Whilst suicide cases are not reported in local news, between 2013 and 2017, there were a total of 137 suicides, and a study by the President’s Foundation for Social Wellbeing last year found that nearly nine out of 10 suicides in Malta were committed by men. Mental health issues, including thoughts of suicide, are still very misunderstood and are often surrounded by great stigma, but many organisations, individuals and companies are putting mental health on the forefront of their discussions, thus, not only working in breaking the stigma but shedding a light on the help that is available, a message, a call or a chat away. Here is a look at some of the stand-out international campaigns fighting the stigma surrounding mental health;
Logic’s Grammy-nominated song’s titular number is actually the way to reach the USA’s Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The song, which features Alessia Cara and Khalid, is featured on Everybody, Logic’s third studio album. It starts off from the perspective of someone calling the 1-800 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and then telling the person who picks up the phone that they don’t want to be alive anymore.
Pretty dark stuff. But whilst intense, the song takes a hopeful turn as Logic attempts to assure the caller that someone is there for him. In a series of tweets following the song’s release, Logic explained what inspired him to write 1-800, “Over the years so many of you guys have told me that my music helped you through so many tough times,” he wrote. “Many of you have told me it’s even saved your life… But I felt I haven’t done enough. I felt compelled to make a song that could actually help you.”
And that’s exactly what he did. On April 28, 2017, the day the song was released, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received 4,573 calls. It was the second-highest total in the organization’s history, after the day Robin Williams died.
“We are so grateful to Logic and his efforts in suicide prevention,” Dr. John Draper, Director of USA’s Suicide Prevention Lifeline, told Forbes. “While his song has certainly prompted more people to contact the Lifeline over the past few months, its greater message that healing and hope are happening for people in a suicidal crisis has a broader public health impact that can’t fully be measured.”
As of 2016, roughly three-quarters of suicides in the U.K. were male, according to the country’s Office of National Statistics, and to combat male suicide, a non-profit placed 84 humanoid sculptures on top of a skyscraper and other buildings in London— representing the same number of men who take their own lives every week in the U.K.
The effort, titled Project 84, was created by the Campaign Against Living Miserably, CALM, which teamed up with London agency adam&eveDDB and American sculptor Mark Jenkins. The images were harrowing and haunting—visible atop ITV’s studios in South bank, and were installed to be kept throughout an entire week, supported by TV programming about suicide, including interviews with surviving loved ones.
The goal was to increase conversation and reduce stigma about the issue, as well as generate more resources to support men at risk of harming themselves. A website for Project 84, which reads, “Things can get tough, but we can help you get your life back. Being silent isn’t being strong,” features video, photos and stories from the friends and family of men who committed suicide; includes a petition, as well as a link to a helpline for men who are struggling with mental health; and also included are pointers for people who are concerned about a loved one, and links to bereavement support for those affected by suicide.
Social media is sometimes criticized as a platform that breeds unhealthy comparison with friends and strangers. However, for Mental Health Awareness Month, one of the most widely used platforms used its online community to address issues that millions struggle with every day.
Instagram launched the #HereForYou campaign to help users find resources and support online and offline for how to get help with preventing and recovering from mental illnesses. The one-minute spot featured Instagram users talking about their past struggles with eating disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts. However, rather than hiring social influencers that have hundreds of thousands of followers, Instagram’s spot features three regular people.
Instagram co-founder and CEO, Kevin Systrom wrote in a blog post “Every day on Instagram, we see people share their mental health journeys and connect with communities of support. From dedicated accounts around an issue to unique hashtags adopted by groups, these communities are helping to make mental illnesses that are often invisible to friends and family visible through photos and videos.”
Anybody needing information about mental health or wanting to talk to someone about anything on their mind, can use the free-of-charge service offered by SOS Malta on the website kellimni.com or alternatively call Appogg’s Support line, 179.