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Alarming increase in Filipino suicide cases in UAE

Advocacy group asks Philippine authorities to investigate why it is happening.

Gulf News

Dubai: Seven Filipinos have committed suicide in the UAE over the past few months, according to a Filipino workers advocacy group, although Philippine authorities here say the figure is three.

A press statement from the UAE chapter of Migrante said three suicide cases occurred in Dubai and the northern emirates, while the others were from Abu Dhabi.

The earliest recorded case was of a man who hanged himself on February 4, while the latest was a woman who jumped from a building on August 10.

Nhel Morona, secretary-general of Migrante-UAE, told Gulf News the number of cases have increased by two this August, from five recorded last year in the same time period. The suicide figure last year did not include Abu Dhabi.

"It's not normal that seven Filipinos should commit suicide in eight months. We want [the Philippine authorities in the UAE] to find out why they are committing suicide," he said.

Philippine authorities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, however, said they could only confirm three suicide cases. All confirmed cases were in Dubai and the northern emirates.

Noel Servigon, Philippine consul-general in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News three cases were still under investigation by the police.

"We don't know whether they were accidents, suicides or foul play," he said.

He said the embassy has asked the police to re-investigate one case, that of Mittos Vergara who died in July, after the embassy had received a request from Vergara's family.

He also said the fourth case listed in the press statement had been wrongly classified as a suicide, as the death was likely accidental.

Benito Valeriano, Philippine consul-general in Dubai, said they were naturally concerned when citizens committed suicide, but added there was not much authorities could do to prevent it.

"Suicide can happen to anybody, regardless of religion and culture. It's a person's own decision," he said.

"The Philippine Labour Office does counsel people but many don't go there for help, they just suffer in silence," he added.