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:

Featured: Buddy Up for the month of September Centre for Suicide Prevention
August 31, 2020
Throughout the month of September, Centre for Suicide Prevention is promoting the Buddy Up campaign with the help of our over 80 Champions. This campaign was created for men by men, encouraging them to have real conversations with their buddies and to support them if they’re struggling with thoughts of suicide. Learn more about how you can help a man in your life at buddyup.ca.

Suicides, overdoses and need spike for street youth, agencies sayCBC
August 30, 2020
Agencies in Edmonton are reporting a spike in youth suicides and overdoses, as well as the need for critical services. Many services have been suspended, and agencies are seeking to fill the gap. “(LGBTQ2S+ youth) already got so many barriers, and then we’re throwing in COVID as well — that’s pretty hard for them,” said Community Health Empowerment and Wellness (CHEW) project manager, Corey Wyness. “But hope is always there. We lose a youth that’s really struggling and doesn’t want to struggle anymore. But there’s 10 others that are finding hope on that day too.”

Coronavirus in Context: Suicide on the Rise amid COVID: How You Can HelpWebMD
August 29, 2020
In this interview with  Dr. John Whyte, chief medical officer at WebMD, Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) talks about suicide prevention in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moutier says, “With COVID, what we know are the likely sort of obvious threats to a population’s suicide risk and also to vulnerable individuals as well and those are… things like being isolated, even if it’s physically… To feel connected and to stay connected to loved ones and a sense of purpose and meaning. But there are so many other things, too. (A) level of uncertainty about what (the virus) could mean for my community, my family, my future– all of that level of uncertainty has raised the level of anxiety for many, many Americans.” Moutier goes on to highlight the importance of having a private conversation with someone you’re worried may be thinking about suicide, and connecting them to help. 

It’s time to normalize suicide prevention training at the workplaceNiagara Falls Review
August 27, 2020
Author of this article, Peter Zhang, a “Residence Don” at the University of Toronto, discusses the merits of suicide prevention training and, in particular, the safeTALK training that teaches people to identify those at risk of suicide and connect them to help. Zhang argues that this kind of training would be beneficial to all workplaces, especially in the context of COVID-19: “COVID-19 has largely disrupted the way we view work and the workplace. But it has also given companies an opportunity to come out of the pandemic with a stronger framework to support employee mental health. By normalizing suicide prevention training at work, we will be taking the first step to destigmatizing suicide, and ultimately, saving lives,” says Zhang. 
Centre for Suicide Prevention offers safeTALK training in Alberta

$82.5M to go toward improving Indigenous mental health amid coronavirusGlobal News
August 25, 2020
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced that the federal government will contribute $82.5 million to improve access to and address growing demand for mental health services for Indigenous communities.  Funding will support things like transition from in-person services to virtual and supporting Indigenous partners in developing new ways to address substance use.  

Alberta had hundreds of ‘excess’ deaths as COVID-19 struck province Calgary Herald
August 15, 2020
From March to May 2020, Alberta reported 639 more deaths than it has in the past 5 years – only one quarter of those deaths were attributed to COVID-19. Experts aren’t sure what’s causing the increase, though. “In the provinces where we have an excess mortality, there tends to be a higher number of COVID deaths during that period again, so we do see the trends going up together. As COVID deaths go up, excess mortality goes up. But in Alberta, COVID deaths only explain about 25 per cent of the excess deaths, so there are other factors,” said Stephanie Willbond, an analyst with Statistics Canada.

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