Authors: Dr. Steve Sammut-Alessi, Dr. Daniela Zammit, Dr. Francesca Falzon-Aquilina & Dr. Rachel Taylor-East
Aim: The aim of this exercise was to map-out local suicide support services available for individuals going through psychological distress; as part of the initial groundwork of the Suicide Research Group Malta.
Method: A web-search was done using Google as the main search-engine to find out all available agencies/services. The aforementioned were contacted as needed by phone in order to collect further information on their current service available locally.
Findings: The Crisis service at Mater-Dei offers individuals (walk-ins at A&E/referred by GPs/referred by services aforementioned) to be seen by the psychiatry liaison team and/or by senior psychiatric-trainees under the supervision of a Consultant psychiatrist during after-hours on-call. CAPES is an emergency service located at A&E for individuals under 18 years of age who are assessed by psychiatric nurses and doctors depending on their acute presentation. Crisis Resolution Malta is an NGO with trained professionals and doctors who can be reached by phone/mail/Facebook 24/7 for various difficulties, including suicidal situations. The person is reviewed by psychiatrists and further follow-up appointments are provided as necessary, possibly at a charge. The National Support Helpline Appoġġ (179) is a supportive agency for vulnerable members of the population, that provides a national 24/7 phone-call service by trained staff. In suicidal calls, a lethality assessment is carried out, the staff aim to keep the individual on the line, until police intervene referring the individual to the health-centre or A&E. Kellimni.com is a website that offers a 24/7 chat-line with in-house trained professionals tackling a variety of social issues; however, when red herrings are identified the patient is then referred to Appoġġ or to the police directly. Moreover, SPOT (Suicide Prevention Outreach and Therapeutic services) is a recently founded supportive scheme for patients and their relatives.
Conclusions: In Malta, there are several support services available to help individuals undergoing a crisis event. However, one should not forget the support offered by the local community, other community services (Victim Support Malta, SOS Malta, Sedqa, Caritas etc.) which include the clergy, close family relatives and trustworthy friends. Promotion of the above services is encouraged to continue increasing the awareness and prevention of suicide.