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Sask. families affected by suicide say new prevention plan neededRegina Leader-Post
April 28, 2022
Sally Ratt lost her daughter (age 12) to suicide and in 2016 she advocated for a suicide prevention bill in Saskatchewan. The bill was passed and adopted one year ago, but Ratt says she’s disappointed that progress has been slow. So far, over $3 million has been spent on a suicide prevention plan that was passed one year before the bill – Pillars for Life, which was unveiled in May 2020. Some believe that the bill was only passed because of public pressure after Tristen Durocher, a Métis suicide prevention activist, lived and fasted on Saskatchewan’s legislature grounds for over a month in summer 2020.

Suicides put spotlight on how hard it can be for student-athletes to ask for help
– NBC News
April 28, 2022
Since March, three high-profile college student athletes in the US have died by suicide, including Katie Meyer, 22, Sarah Shulze, 21, and Lauren Bernett, 20. Katie Meyer’s mother, Gina Meyer, said, “There’s so much pressure I think on athletes, right, especially at that high level, balancing academics and a high competitive environment. And there is anxiety and there is stress to be perfect, to be the best, to be No. 1.” Sarah Shulze’s parents said something similar in a statement after her death,  “Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of every day life overwhelmed her in a single, desperate moment.” Tommy Fritze, a sport and performance psychologist at the University of Denver said, “Perfectionism can come out with a particular tenacity for student-athletes. The demands are high, and then if you’re trying to meet those demands perfectly, or perform perfectly in all those areas, that can be a really problematic recipe.” Stephany Coakley, the senior associate athletic director for mental health, wellness and performance at Temple University says, “When you’re struggling in your sport, that can’t be your safe space anymore. Find community in and out of sport.”

After suicides, Navy leader admits challenges — but says things could be worseWashington Post
April 27, 2022
US Navy ship USS George Washington experienced a cluster of suicides in April – Mika’il Rayshawn Sharp, 23, Natasha Huffman, 24, and Xavier Hunter Sandor, 19, died within one week of each other. Fellow crew members are opening up about conditions on the ship, which has been undergoing construction for upgrades since 2017. One crew member said that the living conditions “aren’t necessarily up to par,” due to the lack of running water, working bathrooms, and hot meals. Crew members also say mental health help is very difficult to come by. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith, who visited the ship last week, acknowledged this and suggested improving camaraderie with crew mates and going to chaplains for help. He said, “We’re also each other’s counsellors.” One crew mate responded, “If I brush my teeth, I don’t need a doctor to do that. But when I have a cavity or anything wrong with my mouth that I can’t handle myself, obviously I’ll go to a dentist. I don’t mind going to a chaplain but … why not get psychiatrists?” Smith then said that the support wasn’t available and “It takes a while. You can’t just snap your fingers and grow a psychiatrist.” 328 active-duty service member in the US died by suicide – 23% more than in 2015, but fewer than in 2020.

Minister admits it’s taking Ottawa ‘a long time’ to set up suicide hotline  – CBC
April 25, 2022
Last week Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister for Mental Heath and Addictions, announced more than $3.7 million in funding for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and 13 distress centres across the country. She also said that the government was waiting for the assessment of the CRTC following their public consultations before implementing a 3-digit suicide crisis line to make the current national line, 1-833-456-4566, more accessible. Minister Bennett said, “I think we’ll wait for the CRTC assessment of this in terms of what is possible and effective…  They may well tell us that we’ll be able to do urban earlier, which is what happened with 911, but we’ll wait and see what their assessment is…” Commenting on the fact that the hotline implementation has taken so long, Minister Bennett said, “Five hundred days is a long time, but even getting 911 into rural Canada, this was very difficult. Canada is a very diverse country in terms of its communication technology and infrastructure.”

Adolescent suicides increased in 5 US states during the pandemic. Why parents should be concerned CNN
April 25, 2022
New research has shown that during the pandemic adolescent suicide increased in five US states. 14 states were included in data collection for the study. In six other states, the proportion of adolescent suicides compared to suicide by people of all other ages increased, while Montana saw a decrease in adolescent suicides. Primary study author Marie-Laure Charpignon says the findings highlight the importance of being alert to signs that a young person may be struggling and connect them to help. Charpignon says, “We’re all kind of blind within our own families or households… (Sometimes) we see what we want to see, or what we have the opportunity to see in the limited amount of time we have.”

Building healthy relationship skills supports men’s mental healthThe Conversation
April 24, 2022
This article discusses the global crisis of male suicide, including what can be done to prevent it and what factors contribute to the high rate of male suicide, including traditional aspects of masculinity such as emotional stoicism and fear of being seen as weak for seeking help. A recent review found that being unmarried, single, divorced or widowed are also strong predictors of suicidality among men. The article also discusses new research from UBC Men’s Health Research Program into men’s experiences with intimate partner break-ups and service provider perspectives of relationships challenges and how masculinity affects men in relationships. UBC researchers John L. Oliffe, Gabriela Gonzalez Montaner, and Mary Theresa Kelly found that men, “reported anxiety, depression and suicidality in the aftermath of a relationship ending. We found that relationship loss exacerbated pre-existing mental health issues for some men, and for others, it catalyzed the onset of mental health challenges… Intense emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt and regret, were triggered by the loss of partners, and manifested in varying degrees of anxiety, depression, and for some men, suicidality. Initially, men used “emotion-blunting strategies” like alcohol, cannabis, excessive exercising, and gaming to cope but eventually turned to more sustainable coping methods: “With time, most men sought out friends and family for support and searched for books, podcasts and online resources to alleviate distress and better understand relationship dynamics. Some… joined parenting or divorce groups, and found activities with male peers… Many attended professional therapy.”

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