I was “hanging out” at Facebook and suddenly I saw many angry status messages and link captions about a UP-Manila student who committed suicide. She was forced to stop schooling due to the fact that she wasn’t able to pay her tuition on time. Several weeks ago, UP-Manila already declared that those who cannot pay the monthly dues are not allowed take their exams. 16-year-old Kristel Tejada, despite insufficient funds, continued to come to school even when she wasn’t “officially” on the class list. There were stories about her sitting through classes embarrassed because she wasn’t part of the roll call and her requirements couldn’t be honored.
Last March 15, 2013, Kristel committed suicide by drinking silver cleaner while she was at home. Everybody knew why: mainly because of her frustrations about school.
Being the eldest of 5 children of a housewife and a taxi driver, it was understandable that the family would go through these kinds of financial hurdles. After all, studying in UP (yes, any UP school), isn’t as cheap as it used to be. Add to that the social stigma suffocating her every day. Many would agree that this was too much for a 16-year-old to handle.
Okay, we can be angry at UP. And her teachers. And the government. And blame the president. However, what I really think is that there are a lot of things that are far worse than this, and people who were in those situations managed to get out of it alive. Yes, the biggest factor may be that, but there are other ways to go about the problem. Many students stopped schooling due to lack of money. Some continue after a while, others get jobs, save up and study again. Some got scholarships. And many of these people turned out well even after college. Come on, these stories are not even rare!
Maybe she was suffering through a love problem too. And a friendship problem. And maybe, things weren’t that good at home. Most of all, maybe she just wasn’t that mature and didn’t have enough will to recognize that it too, shall pass, and that there are many ways to approach a problem.
Recently, the government also opened a hotline for individuals who are “depressed and suicidal”. This hotline was named “Hope” and its goal is to talk to people who are depressed and/or suicidal, counsel them, and help them get through whatever it is that they are suffering from. And it’s for free; there is no catch. Well, this is good, but we also need to remind our people—especially the youth—about the power of their choices and how these choices will define them. Sure, these things can happen to anybody: their house burned, parents died in an accident, a miscarriage, a broken family, a failed examination, eyesight loss…but what you do about what happens to you defines you.
Also, we must always be conscious of the consequences of our actions. If Kristel really thought about what would happen after she committed suicide, how that would affect her family, and had better guidance, then she never would have done it. After all, if she thinks that she’s her family’s hope, she wouldn’t kill herself anyway.
So guys, stop blaming UP. Or her teachers. Or the government. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just a mistake in making reality checks. At the end of the day, we are the masters of our destinies and if we kill ourselves, we kill all the chances we could have as well. We all knew how Kristel’s case wasn’t hopeless.