Last November 2, 2007, eleven year old Mariannet Amper hanged herself to death.
A “journal” was found among her belongings. One entry read,
“Parang isang buwan na kaming absent. Hindi na kasi nakin (sic) binibilang ang absent ko. Hindi ko namalayan na malapit na pala ang Pasko.”
(I think we’ve been absent for a month now. They don’t count my absences anymore. I didn’t even notice that Christmas was fast approaching.)
Despair over her family’s poverty appears to be the main reason behind her decision. According to news reports, the night before, she had asked her father for 100 PHP (roughly $2.32) – the price of a breakfast meal in most fast food joints these days – for a school project; something that was denied to her (she had six other siblings, her father was an on/off construction worker, her mother was jobless at that time; they hardly have anything allotted for food, let alone for “extras” like school projects).
A letter addressed to the show “Wish Ko Lang” was also found along with the journal. She wanted a decent school bag, a bicycle (so she won’t need to commute anymore), school supplies and above all, “livelihood” for her parents.
The incident became quite “controversial”, eliciting comments from several prominent personalities (from a bishop to Senators Roxas and Revilla). The government at least admitted having played a part in the sad affair. But that doesn’t really help. She’s still dead. Unless of course, a lesson could be drawn along with a proper solution.
“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast.” – Virginia Woolf (The Hours)
It is also said that severe depression made a significant contribution to Mariannet’s suicide. But don’t get me wrong, not everyone who is depressed resorts to committing suicide, otherwise we may witness hordes of people jumping off bridges and the like. It’s more of an “inclination” (according to to the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention). Thats where the “Nature-Nurture” thing comes in.
On a more personal level, it stroke a familiar cord. After all [our family] did go through a “phase” similar (but not the same) to her situation. It’s the “Wa-Baon-Di-Pasok-Wa-Kain-Wa-Kuryente-Tira-sa-Bodega” chapter of my life. Quite hard to believe, being something of a “memoirist” myself, I think I’ve filled several notebooks with entries lamenting our then situation – my mother managed to save some of them, I still have entries that go as far back as 1994 . But as for committing suicide, I admit to have contemplated about it several times – having been blessed with a “vivid imagination”, I was able to concoct entire scenarios, from the manner of death down to the burial – but ultimately, I believe I’m much too selfish to actually do it.
T o wrap it up. I do feel bad about the whole thing. It did make me realize how ‘trivial’ my problems were compared to hers -or the rest of the world- if only for a moment. But I won’t be hypocritical, being the selfish person that I am, I’ll probably shove the realization at the back of my mind and move on (and if I ever committed suicide, let it be known that the reason, is that I’m quite bored with life).
Listening to: “Don’t Give Up” (Gregorian Masters of Chant w/ Sarah Brightman)