Dancing on a grave

No one really knows why Ms. Kristel Tejada killed herself. She left a suicide note. But it was cryptic.

“Mahal na mahal ko ang pamilya ko. At lahat din ng iba pang nagmamahal sa akin. Di ko lang talaga rin kinaya. Sana mapatawad at ipagdasal niyo ko. Salamat sa lahat magkikita pa ulit tayo. Sorry pero kailangan ko lang talagang gawin to (I love my family very much, and all those who love me. I just could not take it anymore. I hope that they will forgive me and pray for me. Thank you for everything and we will see each other again. Sorry but I really need to do this). Tandaan (Remember) : Without true love, we’re nothing.”

It is quite clear that Ms. Tejada’s suicide note made no mention of her tuition problems. But that did not stop student activists and leftist groups from blaming the UP financial assistance program, rising tuition fees, lack of budget for state universities and colleges, and the rich for oppressing the poor. That did not stop them from going on a rampage, defacing the walls of UP Manila, burning desks and chairs in PUP.

They had it all figured out – financial problems caused her suicide, the system killed her – even before all the facts were in.

But if it were true that she killed herself because the “system” drove her to it, then how come there are not more suicides among poor UP students? Don’t those activists realize that by attributing her suicide to her tuition problems they are implying that all those other students similarly situated are stronger than she was?

Of course they do but they are not going to let anything get in the way of their ideology and political agenda. If the suicide can be twisted to inflame class war, to bring about their great proletarian revolution, then they are not going to let that opportunity pass.

The fact is there could have been another reason for the suicide. But activists dismissed all other possible reasons outright because it would not sit right.

Bill Clinton once summarized the problem of ideologues, “the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence. So you have to mold the evidence to get the answer that you’ve already decided you’ve got to have.”

And so the ideologues attacked the system without ascertaining first if the system was directly responsible for Kristel’s suicide. By so doing they belittled her character, she unlike the others was too weak to cope with the system.

They mocked her. They mock the dead. They used a dead girl’s mouth to convey their message. They turned her coffin into a prop. They turned her suicide into a weapon against the system they despise, into a tool to advance their great proletarian revolution. What assholes!

Ms. Kristel Tejada deserves more than just being turned into a prop and a tool. Let her rest in peace. Let her family grieve with some dignity.

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • baycas

    Putting context to Kristel’s death

    By Rafael Castillo M.D.
    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    11:20 pm | Friday, March 22nd, 2013

    http://business.inquirer.net/113659/putting-context-to-kristels-death

    Medically rational

    It’smedically rational to assume that even if Kristel was not asked to file her LOA
    (leave of absence) for failing to pay her tuition, she might have been still a
    suicide risk. Granting for the sake of argument that the UP problem was the
    final straw that broke the camel’s back, the predisposition to commit suicide
    must have been brewing for quite sometime already, and even the least stressful
    situation could have provided the final straw.

    While we empathize with Kristel and sympathize with her family for their big loss, we
    should also try to put things in proper perspective to prevent more student
    suicides from happening. We’re just concerned that Kristel’s act might be
    interpreted by our students as an act of great courage or even martyrdom in
    fighting for a cause, and that they can consider the same option should they be
    in a similar situation.

    Our teachers and professors at various school levels should discuss the problem of
    suicide objectively and dispassionately with their students and disabuse any
    idea in the minds of these students that suicide is a lofty act to do when one
    can no longer see a clear solution to the many problems confronting a student.

    Suicide is one of the top causes of deaths among students. Unfortunately, this problem has not been properly recognized and adequately addressed in most schools. Unless this is recognized as a real and serious problem among students, which requires preventive interventions, I’m afraid we will have many more Kristels in the future.

    Emphasis mine.

  • GabbyBD

    Let me defend their side:

    suicide, the act, is driven by certain big events that generate alot of turmoil.

    in her life, there was only one “big event”. its natural to conclude that.

    but my contention is — who cares “what” triggered it? suicide is never the answer for anything.

    • Manuel Buencamino

      Agree that suicide is never an answer for anything, except maybe if the choice is between getting burned alive in 80th floor of the Twin Towers or jumping off. Anyway, the causal relationship drawn by those militants reminds me of the causal relationship drawn by some prelates between the typhoon in Mindanao and the passage of the RH Bill.
      And yes suicide prevention is something that needs attention.

      • GabbyBD

        maybe i overstepped sa “who cares”.

        like i said in angela’s blog, if a death inspires good outcomes in other things, that should be fine too.

  • baycas

    ANC’s
    Headstart guest Christopher Tejada as written by David Dizon for ABS-CBNnewsdotcom

    “He said he encouraged Kristel to pursue her UP education since they saw it as their ticket out of poverty.”

    Writer Dizon even quoted Mr. Tejada:

    “ Minsan ang pagtanggap ng tao sa kabiguan…buhay na mismo yung inaano niya e. Misnan ang pagtanggap ng tao ay inilalagay niya sa UP, sa UP ang buhay ko. Yun yung buhay ko. Pag tinanggal mo ito sa akin yung privilege na…yun lang yung tanging pag-asa niya na nakikita niya para matulungan kami,” he said.

    “Hindinagpakamatay si Kristel dahil sinasabi nag-aaway, kahirapan, ganito. We’ve been experiencing this for the past 4 years. Bakit niya lang ginawa ito kung
    halimbawa nakikita niya na naghihirap kami, nag-aaway kami ng mama nya kasi
    alam niyo nasanay na siyang nakikita kaming nag-aaway. Nasanay na rin siyang
    naghihirap kami pero wala siyang magawa. Hindi siya pwedeng magtrabahao. Ang
    pwede lang niyang gawin mag-aral ng mabuti, i-continue yung pag-aaral niya
    despite nag-aaway kami at kulang kami sa pera.”

    “Kailangan niyang makatapos ng pag-aaral para makatulong sa sarilin niya at mai-uplift yung pamilya niya sa kahirapan na kinakasadlakan namin ngayon.”

    Constant pressure to perform or succeed“, “financial burden“, “overly concerned about the future of saving the family from debts“, and “depression” for several years come to mind.

    These are stressors that will prove extremely taxing to adolescents (especially at the phase of Erik Erikson’s Stage of Identity vs. Confusion in Psychosocial Development).

    Add “hopelessness” near the end and what do you
    expect?

    • baycas

      I would say the recipe for what happened to the very bright student named Kristel was already there.

      For four years, she was inculcated (read: brainwashed) that she could be the lifesaver of the family once she finished her schooling. An official task was given to an adolescent who at the time was thinking of her own identity but was confused of her role in the family. It may have been a burden or not, nonetheless, taxing to the child.

      There was passion to go to school. There was a preoccupation (read: obsession) to go to school.

      However, negative life…and family…events repeatedly happened. Constant depression ensued…worsening depression without real counseling.

      Then there was desperation…hopelessness…

      The lethality of what she did, considering she’s a female, tells us what actually occurred…

      Tandaan (Remember): Without true love, we’re nothing,” she said in her letter.

      It wasn’t “murder“, Katrina.

      • Manuel Buencamino

        Kristel was not the only one in the family who was going to school. Her dad was laid-off from his job. That is a temporary setback for anybody in the private sector. Cash poor for the moment. It doesn’t mean he is unemployable. Getting laid off from a job is not the end of the world for a man who has skills and experience. Besides anybody who works in the private sector knows that the company that employs them can fold up. That’s the way it is in the private sector where competition is fierce.

      • baycas

        This preceding comment of mine was not only for Katrina but also for Carlos…

        http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/blogs/opinions/03/22/13/i-dont-know

    • Manuel Buencamino

      That’s Christopher Tejada not Kristel talking. It is also self-serving on his part to say that her suicide had nothing to do with what was going on at home. Ang sa akin Let her rest in peace. Malay mo nagpakamatay siya kasi rinding-rindi na siya sa mga nagmamrunong, sa mga may mas alam pa kung ano ang dinaraanan niya kesa sa sarili niya mismo.

  • baycas

    ANC’s
    Headstart guest Christopher Tejada as written by David Dizon for ABS-CBNnewsdotcom

    He said he encouraged Kristel to pursue her UP education since they saw it as their ticket out of poverty.

    Writer Dizon even quoted Mr. Tejada:

    “ Minsan ang pagtanggap ng tao sa kabiguan…buhay na mismo yung inaano niya e. Misnan ang pagtanggap ng tao ay inilalagay niya sa UP, sa UP ang buhay ko. Yun yung buhay ko. Pag tinanggal mo ito sa akin yung privilege na…yun lang yung tanging pag-asa niya na nakikita niya para matulungan kami,” he said.

    “Hindi nagpakamatay si Kristel dahil sinasabi nag-aaway, kahirapan, ganito. We’ve been experiencing this for the past 4 years. Bakit niya lang ginawa ito kung halimbawa nakikita niya na naghihirap kami, nag-aaway kami ng mama nya kasi
    alam niyo nasanay na siyang nakikita kaming nag-aaway. Nasanay na rin siyang
    naghihirap kami pero wala siyang magawa. Hindi siya pwedeng magtrabahao. Ang
    pwede lang niyang gawin mag-aral ng mabuti, i-continue yung pag-aaral niya despite nag-aaway kami at kulang kami sa pera.”

    “Kailangan niyang makatapos ng pag-aaral para makatulong sa sarilin niya at mai-uplift yung pamilya niya sa kahirapan na kinakasadlakan namin ngayon.”

    Constant pressure to perform or succeed“, “financial burden“, “overly concerned about the future of saving the family from debts“, and “depression” for several years come to mind.

    These are stressors that will prove extremely taxing to adolescents (especially at the phase of Erik Erikson’s Stage of Identity vs. Confusion in Psychosocial Development).

    Add “hopelessness” near the end and what do you expect?