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.