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:

Calgary EyeopenerCBC Calgary
December 16, 2019
In late August, Braden Lloyd attempted suicide three times in just 30 hours, after continually being apprehended by RCMP and subsequently discharged from hospital and sent home with medication. November 2, he died by suicide after facing a number of personal challenges and mental illness. Braden’s sister Dakota is bringing attention to his death. Mara Grunau from Centre for Suicide Prevention said, “We have socialized our men to not ask for help, and we start early… If men are in crisis, they have been taught to believe that (asking for help) is a sign of weakness. They’re not encouraged to share or ask for help.”

‘Suicide in seniors happens more often than we’re willing to admit’: Centre for Suicide PreventionGlobal Calgary
December 19, 2019
“Our older population has one of the highest rates of suicide,” explains Mara Grunau, executive director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention. Social isolation is one factor that places older adults at a higher risk of suicide, as well, suicide is most prevalent in males: “The research shows isolation is more of an issue for men and, unfortunately, leads to higher issues of mental issues, suicide, depression,” according to Leslie Tamagi, the chief executive officer of the Kerby Centre. Grunau says, “We socialize our men and boys to not ask for help, so when men start to struggle, they’re reluctant to reach out for help.” 

Canadian government commits $2.5M for Saskatchewan First Nation suicide strategyCBC
December 19, 2019
The federal government has promised $2.5 million to a Saskatchewan First Nations suicide strategy, developed by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN). Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation Chief Louie Mercredi fears that the money will only be enough to support one suicide prevention program for the FSIN’s 74 First Nations. Chief Margaret Bear of Ochapowace said that her community has experienced the loss of four “warriors, young men,” since September 14, 2019. “It’s very difficult for my people back home, but we understand that we need to carry on and do what we can to help ourselves,” Bear said.

Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global studyGuardian
December 18, 2019
A systemic review of global data has found a correlation between higher rates of depression and suicide in places where there is more air pollution, however, evidence remains limited and study authors acknowledge that more research is needed. “We know that the finest particulates from dirty air can reach the brain via both the bloodstream and the nose, and that air pollution has been implicated in increased [brain] inflammation, damage to nerve cells and to changes in stress hormone production, which have been linked to poor mental health,” said Isobel Braithwaite, at University College London (UCL), who led the research.

Lesbos migrant camp children ‘say they want to die’BBC
December 17, 2019
Living in the Lesbos Greek island migrant camp is “having a strong effect on the mental health of children,” according to child psychologist Angela who works in the camp. “They start to talk about the desire of dying.” Angela is trying to create a safe space of trust where they can share their stories at her clinic in the camp.

There are fewer suicides related to opioids than previously believed, research saysCNN
December 17, 2019
In the US, suicide rates have paralleled opioid overdoses since 1999, and experts wondered whether the two were related. Previous estimates posited that 20-30% of opioid deaths were suicides, however, a research letter published last week has found that number is much lower, closer to 9%. “There’s been a tendency as seeing opioid overdose and suicide as this one thing,” said Dr. Mark Olfson, lead author of the analysis and a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, “but when you look at the deaths, they aren’t tied as strongly as we had imagined. ” 

New FCC Suicide Hotline Signals to Employers We Can All Do BetterForbes
December 17, 2019
The American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a three-digit help line for the US. The author of this piece argues that this signals a major culture shift towards suicide prevention, a shift that is already happening in many places. Guidelines have been created for suicide prevention at work, and workplaces and workers are valuing connectedness, a known protective factor for suicide. Discrimination and shame surrounding suicide are also diminishing, as 71% of American workers said that the most helpful solutions for “feeling better” were through accessing mental health services through their workplace.

Opinion: Young Black People Are Killing ThemselvesNew York Times
December 16, 2019
Last month, a study was released to show that suicide attempts in black young people rose by 73% from 1991 to 2017, while for white youth, attempts decreased by 7.5%. The author of this opinion piece, Inger E. Burnett-Zeigler a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University said that she feels black teens are not taught that their lives are valued, and instead that they are less deserving of support: compared with white kids, “they receive more detentions, suspensions and expulsions in school, have higher rates of arrests and incarceration, and fewer options for high-quality education and stable employment.”  Burnett-Zeigler says that she has also “confronted a dangerous false narrative in the black community: black people don’t kill themselves.” This “minimizes the deep despair that many young people experience.” She suggests that the black community at large be educated about suicide as a public health issue, and that teachers, social workers at schools, and primary care doctors become trauma-informed. 

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