Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Read This, But Please Don't Kill Yourself

Does Poverty Cause Suicide?

In 2004, the Times of India asked this question after stories circulated of farmers committing suicide in one of the provinces out of financial distress. But they concluded that, "Suicide is related to illness, old age, teenage stress, family problems, and a host of minor causes. Financial stress comes rather low in the list." Curiously, they also quoted a US study, "A 1986 study in the US showed that teen-age suicides increased 7 per cent following nationally televised suicide stories. Thus, the media not only discover but also create suicide waves."

Recently, we had our own media-led stampede of "jumping to conclusions" on the issue of poverty causing suicide in the case of Marianett Amper when the PDI headline breathlessly read, Girl who killed self lamented family's poverty in diary
DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- A 12-year-old girl, who became despondent over her family’s poverty, hanged herself inside their makeshift house a day after her father told her he could not give her the P100 she needed for a school project.
PDI later canonized the young Mariannet Amper by calling her "a Saint of Poverty" then laying a Guilt Trip on everybody!
PDI Editorial: "BY HANGING herself a day after All Saints' Day, 12-year-old Mariannet Amper of Davao City has become the embodiment of the Filipinos' worst nightmare, a saint of poverty for a nation that continues to deny the blighted reality of its impoverishment."
Published a few days after the suicide, this editorial and other writings like it, started a FEELING FRENZY among publicly bleeding hearts, both in the Main Stream Media and in the blogosphere. It became ammo against the Palace's glee over glad tidings from Social Weather Stations, where self-rated poverty statistics are said to be on the low side.

Then there appears to be a fly in the ointment, an inconvenient truth about theory that "poverty" caused Marianett to take her own life.

Journalist R.M. Balanza of the Mindanao news blog durianburgdavao -- covers the Bizarre Twist to Marianet Amper's suicide. Meanwhile, GMA-TV has the autopsy result indicating the 12 year old may have been raped some weeks before she apparently hanged herself November 2. Cheryl Fiel of Davao Today has Mayor Roger Duterte's remarks after the results were made known following exhumation of the 12 year old girl five days after her burial.
“It’s not fair to us, it’s not fair to the girl who died, it’s not fair to the Filipino people because you are covering the truth,” Duterte said. “If there’s poverty in our midst, it’s not the fault of the city government of Davao, we are not the captain of the ship, it’s Manila,” he added. He said the “whole episode has turned into a very sordid event, because of the penchant of people to color the incident with romantic fairy tale.”
But Conrado de Quiros seems to be sorely disappointed that such a perfectly serviceable romantic fairy tale about victimhood, poverty and hunger stalking the land, has apparently been blown up by a medico legal examination. He thinks the authorities are making it up the way some newspapers do:
What reason would the authorities have to lie? Plenty. Rodrigo Duterte, who was among the first to broadcast the theory of rape, is an ardent supporter of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and can’t particularly like it that his favorite hometown has become the source of this regime’s hugest embarrassment -- at a time that it’s desperately trying to convince the citizens that unbeknownst to them things have never been better for them than today. It is to his, and Arroyo’s, interest to show that no one, least of all a child, commits suicide in this country out of impoverishment and deprivation.
Well there you have it folks. The whole rape angle is a lie by the pro-GMA mayor of Davao, sez de Quiros, (even if it does make more tragic sense than the Sad Fairy Tales of Poverty and Hunger Causing Suicide.)

As cruel and gruesome as the circumstances of this process must be for the family and friends of this little girl, I think the Public does have a right to know the truth about her suicide, after she had just been made the Poster Girl of the Poor and Oppressed. Dr. Tess Termulo of Prudence and Madness bravely says so.

By the way, global suicide statistics show that the Philippines must be doing great if high suicide rates follow from "extreme poverty, hunger and deprivation" as claimed by the the new Marianett Devotees, since the Philippines is only No. 83 or thereabouts at 2.1 suicides per 100,000. This is compared to Russia at No. 3 and Cuba at No. 17; Japan (not an impoverished country) at No. 8; and Belgium, Finland, and Switzerland all in the Top Sixteen most suicidal countries.


Baldagyi Hatipoglu said...

Pwede po ba magreact sa title lang?

Mr. Dean, panalo ito!!!! Hahahahahahahaahahahahahaha!- resty o.

DJB Rizalist said...

we want our poverty bitter, cruel and grinding enough to drive little girls to suicide.

Yak said...

i hope that some of the pdi people would comment something in here and realize that it's not "all about the scoop" rather it's all about the facts and truth. hohohohoho

DJB Rizalist said...

I'm pretty sure this is the last we have heard about marianett amper in the pages of pdi for a while...cdq calling duterte a liar that is.

cvj said...

DJB, your last paragraph contains a logical fallacy.

Proposition 1: poverty ('a') in the Philippines causes higher suicide rates ('b').
Proposition 2: other wealthier countries (not 'a') have higher suicide rates ('b').
Conclusion: therefore, poverty ('a') does *not* cause higher suicide rates ('b').

The line of reasoning above is flawed because 'a' ('poverty') causing 'b' ('suicide') does not preclude another factor 'c' (e.g. stress) which may also cause 'b'. So showing the higher suicide rates in wealthier countries (which may be driven by 'c') is a red herring because it does not disprove the possibility of higher suicide rates ('b') due to 'a' (i.e. poverty).

Yak said...

pdi has come a long way from the broadsheet of facts to a broadsheet of imagined facts. after i read the inquirer, i bang my head in the wall. the incredible and fantastic news is increasing by the day.

Prudence said...


I'd like to correct my surname. It's Termulo, not Romulo. It's understandable though because my surname has always been mistaken for Romulo. That's all.

Thanks for linking me up.

--- Prudence

cranky said...

Though I commiserate with the loss of the family, I personally think the girl's reason for taking her own life was anything other than poverty.

Young people are rarely depressed, in fact they seldom think about the future or their way of life.

For a 12-year old to take her own life due to poverty is just plainly unbelievable.

An autopsy performed had shown that the young girl had already been sexually abused.

There are many questions that remain unanswered.

Was the death actually suicide?

Remember a letter was found in her pillow, addressed to a popular tv show asking for a new pair of shoes, bag, tricycle.

Is that the mindset of someone who is about to take her own life?

That letter was a sign of hope, not despair, she knew that some kind people are still willing to help them.

Her diary only tells of the extreme hardship her family is going through.. but no mention of ending her was only presumed it was the cause.

Did she really take her own life?

How about the scene, did it clearly show it was indeed suicide? Did all the pieces add up?

The autopsy finding may provide a very different outlook about this case. Is anybody pursuing any angle other than suicide?

There is something not quite right about this case. Its not over, unless authorities give up on it.

DJB Rizalist said...

Dr. Termulo, sorry for the error, just corrected...and Prudence is good!

Prudence said...

to djb rizalist:

It's okay. :-)

Amadeo said...

It is good to point out that this is not a unique phenomenon of local media, the purported ardent pursuit to over-dramatize to advance a perceived agenda.

Because even here in the US, MSM will not spare any quarters in over-dramatizing similar incidents to promote an agenda that cannot anymore be subtly hidden. Even to the extent of editorializing on what passes as straight news.

But the blogosphere has precisely become the watchdog for those traditionally tasked as the watchdogs.

So, Dean, keep ploughing and more power.

manuelbuencamino said...


one shouldn't ever presume that logic will ever hinder DJ from attacking PDI.

DJB Rizalist said...

Only when PDI deserves to be exposed for the same kind of thing they often accuse others of: intellectual dishonesty.

I admit they've been doing a lot of deserving lately, but that is hardly my fault.

They can get out of control over there, so I like reminding them that their Liberty is my Liberty too!

It does not help when a paper like PDI gets something like this, this badly wrong. Know what I mean?

Dominique said...

Thanks for the stats you posted on my blog, Dean.

I had a similar post which mirrored your thoughts in this one. I also felt bad the first time I read the headline. It was a few days later that I realized that I had been, well, played.

lcnatabio said...

The neo-cons would certainly downplay such tragedy because this is not only an indictment on the malgovernance of Gloria Arroyo; it is an indictment likewise, and on greater expent, on the much touted globalization bandwagon which, among other things, supposedly promised progress and prosperity.

Globalization, as it is now being implemented in the country, is a premature ejaculation.

lcnatabio said...

sorry..."on greater extent"...

DJB Rizalist said...


globalization? malgovernance? ejaculation?

them's big words.

but where's the beef?

what's your take?

does poverty cause suicide and should we treat m.a. as a Saint of Poverty?

Richard said...

"Globalization, as it is now being implemented in the country, is a premature ejaculation."

Dude, seriously! either said too little or you said too much. Are you sure you don't live in Amsterdam? Because I see this kinda crap from those stoners all the time. Was there a point in there somewhere are was that just another 'pipe-dream'? Are you saying the 'neo-cons' (i.e. JOOOOS!) are 'implementing' GLOALIZATION in the Philippines? Damn them to hell then! You come off as the deluded space-cadet you are when you say crap like that, but at least you don't care

...'on a greater extent'?!?!?!?

lcnatabio said...


it is pointless and diversionary to make speculations on what could actually have driven marianet amper to kill herself. it is missing the big picture.

the kind of poverty that afflicted marianet amper is also afflicting several thousands or even several millions of our countrymen. they may have different levels or thresholds of enduring their suffering, hopelessness and poverty and may not have the courage or cowardice (depending on one's p.o.v.) to do what martianet did but that does not belie the reality that suffering, hopelessness and poverty is gripping large segment of our population on a scale this country has never seen before.

that happening on the backdrop of a mad, haphazard rush to globalization!

the marianet amper incident destroys the popular notion that
the Pinoy can just smile and sing his troubles away.

suddenly what we have here is a Pinoy that is not anymore laughing at the tragedy of his alienation and poverty.

cvj said...

Icnatabio, therein lies the value of the rape angle. It fits the standard narrative and assuages a guilty social conscience.

DJB Rizalist said...

I agree that the "rape angle assuages a guilty social conscience" but in a very different way than the poverty angle which wants to make society feel guilty.

It also assuages common sense, which is why I am interested in the rape angle.

DJB Rizalist said...


This is hyperbole, surely:

"...suffering, hopelessness and poverty gripping large segment of our population on a scale this country has never seen before."

And it is fallacious for you to now want to ignore the details and true causes of the tragedy that is M.A. by calling attention, frantically, "to the big picture".

but it was you or ur friends at PDI who made obeisance to her as "saint of poverty".

excuse me if i decline to join the cult!

lcnatabio said...

hyperbole? hahaha! really ROTFL.

it's just maybe that you're blogging too much djb. Try unplugging your eyes from the computer screen once in a while and survey the landscape on the countryside, not the landscape of Shangri-la.

ignore the details and true causes of the tragedy?

hahahaha again.

you don't even know the details and true causes of the tragedy yourself except to peddle that spin and rape propaganda

Rodrigo "the salvage king of davao" Duterte has to manufacture a spin and a propaganda because the poverty angle is just too bloody disconcerting for some, including you.

lcnatabio said...

and btw, djb, marianet amper is not the poster girl of poverty. She is in fact, the paradigm shift from the usual stereotype of our people's reaction and perception of their poverty.

that's bad news for conservatives like you, so the pitbull of conservatism, Rodrigo Duterte, the salvage king of Davao has to manufacture a spin and propaganda.