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:

How many people are affected by one suicide? Centre for Suicide Prevention
February 28, 2019
It has long been thought that 6 people are affected by one suicide, but new research shows that number is much higher. Julie Cerel and her team of researchers have found that generally 15 to 30 people are greatly affected by one suicide, and up to 135 are affected to a lesser extent. 

Suicide on campus: Mourning and healing at Concordia UniversityMontreal Gazette
March 1, 2019
The suicide of Ming Mei Ip, 24, a student in art education at Concordia University, has prompted a re-evaluation of how the school responds to mental health crises, and how they offer mental health supports to students. Among the actions taken in the days following Ip’s death were efforts to reach students who knew her and who were grieving.  “If you can imagine students coming back to class and the professor is in front of that class of anywhere from 12 to 90 students and they are all weeping. Is that instructor prepared to take them through a conversation about suicide? Probably not,” said Rebecca Duclos, the dean of fine arts. “So within 24 hours we had set up a kind of situation room where we were mapping out every class Ming Mei had been in this year and last year, all of her professors and TAs, finding all the students and finding ways to have therapists and counsellors be in those classes the very minute they were meeting again.”

Momo hoax: schools, police and media told to stop promoting viral challengeGuardian
March 1, 2019
Stories of the “Momo challenge” were prevalent in the media and on social media last week, but the challenge is actually a hoax. People said that their children were being contacted by “Momo” on the WhatsApp messaging service and encouraged to kill themselves. “When trying to highlight risks to children, particularly in the online arena, it’s important to step back and assess what the real risk is,” said Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England. “Sometimes, however well-meaning, warning of the dangers of something that you haven’t fully looked into amplifies its impact on children beyond the actual fact.”

A promising new clue to prevent teen suicide: empower adults who careVox
February 28, 2019
Newly released research has examined the efficacy of mental health treatment in teens with suicide ideation and has found that teens who had adults in their lives who were educated in how to support them were less likely to die by suicide.

What our new study reveals about the genetics and biology of suicidal behaviourThe Conversation UK
February 27, 2019
New research has identified specific DNA risk markers that appeared most often in people who died by suicide. This study surveyed 157,000 people and included those without a diagnosed mental illness and those with mental illness. The goal of the study was to identify genetic variations that may be associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviours. 

Model to predict suicide in at-risk young adults Science Daily 
February 27, 2019
A new study from the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine has found that the fluctuation and severity of depressive symptoms better predicts the risk of suicidal behaviour in young people when compared to using solely a psychiatric diagnosis to predict behaviour. “Our findings suggest that when treating patients, clinicians must pay particular attention to the severity of current and past depressive symptoms and try to reduce their severity and fluctuations to decrease suicide risk,” said senior author Nadine Melhem, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at Pitt’s School of Medicine and a researcher at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital.

My Patient Was Suicidal, and His Stepfather Wouldn’t Remove the Family Gun Collection Scientific American
February 26, 2019
In this piece, an American psychiatrist and soldier, Zheala Qayyum, laments the fact that sometimes the caregivers of youth who express suicidality don’t remove access to lethal means, namely, guns, in the home, thereby increasing the risk of suicide in that young person. Qayyum made the recommendation to one patient’s stepfather to move his gun collection out of the home. When the suggestion was made to the stepfather, he responded negatively and refused. Qayyum says, “I understood that he legally owned his firearms and handled them responsibly. However, I also could not stomach the implicit message it sent his stepson: The guns would stay, even if Alex had to go.” 

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