The Malta Independent 4 December 2023, Monday
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World Suicide Prevention Day 2023

Sunday, 10 September 2023, 07:50 Last update: about 4 months ago

Gertrude Buttigieg

Whether suicide is discussed or not is not important. What is important is that every life lost due to suicide is a sad loss, a loss of a person who must have been through unbearable suffering leading him or her to believe that the only way out was to give up on life. Sadly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that for every life lost to suicide there are more than 20 suicide attempts. Suicide affects people from all countries and contexts. At all ages suicides and suicide attempts, have a ripple effect on families, friends, colleagues, work places and the whole community as a whole.


“Creating Hope Through Action” is the triennial theme chosen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) 2021-2023. WSPD was established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the (WHO). The 10th of September each year aims to focus attention on the issue, reduces stigma and raises awareness among organizations, governments, and the public, giving a singular message that suicides are preventable.

Suicide prevention is an international priority, with a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target to reduce deaths by suicides by 33% by the year 2030. In order to achieve this ambitious goal WHO published in 2021 the document: Live life: an implementation guide for suicide prevention in countries. This outlines important core pillars which recommend governments to take stock through a situation analysis, multi-sectoral collaboration, awareness-raising and advocacy, capacity-building, financing and surveillance including monitoring and evaluation. Furthermore, the document recommends tangible interventions which include limiting access to the means of suicide, increased responsible reporting of suicide by the media, fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents and last but not least early identify, assess, manage and follow up anyone who is affected by suicidal behaviours.

Suicide prevention is possible, and suicide can be avoided. That is why efforts on suicide should focus on early identification of risk and prevention. There are several toolkits and documents available not only to professionals but also for the community as a whole, so that citizens are empowered and prepared to detect and address suicide behaviour.

Some warning signs can raise alert that someone may be thinking about suicide:

          Severe mood changes

          Social withdrawal

          Expressing thoughts about ending their life

          Saying goodbye to close family and friends

          Saying things like: "No-one will miss me when I'm gone."

          Giving away valued possessions

If you may not be feeling well, here are some ways to take care of your mental health:

•Talk to someone you trust

•Do some physical activity, like going for a walk

Do things you enjoy

Give yourself time to rest

Know that having a bad day does not make you a bad person

Suicide Prevention needs everyone to tackle this important and painful issue. Suicides occur throughout the year. One should not forget the Suicide Loss Survivors – meaning persons who were close to a person who died by suicide. It is estimated that a person can have 30-50 people who were close to the person who died and are likely to need intervention and support to overcome this loss. The sudden and unexpected loss due to suicide is often shocking and painful and creates extreme grief which may take a very long time to start healing. Suicide Loss Survivors may feel guilt, shame and discrimination due to misunderstanding surrounding it. These feelings may hold one from seeking help at such an important time and thus this may delay and complicate the grieving and healing process.

Persons who are in crisis can approach the Accident and Emergency department at Mater Dei Hospital or Primary Health Department or their private General Practitioners and seek help from Mental Health Service professionals. People passing through difficult moments and contemplating Suicide, as well as suicide loss survivors, can seek help from available services: Free Mental Health Services 24hr Helpline 1579 and Suicide Prevention, Outreach and Therapeutic (SPOT) services by appointment on 2122 8333 (Victim Support Malta). Anonymous chats such as, Olli chat or Krizi are also an option.


Gertrude Buttigieg, is an officer at the Office of the Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Mental Disorders

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