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:

Prosperity or BustAvenue Magazine
Feb. 6, 2017
In this feature about Calgary’s boom and bust economy, CSP Trainer and Distress Centre Calgary’s Clinical Services Manager David Kirby talks about the emotional and psychological impact of unemployment: “In general, what we see over a hundred years of research is that any time there’s an economic downturn, like a recession, and unemployment goes up, so do suicides,” he says.

University of Guelph struggling to meet students’ mental health needsToronto Star
Feb. 12, 2017
The University of Guelph in Ontario has experienced four student suicides in just 5 months – the highest number of student suicides ever in the school’s history. Now, students are petitioning for “change and transparency” in the school’s mental health services, as they are concerned about the quality and accessibility of mental health resources on campus. Over 2,800 students signed the petition in just two weeks. However, “School officials and mental health experts say universities cannot be the sole source of help. They need the support and partnership of outside care providers to adequately meet the growing demand for mental health services amongst students.”

Sudden change in job functions can take toll on employees’ mental healthGlobe and Mail
Feb. 11, 2017
Human resources consulting firm Morneau Shepell found that one major source of anxiety for Canadian employees is “an accelerated pace of change” in the workplace. 46% of over 1,000 Canadians surveyed by Morneau Shepell had taken time off or noticed co-workers taking time off following significant changes in the workplace. “While change in job function can be positive if it’s the employee’s choice, Paula Allen of Morneau Shepell said, ‘a job redesign typically means that someone else chose the change, how you function, what you do, how you are measured, how likely it is for you to be successful … it’s a very personal change.’” Workplaces can help minimize stress by creating supportive and positive work environments: “Employees were less likely to indicate negative impact to their job performance, [their] view of the company or their own health and well-being after an organizational change when they report a positive and supporting work culture,” said Allen.

University of Windsor battles surge in mental health casesCBC
Feb. 10, 2017
The University of Windsor is creating a mental health strategy to help students cope with the pressures of university life. The university’s Student Counselling Centre has seen an increase in the severity of mental health issues in students: “We’re seeing more and more students on the further end of the continuum struggling with some severe mental illness issues,” said Dr. Mohsan Beg, psychologist and director of the centre. Beg also emphasized that suicide is a concern: “Those at the severe end of depression might feel like (suicide) is a solution. That just emphasizes why we need to do more and intervene earlier to prevent any of these tragedies.”

First Nations trades school inspires students in Thunder Bay, On.CBC
Feb. 10, 2017
Thanks to chiefs, teachers, and education officials, a new trade school has opened up in Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations high school in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The Ontario government provided the school with $500,000 to refurbish the automotive classroom, manufacturing technology shop, and kitchen as part of phase one of the school’s offerings. Soda Kakegamic, 20, is learning to become a mechanic in the automotive shop. “It’ll be really useful because we don’t really have a mechanic back in our reserve, so if I learn a lot of stuff, I can help them out over there,” Kakegamic said. Chris Kakegamic, chair of the education council said that this is a great opportunity to fill the skilled-worker gap in remote communities. “How many times a year do we fly in contractors to do work in our communities? We have always said, ‘why can’t we train our own? Why don’t we have plumbers and mechanics in our communities?'” said Kakegamic.

Should emotions be taught in schools? Ideas.Ted
Feb. 10, 2017
This article argues that teaching children how to identify and manage their emotions is just as important as teaching them history, math and science. By teaching children “emotional skills,” we can help them deal with their emotions, and not become overwhelmed by them.

Manitoba chief loses cousin to suicide while in Ottawa to discuss crisisCBC
Feb. 9, 2017
Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakana spoke to the Indigenous Affairs committee last week about the suicide and mental health crisis in some Indigenous communities. Sadly, she lost her cousin to suicide while she was in Ottawa. Speaking about her cousin, North Wilson said, “He cared for his family, he tried to do his best, but he couldn’t… My cousin wanted a good life as much as anybody else.” She went on to say that “Our young people feel the same way, they’re desperate.”

Analysis: Thinking differently about aboriginal suicideWinnipeg Free Press
Feb. 9, 2017
This analysis piece argues that leadership of Indigenous communities needs to be in the hands of Indigenous people themselves – noting that in last week’s Indigenous Affairs committee meeting, which addressed issues that Indigenous people are facing, the majority of politicians were non-Indigenous: “Non-indigenous politicians holding the power to make decisions about indigenous lives.” Chiefs who were present at the meeting emphasized that Indigenous communities can make decisions for themselves, and don’t need or want to be told how to do things by non-Indigenous politicians. “We know how to take care of ourselves. We need that to be respected in this country” said Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakana.

Indigenous youth suicide a national issue, Alberta’s child advocate saysCBC
Feb. 9, 2017
Del Graff, Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate, issued an investigative report into the death’s of 7 Indigenous children who had received child intervention services. Last week, Graff presented to a ministerial panel examining the child intervention system, and told the panel that if the recommendations from the report, which included a province-wide suicide prevention strategy, were implemented, it would “make a difference.” “Manitoba’s got the same issue. Ontario has the same issue. This is becoming a national issue — the issue of Indigenous young people who are dying by suicide,” Graff told the panel.

Does depression have an evolutionary purpose?Nautilus
Feb. 9, 2017
Citing recent research, this article argues that perhaps there is an evolutionary reason for why humans experience depression. Paul Andrews, an evolutionary psychologist at McMaster University suggested that depression is designed to pull us away from thinking about daily life events and to instead focus our attention on underlying problems that need to be dealt with, such as a breakup or financial issue, however, “even if depression evolved as a useful tool over the eons, that doesn’t make it useful today.”

Ontario invests an additional $140M in mental health servicesCBC
Feb. 8, 2017
Ontario’s Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced that his government will be spending $140 million in mental health services over three years, in addition to the $3.7 billion Ontario is already spending. The funding will go toward a province-wide structured psychotherapy program, mental health “hubs” for youth, and over 1,000 more supportive housing units. It is thought that Ontario is putting more pressure on the Federal Government to assist provinces further: their current initiative means that Ontario would receive funding towards only 1% of the province’s mental health expenditures.

Lost in the middleProto
Feb. 8, 2017
A report by the National Center for Health Statistics in the US found that between 1999 and 2014 suicides increased 24%, and men ages 45 to 64 saw a 43% increase. The report found that white men are especially vulnerable to suicide; it’s speculated that their suicides may be attributable to “disappointed expectations of social and economic well-being, a trend that has hit white baby boomers particularly hard,” but it’s difficult to identify the cause.

If you live your life without mental health issues, science says you’re the weird oneBGR
Feb. 7, 2017
A new study of almost 1000 people found that only around 17% of them did not report having ever experienced a mental health issue. About 40% of study participants reported having a short-term mental health issues before they reached age 38, and the other participants reported having significant mental health issues for extended periods of time.

‘A very vicious cycle’: Sexual abuse root cause of indigenous suicide crisis, Aglukark saysNational Post
Feb. 6, 2017
Inuit artist and advocate Susan Aglukark is speaking out against the sexual abuse in northern communities, believing it to be the root cause of suicide in Indigenous communities. “The longer we wait, the more we are going to have suicides,” she said. “The cycle of abuse is not going to change if we don’t act now,” said Aglukark. Aglukark herself was sexually abused as a child, a trauma she has carried with her throughout her life. Aglukark believes that both the perpetrators of the abuse and the survivors themselves need to be set on a path of healing and recovery. “There is a very vicious cycle in our communities right now, all from the residential school era,” Aglukark said. “My abuser himself was abused in residential school.”

‘Silence can kill’ says Prince William as he urges honesty over mental healthTelegraph
Feb. 6, 2017
Prince William spoke about mental health to a group of health writers last week, saying that “suicide (is) a subject that is so often hidden. The suicide rate among young men in this country is an appalling stain on our society. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40 in this country. Not cancer, not knife crime, not road deaths – suicide… If one of these other issues took so many young lives, there would be a national outcry. But there has only ever been silence. And this has to stop. This silence is killing good people.”


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