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:
RCMP’s suicide prevention programs ‘unwittingly deficient,’ says internal report on Mountie’s death – CBC
January 5, 2020
*Method warning* An internal report investigating the death of RCMP Constable Jean-Pascal Nolin, who died by suicide in 2016, has been released. The report recommends that a national study be undertaken to examine work and life factors that put RCMP members’ mental health at risk, and find out if mental health issues can be prevented through influence of the employer. Further, a strategy for detecting symptoms of PTSD should be implemented, along with training to educate RCMP officers in recognizing PTSD warning signs among themselves and their colleagues. Aftercare support for after a member of an RCMP detachment dies was also recommended: officers and civilians touched by Nolin’s death said they wished their employer had done more to support them after the death.
Opinion: We need to redefine manhood. Our warped ideas are causing a mental health crisis – Guardian
January 2, 2020
This opinion article, written by J.J. Bola, author of Mask off: Masculinity redefined, argues in this piece that we need to redefine the current understanding of masculinity in the western world. Bola was born in Kinasha in the Congo, where men hold hands to show affection and demonstrate a strong bond. After he moved to the UK, Bola was holding hands with one of his uncles, and remembered being teased for this display of connection. He struggled with mental health issues later on, and now believes those issues were rooted in masculinity, not having an outlet for his emotions and feeling as though he couldn’t discuss his struggles with other men. Bola says, “We live in a rigid culture in which men are not comfortable expressing themselves. We’re socialised to be stoic and strong, to not consider our own feelings or state of wellbeing, and we’re not taught self-care. This can lead to a whole range of issues, from substance abuse and addiction, to mental health problems. Any expression of masculinity that imposes on or dominates another person is toxic.” Bola is now an advocate for shifting society’s definition of masculinity, through writing his book, and through training to become a mental health social worker.
To find out more about men and suicide, read our editorial on the subject.
Dealing with the suicide and addiction crisis in Saskatchewan – Global
January 1, 2020
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe discusses how the government plans to address the many suicides that have been taking place in the province. Premier Moe says that Saskatchewan has been undertaking a jurisdictional scan across Canada, looking for opportunities to adopt best practices, and identifying where supports are missing. In the spring, a mental health symposium to share best practices applicable to both government and community-based organizations will also be taking place. Premier Moe acknowledges that, “We need to take action on ensuring that we’re identifying if there are gaps in the support we’re providing in this province.”
Indigenous people need better access to the right supports to prevent suicide, community members say – CBC
December 31, 2019
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living in Manitoba are calling for culturally relevant and appropriate resources to overcome intergenerational trauma and prevent suicide following the suicide death of Kelly Fraser, 26, a beloved Inuit singer-songwriter. Many Indigenous people living in the province experience barriers in accessing traditional resources. Sagkeeng First Nation has been offering these services to community members through the Turtle Lodge, a place where they can connect with their traditions and create a supportive environment for those working through trauma. One way they do this is through teaching young people about land stewardship, being life-givers, and encouraging them to go on a vision quest to help them understand their purpose and meaning in life. Elder Dave Courchene, founder of Turtle Lodge says, “That is what defines our identity, our spiritual identity, as human beings,” Courchene said. “The way that we have to move forward is to support all young people to find their own identity.”
Opinion: Doctors and Suicide – Scientific American
December 31, 2019
Physicians have higher rates of suicide than those in the general population, and in the US it’s estimated that 300 to 400 physicians die each year by suicide. Jeannie Aschkenasy, clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Rush University Children’s Hospital, works with medical residents. In this opinion piece, Aschkenasy discusses the many initiatives being taken to ensure the mental wellness of medical school students and residents and physicians. She argues that burnout is a symptom of a greater issue: “Medical students and physicians need time to engage in self-care activities and seek mental health assistance without jeopardizing their license, reputation and ability to practice medicine. Yes, residents learn that to be ethical doctors, they must first do no harm. They can also learn to first help themselves.”
Inuit singer-songwriter Kelly Fraser died by suicide amid struggle with PTSD, family says – Globe and Mail
December 30, 2019
Kelly Fraser, 26, internationally renowned Inuit pop singer-songwriter, died by suicide in December after struggling with PTSD. Fraser’s mother, Theresa Angoo, along with Fraser’s six siblings, released a statement about her death acknowledging, “Kelly suffered from PTSD for many years as a result of childhood traumas, racism and persistent cyber-bullying. She was actively seeking help and spoke openly about her personal challenges online and through her journey.” Fraser’ was open with the fact that she was struggling with her mental health. On December 15, she wrote in a Facebook post: “I face a ton of lateral violence and criticism and hate. I need a strong support system. … Just because I am well known doesn’t mean I deserve it.” Inuit in Canada have some of the highest suicide rates in the world.
Apps don’t provide reliable help for suicide prevention – The Verge
December 30, 2019
A new analysis has found that many suicide prevention and depression management apps contain incorrect or nonfunctional contact information for suicide crisis help lines. These apps can play an important role, as they provide those who are struggling with information confidentially, however, it is vital that accurate resources and contact information are being provided. Further, the analysis verified how many of six evidence-based suicide prevention strategies had been incorporated into the apps. These strategies included: tracking suicidal thoughts, building a safety plan, recommending activities to deter thoughts, educating about risk factors, giving the user the ability to include contacts within their support network, and providing a way to access emergency counselling. Of the 69 apps analyzed, only 7% included all six of the strategies. One of the 7% is Stay Alive, developed by the Grassroots Suicide Prevention group out of the UK. Most apps only included one or two of the strategies.
First responder with PTSD organizing hockey game to help Sheshatshiu after suicide crisis – CBC
December 27, 2019
Larry Baker, a municipal enforcement officer and firefighter, was diagnosed with PTSD, and found hockey helpful in his healing. Last month, he organized a hockey game between first responders and the Sheshatshiu Eagles minor hockey club in Happy Valley – Goose Bay in Labrador to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention. In 2019, the community experienced a number of suicide deaths and attempts. “We want to create an escape,” Baker said. “If [families] can come and watch a game and they can escape from what they struggle with for just a couple of hours and win some prizes and have some fun, then in a nutshell, that’s what it’s all about. We’re just here to support the community.”
Sask. suicide numbers climb despite more mental health awareness – Regina Leader-Post
December 27, 2019
In 2018, Saskatchewan had the highest suicide rate in Canada, at 19.3 per 100,000. Jack Hicks, an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine and suicide prevention researcher, says that growing mental health awareness and open dialogue is a positive move forward, but neither will directly address the issue of suicide. Hicks says that in order for suicide to be prevented, a multi-faceted suicide prevention strategy is needed. A good strategy, according to Hicks, would include more research into geographical areas and groups of people most impacted, so that resources can be targeted towards high-risk communities. Donna Bowyer, Centre for Suicide Prevention Trainer and Provincial director of education and training for the Canadian Mental Health Association, says that mandatory suicide prevention training should be required for those working in hospital emergency rooms. Talking about suicide openly and non-judgmentally is important, “If you talk about it,” said Bowyer, “… you’re giving them permission to talk to you about it, which opens up a door for them to be able to let you know what’s going on.”
Learn more about effective suicide prevention strategies in our resource, Does Canada need a national suicide prevention strategy?
Patrick Brazeau continues push for male suicide study, says many ‘ashamed to ask for help’ – Global
December 22, 2019
Senator Patrick Brazeau, a suicide attempt survivor, is pushing for a study into male and Indigenous suicide through a motion he tabled at the Senate earlier in December. “We as humans, we go through a lot of struggles and men, in particular, I believe because – I’m speaking for myself – I was taught to be strong, to be competitive. I was taught not to show emotion growing up, but then when I started having problems, I felt guilty and I felt ashamed to ask for help,” he said. “I’m doing this because I care about people. Every life matters but in particular, First Nations’ lives matter and we have to take care of the most vulnerable citizens in this country.”
French telecom company Orange convicted over suicides – Associated Press
December 20, 2019
*Method warning* In a landmark ruling, French telecom company Orange is France’s first large corporation to be charged on institutionalized “collective moral harassment,” meaning other companies could face similar charges. The ruling comes after 39 employees of Orange died by suicide. Former CEO Didier Lombard has been sentenced to four months in prison and 15,000 euros in fines, and six other managers were also sentenced to short prison terms and thousands of euros in fines. Orange has been ordered to pay about 3.5 million euros in damages and fines to families, employees, and other parties. The trial was centered around 39 suicides which took place between 2006 and 2009, when Orange was restructuring and laying off thousands of employees.