Expressing its deep sadness over the suicide of a 10-year old Grade IV pupil in Biong, Gigmoto, the Department of Education (DepEd) Schools Division Office of Catanduanes appealed to the public to exercise utmost caution in taking to social media over the issue of modules as alleged reason behind the incident.
In an official statement issued Feb. 19, 2021, OIC-Division Superintendent Dr. Susan Collano said concerned authorities are still investigating the incident, with DepEd field personnel also pursuing further inquiry after submitting an incident report to the regional office.
Upon receipt of the news, Dr. Collano stated, a team was sent to condole with the family and offer assistance.
The Psychological First Aid (PFA) team was also directed to extend its services to the entire school personnel to address their grief.
“As a respect to the family, we maintain our restraint in further talking about the sensitivity of this subject so as not to cause more pain in an already painful situation they are in,” the DepEd said.
In a separate statement, the DepEd regional office said Biong school authorities who visited the family found out from the father that the allegation that the child committed suicide due to pressure in answering modules was not true, contrary to social media posts and news circulating online.
In appealing to the public and media practitioners to relay only fair and truthful information before spreading stories, it is unfair to tag DepEd and the learning modules as the cause of a learner’s death through suicide.
“Suicide is caused by various factors and is a very sensitive issue to be discussed publicly while the family is grieving,” it said. “While we have been doing a series of psychosocial interventions for our learners and personnel, we have been informing the public that any challenge that might be experienced in modular learning should be relayed to the teachers so that proper remedies may be considered and relieve the learner of the stress.”
The controversy over the incident was triggered by social media posts based on the report submitted by the Gigmoto police station to the Catanduanes police’s Camp Camacho headquarters.
Based on the initial investigation, the police determined that at about 3 P.M. of Feb. 16, a 15- year old boy discovered his younger brother hanging from the wooden frame of the roof using the strap of a sling bag.
He immediately removed his brother from the strap and tried to revive him, calling for help from his neighbors to rush him to the Gigmoto district hospital where he was pronounced dead 25 minutes later.
The investigator on the case, one Ronald Abogado, quoted family members as saying that prior to the incident, the boy was uneasy and felt the pressure of learning modules he had yet to answer.
Several sources claim that the family, especially the father, had no inkling that the boy would kill himself, although the latter reportedly admitted that among his six children, the victim had difficulty dealing with modular learning.
It was also said that, contrary to the police report, it was the belt of a brush cutter that was used in the incident and not a sling bag strap.
It is surmised that the boy, who is allegedly fond of imitating actions on movies, videos and even on social media, might have played with the strap, which might have accidentally locked.
To develop emotional resiliency and enhance mental health among students, the DepEd Division of Catanduanes conducted a one-day orientation-forum on suicide awareness at Amenia beach resort in 2019.
Among those who participated were guidance counselors and coordinators, district supervisors, health personnel, youth formation officers, service learning providers and selected high school students. Guidance designates from Gigmoto Central Elementary School, Gigmoto Rural Development High School, Sicmil Integrated School and Dororian National High School were among those who attended the forum.