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:

‘Suicide can happen to anyone and any age’: Warning signs to look forGlobal News
February 28, 2021
In this article, Kristin Pilon, a facilitator with the Provincial Injury Prevention Program through Alberta Health Services, explains that “Suicide can happen to anyone and any age… if we see that those we care about are struggling, it’s important to have that conversation and check in… and ask what’s going on.” Warning signs for suicide include talking about suicide or making plans to die, losing interest in activities, giving away belongings, and feeling hopeless. “If someone is talking about suicide, it’s really important to take that seriously, and then the next recommendation would be to ask them,” Pilon said. “It’s OK to ask about suicide. We want to be clear and direct. So, ‘Are you having thoughts about suicide?’ and asking about suicide won’t make someone suicidal.”

Horizon examines how suicidal teen was able to leave Fredericton hospital without helpCBC
February 26, 2021
Lexi Daken, 16, died by suicide last week after being taken to a Fredericton hospital by her school guidance counsellor, who was concerned about her mental health. Daken waited 8 hours before leaving, after having not received any mental health counselling. She had no referral or follow-up, and her family was not contacted. Horizon Health Network says they’re reviewing the care of Daken. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said, “As a parent, it’s hard to fathom. Waiting eight hours is unacceptable. It’s heart-wrenching. We have to fix this, and it’s about priorities. We can’t do everything, but let’s do what we must.”
Related: New Brunswick teen’s family says better access to mental health care could have saved their daughterCTV News

My 8-Year-Old Threatened Suicide. Here’s What We’re LearningNew York Times
February 25, 2021
This article discusses suicide in children, and what can be done to prevent it. There is little research on the topic, and some people believe that children are incapable of considering suicide and dying by suicide. Validating your child’s right to their emotions is an important step when children talk about self harm, according to Alison Yaeger, who directs a youth outpatient program at McLean Hospital in the US. Teaching children self-regulation, the ability to understand and manage their emotions is also helpful, including by allowing them to identify coping strategies that work for them. Being able to have open, nonjudgmental conversations with a child is another recommendation, including checking in on them and asking directly about their thoughts of suicide and self-harm. (If a child is at imminent risk of suicide, call 911.) The good news is that, according to Dr. Joan Luby, professor of child psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, “Childhood suicidality is a very high research priority right now. I don’t think it’s being met with the same resistance we encountered 10 years ago.”
Read more about how to prevent suicide in children.

How a blood test and mobile app may help prevent suicideOttawa Citizen
February 25, 2021
In this article, Dr. Zachary Kaminsky, chair in suicide prevention research at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research in Ottawa talks about his work in researching biological markers for suicide as well as the use of AI and social media for suicide prevention. Kaminsky says, “The biology is the cards you are dealt in life for how resilient or vulnerable you will be to things like this pandemic. It’s not just your biology, it’s also what happens to you during life. But how one copes mentally can be determined in part by one’s biology.” In his work with AI and social media, he examines tone, language, and frequency of user posts (on Twitter), in an effort to gauge that user’s risk of suicide by identifying high levels of distress levels. “If we can get an indication much quicker through social media, we might be able to do interesting things, like organize a mental health awareness campaign where the levels are highest, and then determine whether it had an effect and how long it lasted. This gives us the power to use these suicide prevention tools in a public health way, potentially in new ways,” explains Kaminsky.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Associated With Higher Suicide Risk in DenmarkPsychiatry Advisor
February 25, 2021
*Terminology warning* A new study from Denmark has found that those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are three times more likely to attempt suicide than those without autism. Researchers of the study concluded, “It is essential to expand support and services for adults with ASD, especially those with psychiatric comorbidity, considering the higher risk of suicide attempt throughout the life span.”

Justice for Kenneth Seymour MichellAssembly of First Nations
February 24, 2021
On Jan. 14, shortly after being released from RCMP custody, Kenneth Seymour Michell, 26, died by suicide. Due to concern that he may kill himself, the RCMP and Crown Counsel recommended that Michell be kept in custody, however, he was released and dropped off by RCMP far from his home. A friend of Michell’s offered to pick him up at the courthouse, but that friend was told he would be taken home. BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee said, “Mr. Michell’s family reached out to us in their grief and frustration. The entire judicial system continues to harm First Nations people despite the commitments to reform the justice and policing system, including support for the First Nations Justice Strategy a year ago. The Strategy included a commitment to training and education to reduce bias among front line workers, RCMP and judges in the justice system. Did this judge receive that training? And if so, what made him think Kenneth Michell should have been released without support? How did the RCMP and Sheriff’s Office think it was okay to leave him in the cold, on the street miles from home?”

Police watchdog concerned by man’s release from hospital after suicide attempt  – CBC
February 23, 2021
Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) released a report of their investigation into the suicide death of a man released from hospital just 24 hours after he tried to kill himself. RCMP were called to the man’s house where they found him, armed, in the garage with his uncle. Officers spoke with the man, who attempted suicide in the process of their interaction. He was then taken to hospital and released 24 hours later, “despite his suicidal behaviour, and hospital personnel being made aware of his struggles with depression, addictions, and prior suicidal ideation,” says the report.

Managing suicide risk in research study participantsEurekAlert! Science News
February 23, 2021
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing associate professor Susan Dunn has developed a protocol for researchers to use if they encounter participants in their studies who are considering suicide. “For those research studies when we know patients are at higher risk –and definitely hopelessness does put a patient at higher risk for suicide — a suicide risk management protocol should absolutely be in place,” Dunn says. “It gives me, as the [principal investigator], peace of mind to know the data collectors — the nurses doing the intervention — are all trained to be able to recognize if there is a potential for suicidal ideation.”

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