Weekly News Roundup Feb 4 – 10, 2023
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How Do You Serve a Friend in Despair? – New York Times
February 9, 2023
In this opinion piece, author David Brooks talks about the life of his friend Peter Marks who died by suicide in 2019 and what, in Brooks’ words, “I learned from those agonizing three years (leading up to his death) and that senseless tragedy.” Brooks began noticing a change in Marks’ behaviour in 2019, three years before his death. Brooks reflects on how he handled Marks’ depression, saying, “I made the mistake of trying to advise him about how he could lift his depression… I did not realize it was energy and desire that he lacked, not ideas about things to do.” He says, “I learned, very gradually, that a friend’s job in these circumstances is not to cheer the person up. It’s to acknowledge the reality of the situation; it’s to hear, respect and love the person; it’s to show that you haven’t given up on him or her, that you haven’t walked away.”
Suicides rose in 2021 after 2 years of declines, CDC report finds – ABC News
February 9, 2023
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US have reported that, in 2021, suicide rates were higher than they have been in the past two years. Indigenous people (26%) as well as Black (19.2%) and Hispanic (6.8%) Americans had increased rates of suicides while white Americans saw a decrease in suicide rates. CDC’s report says, “These analyses demonstrate disparities in suicide rates among populations based on race and ethnicity and age group in the context of overall suicide rates nearly returning to their 2018 peak after [two] years of declines. Suicide is a complex problem related to multiple risk factors such as relationship, job or school, and financial problems, as well as mental illness, substance use, social isolation, historical trauma, barriers to health care, and easy access to lethal means of suicide among persons at risk.”
These young female athletes died by suicide. They all had head injuries in common – CNN
February 6, 2023
This article talks about concussions as they relate to suicide in women. Kelly Catlin, 23, a US track cyclist, and Ellie Soutter, 18, a snowboarder, both died by suicide and both suffered concussions prior to their deaths. Women are significantly underrepresented in sport and science research, and, as a result, often don’t receive proper treatment and aftercare following a head injury. Dr. Ann McKee, Director of the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center says, “It’s been shown that women athletes are more likely to get a concussion, they tend to have longer recovery periods. We do not have enough information about what happens in the female brain. We don’t know if women are biologically more susceptible to these injuries.”
Drinking and suicide: How alcohol use increases risks, and what can be done about it – The Conversation
February 5, 2023
Alcohol is a major contributor to death by suicide; it’s involved in approximately 1 in 4 suicide deaths. A meta-analysis conducted last year by the author of this article, Simon Sherry, found that alcohol use increased the risk of death by suicide by 94%. Sherry explains, “There are several neurobiological and psychological theories proposed to explain the relationship between alcohol use and suicide. Alcohol affects neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers such as GABA and serotonin that help regulate mood. Upsetting these systems could increase suicidal thoughts. Chronic and heavy alcohol use is related to depressed mood. It can increase aggressive behaviour and suicide motivation, and inhibit decision-making and pain responses…. Our study found those who drink heavily and more frequently have increased risk of death by suicide, particularly over longer periods of time.” He suggests targeting those groups in particular, such as women, military personnel, and young people, in prevention efforts.
Work overload causing a rise in suicide risk among veterinarians – CTV News
February 5, 2023
**Language warning – use of the word ‘commit’** The Association des médecins vétérinaires du Québec has found that suicide rates are three times higher among veterinarians than the general population. Angelo Soares, Université du Québec à Montréal, conducted a study that found 15.7% of the almost 1000 members of the Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec surveyed reported “sometimes thinking about suicide” but said they wouldn’t kill themselves. Less than 1% said they wanted to die by suicide. Researchers have found that work overload is the main cause of crisis in the profession. Soares’ study found that 38% of veterinarians were experiencing burnout. Finding information about suicide as it relates to occupation is difficult in Canada, including Quebec. Quebec suicide prevention association (AQPS) president and CEO Jérôme Gaudreault explains, “Unfortunately, when the Coroner’s Office conducts its investigations, and the Quebec Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) evaluates, the data collection does not allow us to know the occupation of the person who died.” Obtaining this information would help prevent suicide as it would be possible to target professions with higher suicide rates in prevention initiatives.
NAIT executive shares tips on lowering the risk of suicide – Tech Life Today
January 30, 2023
Gerard Hayes, NAIT vice-president of students and campus life, previously trained staff in how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and reach out to help a person exhibiting them. Hayes is still passionate about suicide prevention. “People with thoughts of suicide, because of the stigma, are not able to talk to you about it,” says Hayes. “Some of them are in so much pain they don’t know how to express the seriousness of what’s going on with them.” If you’ve noticed any “big change” in a person in your life, Hayes says, lead them to help. “I’m not a counsellor,” Hayes notes, “I’m committed to getting them help – there are people out there to talk to.” After connecting the person to help, follow-up with them in whatever way you see fit, even if that means stepping aside completely after you’ve spoken with the person.