco for their loss and again, let me state that it was never my intention to add to their grief. Thank you to Dr. Reyes and her batchmates though, for patronizing our paper. Rest assured that we are sensitive to the feelings of victims in the stories we write about, including their families.

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