Hello Friends,

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:

Worker Fatalities Rates Decline, but Worker Suicide Rates IncreaseOccupational Health and Safety Online
February 21, 2020
A new report from the American Bureau of Labour Statistics has found that there was an 11% increase in worker suicides from 2017 to 2018. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is raising awareness of how to address the issue of worker suicide, and have recommended practices, including highlighting mental health resources available for employees, risk mitigation, and reducing toxic work environments. Sally Spencer-Thomas, a psychologist and board president of United Suicide Survivors International, says, “Often it requires a high-level leader to step forward and say this matters. It can’t be shoved off to the wellness people or HR folks. For things to change, it takes a top executive saying this is important to our company, our mission and to me.”

Opinion: Caroline Flack’s death shows how social media has democratised crueltyGuardian
February 21, 2020
Caroline Flack, 40, former host of Love Island, died by suicide Saturday, February 15. This opinion piece explores the criticism Flack faced on all forms of media, and how, “there is no single villain in this coalition of moral persecution: in fact, it involves us all.” Flack was facing prosecution for assault of her partner, who withdrew his complaint against her. The media frequently posted articles criticizing Flack, which were met with criticism from readers, too. The author of this opinion piece argues that the public finds contentment in reading articles such as these, and, “To take kindness seriously, we need to confront not only the machinery that loops us into sadomasochistic frenzies for the purposes of generating profitable flows of attention and engagement. We also need to take seriously our own pleasure in, and fascination with, personal destruction.”

Calls for culturally-specific care amidst concerns over mental health issues in black communitiesCBC
February 20, 2020
Dr. Mansfield Mela, professor of psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan, says that there is a lack of culturally-appropriate services for black communities in Saskatchewan’s healthcare system. “The existing system has not been designed in a way to accommodate the unique challenges the black communities face. When they try to intersect with those systems, problems such as the lack of understanding of their culture, the difficulties in communication with the providers in such systems on awareness or how to navigate the system, emerge,” Mela said. Fulgence Ndagijimana, executive director of the Community of Francophone Africans of Saskatchewan says that, “This is something that is worrying and that is real. I believe that mental health is really linked to the experience of many of our members, which is the experience of immigration.” Saskatchewan recently experienced the suicide death of a person from Burundi, which sent “a shock through the African community.” Among African communities, the narrative that “depression is a western thing” is common, making it difficult for those within the community who experience mental health issues to reach out for help.

How To Help Friends Who Post About Mental Health On Social MediaBustle
February 19, 2020
Recent research has found that many people do not reach out directly to ask for help for suicidal thoughts through social media, but instead, many ask for help in indirect ways. 15% of people express feelings of depression by posting song lyrics, while 10% use emojis or quotes. The same research found that many people didn’t encourage posters to get help, because they didn’t know they were struggling due to their indirect communication styles. Being able to recognize these subtle warning signs allow a person’s friends or followers to reach out to encourage them to get help. Ashley Womble, head of communications at Crisis Text Line, told the authors of this article, “When you want to help your friends… it’s best not to assume that someone will ask for help directly if they need it and instead be proactive about offering assistance.”

‘I thought I was going to die’: Canadian farmers open up about struggles with mental healthCBC
February 18, 2020
Factors like isolation, financial pressures, and expectations of stoicism contribute to the mental health issues of farmers in Canada. Sean Stanford, a farmer in Magrath, south of Lethbridge, Alberta, has been open about his own struggles with mental health. “If I hadn’t gotten help, I don’t know if I would be here today, honestly. I am not saying I am a suicidal person necessarily, but you start to get to some dark places when you don’t know what’s going on inside of yourself,” said Stanford. “Farmers are supposed to be the salt of the earth, strong people who don’t need help from anybody. They are supposed to carry on no matter what happens to them. But I have come to realize that asking for help is not a bad thing.” Do More Ag, co-founded by Leslie Kelly, is an organization that encourages farmers to reach out for help and to talk about their mental health. Kelly says, “In agriculture we always hear about the latest advances in technology and innovation, and we forgot about our people.”
Related: Stress, depression and getting farmers to talk about itCBC

Opinion: How do we prevent suicide? We must start with the most painful conversations – Guardian
February 17, 2020
In light of the suicide death of Caroline Flack, this article discusses how suicide can be prevented, and suggests that having difficult conversations with people thinking about suicide are an important form of prevention. Suzanne Moore, author of this opinion piece, says, “If someone does tell you about suicidal feelings… the response should not be one of blame, nor a lecture on the devastation left behind, or a treatise on selfishness. Far better to simply ask them to keep talking to you about it… To be with someone in this state is extremely hard… We should talk about suicide with compassion, not shame. We are all avoiding the conversation that we need to have because it so painful. But the alternative is far, far worse.”

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