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The instructors, Ms. Melody Hames (second row 5L) and Mr. Eddy Alvarez (seated 4L), with Deputy Consul General Jaime Ascalon (seated 5L) and the staff of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco


“Suicide occurs across all classes of young people.”  Fact or fiction?

This was just one of the questions and issues encountered during the 8-hour training course attended by twenty-eight (28) personnel of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco held on Saturday, September 14, 2013.  The course, conducted by Mr. Eddy Alvarez and Ms. Melody Hames of the Mental Health Department of the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System, was designed to teach lay people methods of assisting a young person who may be in the early stages of developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis.   The names of the personnel were listed as Certified Youth Mental Health First Aiders at the website of Mental Health First Aid USA, available at

Acknowledging the importance of promoting mental health in the community, the Consulate General recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) of San Mateo County.   Majority of the Consulate’s personnel also completed a 12-hour Mental Health First Aid course in 2011 in cooperation with BHRS.  The course was developed in Australia in 2001, with the vision of creating “an empowered community providing support to one another in times of mental health problems and mental health crisis.”

The Consulate General thanks its partners in the community, specifically Dr. Jei Africa of San Mateo and Mr. Eddy Alvarez of Santa Clara, for making it a pioneer among Philippine Foreign Service Posts on mental health awareness.

What is the answer to the first statement?  Fact:  Suicide is neither a rich man’s disease nor the poor man’s curse.  Showing no class prejudice, suicide is represented throughout society.

Contact your county’s health department and learn more about the Mental Health First Aid Course and the Youth Mental Health First Aid.