The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Association for Suicide Prevention established World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) in 2003. The 10th of September each year focuses attention on the issue, reduces stigma and raises awareness among organizations, governments, and the public, giving a singular message that suicide can be prevented.
The theme created for the third year running is “Creating hope through action”, which is to serve as a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and to inspire confidence and light in all of us.
By taking meaningful actions that inspire hope, we can send a powerful message to individuals grappling with suicidal thoughts. This message conveys our genuine care and willingness to provide support. It emphasises that every action we undertake, regardless of its scale, can infuse hope into the lives of those facing hardship.
Moreover, it underscores the critical importance of prioritizing suicide prevention on the public health agendas of nations, especially in regions where mental health services and evidence-based interventions are scarce. Over the course of three years, spreading this message can help us envision a world where suicides are significantly reduced.
Every one of us, whether a member of society, a child, a parent, a friend, a colleague, or someone with personal experiences, can contribute to this effort. We can promote understanding about this issue, reach out to those in need, and openly share our experiences. We can all create hope through action and be the light.
As a Maltese student psychology association, we do our utmost to keep up with the current affairs both within and outside the University. There yet remains a stigma surrounding mental health, despite an increase in awareness. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Maltese society appears to be faced by a second pandemic, reportedly with more than 1 person a day reaching out to Richmond Foundation seeking help for suicidal thoughts. More recent reports also indicate a rise in female suicidality, but again due to the stigma surrounding such a death it is known that at times, there is inaccurate reporting. More recently, the President of the Chamber of Psychologists, Gail Debono also brought to light the crisis in mental health services.
Thereby, we call on the Maltese government to improve its efforts with regards to suicide prevention. Lip service adverts are not enough. A more comprehensive strategy is needed. Better accessibility is needed. A new hospital is needed. More mental health professionals are needed.
We can no longer rely on archaic institutions and past prejudices to interfere with our ability to provide mental healthcare.
Moreover, suicide prevention exists outside of clinical settings as well. An affordable cost of living is suicide prevention. Affordable housing is suicide prevention. An unpolluted and livable environment is suicide prevention.
It must be recognised that the reasons for suicide do not exist in a vaccuum and that the narrative of suicidal behaviour being the individual’s own fault must be extinguished. We must recognise that the individualism of our society is not something we should nurture. Instead, we should return to our nature as a collectivistic species, which values each other and the world we live in over short term profits.
Only then can we be the light. Only then will our actions provide hope.