Every day we scan news headlines and social media for items of interest to the field of suicide prevention. Here’s what we found last week:
Mental-health programs tailored for Muslims gain traction in Canada – Globe and Mail
April 28, 2019
The Khalil Centre, a non-profit offering counselling and other mental health services, opened in Toronto last month. The Centre is open to everyone, but its offerings are tailored to Muslims. The organization is one of several who are seeking to offer culturally-appropriate services to the Muslim population. Other organizations include Naseeha Mental Health, a confidential phone line for young people in Mississauga, which is expanding. “There is a growing ecosystem of support and we hope certain mental-health organizations become household names for the Muslim community,” says Amjad Tarsin, the Chaplain at the University of Toronto.
Niagara Regional Council will be installing suicide prevention barriers on St. Catharines bridge in the region of Niagara, Ontario. The project will cost $4 million. “It’s a lot of money, but when you start looking into the value of a human life, when do we stop?” said Stephanie Farquharson from Niagara United— a community organization pushing for better mental health services in the region.
Is suicide contagious? Our research sheds light on how to help youngsters cope – Scroll.in
April 27, 2019
Researchers who studied suicide contagion have found that young people who know about a friend’s suicide attempt are two times more likely to attempt suicide one year later when compared to youth who weren’t exposed. However, the researchers also acknowledged the importance of talking about an attempt to avoid secrecy and stigma, as well as the impact of postvention, that is, support in coping with the complex emotions that follow a suicide attempt. The researchers suggest, “Because of the pervasive stigma of mental illness and suicide, it’s often very difficult for people to admit they need help. So instead of encouraging silence on the topic of suicide, it may be better to train adolescents how to respond appropriately when a friend discloses a suicide attempt or suicidal thoughts.”
Peter Nunn, 32, talks about his experiences with gay conversion therapy and how the trauma it caused him led him to attempt suicide. “Conversion therapy is something that at its core is telling somebody that there’s something fundamentally broken with them and not only can it be fixed, it needs to be fixed,” Nunn said. “That’s a lot of trauma, especially for somebody that’s 15 years old or 10 years old or however old.” Now, the legislation has been brought forward in the US to ban conversion therapy for minors. “There’s been an outcry, not just from the victims and the LGBTQ community,” said Matthew Wilson, a Democratic state representative, who introduced the legislation. “But from the medical professionals who say this is not medicine and not only is it not medicine but the harm is very real and lasts a lifetime.”
Those who work at home may be at a greater risk for loneliness than those who work in a shared space. “I think it’s really damaging for your mental health,” said Adam Simmons, an entrepreneur who struggled with working from home. “It definitely was for mine. I felt very, very lonely. I was starting to get depressed.” Paula Allen, vice-president of research for Morneau Shepell said, “Isolation impacts everything with respect to health. It impacts mental health, and the risk of depression, and it impacts anxiety and people’s personal well-being. It also impacts physical health. The strain that state puts on you has been associated with cardiovascular disease and immune system disease.”
U of T experts explain difficulties of reporting on suicide – and why it’s important to focus on resilience – University of Toronto
April 23, 2019
Dr. Mark Sinyor and Dr. Ayal Schaffer from the University of Toronto’s department of psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine have helped develop the Canadian Psychiatric Association’s journalistic guidelines for suicide reporting. These guidelines give journalists the tools to report on suicide in a responsible manner. “The key point is that everything is contagious,” Sinyor said. “We all do something called social learning – we learn from each other. If the media – unintentionally but erroneously – suggests that suicide is the only option or a common outcome, then people take that on and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” The first guidelines were developed in Austria in the late 1980s.
In the land of hope and grief – Pacific Standard Magazine
April 23, 2019
This article, written by Kiliii Yüyan, discusses the prevalence of suicide in the village of Gambell, Alaska, home to the Siberian Yup’ik people who were “ravaged by colonization.” Yüyan was tasked with creating a suicide prevention program in the Gambell school, and used art therapy, the making of masks, to give students a way to express their emotions. “During our time together, I asked the students to reflect on suicide in their community and how it had affected them. It was clear that it affected just about everyone, but there were also deaths from cancer and accidents as well. Despite all this tragic loss, many of the students seemed to have a healthy approach to life,” says Yüyan. The suicide rate for Indigenous youth in the region has declined significantly in the last five years: “a study published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health found that suicide prevention efforts in Yup’ik villages are improving, as community-led mental-health programs have become established.”