Suicidal tendencies spike when the holiday season is over, psychiatrist says

Crisis Resolution Malta kicks off its Christmas suicide awareness campaign

Contrary to popular belief, suicidal tendencies spike when the holiday season is over, psychiatrist Mark Xuereb said.

Xuereb, who forms part of Crisis Resolution Malta, a mental health intervention team, said that during the holiday season, 300 people will get in touch over the 12 days of Christmas.

He also said that according to a study he conducted in collaboration with Crime Resolution Malta, suicidal tendencies spike when the holiday season is over. “This shows that suicidal thoughts don’t fade away when Christmas is over,” Xuereb said.

He was speaking to MaltaToday after Crisis Resolution Malta launched its annual suicide watch campaign during the festive season.

The campaign titled ‘Suicide Watch 12’, will be the NGOs third consecutive campaign, and will span from Christmas Day to 6 January.

According to Xuereb 20 to 40 people die by suicide annually.

“If for every suicide there are 20 who self-harm, then up to 800 self-harm every year. Those who think about self-harm are even more in number,” Xuereb said.

He noted that if up to six loved ones are negatively affected by suicide and self-harm, this means approximately 5,000 family members, partners and friends are potentially crippled for life.

“They are themselves at risk of suicide, mental illness, unemployment, dropping out of education and marginalisation,” he said.

Crisis Resolution Malta professionals have handled over 66,000 crisis calls in the past decade, each lasts approximately 20 minutes.

“43,000 texts, WhatsApp and Facebook messages and some 9,000 emails have been seen to by our workers,” Xuereb said.

Crisis scenarios were gauged as moderate to serious and involved psychological distress, drugs, alcohol, abuse, loneliness, relationship issues and negative life events.

“Since 2010, we collectively saved over 350 people who were at imminent risk of suicide, thinking (wrongly) that they are worthless and that nobody loves them. They now manage life and are grateful for not having died futilely,” Xuereb said.

If you or a loved one are in crisis, call the free 24/7 consultation crisis line (+356 99339966), email on [email protected] or get in touch via Facebook (Crisis Resolution Malta). Just reaching out to someone, listening and staying with them until you seek help is all that is needed for you to form part of the crisis team.

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