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:

About 7% of UK children have attempted suicide by age of 17 – study Guardian
February 21, 2021
A study following the lives of 19,000 young people born at the start of the millennium in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland has found that, in response to the question, have you ever hurt yourself “on purpose in an attempt to end your life,” 7% of those young people said yes, and 24% said they had self-harmed during the year previous (2018-19). Dr. Praveetha Patalay, one of the studies authors from University College London, said, “Our study highlights large inequality in these adverse mental health outcomes at age 17, with women and sexual minorities being particularly vulnerable, potentially reflecting the greater disparity in the pressures they face, and highlighting the need for support that is sensitive to the challenges experienced by them during adolescence. There is definitely a need to provide more, better and earlier support for young people to prevent their mental health difficulties from getting so severe, but equally we really need to think about why young people today are struggling so much.”

Veteran who killed family and himself wasn’t prepared for realities of war, fellow soldier tells N.S. inquiryCBC
February 18, 2021
A fatality inquiry into the suicide death of Cpl. Lionel Desmond is taking place in Nova Scotia. Desmond died by suicide after killing his wife, daughter and mother. Among other things, the mandate of the provincial inquiry includes examining whether Desmond was able to access necessary mental health treatment for his complex PTSD. Desmond was an Afghanistan veteran, and, according to Cpl. Orlando Totter who knew Desmond and was a member of the same battalion, there was no psychological preparation for soldiers entering combat. “That tour, that was a bad tour. It was a terrible tour — like going to hell, that tour. That’s why so many people are struggling right now,” said Trotter, who knows 8 soldiers who have died by suicide since coming back from the tour. Trotter also said that he doesn’t believe Desmond received the care he needed after being released from a Quebec residential psychiatric facility in August 2016.

Covid and suicide: Japan’s rise a warning to the world? BBC
February 18, 2021
In 2020 Japan reported an increase in suicide rates for the first time in 11 years, with a 15% increase in female suicide. The pandemic is especially affecting young women in Japan. Professor Michiko Ueda, a suicide prevention expert in Japan said, “(A lot of women) have to support their own lives and they don’t have permanent jobs. So, when something happens, of course, they are hit very, very hard. The number of job losses among non-permanent staff are just so, so large over the last eight months.” Ueda also notes that an increase in suicide among females was recorded in late September and early October following the death of a female celebrity by suicide.

NYC Mayor Raises Concerns Over Suicides in Schools, Vows to Bring All Kids Back in Sept.NBC New York
February 18, 2021
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the city has seen “several suicides in recent weeks of public school kids.” He emphasized that he believed it was important to get students back to school in-person. He also spoke to the impact that the pandemic has had on young people, “I’m speaking now, not only as mayor, but as a parent. The fact that these kids have gone through this crisis, the trauma they’ve felt, many kids have lost loved ones. Many kids are feeling really isolated in the absence of, you know, the regular rhythms of their life.”

Suicide deaths in N.J. likely fell in 2020, defying fears amid the coronavirus pandemic NJ.com
February 14, 2021
The state of New Jersey is reporting a decrease in suicide deaths for 2020. In 2020, there were 636 suicide deaths, compared to 757 in 2018 and 723 in 2019. Experts say that though the COVID-19 pandemic has had negative effects, such as social isolation and financial hardship, it has also highlighted the importance of mental health and self-care. “From the start of the pandemic, there was an attention and an effort paid to mental health,” said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, the vice president of research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “A lot of attention has been paid to taking care of your mental health and coping strategies, and those have been broadly disseminated.”

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