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:

Quiet epidemic of suicide claims France’s farmersNew York Times
August 20, 2017
France’s public health institute released statistics that show 985 farmers killed themselves between 2007 and 2011 – placing their suicide rate at 22% higher than the general population. Though the suicides of farmers is steadily increasing, this is not a new phenomenon, and the population most affected are those most at risk anyway – middle-aged males, 45 – 54. Financial pressure, isolation, and their culture are some factors cited as putting them at higher risk for suicide. “They have a strong culture of labor and effort, and they’re not used to complaining,” said Veronique Louazel, who works for the National Bureau of the Solidarity Association.

A step toward suicide awareness for First Nations youthOttawa Sun
August 18, 2017
Clarence Neshinapaise lost his son Jonah, 24, to suicide just this past February. In an effort to raise awareness for the issue of Indigenous youth suicide, Neshinapaise walked from his home in Sioux Lookout all the way to Ottawa, 1,800 km in 25 days, arriving on Parliament Hill this past Friday. “Our frontline workers need to be trained more on mental health and how to help; that way you’re not left standing alone waiting for two weeks having to see your counsellor,” said Neshinapaise.

The TTC can learn from Japan about suicide preventionGlobe and Mail
August 18, 2017
Since the late 1990s, when Japan’s suicide rate was at its highest, Japanese rail and subway stations have been implementing various suicide prevention measures, such as screen doors on platforms, “calming” blue lights, ear-pleasing train alerts, and media and rail collaboration. The installation of platform screen doors alone reduced suicide attempts by 76% in Tokyo. Toronto and area train stations are having an issue with suicide attempts and this article suggests the adoption of some of the measures proven in Japan.

Guns are causing high suicide rate in rural areas, researchers say HealthLine
August 17, 2017
A study in Maryland has shown that rural areas in the US have a suicide rate 35% higher than that of cities. Interestingly, the rate was only higher when taking into account suicide by firearm, leading the researchers of the study to consider easy access to guns as a factor in the increase.

School cyberbullies more likely to attempt suicide, study finds Independent
August 16, 2017
A recently-published UK study has found that children who bully their classmates online are at a higher risk for thinking about or attempting suicide – as much as 20% more likely.  “The people doing the bullying themselves have issues that cause them to act in that way, so it is unsurprising to see that the cyberbullies themselves, in turn, have these quite marked problems,” said Professor Paul Montgomery, from Birmingham University. Victims of cyberbullying were 2x more likely to self-harm and show suicidal behaviours than those who had not been bullying victims.

Preventing teen suicide: What the evidence showsNew York Times, The Upshot
August 17, 2017
Suicide rates for American teens have risen in recent years; from 2007 to 2015 the rate of suicide for male teens rose from 10.8 to 14.2 and for females, the rate rose from 2.4 to 5.1 per 100,000. This article suggests that the media plays a huge role, and that suicide should be portrayed responsibly (unlike, says the article, the recently-released Netflix series 13 Reasons Why). Gun control in the US is also argued to have had an effect because there are 2x as many suicides as homicides using guns, and they are readily available to many teens. Further, the article suggests that we are “allowing teenagers to become more withdrawn,” to their detriment – social connection is vital to the maintenance of good mental health.

Suicides in Grand Bank spark call for rural mental health servicesCBC
August 14, 2017
The small Newfoundland and Labrador community of Grand Bank, population 2,300, has lost 6 of its citizens to suicide in the past 14 months. Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews said all the people who died were middle-aged, and were well-known in their community. Matthews notes that sometimes shame and stigma create barriers for those seeking help as everyone knows each other, so confidentiality is difficult. “You’re sitting in a waiting room, everybody kinda knows you and they probably know what you’re there for,” he said. “We have to get past that stage where mental health is treated differently than any other illness.” Grand Bank will hold a focus group next week with the goal of figuring out what should be done to prevent further suicides. This focus group is being hosted in addition to the town’s collaborative efforts with Eastern Health.

How many Ontario post-secondary students die by suicide each year? No one knows for sureToronto Star
August 12, 2017
There is no tracking system for the deaths of post-secondary students in Ontario, as only stats for gender and age are collected currently. It is up to the post-secondary institutions themselves to collect such data, which some are doing, but not necessarily releasing. Students of the University of Waterloo would like to see those statistics released “For the betterment of the community, as well as helping universities… maintain wellbeing, I think student suicides should be better tracked,” Waterloo student and mental health advocate Dia Rahman said. Walter Mittelstaedt, the University of Waterloo’s director of Campus Wellness isn’t sure releasing the stats will help: “I don’t think (the right approach) is necessarily an overall public response.”

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