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:

University of Guelph seeks to reduce mental-health stigmaGlobe and Mail
Mar. 4, 2017
The University of Guelph in Ontario has seen a rise in students who report having anxiety and/or depression, which the university says is common in post-secondary institutions across the country. U of G has had four student suicides this year, and there are now many student and university-led efforts to support students. The university has enlisted the help of the Canadian Mental Health Association to provide additional counselling services, hold focus groups and a town hall to survey students. Students are being trained in suicide intervention and how to spot the warning signs of someone in mental distress. This past week, students held a banquet organized by the undergraduate psychology society. “The goal is to get people to speak about suicide. It’s not a taboo,” said Michaela James, one of the lead organizers of the event and a fourth-year student. “Right now, it’s stigmatized.”

The lost ones: Inside Brazil’s Indigenous suicide crisisGlobe and Mail
Mar. 3, 2017
Brazil’s Indigenous population has a suicide rate 22 times higher than the general population, and it is mostly young people who are killing themselves, unlike in the general population where men over 60 have the highest rates. This tragedy parallels the crisis in Canada, where some Indigenous youth have rates 6 times that of general population youth, and where Inuit have even higher rates. In Canada, these rates are getting some attention from the federal government, but in Brazil, “there is no talk of a crisis. In 2015 the federal government announced a prevention plan for what it calls the worst-affected reserves (pledging to cut suicide by 10 per cent) but it will not make public the budget or where that plan is supposedly being implemented.” Suicides have historically been a rare occurrence for the Indigenous people in Brazil, but in 1986, statistics saw a spike from 5 suicides to 40.

Arctic Council looks at measuring success in suicide preventionCBC
Mar. 2, 2017
The American-led Arctic Council was in Iqaluit last week talking about suicide prevention, and how the efficacy of suicide prevention intervention efforts in the Arctic could be measured. Natan Obed, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president, who published the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, said that “Suicide prevention is subjective in nature. There aren’t universals truths that everyone in the world agrees upon.”

York paramedic service using proactive peer support to stave off PTSDToronto Star 
Mar. 2, 2017
In York, Ontario, the regional paramedic service has begun a proactive peer support program in an effort to prevent PTSD. There are 20 members in the peer support team who are trained in psychological first aid. The peer support team drives around in a truck dubbed the “Huggy Buggy,” visiting fellow paramedics, and checking in on them. “I had no idea just how many members actually felt unsupported and how much difficulty members were having in silence until the peer support team was in place,” said Chief Norm Barrette.

Gas sniffing and lead poisoning may be causing Indigenous suicides across generations: Toronto researchersNational Post
Mar. 1, 2017
A new paper in the Journal of Psychiatry Research is suggesting that the widespread gas sniffing (along with other sources of lead poisoning) of the 1970s and 80s in Indigenous communities may have triggered genetic changes in the users and which in turn have been passed on to their children. This could help explain why Indigenous suicide rates rose only after the mid-1980s. “Suicide is not a traditional aspect of indigenous culture in Canada,” the article notes. “This commentary raises the possibility that the effects of tetraethyl lead poisoning during the 1970s and 1980s contributed to the rise in suicides, and continues to contribute to the growing problem through epigenetic modifcations.”

Facebook beefs up suicide prevention focused on live videoCTV
Mar. 1, 2017
In light of recent live-streamed suicides, Facebook has now added a feature to Facebook Live (where users can broadcast directly to Facebook in real time) which allows other users to report if they suspect someone will harm themselves while broadcasting.

He used to play video games 16 hours a day. Now he helps addicts unplug CBC
Feb. 27, 2017
Cam Adair  was once addicted to gaming, playing for up to 16 hours a day in order to deal with his depression. Adair dropped out of school because of bullying, and started playing video games extensively from that point on. “For me, as much as I was able to escape my depression from playing games, it wasn’t fixing it, and I was still going to bed at night feeling depressed,” said Adair. Now, with his online support network “Game Quitters,” Adair helps others addicted to gaming recover, transferring the comforting social network of the gaming community over to an online support group format that encourages more healthy ways of coping and open conversations.

Ontario doctors ‘distressed’ over wave of bullying, infightingToronto Star
Feb. 27, 2017
A wave of cyberbullying and intimidation is affecting doctors in Ontario, targeting doctors who opposed the expulsion of the Ontario Medical Association’s (OMA) executive team and showed support for a tentative deal between the province of Ontario and the OMA. Many disturbing emails have been sent to doctors, and Dr. Sharon Straus, researcher at the University of Toronto, conducted an analysis of international studies in 2014 that found over half of doctors have been bullied at work.

There is a new landmark suicide prevention strategy for LGBTI peopleBuzzFeed News
Feb. 26, 2017
LGBTI Australians are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and more likely to attempt suicide and self-harm than those in the general population. Australia’s National LGBTI Health Alliance has created a National LGBTI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategy, a first in Australia and one of the few worldwide.

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