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:

We Need to Change How We Talk About Suicide OUT
April 4, 2019
This article, written by the TREVOR Project, a LGBTQ+ suicide prevention and intervention organization, talks about how we can constructively discuss suicide in an open forum. It addresses the recent suicides of school shooting survivors, and how these suicides cannot accurately described as “contagion,” as they were not done in reaction to other suicides. Further, it’s encouraged that media focus stories about suicide not on the negative factors surrounding the deceased’s life, but instead to focus on how to get people who are struggling the help they need.
To learn more about suicide contagion, read our article on the subject. 

Opinion: Talking openly about police suicide is an important and long-overdue first stepWashington Post
April 4, 2019
300 police chiefs from around the US and the world gathered in New York to discuss the impact of suicide last week in an eight-hour session. “We do so much for everybody else. Very rarely do we talk about ourselves,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said. “Nobody wants to take a step forward. Nobody wants to be branded, and we have to get past that.”

What we know and don’t know about how mass trauma affects mental healthScience News
April 3, 2019
Three people connected to mass school shootings have died by suicide recently. This article cautions against calling this a “suicide cluster,” though, as the deaths aren’t necessarily related or connected. However, these suicides have raised the question of how traumatic events affect a person’s risk for mental health issues. What little research that exists on this topic was done on campuses of schools who have experienced shootings themselves. For example, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb had already undertaken this research when they experienced their own shooting, which took the lives of 5 students died and wounded 21. They conducted a survey and found that “Of 691 surveyed, about 42 percent experienced some symptoms of post-traumatic stress shortly after the shooting, according to a 2014 study in Behavior Therapy.  That included feeling numb and disconnected and having trouble regulating emotions. In a follow-up survey more than eight months after the shooting with 588 of those women, those still experiencing symptoms had dropped to about 12 percent.”

Opinion: Let’s not forget those bereaved by suicideMontreal Gazette
April 3, 2019
This opinion article reminds us, in light of the recent suicides of people connected to school shootings, to remember the loved ones of those who died by suicide. The authors notes, “Research indicates that people still show high levels of stigma toward families of suicide victims. People experiencing suicide bereavement also report high-levels of self-stigma, which may lead to isolation, shame and feelings of rejection. Notably, perceived stigma, or the subjective awareness of others’ stigmatizing views, has been tentatively linked to the high rates of suicide seen in suicide-bereaved adults.”

I am not always very attached to being aliveThe Outline
April 2, 2019
*Trigger Warning* In this essay, Anna Borges, 27, talks about what it’s been like for her to live with thoughts of suicide for over a decade. Borges likens chronic suicidal thoughts to living “in the ocean…. Some days are unremarkable, floating under clear skies and smooth waters; other days are tumultuous storms you don’t know you’ll survive, but you’re always, always in the ocean.” She notes day-to-day things that help keep her alive, like finishing a book or a TV series. Her “life preservers,” include her medication, her pets, her loved ones. Borges wonders, “What if we acknowledged the possibility of suicidality all around us, normalized asking and checking in?” And, “As for the inherent awkward corners and sharp edges of talking about suicide, I figure if I can live with the discomfort of wanting to die sometimes, people can live with the discomfort of knowing about it.”

American Farmers Die by Suicide at Nearly Twice the Rate of the General Population—Here’s How One Therapist Is Changing That StatisticReaders Digest
April 2, 2019
An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that male farmers in the US have a suicide rate that is double that of the general population. Mike Rosmann is an Iowa farmer, a psychologist and an expert on the behavioral health of farmers. He’s made it his mission to help farmers in crisis, after 40 years of working to understand why farmers die by suicide. Rosmann provides free counselling, makes referals to mental health services, and coordinates community suicide awareness events. He’s now the director of AgriWellness, a non-profit organization offering behavioural health services in rural areas of the US. 

Forestalling a Fatal DecisionScientific American
April 1, 2019
This article broadly explores suicide prevention, looking at theories, research, the role of new technologies in detecting suicidality, and treatments. 

Reporters continue to cover Parkland closely—but at what cost?Columbia Journalism Review
April 1, 2019
In light of recent suicides in connection with school shooting trauma, both at Sandy Hook Elementary School and in Parkland, Florida, this article asks what kind of psychological toll the reliving of such incidents has on the people affected who are interviewed by journalists for stories.  ongoing coverage of school shootings has on journalists, and on their interviewees. Amber Jamieson, a journalist for BuzzFeed News, spoke about the balance required to cover traumatic stories. “You have to give time for people to share their story and make them think you’re not going to screw them,” Jamieson says. “It’s worth it to have a longer conversation or staying a few extra days somewhere. Just to make it clear that you’re not like, Hi, give me a depressing quote about what happened to you, OK, now I’m leaving.”

Feherty: Carson Daly talks struggles with mental healthGolf Channel
April 1, 2019
In this interview, David Feherty and Carson Daly, both middle-aged men (the group most at risk of suicide), speak candidly about their mental health struggles and their coping strategies.

U of T announces action plan on student mental healthUniversity of Toronto
April 1, 2019
The University of Toronto has announced an action plan to address student mental health. This comes after the death of a student by suicide on campus, and calls for action from student advocates. “I would like to thank the many students and others who have come forward to voice their concerns, share their experiences and offer advice on improving services to students experiencing mental illness while promoting health and wellness across the university,” President Gertler said. “Let me say that we have listened, we have heard you, and we will continue to do so.” As part of the action plan, a task force will be established to review mental health supports and services for U of T students. U of T will also be asking for more support from the provincial government, and they will continue working on their already developed Student Mental Health Framework. 

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