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:

Suicide numbers in the Black community rising at an alarming rateWAFB9
April 24, 2021
This article from the US discusses a recent study finding that Black boys between 5 – 12 are more likely to die by suicide “than any other age group” and for Black children under 18, suicides have increased by over 70% in the past 10 years. Lysha Best is the Louisiana Director for RI International, “A lot of times, African-American men are told that you have to suck it up, you cannot show your feelings and you can’t cry. That’s not healthy for anyone. So, we have to change that when we’re talking to our babies, our young boys that it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to feel, you’re going to be ok…” Suicide prevention advocate Tonja Myles said, “We need to let our brothers know that they’re not alone. There’s hope, there’s help and it’s ok to reach out. It doesn’t make you any less than a man, when in fact it makes you stronger.”

Suicide Rates Actually Went Down In 2020: Here’s What Parents Need To KnowForbes
April 23, 2021
A new report from the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that there was a 5.6% decrease in suicide deaths in the US in 2020 compared to 2019. “Mental health support has become more accessible and more talked about in a way that we haven’t really seen before,” said psychologist Meredith Prescott. “It is more normalized now to seek help, even though we have a ways to go to eliminate the stigma.” Psychiatrist Leela R. Magavi said, “Patients have stated that this year has helped them better conceptualize what they actually need versus want. People have shared that simple things, when observed and felt comprehensively, can add significant value and happiness to their day-to-day life.”

Flames’ Lucic credits support network for helping him heal after father’s passing – Sportsnet
April 22, 2021
Calgary Flames player Milan Lucic lost his father Dobro Lucic, 59, to suicide, and last week marked 6 years since his passing. “Obviously it’s a shock — it’s something you never would have expected,” said Lucic, who is now a mental health advocate. “There’s always the question, ‘why’… You can go down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out why and blame this and that, but you’ll never get an answer. You kind of have to just grieve and deal with it. What I’ve learned is the important mental side of things by helping yourself with it, by not being afraid to talk about it and saying what’s on your mind. Hopefully that can help other people with it.”

Calgary family hopes to save others after losing daughter to suicideGlobal
April 22, 2021
Josie Wearmouth, 19, died by suicide on October 30, 2017. After her death, Wearmouth’s family learned from her journal that she had been suffering from depression and that the stigma was keeping her from reaching out. Wearmouth’s mother Shelley Wearmouth said, “It’s difficult to imagine the pain you experience to make you want to take your own life.” The Wearmouth family has set up a scholarship at the University of Calgary in Josie’s name and are planning to begin a fund for collaborative research on suicide prevention in the summer of 2021.

The Suicide Wave That Never Was The Atlantic
April 21, 2021
This article examines whether or not suicides, and especially youth suicides, have gone up during the pandemic. Clark County, Nevada’s school district reported that student suicides doubled from mid-March 2020 to the end of December when compared to 2019 numbers, but in fact, 16 students died by suicide in 2020 while 11 died in 2019, and this uptick was consistent with the country’s trend in recent years. This article states that other accounts of increased suicidal behaviour have also been skewed. Tyler Black, suicidologist and medical director of emergency psychiatry at British Columbia Children’s Hospital said, “People are using that disinformation to advocate for, for example, ending lockdowns in schools where maybe the viral numbers support the school being locked down, or maybe it’s returning to work before we’re ready, or maybe ending a mask mandate. The part of it that bothers me the most is the fact that suicides were politicized as a tool to argue for particular outcomes.”

Covid-19: Suicide rate ‘did not rise during first lockdown’BBC
April 20, 2021
Research has found that suicide rates in England from January to March 2020 and April to October 2020 were similar, indicating that there was no increase during the pandemic. The data used was real-time, collected before a death inquest is held. “We know from surveys and calls to charities that the pandemic has made our mental health worse,” said Prof Louis Appleby, director of the University of Manchester’s National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health. “To be clear, no suicide rate – whether high or low, rising or falling – is acceptable, and our conclusions at this stage need to be cautious as these early findings may change. There may still be variations between demographic groups or geographical areas. After all, the impact of Covid-19 itself has not been uniform across communities.”

Suicide prevention during COVID-19: The healing power of connection and mutual supportThe Conversation
April 19, 2021
There are many complex pandemic-related risk factors for suicide including fear of being infected and becoming contagious, financial stressors, decreased social interactions, catastrophic thinking, family stressors, hopelessness and helplessness, increased risk of family violence and relationship conflicts. Coping resources, such as social supports, community supports, and access to primary care, have also been limited for some people. Frontline healthcare workers are at increased risk for mental health distress, as are Indigenous, Black, and racialized communities whose “social inequalities are translated into disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases.” The article’s authors suggest, “To combat catastrophic demoralization, it is critical to proactively support people to reconnect with their values, meaning of life, one other and the larger world. Our spirit to survive and thrive collectively is bigger than the virus.”

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