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:

Student’s suicide at time of growing awareness about mental health of medical students, doctorsOttawa Citizen
December 15, 2019
Awareness for mental health resources on post-secondary campuses is growing, and earlier this month, a University of Ottawa medical student died by suicide, a student who was himself a mental health advocate. He founded a peer support program in an effort to make it easier for medical students to talk about their mental health. Stigma still surrounds mental health issues and suicide in medicine, and medical school sets a high academic bar that culminates in perfectionist tendencies and self-criticism in what is already a high-pressure environment.
Related – Students call for more mental health supports after death at U of OCBC

Ontario moves to create a mental health ‘centre for excellence’CBC
December 14, 2019
The Ontario government unanimously passed a bill last week to create a “centre of excellence” for mental health and addictions. The centre will be a provincial agency that will oversee the provincial mental health and addictions strategy. Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott said, “Many people who require mental health services often just end up in the emergency department in the hospital because that’s the default place. They don’t know anywhere else to go.” The centre is also designed to guide local health care providers in best practices, as well as to make mental health services more accessible by coordinating community resources.

Quebec to hold public hearings on suicide starting on MondayCTV
December 13, 2019
After the death of three people by suicide, the Quebec Chief Coroner, Pascale Descary, ordered an inquiry into the deaths. The inquiry will begin Monday, December 16 in Quebec City, where Coroner Andrée Kronström will hear from suicide prevention activists and groups. Descary hopes to be able to offer recommendations following the inquiry.

U.S. regulator votes to set up 3-digit suicide hotline number like 911 CBC
December 13, 2019
US federal regulators voted to reduce the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a 3-digit number, as opposed to the current 10-digit number, in the hopes of making the service more accessible for people. The number, currently, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) will be shortened to 988. “The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” said Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, a suicide prevention nonprofit. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.”

Two-century trend of Army suicide decrease during war reversed in past two decadesNational Post
December 13, 2019
New analysis of data from the US has found that, though historically suicides in the US army decrease during wartime, it now looks like that trend is reversing, and that suicides have been on the rise since 2004. 200 years of data have shown that the military suicide rate in the 1800s was higher than current rates at 118.3 per 100,000 in 1883. Rates declined during the wars that followed, with the lowest rate being just after World War II at 5 per 100,000 from 1944-45. Rates increased after the Vietnam war, slightly, then increased more during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, with a peak of 29.7 per 100,000 in 2012. The data show that, in recent years, when the military began focusing on preventing suicide, the rates fell. 

A Construction Company Embraces Frank Talk About Mental Health To Reduce SuicideNPR
December 12, 2019
RK, a construction company in the US, has implemented a model for suicide prevention in the construction industry, after the suicide of one of their workers. Discussion of mental health with all employees, 24-hour access to counselling services, lenient leave policies and crisis training for managers are a few initiatives undertaken by RK. “If somebody didn’t show up in the past, we’d be like, ‘You’ve got a job to do — get in here,’ ” said RK co-owner Jon Kinning. “We’ve just changed our tone and our culture. I talk about mental health nearly every time I have a group of employees.” Suicide rates among those working in the construction industry are higher than those of the general population, according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn more about the workplace and suicide prevention, as well as the Canadian workplace stats, in our toolkit.  

What I Didn’t Realize About Taking Medication For Anxiety And DepressionScary Mommy Blog
December 12, 2019
*Trigger warning* This lived experience piece is a description of one woman’s experience with anti-depressant medication, prescribed to her after she told her doctor she was struggling with thoughts of suicide, “The truth is, you may feel worse. Then you’ll feel better. But not fully better. You’ll see little changes… you’ll make it through a week and suddenly it will occur to you as you’re cooking dinner, a random moment, that you haven’t had any thoughts of suicide at all. That it’s the first time in a week that you’ve even thought to wonder whether you’ve had suicidal thoughts. A small step – but a big step.”

How to help a friend through a tough time, according to a clinical psychologistVox
December 10, 2019
This article walks through the steps of how to have a conversation with someone that you’re worried about, and emphasizes that often the discomfort of sitting with someone in their pain can cause us “to point out a bright side or offer a simple solution, which may come across as dismissive.” The article suggests: “Ask them how they are feeling. Then, listen non-judgmentally to their response; Show them that you want to understand and express sympathy; Ask how you can support them and resist jumping in to problem-solve; Check in to see if they are suicidal; and Reassure them, realistically.”

Flying Dust First Nation holding its first “Safe Talk”Meadow Lake Now
December 10, 2019
Flying Dust First Nation, located in northwestern Saskatchewan, will be hosting a safeTALK: suicide alertness for everyone workshop. It’s a three-hour workshop that trains people how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, talk to someone they’re worried about, and connect them to help. “We’re listening to our young people and as a prevention worker for Flying Dust, that’s one of our mandates is to have skills and tools for our young people so if there are issues, whether its self-esteem or bullying, there is a way out and there is hope for them,” said Patricia Main, a First Nations suicide prevention worker and safeTALK Trainer.

‘Offensive’ life insurance advert banned for trivializing male suicideIndependent UK
December 10, 2019
*Trigger warning* A life insurance ad was banned in the UK last week by the Advertising Standards Authority after it was found to trivialize suicide. Complaints said it was “irresponsible” and “offensive.” The ad featured the image of a man with his head against a concrete wall, with the image of a laughing skull and the slogan, “Life insurance to die for.” The start-up life insurance company, Dead Happy, said it takes mental health seriously, and said that the image had no connection to depression or suicide. 

Group unveils suicide prevention framework at second Here4Hope eventWellington Advertiser
December 5, 2019
The Here4Hope: Working Together to Prevent Suicide initiative was announced in Fergus, Ontario last week. The initiative is a collaboration between the Canadian Mental Health Association – Waterloo, Wellington, as well as Wellington County, and Wellington County provincial police. It is a partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and one of their eight Roots of Hope sites across the country. Roots of Hope is a community suicide prevention project with the aim of reducing suicides in communities across the country. Cecilia Marie Roberts, suicide prevention lead for CMHA and Wellington County, said, “…everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. And the goal of the project is really to engage as many individuals and organizations as possible in this work.”

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