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GUEST POST: It’s World Suicide Prevention Day And It’s Time For The Stigma To Be Broken

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Have you ever felt like there was only one way out of your situation? Do you know someone who has suffered from severe depression and suicidal thoughts? Or have you perhaps even lost a loved one to suicide?

You are, sadly, not alone. According to the WHO, close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds.

And for every adult who died from suicide, there are more than twenty others who have attempted suicide.

Suicide is normally considered death as a result of depression. It is the final symptom.

It is not a solution, but it is the last resort to stop the pain. After all, hope is lost, a person collapses under an unbearable weight they have been carrying around.

But suicide is preventable. It is never the solution, even though it may feel that way. Depression makes a person believe it is the only way out when in reality there are many options that they cannot see.

To prevent suicide, we need to break the stigma. Depression is still not openly discussed, that makes it harder to gather the courage to reach out for help.

Here are some things you can do to help reduce the stigma:

  • Educate yourself. Make sure you know the facts and figures about mental health and substance abuse issues.
  • Be aware of your attitudes and behaviour. Always be sensitive about mental health issues. You don’t know which struggle the people around you could be going through.
  • Educate others. Do you hear a common misconception about mental health? Or did someone use a slur that is so not 2020? Educate them about their actions and words, and why it is important.
  • Speak up. The main way to break the stigma is by making mental illness discussable. It is something that so many of us deal with – whether it be depression, anxiety, or another disorder.

It is about time that we can openly speak about it.

These are some examples of warning signs for suicide, if you or anyone you know are suffering from any of the below symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact a professional:

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing, or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behaviour
  • Aggressive or violent behaviour
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Feelings of hopelessness and loneliness

When talking to someone who is feeling suicidal it’s important to be cautious and remind them to seek the advice of medical professionals.

The first step to talking to someone who might be considering suicide is to ask questions. Make sure to stay calm and to acknowledge their feelings. Be sensitive, but direct. It might be hard for someone to recognise their own behaviour as suicidal, or they might find it hard to admit it.

Use questions such as:

  • How have you been dealing with life lately?
  • Do you ever feel like you just want to escape?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
  • Are you thinking about dying?

It is tough when someone you care about shows signs of being suicidal. But keep in mind that there is always a way out. The best way you can help is by listening and being there. You should also encourage them to get professional help, especially in situations where you are concerned for their wellbeing.

It might also be beneficial if you asure them that you will support them through the whole process to further ascertain their safety. For instance, stay with them while they make a phone call or join them to their first appointment.

Luckily, mental health is a key priority for Malta. There are plenty of services, organisations and helplines to prevent suicide. Thanks to this, Malta’s reported suicide rates are actually lower than those of other European countries.

There are a number of suicide prevention resources in Malta that are there to support you or someone you know when in need of help, or even to use for the sake of educating yourself.

1. Support line 179

179 is the official national helpline offering support, information about social welfare services and other agencies, and offer referrals to the relevant  services to callers who require support.

2. Kellimni.com

With a 24/7 online chat, a useful ‘inform yourself’ section and professional staff, Kellimni.com is a great resource for youth in need of support, as well as those that want to inform themselves.

3.Richmond Foundation

The Richmond Foundation offers support to people suffering from mental health problems and those around them. Besides therapy, they offer support groups, assisted living, a rehabilitation programme and more. Their 1770 freephone is available 24/7.

4. Mount Carmel Hospital

Mount Carmel Hospital promotes a culture of mental health in Maltese society. Their specialist multi-disciplinary teams form an integrated community and hospital mental health services. Despite a past filled with controversy, their approach has led to many positive results.

5. Mental Health Association Malta

The MHA Malta aims to raise awareness on mental health issues in order to reduce the stigma by educating family members of those suffering from mental illness. You can send them an email via their website, or text to 79800080.

Although steps have been taken to better the lives of all those suffering from mental illness and suicidal ideation, there is still space to grow regarding legislation and systemic support within the infrastructure of the health industry.

Share this to raise awareness on suicide prevention!

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