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:

Facebook’s effort to stop suicides reveals a worrisome gap between Silicon Valley tech companies and healthcare expertsBusiness Insider
May 5, 2019
After people began live-streaming their suicides on social network Facebook, the company implemented a suicide-monitoring algorithm. According to what little information about the algorithm exists, the technology monitors user posts using pattern-recognition to identify those that may indicate suicidality. It then alerts Facebook staff who assess the post, and send emergency responders to people who they believe are at imminent risk of suicide. “We as the public are partaking in this grand experiment, but we don’t know if it’s useful or not,” said Harvard psychiatrist and tech consultant John Torous. Tech companies like Facebook and Amazon’s Alexa are increasingly becoming involved in health innovation, which is concerning to some clinicians. “There’s almost this implicit assumption that they play by a different set of rules,” Torous said.

‘Hope and having purpose’: Ex-NHL Indigenous player visits southern Alberta First NationCBC
May 4, 2019
Jordin Tootoo is an Inuit ex-NHL player from Nunavut, and now he’s travelling to First Nations communities across the country to share his story of hope in the face of alcohol abuse and mental health issues. Tootoo is also passionate about suicide prevention, after losing his brother Terence Tootoo to suicide in 2002. “Aboriginal communities is my focus. I have been doing a lot of these speaking engagements throughout my hockey career,” Tootoo said. “I think for me now, it’s about giving back. I feel that this is an opportunity that I get to share my life story to help the next generation.”

Brockville councillor: Going public about suicide – Recorder and Times
May 4, 2019
Brockville city councillor Leigh Bursey is speaking out about his mental health journey, after sharing in a letter to the editor of the Recorder and Times that he is a suicide attempt survivor. “Members of my family and I have struggled with mental health, physical health, poverty and addiction issues, and had it not been for great people who invested their time and energy in me and my wellness, I might not be here today to write this letter. Many of the incredible people I have known and worked with in my life have either been directly or indirectly affected by losing someone to suicide,” Bursey added in the letter, published in the Recorder and Times on Tuesday. Bursey has also been vocal in his support of NDP MP Charlie Angus’s motion for a national suicide prevention strategy.

Motion for national suicide prevention strategy to be voted on next week CBC
May 3, 2019
Next week, MPs will debate on bringing forward a motion by NDP MP Charlie Angus for a national suicide prevention strategy. MP Angus believes that it’s time for Canada to implement a national strategy to prevent suicide. “The deaths of people in this country from hopelessness, from mental illness is unacceptable at the rates that we’re seeing,” Angus said. “What we’ve learned… is that suicide does not respect political boundaries. It does not respect the boundaries of faith. It does not live in urban or rural. It is not for rich or for poor. It affects every community and every death is like an emotional shock wave that tears families apart.”

The #RealConvo Campaign Wants to Make Instagram a More Honest PlaceTeen Vogue
May 2, 2019
Instagram and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are partnering up this month, Mental Health Awareness Month, with their #RealConvo campaign. This campaign encourages people to open up and discuss their mental health on social media forums. “Social media mimics real life. We should be having more authentic conversations about mental health in real life and on social media because real connection is one of the things that protects people from suicide risk,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “By opening ourselves up to having real conversations about mental health, we are able to connect on a deeper level to those in our lives. There is so much pressure on social media especially to be perfect, live this perfect life. No one can achieve this kind of perfection. By having conversations about the struggles we all face, we can make others feel not alone in their own perfect imperfections.”

A 16-Year-Old’s Suicide Calls Attention To Pressures On Girls In IndiaNPR
May 2, 2019
According to Safeena Husain, founder and director of Educate Girls, a nonprofit group in India that encourages rural families to send their daughters to school, the academic pressures faced by some teenagers in India are strong, as a high school diploma is vital to obtaining a job. For females in “patriarchal regions” of India, these expectations are compounded with expectations to do housework and therefore they have less time than their male counterparts to do homework. Academic pressures are also due, for females, to the sometimes looming threat that, “If you fail, we’re going to pull you out and marry you off,” says Husain, who is speaking about the issue after a 16-year-old girl whom she knew personally died by suicide. 

More young people, especially girls, are attempting suicide by poisoning, study saysCNN
May 1, 2019
A new study, which looked at data over a 19-year period, found that the rate of suicide attempts by poisoning among young people in the US has doubled, and tripled for girls and young women, with the increase beginning in 2011. “It’s not just that there’s more attempts, it’s also the outcomes; the severity is increasing, as well,” said Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, lead author of the new study.

‘I tried to kill myself’: Sharon Osbourne opens up about suicide attemptsCanoe
May 1, 2019
Sharon Osbourne, 66, panelist of daytime TV show The Talk, shared her experiences with depression and suicide attempts. She went to a facility for treatment after having a mental breakdown in 2016 and took a five-week leave from the show. “I was doing too much of everything. My brain just totally fused and I just couldn’t cope with anything. My family put me into a facility and in this facility, they diagnose you, there’s therapists, psychiatrists and you do a lot of group therapy. And I found for me that the group therapy was the best thing that I could do because there were several people suffering with what I was suffering,” says Osborne. 

Football’s mental health crisis: Silence broken but what’s next?Al Jazeera
April 30, 2019
The Chris Mitchell Foundation was launched by Philip Mitchell and his family after losing their son Chris to suicide. Chris Mitchell, 27, a football (soccer) player, died by suicide after suffering a spinal injury that forced him into retirement. After the injury, his behaviour changed significantly, and he told his family he was having thoughts of suicide. He was prescribed medication after seeing a doctor for his mental health issues but later took his own life. “We were finding out from players that, although there were support services in place in Scottish football, the players weren’t seeking the help available to them, or they just didn’t know [about it],” said Chris’s dad Philip Mitchell, who started the foundation to combat the stigma surrounding mental health issues and suicide among football players. Football (soccer) players may be at a higher risk of mental health issues and suicide due to the macho culture of the sport that encourages players to suppress emotions. On top of that, there is an overwhelming pressure to succeed, psychological impact from injuries, and a potential loss of identity upon retirement or release. 

Release of “13 Reasons Why” associated with increase in youth suicide ratesNational Institutes of Health
April 29, 2019
A new study has been released that finds a 28.9% increase in youth suicide rates between the ages of 10 and 17 is associated with the release of Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. Results of the study found that the number of suicides in April 2017 were greater than the number in any other month in the previous fix year period. The increase was most notable in young males, though suicide rates for females increased slightly after 13 Reasons Why was released. “The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media,” said study author Lisa Horowitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., a clinical scientist in the NIMH Intramural Research Program. “All disciplines, including the media, need to take good care to be constructive and thoughtful about topics that intersect with public health crises.”
Related – Why it’s so hard to prove that 13 Reasons Why caused an increase in suicide Vox

Higher Minimum Wage Could Cut Suicide Rates Says New StudyForbes
April 29, 2019
A new working paper published in the American National Bureau of Economic Research (which isn’t peer-reviewed) is suggesting a slight increase in minimum wage and the “Earned Income Tax Credit” may lead to a fewer suicides. The paper says, “Midlife mortality has risen steadily in the U.S. since the 1990s for non-Hispanic whites without a bachelor’s degree, and since 2013 for Hispanics and African-Americans who lack a bachelor’s degree. These increases largely reflect increased mortality from alcohol poisoning, drug overdose and suicide. We investigate whether these “deaths of despair” trends have been mitigated by two key policies aimed at raising incomes for low wage workers: the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit (EITC).”

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