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 policies in Canada and beyond: What’s working and what needs to changeOttawa Citizen
April 18, 2019
This article explores how suicide can be reduced through the implementation of suicide prevention strategies, including through Zero Suicide, a movement that aims to change attitudes and beliefs about suicide, making zero suicide the goal. The Nuremberg Model is also explored, which was implemented in Germany and led to a 20% reduction of suicides in Nuremberg. The efficacy of strategies adopted nationally is discussed, too. “Canada is the only G8 country without a national suicide prevention strategy and one of the few industrialized countries that doesn’t have one, according to the Centre for Suicide Prevention… The centre says research shows that a strategy must address suicide directly and have its own prevention strategy, outside the broad umbrella of mental health, ‘otherwise there is a danger that the prevention message will be diluted, ignored, or lost altogether.'”
Read more about the importance of a national suicide prevention strategy in our article on the topic

Building strength, inspiring hope : a provincial action plan for youth suicide prevention 2019 – 2024Government of Alberta
The Government of Alberta’s Health and Children’s Services Ministries have released a Provincial Action Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention: Building Strength, Inspiring Hope. Centre for Suicide Prevention helped in the development of the Plan, which was a response to the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate of Alberta’s recommendations, found in their Toward a Better Tomorrow: Addressing the Challenge of Aboriginal Youth Suicide report. 

I Work With Suicidal Farmers. It’s Becoming Too Much to BearNew Republic
April 22, 2019
In this piece, Mike Rosmann, a clinical psychologist for farmers in the US, talks about why farmers think about suicide, and how difficult it is for him to work with those at risk. 

Reach Out: Ways To Help A Loved One At Risk Of SuicideNPR
April 20, 2019
People who are suicidal don’t want to die: they want the pain of living to end. Suicide is preventable, and everyone has a role to play. Learn the warning signs that someone may be thinking of suicide: this can be as simple as recognizing a change in their behaviour. If you’re worried about someone, reach out and ask them directly if they’re thinking about suicide. If the person says yes, don’t panic. Assess whether or not they have a plan, and if so, stay with them, listen, offer hope, and assist them in creating a safety plan for themselves. 

Suicide Deaths Are Often ‘Contagious.’ This May Help Explain WhyTIME
April 18, 2019
A new study has looked at the relatively rare phenomenon of suicide contagion. Researchers became embedded in a wealthy American community that experienced higher-than-usual rates of teen suicide, and three incidents of suicide “clusters.” Over the span of two years, researchers interviewed almost 100 residents of the community who had been touched by the suicides in an attempt to understand what makes communities vulnerable to suicide contagion. Usually, mental health issues are identified as a prominent factor in suicide, but researchers heard that the culture of academic, athletic, and social pressure was prevalent in this community. Other factors in suicide contagion include sensational media coverage.  Methods of prevention were also examined: “There is some suggestive evidence that narratives or stories about resilience have potentially positive protective effects,” said study co-author Seth Abrutyn, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia. That can mean “telling the story about kids who have actually pulled through these struggles, and

[emphasizing that]

there are ways to get help,” rather than only memorializing or glamorizing those who have died by suicide.  

Spike in Afghanistan-related suicides may be receding: MilitaryCBC
April 16, 2019
A new report from the Canadian Forces’ medical branch suggests that the military’s suicide rates may be on the decline following a 10 year campaign in Afghanistan, during which there was an increase in suicides among veterans and soldiers. “This most recent finding, which fell just short of statistical significance, suggests that the pattern seen during and following the Afghanistan conflict may be shifting,” reads the report signed off by surgeon general Brig.-Gen. Andrew Downes. The report also acknowledges that full-time male soldiers are still at an increased risk of suicide.

This teacher’s note helped steer student away from suicideCBC
April 15, 2019
A post-secondary instructor and PhD candidate wrote notes for each of her 70 students, and one in particular was touched by the simple quote and encouraging message contained in the note. This student had contemplated suicide just weeks earlier, and was so affected that the student shared the note on the internet forum Reddit with her thanks to the teacher. “It’s a short quote, but it kind of means a lot. When you’re in that state of mind, something small like that is kind of like, wow, maybe I should rethink all of this,” they said. The instructor, Vanessa Lam, said she wrote the notes because she herself had struggled with mental health issues. “I’ve been through the wringer when it comes to hospitalization and social services … I’ve just been through it,” she said. “If part of what I do helps somebody else through that very difficult time, then I’m very happy.” 

Researchers Attempt To Predict & Prevent Suicide Using Deep Learning And Math Forbes
April 15, 2019
Researchers from 8 US laboratories and several universities and colleges are using math to analyze patterns in populations who are at a high risk of suicide. Their goal is to develop an algorithm using artificial intelligence to predict when a person is at high risk of attempting suicide in the immediate future and allowing health care professionals to intervene before they attempt.  Xinlian Liu, an associate professor in the Computer Science and Information Technology department Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, said, “Our research approach is challenging because we’re analyzing many risk factors at once, beyond just mental health, and identifying complicated patterns of human behavior that can then be used like an early warning system. Math and computer science are essential for this analysis.”

Opinion: Suicide prevention hindered by a lack of dataToronto Star
April 14, 2019
Statistics Canada doesn’t release microdata relating to suicide statistics, such as education level, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. This data gap makes it more difficult for suicide prevention programs to target groups at risk. “Lacking such crucial information makes it immensely difficult to create an effective national suicide prevention strategy. It also limits our ability to develop tailored prevention strategies in specific populations, such as elderly adults, students or ethnic minorities,” argues the author of this opinion piece. 

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