“Suicide is the second highest killer of men”, pointed out her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca during the launch of a video campaign to raise awareness about male suicide. This issue is the result of the stigmatisation of men, an ideology that has caused the suppression of male emotions for years.
The aim of this online campaign is to alter the meaning of the Maltese phrase ‘Kun Ragel’, meaning to act manly. As Dr Ruth Farrugia, the Director General of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, emphasised; “There is a stigma that in order for men to be Men they must not cry or show emotion”. Men need to know that it is ok to speak about their problems and that it is healthy to have feelings.
Help is always available for people who feel vulnerable; they just need to have the courage to seek it. “We need to create an environment of support, so these people can feel safe looking for help” said John Cachia the Commissioner for Mental Health. Cachia also pushed forward the idea that a “one size fits all approach” will never be successful when attempting to help people in this type of situation. Individual care is necessary and can be achieved through the medium of therapy.
The video itself opens with phrases related to the idea of being manly such as; “A man has to provide for his family”. These types of stigmas have driven the percentage of male suicides up across the years. The statistic has reached a staggering 88%, and that only includes the completed suicides. This means that there are countless others who are still suffering and who have not yet received help.
The key message this campaign aims to communicate is that discussing suicide is important and could potentially save a life. Dr Farrugia said that “[she] was raised on the idea that you do not speak about suicide on the off chance that you place a negative thought in someone’s head, but this is not the case we need to ask people if they are ok.”
Talking to someone and being there for them is a great preventive measure said David Cassar, Head of Psychiatry at the University of Malta. If you think someone is going through a difficult period in their life, talk to them about it and guide them towards the help they need.