The Maltese Association of Psychiatry and the Malta Association of Public Health Medicine have called for “explicit focus” on mental health and for an action place to reduce suicides by 10 per cent by 2020, in line with World Health Organisation recommendations.
In a joint statement to mark World Mental Health Day, which this year is focusing on suicide prevention, the associations urged policy makers ought to facilitate the recognised expert bodies in this area to develop an appropriate action plan with concrete and funded measures aimed at preventing and decreasing suicides.
In Malta, they said, there are around 20 suicides in men and two in women yearly. For each adult who dies, there are 20 more who attempt suicide.
Beyond the tragedy of a preventable death, suicide’s impact on families, friends and communities is devastating, far-reaching and long-lasting.
“Suicide is a serious local and global public health problem that needs to be tackled urgently. The truth is that every suicide is preventable. Since suicide is a complex issue, suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society, including Health, Education, Labour, business, Justice, law, politics, and the media.
There are a number of measures that can be taken to reduce suicides, including reducing access to the means of suicide; early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress; and training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behaviour;
“Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo to access help for ourselves or for others, is vitally important for countries to make progress in preventing suicide,” they said.