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Plant The Seed Of Hope For Suicide Prevention Month

I’m frustrated. Mike isn’t answering, even though he’s scheduled to work. A&E needs me for another admission, and I’m getting increasingly impatient. If Mike doesn’t show up, I’ll have to manage his wards.


Something doesn’t feel right.



I call a mutual friend and ask them to check on Mike. Just as I step into a ward, I receive a call. ‘Come now… he’s…’ I don’t need to hear more. I inform my colleagues, and they look pale. I rush out. My 4WD races up the M40 as I direct an ambulance with a resuscitation kit to Mike’s place over the phone. The ambulance arrives first. Trev, the nurse, stands outside Mike’s bedroom with tears in his eyes. Relatives arrive.

The scene I witnessed is permanently etched in my mind—a sight no one should ever witness. Unfortunately, Mike is one of many who suffered in silence.

for every suicide, twenty others attempt it. For every completed suicide or attempt, six loved ones grapple with the lifelong torment of not realizing or preventing this tragedy. They are at greater risk of suicide, social isolation, and mental illness. Previous attempts make you a hundred times more likely to die by suicide. A loved one’s suicide is also a risk factor.

Malta is no exception, with two completed suicides and forty attempts each month.

The narrative emphasizes the prevalence of suicide worldwide and its profound ripple effects on loved ones. It underscores the urgent need to address this public health issue, promoting hope as a key solution.

Hope is the key.

That’s why WHO, in partnership with the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), collaborates with crisis teams worldwide to ‘Create Hope Through Action.’ And Malta has its own as partners.

The ‘Hope’ theme, localized as ‘Plant a seed of hope,’ is our commitment to people like Mike. If mental health is stigmatized, suicide represents the mother of all stigmas (it’s even a crime in some countries). We often say that people are not just numbers and that even one suicide is one too many. So, how can we prevent this tragedy?

If hope is the key, then the key to hope is to act by reviving the much-needed National Suicide Prevention Strategy—a ‘powerful call to action and a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide.’

Since 2015, the team has passionately championed this cause, and the document has been updated with the latest guidance on suicide prevention (Live Life, WHO, 2021).

Responding to the authorities’ call, eight evidence-based strategies were proposed for Malta and Gozo, extending beyond World Suicide Prevention Month.

They focus on reducing suicide risks in high-risk sectors, tailoring crisis teams for vulnerable groups, restricting access to suicide means, providing better support for those affected by suicide, guiding media on sensitive approaches to suicidal behaviour (reducing suicide rates), promoting Maltese research and a monitoring system, offering self-harm cessation measures, and targeting zero suicides post-hospital discharge—an additional suicide risk factor.

These strategies provide the foundation for ideas in the Fondazzjoni Sokkors Fil-Pront’s pilot committee’s brainstorming sessions. Sokkors should establish a dedicated Office for Suicide Prevention to pool contributions from mental health organizations and users. These organizations also indirectly address suicide and should collaborate.

However, resources need bolstering: the last budget allocated €65 million for mental health care. In contrast, the Australian Suicide Prevention Strategy alone received €1.4 billion.

In a world where self-harm is on the rise, this investment is justified, as mental illness places a significant burden on the state’s economy, leading to more sick days, hospitalizations, social benefits, and decreased productivity compared to physical illnesses.

This act would mandate crisis first-aiders in every organization, ensure financing and protection of the eight domains, and encourage collaboration with AI and Google Health, as already happening in the US, to identify suicidal posts and replace them with hopeful messages, complete with crisis line information and apps like our successful Krizi app.

We could boast about saving 800 lives in the past 13 years, but that wouldn’t do justice to the need to instill hope tirelessly in those like Mike who have lost it. Help bring hope. Help implement the hope strategy.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or suicidal, call the free 24/7 Crisis Line at +356 9933 9966.