The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

TMID Editorial - Attempted suicide: Valletta bystanders and their appalling comments

Tuesday, 23 November 2021, 09:36 Last update: about 10 months ago

The comments passed by bystanders in Valletta, urging a man to jump off the bastion near Hastings Gardens in Valletta last week, were not only appalling, but horrid, inhumane, and disgusting.

The crowd which formed on Valletta City Gate's bridge was being dispersed by police officers who were also attempting to get the situation under control by trying to calm the agitated man. Some of the unsympathetic crowd told the man to get on with it so that the crowd could see him "smash to the ground," the video shows.

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Luckily, the man did not listen to them and did not jump. This man could have been going through a tough time, might have suffered from mental illness, was clearly in need of help. What some people did that day was completely uncalled for. This is not the kind of Malta we should be living in.

In what world would it be ok to encourage someone to jump or make a joke out of it?

The police are reportedly investigating the video to determine whether some of those who encouraged the man to jump have committed a crime. Assisting in a suicide could carry a prison sentence of up to 12 years. It is unclear whether encouraging someone who did not jump is considered a crime though.

In a statement, the Alliance for Mental Health said it is deeply disturbed by the behaviour of the persons in the footage. “We need to educate the general public that anyone on any ‘ledge’ is to be listened to, heard and helped .No one stands on the ledge 'for attention', any person who puts themselves on the 'ledge' is in a state of extreme distress. Being sensitive and kind towards all those around us is what prevents suicide,” it said. We need to better educate people on how to act in such situations. If you can’t say anything that helps, then don’t say anything at all. Don’t stand and watch. Call the authorities and move on.

Contrasting this situation, a few weeks ago Malta saw the birth of a new hero, Sean Meli, who risked his own life to save others. He was an experienced swimmer and was able to help out in that situation.

This does not mean that inexperienced swimmers should jump into the sea in treacherous conditions to try and help others, indeed such a move could make the situation worse and just result in the need to rescue another person, but in his case he had the swimming experience to help out, risking his life to help others.

The most important thing to take out of that scenario was that his heart was in the right place, that he wanted to help his fellow human being. Those are the ideals we should all strive to achieve.

Helping each other is what we should all aim to do. This is what we should strive for Malta to be, a place where we help each other out, care for one another, have strong morals.

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