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:

Burden of isolation: Juror with PTSD urges triple-murder jury to get helpCBC
Feb. 26, 2017
Following the trial of Douglas Garland who was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, former juror Mark Farrant is urging the jurors of the Garland trial to seek mental health help. Farrant himself suffers from PTSD after sitting on the jury of a murder trial in which gruesome details were exposed. Justice David Gates, who presided over the Garland trial, acknowledged jurors were under stress: “High-profile cases like this one have doubtless involved additional sources of stress due to the length of the trial, the significant media and public interest in this case and, most particularly, the disturbing evidence that was introduced,” Justice Gates told the jury after testimony had ended. Ian Savage, the head of the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association in Calgary, said that lawyers can be affected by PTSD as well. “It absolutely does affect lawyers — hardened or not — (just) as it can affect any other observer or someone present in the courtroom during an extended, difficult trial like that,” said Savage.

People with mental health disorders at risk of stroke, study findsMedical News Today
Feb. 24, 2017
New research by Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons has linked mental illness with stroke, finding that people suffering from mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD have an increased risk for stroke: they are over 3 times more likely to suffer from a stroke than people without a mental disorder: “They found that people who had visited the hospital for a mental health concern were 3.48 times more likely to have a stroke within 15 days of their visit, and 3.11 times more likely within 30 days.” The psychological distress felt by people who who suffer from mental disorders, such as the fight or flight response, can trigger high blood pressure, which is the leading risk factor for stroke. Further to that, lead study author Jonah Zuflacht noted that mental disorders can lead to cell changes, causing inflammation and oxidative stress which also contribute to stroke risk.

Why mental illness can fuel physical diseaseTIME
Feb. 23, 2017
A study recently published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology has contributed to mounting evidence that physical health and mental health are not only behaviourally related but also physiologically related. This means that people who suffer from mental health issues could be more likely to suffer from an accompanying physical illness as well. The study focused on the physical and mental health of people with the skin condition psoriasis, and found that depression is common in people who have the condition. “Depression can lead to behaviors that could trigger psoriatic arthritis or exacerbate an existing case, the authors say. For someone predisposed to the disease, factors such as lack of exercise, excess weight gain and poor diet can all affect the severity of symptoms. Yet the study authors controlled for many of these behaviors, and the association still held. This suggests that the depression itself, or the root cause behind the depression, has a direct influence on the development of psoriatic arthritis.”

More than 30 per cent of Vancouver police officers have PTSD, says studyCBC
Feb 23, 2017
The Vancouver Police Union sent an email survey in 2015 to 1,100 of Vancouver’s officers and found that of the 765 replies, 32% of officers indicated that they were on the diagnostic range for PTSD. Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Lisa Kitt, who conducted the survey and treats officers in her private practice, said that PTSD experienced by police officers is often due to working for years on stressful calls, witnessing deaths and repeated violence. Kitt emphasizes that officers with PTSD are not unsafe, but they do need help coping with their symptoms.

Transit safety boss considers ban on headphones near LRT stationsCBC
Feb. 22, 2017
Brian Whitelaw, Superintendent of Calgary Transit public safety, told CBC that they are considering what can be done to help prevent people from being hit by C-Trains. This comes after the death of a 30-year-old man who was wearing headphones and looking at his cellphone when he died. Since 1981, when the C-Train system first launched in Calgary, there have been 74 deaths, one-third of which are thought to have been suicides. Centre for Suicide Prevention has partnered with Calgary Transit since 2015 to offer suicide prevention training to train operators and peace officers, so they can better identify people at risk of suicide and connect them to help.

Brain imaging identifies different types of depression Scientific American
Feb. 21, 2017
Approximately 16 million American adults have suffered from a major depressive episode in the past year –  and WHO predicts that by 2030 depression will be the leading cause of disability world-wide. Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine are now looking to identify biological markers in the brain that would indicate depression. By analyzing fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans from over 1,000 people, the team at Weill Cornell was able to identify four subtypes of depression, and if confirmed in future studies, these findings could provide a way for doctors to clearly diagnose depression and personalize therapies for targeting brain networks found to be “awry” in individual patients.

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