Seeing a person turn their life around following a suicide attempt has inspired a 23-year-old Maltese woman to put pen to paper and call on people to speak up before it is too late.
“The attempt hit me hard and I couldn’t even start to understand what they must have been feeling,” Sharon Pereira told the Times of Malta.
The young singer-songwriter recalls how no one seemed aware of the severe state her friend was in, and seeing them turn their life around was inspiring.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death globally for those aged between 15 and 29. In all, some 800,000 people of all ages die by suicide every year around the world.
Asked whether suicide was still taboo among her generation, Ms Pereira said those who felt suicidal avoided bringing up the subject even with their relatives, as they feared being judged.
She believes that the stigma has decreased in recent years among those her age, as more help became available, however social media has become a stumbling block. Several young people were becoming involved in cyber bullying or thriving on the number of ‘likes’ they received.
Just last month, the suicide of a 16-year-old Malaysian girl sent shockwaves across social media amid fears that she had been encouraged to do so by people answering an Instagram poll on whether she should die or live.
For years, the world has also witnessed the death by suicide of celebrities such as Kurt Cobain, Dana Plato and more recently that of beloved actor Robin Williams.
This, too, inspired Ms Pereira to raise awareness in her own way. Music, she believes, is a powerful tool to pass on a message when words fail.
She has just released a song called Bullet, written and composed by herself and her brother Clive, and is calling on people to talk about suicide so that those who are struggling and thinking about it will feel comfortable opening up.
An extra ear could be the only help they will ever find, she said.
She also wants to make people aware of the effects of suicide.
The death of someone by suicide impacts relatives and friends for the rest of their lives, and could sometimes leave them feeling guilty and thinking that they could have done more to help, she said.
Why would she go for such a heavy topic for one of her first songs as a local singer?
Ms Pereira said she preferred writing about subjects that others avoided because of their delicate nature, and wanted to ensure some kind of meaning behind her songs.
“I wanted to show that people feel pain in other ways, and not just when it comes to relationships,” she added.