DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Population (POPCOM) in Region 11 expressed concern over the rising cases of teenage pregnancy and suicide attempts among the youth in Davao region.

“More and more youth in Davao are thinking of committing suicide. And it’s increasing as of 2016,” Bai Agnes Sampulna, regional director of POPCOM told reporters on Monday, December 4.

This was based on the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study 4 (YAFS 4) conducted by POPCOM, along with the Ateneo Migration Center of the Ateneo de Davao University, and the University of the Philippines Population Institute.

The survey revealed that the rate of increase in suicide attempt in Davao’s youth (including both sexes) increased from 21.3 percent in 2002, to 36.8 percent in 2013.

Likewise, the level of suicide ideation also increased from 11.2 percent in 2002 to 13.4 percent in 2013. Both figures are in contrast to the decreasing trend on national scale.

Family problems, abuse

Sampulna explained that the reason why majority of the youth who thought or attempted to commit suicide is because of family problems. Based on the study, 57.5% identified family problems as the reason for doing such.

Apart from family problems, the adolescents who participated in the study also indicated to have suffered poverty and domestic abuse.

Unexpected pregnancies and gender identity also lead them to suicidal thoughts, Sampulna added.

Teenage pregnancy

According to YASF 4, as of 2013, Davao region has 903, 278 youth; 42.8% (2 in 5 youth) of which have sexual experience (44.2% females and 44.1% males). Also, 8 in 10 youth’s first premarital sex encounter was unprotected.

“This is because of the internet. The youth acquires risky behaviors through the internet,” Sampluna said.

The same study also showed that one out of five Davao youth shared sex videos online or through cellphones while 8.1% have said they engaged in phone sex and 4.4% have engaged in sex with someone they met online or through text messaging.

“Because of the advancement of technology today, the young ones are focused on gadgets in which parents do not monitor anymore,” she said.

Polices need to be strengthened

With the results of the study, POPCOM eyes to implement and strengthen policies to counter the said problems.

One of which is the implementation of Learning Package on Parent Education on Adolescent Health and Development (LPPEAHD), a program that is aimed to train and equip parents with necessary knowledge about adolescent sexuality and other health concerns and how to talk about it with their children.

“At the end, they will be able to express their feelings towards each other,” Sampulna, who officially assumed as the region’s director today, said and pointed that this will be the priority of her office.

They also planned to put up more “Teen Centers” in schools and communities to provide a venue for counselling and other services for the young people.

POPCOM also vowed to strengthen the Adolescent Health and Youth Development programs to provide the youth, parents, teachers and social workers a venue to discuss promotion of self-esteem and coping mechanisms on handling stress, risky behaviors and other concerns. (davaotoday.com)

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