Words by: Ramil Gulle and Meanne Rosales
Interview by: Grace Adorable and Jay Denvher Soriano
The tragic death of this young writer shows the urgency of properly treating depression.
He was a literary prodigy who was admired and beloved by practically everyone he met.
By all accounts, Prosper Kristian Tamonte was a brilliant writer, poet, and critic. He inspired many others by the beauty and insights in his poetry, the sharpness of his criticism during workshops, and his generosity in helping those who wished to learn to write. And he was only 17 years old.
Described by family and friends as an ever helpful, sweet, understanding, and passionate son, he was the kind of teenager who never forgot to say I love you at random moments.
Prosper was a prolific writer and a well-known member of several writers’ organizations like Betsin-Artparasites, PAPEL, Wordsmith, and Baon.
Struggle with depression
Only a few friends knew that Prosper was fighting to survive. He was struggling against dark thoughts of self-destruction. He knew he was depressed. For some reason, however, he never received the medical help he needed.
In an interview with Canto, a source close to Prosper said that he had grown up in a conservative Christian family. He was raised on the view that depression was not an illness. It was simply a character flaw or spiritual weakness that could be addressed by prayer and strengthening one’s faith.
The same source told Canto that towards the end of his life, Prosper had increasingly shown signs and symptoms of a worsening, severe depression. He began to do self-harm: cutting and slashing his arms. He also began to have hallucinations at night, talking about seeing presences outside the window. Such symptoms are not unusual in severe stages of depression.
“While he was with us, he was already showing signs of depression – being alcoholic and chain-smoker, easily loses his temper over small things, sleeplessness or excessive sleep (sometimes he couldn’t sleep the whole night, sometimes he slept for about 12 [hours] or more), over-eating in irregular hours, too much caffeine, and inattentiveness. He always posts suicidal statements on his social media accounts such as “Gusto ko nang mamatay,” “bigti na,” the source said.
On September 25th, Prosper committed suicide by hanging.
Prosper had wanted to take up Political Science and further his studies to be a lawyer. He planned to be a public servant once he established his reputation.
He loved to read. Whether books in English or Filipino, he would read them as long as they could help in his writing and thinking. When he was in the thick of creative production, Prosper would write—using pen and paper—during the wee hours, from 1 am to 5 am. He would have a cup of hot coffee beside him.
“He wrote more or less 30 poems. Most of them were “Para sa Bayan” themed such anti-EJK, justice-seeking, government-related topics. He also wrote some love poems where he often used flowers and cigarettes as his main objects of metaphor. He always used Filipino as his medium. He loved painting and such arts, though he was not a painter,” said our source.
Prosper joined PAPEL (Promote and Publish Excellent Literature) in 2016 and got his position as Event Organizer and assistant of PAPEL’s secretary-general. He became a spoken word artist in 2017.
One of Prosper’s works that was posted on The Artidope:
Prosper’s words will never be forgotten among his friends and readers and audiences. His stories and poems will be enshrined in their hearts.
End the stigma
Depression is a silent, invisible disorder; you wouldn’t know what a depressed person is really going through until you have the illness yourself. Severe depression, especially when untreated, leads to suicide.
This is why we should extend compassion and a listening ear to those who are depressed. Support and understanding are needed now more than ever.
If you or a loved one is going through depression, please get counselling and medical help. One place to get help is at the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation. They established the Hopeline Hotline so people with depression can call on trained counsellors for help.
Call HOPELINE at (02) 804-HOPE (4673); 0917 558 HOPE (4673) or 2919 (toll-free number for all GLOBE and TM subscribers). You may also visit the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation website at http://www.ngf-hope.org/