Men commit 88 per cent of suicides in Malta, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said on Monday.
Speaking during the launch of a video ahead of World Mental Health Day, President Coleiro Preca stressed the importance of mental wellbeing and understanding why men predominantly could be suicidal.
“It is important that we encourage our men and boys to seek emotional support and to speak openly about their challenges without shame,” she said.
The video, prepared by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, specifically targets men and boys who were bombarded by society’s subliminal message that men don’t cry; that to be a man they had to shoulder the family’s responsibilities and to never show any sign of weakness.
According to the latest statistics presented in Parliament, the police registered 223 suicides between January 2010 and June 2018, with the majority — 194 cases — being men.
PFWS director general Ruth Farrugia said the foundation this year felt the need to address the alarming rate of suicides by men in Malta through a video.
“This is an aspect of mental health that is rarely mentioned or acknowledged, but is a subject that many of us have been affected by in one way or another,” Dr Farrugia said.
Research shows that in Malta, and around the world, being a man often meant learning to suppress emotions, and Mental Health Commissioner John Cachia said society had to urgently change this perception and encourage men to seek help.
“Men do want to seek help, and will engage in treatment if they are given the type of help tailored to their needs. Seeking care and support should be a pathway towards empowerment rather than something shameful,” Dr Cachia said.
The one-size-fits-all approach will not work, he said, and professionals had to understand the importance of empowerment and build on strengths such as independence, fathering and camaraderie.
Data on suicides in Malta indicated that men were slipping through the cracks, Dr Cachia warned, and the focus had to be on increased awareness at an individual level, within families and across society, with early intervention, improved treatment options.