Starving and lost for 5 days, an 18-year old boy from Davao del Norte attempted to end his life by jumping from a 9-story billboard along General Maxilom Avenue last Friday night, July 17, 2015.
The teen from Panabao, Davao del Norte left home because of frequent fights with his stepfather and came to Cebu with only P300, looking for his biological father who works in Camotes. But after getting lost, travelling back and forth between Mandaue City and Talisay City, his money ran out, forcing him to sleep on the streets and rely on water to decrease his hunger. Swimming in the sea by the South Road Properties (SRP) served as his bath.
He approached local authorities for help in getting back home to Mindanao, having no money for boat fare. He turned to the police first who directed him to the Coast Guard. After he went to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) but to no avail. Desperate, he came to the decision of suicide.
The attempt and rescue
He was spotted atop the billboard past 8:00 PM. It was Vice Mayor Labella who persuaded the teen to come down, promising help in getting home, food and a cold softdrink. The young man eventually heeded his request and came down from the billboard at past 10:00 PM, after an hour of convincing from Vice Mayor Labella.
The man was immediately brought to the hospital where he was fed and examined. The psychiatrist cleared him as sane, saying the suicidal thoughts could’ve resulted from days without food. The expenses of the young man’s tickets for his travel back to his home were shouldered by the government through the local program, Balik Probinsya (Back to the Province). In addition, the vice mayor gave him money for other needs he might have on the way. The teen stayed in the hospital while waiting for the trip to be arranged.
Preventing future occurrences of suicide
Last Friday night’s incident exposed the government’s lack of preparation for such events, particularly the lack of jump bags and aerial ladders which would be useful in situations when the jumper is not open to negotiations. These can also be used in cases of fire and earthquakes to rescue victims located in tall buildings.
The Vice Mayor also wants to secure billboards. Owners should station guards to prevent any similar incidences.
Photo credits: TV5