Professor Andrew Azzopardi said that Malta has a big problem of loneliness, and lacking research on the topic. During RTK’s Follow-Up, the Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing at the University of Malta spoke about how the festive season tends to lead to many people feeling alone.
During the interview, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was also mentioned because of her having a specific Minister within her cabinet dealing with the issue of solitude. Azzopardi said that 1 in 5 people in England feels alone, and that’s why the issue is being tackled as an epidemic.
He said that there is definitely the same problem in Malta, but he doesn’t know how prevalent because there is no research. The Professor explained that this is why the University felt the need to have graded research on the topic, meaning the information will be published bit by bit as it is being gathered.
Prof Azzopardi quoted another study which said that Catholics commit suicide less than Protestants, explaining that the difference lies in the Catholic penchant for community, rather than solitary belief.
He said that this cannot be solved with one solution because there are various ways for one to end up in solitude. The Professor explained that solitude can cause dimensia and heart problems. He also mentioned that that solitude is particularly felt during periods of depression, where even though one is surrounded by friends and family, they can still feel alone.
He also mentioned temporary issues which lead to one thinking they are isolated from family because of work. “You could have medical, clinical, or psychological causes for solitude, and it could also be the other way round, meaning solitude can cause illness,” he said.