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:

Miss Teenage Ontario puts focus on youth suicide – Brantford Expositor
January 29, 2018

Aleria Mackay, 18, is the newly declared Miss Teenage Ontario for 2018. She is also the first Indigenous winner of the title.

She is a graduate of Brantford Collegiate Institute and plans to study social work and theatre in the fall at university.

“I am very proud of where I came from and I’m very proud of my culture,” Aleria said in an interview in her home on Fifth Line in Ohsweken.

Aleria is from two Indigenous cultures – Onondaga at Six Nations and Anishinaabe at Temagami First Nation. She lives on Six Nations with her mother, who is a teacher and guidance counsellor at Hagersville Secondary School, and her older brother, Matthew.

She wants to raise awareness of the epidemic of youth suicide on some reserves. She says she experienced the pain of suicide early in life, going to a funeral at the age of 11 for a young girl who died by suicide.”I grew up going to funerals for young people,” she said.

Glee star Mark Salling dead at 35 of apparent suicide – National Post
January 30, 2018

Mark Salling,formerly of the TV show Glee, has died from an apparent suicide.

Salling pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of child pornography in September of last year. Prosecutors had found 50,000 images of underage children when his home was searched. He was expected to receive a sentence of 4 to 7 years in prison(after a plea bargain).

A month before his sentencing, he had attempted suicide by cutting his wrists. He had spent some time in treatment for “psychological problems”.

Father’s death gives Sudbury woman the strength to help others – CBC News Sudbury
January 30, 2018

19-year-old Alanna LaHay learned about her father’s mental health issues the hard way. Police had been looking for her and her mother to inform them of some terrible news: her father had died by suicide. Until then, Alanna says, she had no idea of her father’s issues. It was only later that she learned that he had suffered mental illnesses his whole life and had a history of struggles with alcohol as well.

“Losing my dad tragically while I was still in school was the most difficult experience I’ve ever had. I didn’t know whether I would be able to return to complete my final year.” says LaHay. But he had left her a note from which she says she drew inspiration and strength.

She is sharing her story as part of Cambrian College’s Wellness Week.

“I want to encourage students that they are not alone, in their darkest moments there are people who do care, and will listen. In order to change the stigma around mental health, we all have to be a part of the conversation.” she said.

Resolution could boost suicide prevention efforts in schools –  U.S. News and World Report
January 30, 2018

Danica Roem, Democratic member(Manassas) of the state assembly in Virginia, has “introduced HJ 138, a joint resolution that would request all Virginia school boards provide every employee with resources or training on how to identify students at risk of suicide”.

It is not mandatory that school districts comply with the resolution. However, it is hoped that many may be motivated to take steps toward suicide prevention.

The resolution expands on a law from 1999–SB 1250–which requires that all licenced school personnel report a child who may be exhibiting suicidal behaviours. The same law did not require that these personnel be trained in suicide prevention. It is hoped that this resolution might help to rectify that.

The S Word” documentary to shed light on suicide in young adults – Western Herald
January 31, 2018

“The S Word” is a new film that touches on suicide and the mental health of today’s young adults.

The film is directed by Lisa Klein who lost both her father and sister to suicide when she was a college student. These experiences caused her “shame and sadness”. After many years of emotional turbulence “she realized that the public needed to be talking more about suicide”. She decided to pour her energies into making a film about suicide and promoting suicide prevention.

Canadian farmers open up about mental health: ‘They’re not the only ones’  –  Global News
January 31, 2018

Almost 400 farmers came together in Edmonton at the Expo Centre  on Wednesday to attend the  first-ever mental health discussion at the annual FarmTech Conference. Lesley Kelly, a farmer, and her friend, Kim Keller, led the discussion. At one point, Keller asked everybody who had known someone who has taken their own life to stand. There were very few empty seats after the question.

Keller began advocating for mental health among farmers in 2015. Recently Keller and Kelley launched Do More Agricultural Foundation,a non-profit group aimed at improving mental health resources across Canada.

Keller says that Twitter has also become a significant forum to get the word out on mental health and suicide. She got involved tweeting about mental health and farmers last year and the conversation surrounding it has been strong and encouraging. Both Keller and Kelly have “received many messages from other farmers wanting to tell their story”.

Fidel Castro’s son has died by suicide, state media say – CBC News
February 1, 2018

Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, the son of Cuba’s late former leader Fidel Castro, has died by suicide after being treated for months for depression. He was 68 years old.

He worked as a  nuclear physicist and at the time of his death was working as a scientific counsellor to the Cuban Council of State and was vice-president of the Cuban Academy of Sciences.

The Cubadebate website said “Castro Diaz-Balart, who had been attended by a group of doctors for several months due to a state of profound depression, committed suicide this morning”.

His death came just over a year after that of his father, Fidel, who died at age 90 on Nov. 25, 2016.

Caring Circle launches in Fort Simpson to combat suicide and drug addiction –  CBC North
February 2, 2018

Four people died by suicide in Fort Simpson (a small community of 1200 or so in the Northwest Territories, about 500 km west of Yellowknife) last summer, within four months of one another. Because of this, people in the community are taking a proactive approach to tackling suicide and drug addiction.

On Wednesday, the first Caring Circle was held. Organized by Raymond Pidzamecky, a counsellor, who services Fort Simpson and the neighbouring communities. He was inspired by the turnout. He says 25 people showed up and those in attendance ranged in age from 22 to 70.

People had asked (before) ” Why aren’t we meeting before all this happens and become proactive?” Pidzamecky says and adds, “the consensus was, we don’t want to be spectators. We want to be part of change and we want to contribute to that change, not just come together when there’s a crisis.”

The group  discussed the strengths of individuals within the community and how people can use those strengths to help others, to help those at risk and prevent future suicides.

There are plans to hold these caring circles once a month for at least a year.

Logic’s Grammys performance tripled calls to national suicide prevention line –  CNN
February 3, 2018

Logic, performing his rap hit “1-800-273-8255”  at this year’s Grammy’s, caused the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (the same number as the title of the song) to receive three times the amount of calls that it usually gets during the 2-hour period of the awards show.

Frances Gonzalez, director of communications for the suicide prevention organization, said “Logic’s performance during the 2018 Grammys was an incredible moment in suicide prevention. By sharing a message of hope and taking the stage with individuals who have been personally affected by suicide, Logic demonstrated on a global scale that healing is happening every day for people in crisis, and that there is help available.”

The song comes from the perspective of someone who is feeling suicidal. The character phones the lifeline where a crisis worker helps him with his struggles. The song ends with a message of hope that “you are not alone” and “help is available”.

The Lifeline is open 24/7, and provides, “free and confidential emotional support and crisis counselling to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress”.