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:

How Suicides At A Top New York Attraction May Change What We’ll Do For A View Forbes
January 15, 2021
*Method warning* The ‘Vessel’, a New York City structure and tourist attraction has seen three suicides in 12 months. The piece is a 16-story structure of spiraling staircases that quickly became a popular tourist destination after its installation in March 2019. It is now being closed to the public following the suicides. The author of this article asks: “Might the designers, developers and even the community leaders have considered these risks more thoughtfully from the start?” Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said that architects and builders “ought to be thinking about suicide prevention when designing their structures because one never knows who might be at risk and that has become more of a standard in the field because we have research that shows that barriers save lives…” She goes on to note that “The good news is that if you put up a barrier, they’re not going to think of another way in that moment because their thinking is like tunnel vision. If we can interfere with that process, it’s likely that their life would be saved.”

I Knew the Vessel Was Going to Have a Suicide Problem Years Before It Was BuiltCurbed, New York Magazine
January 15, 2021
*Method warning* One architecture critic notes that the railing height on the Vessel, a structure in New York City where three people have died by suicide in one year, is very low, just chest-height. Unlike the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, it is freestanding and was coded in the same category as amusement park rides and bleachers, which do not allow people to fall. According to this critic, “In the case of the Vessel, the building code did not account for its unobstructed 150-foot-high drop… ” The latest research on suicide prevention and architecture has found that having a high barriers does help prevent suicide, especially in young people who may act more impulsively. The critic also argues that, since the structure was designed in private for private property (that is open to the public), there was no public review process, where concerns about railing height may have been brought up.

Nicole Phelps on Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ depressionToday
January 12, 2021
Nicole Phelps is opening up about supporting her husband and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps through his mental health struggles. “I used to think, ‘Oh, I can fix him, I can be his therapist. I can be what he needs. But what I’ve learned is that you can’t take ownership for how they’re feeling, no matter how badly you want to,” said Phelps. She’s begun seeing a therapist to “provide her with the tools to be able to help Michael properly.”

Husband of Quebec doctor who took her own life shines light on pandemic burnoutGlobe and Mail
January 13, 2021
David Daigle, the husband of Karine Dion, 35, a Quebec medical doctor who died by suicide in early January, is opening up about his wife’s experience with burnout and the pandemic. Dion did not contract COVID-19, but was on stress leave twice in the past year. After returning back to work following her first leave, Daigle says Dion, “was not herself anymore. Afterward, she started to work again too quickly because she felt like she was in a war and wanted to help everyone.” During her second leave, “She felt guilty about being home and leaving her colleagues on their own. She felt a lot of guilt and distress.” She was planning to return to work in February, and Daigle says she was doing better in the days before she died in early January. Dion was receiving support from family and health professionals and had started an online support group for health-care workers. Daigle says he’s speaking out “to shine a light on mental health, to take care of our health-care workers. My wife was an extraordinary, exceptional woman and mother and I won’t ever forget her.”

Que. doctor’s death by suicide raises alarms over COVID-19 stressCTV News
January 11, 2021
Karine Dion, 35, a medical doctor living in Granby, Quebec, died by suicide earlier this month. Her husband David Daigle has said that he doesn’t believe that healthcare workers in Quebec are being adequately supported. Diane Francoeur of the Federation of Quebec Medical Specialists said that she’s seen “an increase in 22% in calls (to their physician assistance program) between June and December.” According to the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, between 5-8% of physicians have thought about suicide in the past year, and Dr. Patricia Dobkin, who has been leading physician and healthcare worker wellness programs, has said that she’s noticed changes in physician well-being since the beginning of the pandemic, “To watch people die and not even have their family nearby is extremely distressing for doctors, even doctors who are used to seeing death.” Dobkin says that doctors need permission, time, and resources for self-care. “The doctors’ minds and bodies are all one and they can’t separate them,” she said. “You can’t put people through 12-hour days for 10 months without a break and expect them to be just well. They’re just human beings like you and I and everyone has a limit.”
Related – Family of Quebec doctor who died by suicide hopes her death serves as wake-up callGlobal News

Capitol Police Officer who was on duty during the riot has died by suicide, his family saysWashington Post
January 11, 2021
US Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood, 51, died by suicide last week, according to his family. He had worked at the Capitol since 2005, and was on-duty when a mob breached the Capitol.

Subscribe to this weekly mailing list