MANILA, Philippines - Love may be the first thing that a person considers when entering a relationship, but it is also the number one reason why one commits suicide, a marriage and family counselor said.
Citing studies and personal experience with patients, Maribel Dionisio of Love Institute Philippines said love -- or lack of love -- is usually what causes a person to decide to end his or her life.
Dionisio made the statement as two suicide killings in separate malls in a span of a week sent security experts and parents into a frenzy.
Both the September 20 shooting in SM Pampanga involving two minors and the September 14 incident in SM North EDSA have been labeled by police as a "crime of passion."
"The number one reason for suicide is love. The number two reason for suicide is no love," Dionisio said in an interview on ANC's "Headstart" on Monday.
"It's about the lack of love, either from a special friend or from the family -- or too much of it -- that a person feels bad."
Dionisio noted that teens are at a much higher risk for suicide since "they are still maturing."
Given this, she stressed the need for "proper guidance and love and affection" to prevent them from "doing things on their own."
"The 13-year-old had a problem and he did not share it with a responsible adult. The error is in not creating a network where the child can talk. So we have to do that," Dionisio said, referring to the young man who killed himself after shooting his 16-year-old friend in SM Pampanga.
"Teenagers will imitate anything. Maybe in this case, this teenager is desperate, he feels so bad and has no one to talk to...they do the same thing."
Meanwhile, Dionisio said parents should watch out for significant changes in their child's behavior to prevent suicide attempts.
"Before they get suicidal, there's a feeling of sadness, depression. That's why the parents should be alert. Their ears and eyes are open. Watch out for significant changes, such as in grades, in going out and other activities, or eating habits," she said.
To avoid unnecessary heartbreak (which may lead to suicide), have your first boyfriend or girlfriend in third year college, Dionisio suggested.
This as high school kids tend to like to collect what Dionisio called as "special friends," causing them to have a harder time staying loyal to their current partners.
"It's the nature of a teenager to collect and collect. You have special friends, but not exclusive...Your mindset changes when you get to college," she explained.
By second year college, Dionisio said a person probably has a "whole list" of special friends.
"From there, you get the best. Just don't get the first one who comes around," she said.
Single or in a relationship, straight or gay, children should be loved and accepted by their parents, Dionisio stressed.
The love of a parent, she said, is crucial in building a person's self-worth which, in turn, affects his or her actions.
"It's the foundation of the child to feel good about himself and to do the right things. Kasi the feeling is if my parents don't love me, the whole world doesn't love me," she said.
Dionisio then gave the "ABCs of Parenting" so moms and dads can make their children feel important and loved:
- Attention - the regular time you give is 30 minutes to two hours per day per child. Make it a point to have a once-a-week date with each child so there is no competition.
- Building self-worth - Emphasize all the good stuff about them. Children will slowly shut you off if you're always negative.
- Communicating regularly - Know how to listen and how to talk. Listening means repeating in your own words what your child said. Paraphrase.
Asked if it's best for parents to add their children on Facebook, Dionisio said, "If they allow you, why not? But you have to know also how to behave."
"Say nothing negative. Preferably, don't say anything anymore."