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:

Preliminary data shows Alberta’s suicide rates declined in 2020EverythingGP
February 15, 2021
Preliminary data from the Medical Examiner’s office in Alberta shows a decline in the suicide rate for 2020. 468 died by suicide in Alberta in 2020, while in 2019, there were 601 suicide deaths. Men are still three times more likely than women to die by suicide. These numbers are preliminary, and it may take up to 18 months for examiner’s to complete death investigations and finalize the numbers. Mara Grunau, executive director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention said, “Suicide is considered a lagging indicator of things that might be happening in a population…  if (we) are going to experience a rise in suicides, which we’re not necessarily going to… we wouldn’t expect it for a while. It’s a delayed response.”

Opinion: Red Deer Public School division should reconsider Pride WeekRed Deer Advocate
February 12, 2021
Red Deer Public School trustees voted down a motion to introduce Pride Week to their school district. The author of this opinion article argues for the decision to be reconsidered. “Why does this decision matter? Hopefully, these numbers will help put this into perspective…: According to the Calgary-based Centre for Suicide Prevention, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are ‘five times more likely to consider suicide’ and ‘seven times more likely to attempt suicide.’ In addition, LGTBQ students are three times more likely to ‘experience discrimination’ than their heterosexual peers… With disturbing numbers such as these, why should we not do everything in our power to create a supportive environment for these students?”
Related – Lacombe resident calls Red Deer Public’s vote against Pride Week frighteningPonoka News

Hawaii sees fewer suicides in pandemicMaui News
February 13, 2021
Preliminary data from the state of Hawaii is showing a decrease in suicide, where numbers were higher before the pandemic began. February had the highest numbers, while the nine-month period of lock down, which began at the end of March, had fewer suicides, 124. The average number of suicide deaths in the same previous nine-month periods through 2015 to 2019 was 150. These numbers are still preliminary and are subject to change as death investigations are completed.

FSIN optimistic on new suicide prevention fundingThe Star Phoenix
February 13, 2021
Last September, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) co-signed a letter with federal and provincial governments committing to tripartite action to address suicide in First Nations in Saskatchewan. Vice-chief David Pratt said that he’s hoping to further define the commitment by finalizing details and funding in the next few months. “I’m hopeful that we can look at making some kind of announcement sooner rather than later, to let the region and the people know we’re seriously addressing this,” he said.

As suicides rise, young survivors make case for hope in film Tri-City News
February 13, 2021
MTV will be airing a new documentary, “Each and every day,” which features interviews by people who have had suicide ideation. The documentary will air commercial-free this Tuesday 9 pm EST on MTV in the US. “Hopefully, kids and people out there who watch will listen to my story. Hopefully, they see that I overcame so many obstacles and they can, too,” said Hannah, one of the interviewees. “I was struggling really badly and I didn’t reach out for help, and not reaching out for help almost killed me. I really want them to see what not to do.” She also emphasized, “If you think someone is thinking about suicide, ask them. Talking about it isn’t going to put someone more at risk.”

Two police officers died of suicide after Captiol riot. More are hurting.The Washington Post
February 12, 2021
*Method warning* A third officer to have defended the Capitol in Washington during the riot on January 6 has died by suicide, Jeffrey Smith, 35. According to his wife, Erin Smith, he feared for his life during the riot, during which a metal pole was thrown at his head, striking his helmet and face shield. After his shift, he visited the police medical clinic, where he was put on sick leave and given pain medication. Following that, Jeff began behaving differently, refusing to take the dog for walks, talk to people besides his wife, and even watch TV. Erin said he also began having sleep disturbances. “He wasn’t the same Jeff that left on the 6th. . . . I just tried to comfort him and let him know that I loved him. I told him I’d be there if he needed anything, that no matter what, we’ll get through it. I tried to do the best I could,” she said. Jeffrey Smith’s follow-up appointment with the police clinic was January 14, when he was ordered back to work. That night, he was unable to sleep, and on his way to work the next day he died by suicide. John Violanti, a research professor at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, said that even before the attack on the Capitol, police in the US were under pressure following the death of George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis. Violanti says, “the occupation has been under tremendous scrutiny by the public,” and in his opinion, “Officers are suffering from this. There’s a feeling of a huge lack of support, not only from the public but from administrations.”

Handgun ownership associated with firearm suicideEurekAlert! Science News
February 11, 2021
A new study has found that, among those who own guns, those who own handguns in particular have an increased risk of suicide.

Death of 2 youth protection workers in Montreal prompts investigation – Global News
February 10, 2021
Two young female staff members of Quebec’s youth protection system, between the ages of 23 and 26, died by suicide last week. Sonia Bélanger, the head of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal said,“We are absolutely devastated by this terrible news, which has led to a significant shock wave in our establishments.” Psychological supports are being offered to relatives of the two young women, as well as to employees in the youth protection system. Montreal police are investigating the deaths.

Counselling subsidy available for those grieving after a suicide CHAT News Today
February 10, 2021
Medicine Hat has experienced several suicides in the past few months, and the government of Alberta, through the Ministry of Health’s Coordinated Community Response to Suicide Program, is offering to subsidize up to six counselling sessions for those affected by a suicide. The sessions are being offered by Canadian Mental Health Association of Alberta South East Region. Executive Director Sandra Milne said, “One of the things we are really talking about now is the word hope and making sure that we are talking to people about hope and resilience and one of the things I heard recently that I just love is hope can stand for ‘hang on, pain ends.’ And so we’re trying to get those messages out into the community, get them the help that they require and hopefully do some healing.”

A pandemic plus: Florida suicides plummeted. Experts worry it won’t lastTampa Bay Times
February 10, 2021
Preliminary numbers for 2020 are finding a decrease in suicide numbers in the state of Florida. “During national crises, we tend to see large drops in the suicide rates. Wars, natural disasters — we tend to see drops in suicides for the first year or two,” said Dr. Bart Andrews, a board member of the American Society of Suicidology. “The biggest reason is there is a level of societal collectiveness. Everyone is in this together. It’s the nationalization of our mood. All of a sudden, people are part of something larger than themselves.” Dr. Scott Poland, a psychologist and co-director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University said, “I would say we’re probably going to have to wait at least another year before we are actually able to tell what was the effect of the pandemic… I suspect the suicide rates will increase.”

Hillsborough Bridge redesign won’t include suicide prevention barriersCBC
February 9, 2021
Extensive construction on the Hillsborough Bridge in PEI will not include suicide prevention barriers, despite having been recommended in the PEI government’s suicide prevention strategy, released three years ago. “It makes me feel frustrated,” said mental health advocate Courtney Crosby. “We often hear that this is a common place where people will go when they’re in those desperate moments and feeling suicidal. I’m disappointed that that wasn’t made a priority.” Green MLA Trish Altass, the Opposition critic for health and wellness said, “Any time that government is choosing to ignore expert advice and recommendations that are based on evidence, I think that’s very concerning. When we have recommendations that come from organizations like CMHA, who are experts in mental health and addictions, who are working on the ground with Islanders in crisis day in and day out … we need to take those recommendations seriously, and … government needs to act on them.”  Mental health advocate Sarah Stewart-Clark said, “We know that we can’t put up barriers on every bridge. But this is a bridge that is visible from and within walking distance to our psychiatric hospital. Hillsborough Bridge has a history with people jumping and so it was our highest priority.”

Preventing Clinician Suicide: A Call to Action During the COVID-19 Pandemic and BeyondJournal of the Association of American Medical Colleges
February 9, 2021
In this commentary piece, suicide prevention experts and physicians call for action in preventing clinician suicide. They examine pervasive stress in clinicians, using the case study of Dr. Lorna Breen, who died by suicide while recovering from COVID-19. They also look at how the pandemic is affecting the lives of clinicians, describe current initiatives to address clinician stress, burnout, and suicide, and recommend evidence-based actions to prevent clinician suicide.

How the pandemic impacts suicidal behavior Contemporary Pediatrics
February 8, 2021
A new report has found that there was an increase in suicide ideation and behaviours among young people, as, “Researchers concluded that the rates of suicide ideation and attempts were higher in 2020 when compared to 2019, but the increased rate was not uniform. The months with higher rates of suicide-related behavior were noted to correspond with periods when pandemic stressors and community responses were elevated.”

U.S. family sues trading app Robinhood over college student’s suicideCTV News
February 8, 2021
The family of Alex Kearns, 20, who died by suicide, is suing free-trading app Robinhood. The family believes the app is connected to Kearns’ suicide, as, in a message he left behind, he asked how a 20-year-old with no income could get access to nearly $1 million US of financial leverage using the app. The lawsuit accuses Robinhood of causing Kearns’ death, as well as having unfair business practices. “Robinhood’s website entices young, inexperienced users,” the suit contends. “By marketing its online trading platform like a video game, it implied that trading stock and options was a fun way to make money, perhaps even to get rich.”

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