The Malta Independent 17 December 2018, Monday

Phase 1 of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy underway

Jeremy Micallef Wednesday, 31 October 2018, 08:34 Last update: about 3 months ago

Members of the Crisis Resolution Malta team will be meeting with a "series of stakeholders", starting with the police force, to work on the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.

On Monday a number of handwritten notes on coloured pieces of paper were attached to a one-metre-high fence on the Mosta Valley Bridge, an area notorious for individuals seeking to commit suicide. So much so that the aforementioned fence was installed on the bridge back in 2016, which succeeded in drastically reducing the number of deaths by suicide.

ADVERTISEMENT

The handwritten notes were in both English and Maltese and had inscribed on them messages of encouragement such as 'Don't give up, everything can be fixed' and others carried the National Support line.

Crisis psychiatrist Mark Xuereb forms part of the Crisis Resolution Malta team, a 24/7 crisis group founded in 2010 made up of various experts in the field who offer services to individuals who find themselves in difficult situations.

When reached for comment by this newsroom, he explained how every initiative that helps save a life is a step in the right direction, and should be applauded and encouraged. He went on to congratulate the people behind the notes, but insisted that it is time for this to become a "coordinated effort".

"The service has to be streamlined, and put into the context of a national suicide prevention strategy.

"Tomorrow we have a meeting with various entities in the police force. Why the police? Because they are always inevitably involved in these things."

Xuereb insisted that there are many more stakeholders to meet, and they will be approaching them in due course and invite anyone who would like to be involved in the initiative to take advantage of their open-door policy.

Xuereb also made reference to the Maltese people's strong solidarity factor.

"Every weekend, with the help of the police force, Crisis Resolution Malta is saving an average of between two to five people every weekend."

Going back to the notes on the bridge, Xuereb says that the initiative tells him two things.

"It tells me that we are achieving our aim of raising awareness. To me, that is a brilliant achievement. It means we are conveying the message to the people, at grassroots level.

"Secondly, it encourages us to continue to work on something that people need. People are not only aware, but they want a national suicide prevention strategy."

A couple of months ago this newsroom had reached out to Xuereb for World Suicide Prevention Day, and he informed us that in Malta and Gozo, eight suicide spots have been identified by CRM, and a system has been suggested that is already in use outside of Malta.

The system comprises of a telephone line with an LED saying, for example, "There is hope, friend", as a last-ditch effort to catch the individual's attention. There would be a professional from the crisis centre on the other end, and whilst they're talking, motion sensitive, infra-red cameras would home in on what's going on.

At the same time, the professional would alert the Crisis Ambulance Response Vehicle, which would rush to the location of the call. In doing this, you are already de-escalating by talking to the person, whilst help is already on its way.

"We have to go from words to action. We are sick to the back of our teeth of words and awareness campaigns. They're important, but they are useless unless they are accompanied by the next step."

Crisis Resolution Malta 24/7 crisis line - 99339966

National Support line - 179


  • don't miss