Online classes distress Grade 9 learner, leads to suicide

An incoming Grade 9 learner in Santo Domingo, Albay got distressed with the difficulty in producing gadgets for the “online classes” that he ended up committing suicide at around 5:00 AM on Tuesday, June 16.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, face to face classes have been discontinued and among the strategies being considered is the conduct of online classes. But since gadgets for online learning are not provided by the Department of Education, the learners are forced to produce the same to cope up with their classes.

The victim is a 19-year-old Balik-Aral learner of Santo Domingo National High School. His body was found dead by his brother at a hut near his home in Barangay Fidel Surtida, Sto. Domingo, Albay.

Following the incident, the Department of Education in Bicol Region issued Memorandum 010092 dated June 17, 2020 reminding all school heads, teachers, and school personnel to refrain from requiring learners to purchase gadgets and other ICT equipment for the on-going remote enrollment and for the distance learning.

Below is the official statement of Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad on the Sto. Domingo incident:

Official Statement of RD Gilbert T. Sadsad on the Suicide of a Learner in Sto. Domingo, Albay
June 17, 2020

We have been informed this morning that a learner of Sto. Domingo National High School committed suicide in a small hut near their home in Barangay Fidel Surtida on June 16, 2020 allegedly because he was distressed of the “online classes.” His body was found by his brother at around 5 a.m. on that day.

We are deeply saddened of this tragic incident. The victim, was a 19-year-old Balik-Aral learner of Santo Domingo National High School who was supposedly scheduled to enroll in Grade 9 comes June 24, 2020 in Sto. Domingo National High School.

As soon as we learned of the incident, we notified the Schools Division Superintendent of Albay, and requested her to speak with the family of our learner as well as conduct a validation of the circumstances relative to the incident. Once we receive the Incident Report from the SDO of Albay, we will respond with the necessary actions for the victim and his family who is impacted by this heart-breaking incident. We will also be sending our personnel who can provide pyscho-social intervention to his siblings who might also be learners of our schools in Sto. Domingo. We will also coordinate with the DSWD for any psycho-social aid and assistance for the bereaved family.

While we have been relentless in informing the public that DepEd, especially Bicol Region will implement blended learning and will be most flexible in providing alternative delivery modes to our learners to avoid creating further stresses to our learners and parents amid the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot discount the fact that we also have to consider the extreme vulnerability of our learners to depression and emotional breakdowns. Thus, we will see to it that before the opening of classes in August 24, proper psycho-social activities will be provided to our learners, teachers and personnel to ensure a sound mental and emotional conditions as we continue to adapt with the challenges brought about by Covid-19 pandemic.

We are also reiterating that the online mode of learning is not the primary consideration of DepEd Bicol as initial mapping of our resources implies that blended learning or modular learning which uses printed learning materials, is more favorable for majority of our learners. We are also assuring the public that the SMILE Learning Continuity Plan of Bicol Region is developed to be the most responsive and to be the most adaptive and flexible learning strategy for all Bicolano learners.


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