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:
This past Monday, “Blue Monday”, Mara Grunau, Executive Director at the Centre for Suicide Prevention, set out to dispel the myth that people are most depressed on this day. Grunau spoke to the fact that people who experience depression are ill, their mood doesn’t depend on the weather or time of year, and that having the “winter blahs” is different than being depressed. “It’s normal to get the ‘winter blahs,’ especially in Northern countries that get less sunlight in the winter. ‘The key difference is that depression is sustained,'” says Grunau.
Blue Monday not indicator of real depression: mental health experts – Global Edmonton
Blue Monday is a myth – Morinville News
It’s official, Calgary: Blue Monday is a myth – Metro Calgary
Canada’s Indigenous call for national suicide strategy – Al Jazeera
Jan. 19, 2017
First Nations leaders are asking the government for a national suicide prevention strategy following the suicide deaths of two youth in northern Ontario, in the Wapekeka community, which came after many other suicides and suicide attempts. “Every community member is deeply affected. These children could be alive today and their deaths preventable,” said Joshua Frogg, spokesman for the Wapekeka First Nation. The Centre for Suicide Prevention agrees that a national strategy is vital: “(A suicide prevention framework) does not identify the necessary jurisdictional mandates or resources; responsibilities are not defined in a clear way, and there are no definitive timelines. Simply put, a framework does not have the sheer weight or power of an official strategy.”
Can an online game help you learn to help struggling friends? – NPR
Jan. 21, 2017
Tulane University is educating students on how to identify if someone is struggling with mental health issues by using an online conversation simulation gamed called “At-Risk for College Students.” The game teaches students empathetic conversation skills, and how to “check-in” on fellow students.
New Girl Guides program aims to fill mental health education gap – CBC
Jan. 21, 2017
Girl Guides of Canada have partnered with Kids Help Phone, the Psychology Foundation of Canada, and Olympian Cheryl Pounder on the “Mighty Minds” program which launched a few weeks ago. The focus of the program is to use engaging, interactive activities to help girls talk about mental health. “One such activity is using an orange to symbolize a girl. Each girl involved in the activity is asked to say something that would hurt the girl’s feelings. Each time something is said, a pin is put in the orange. Zelmanovits said that often, girls say things that have been said to them during the activity.”
A statement from the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada regarding the legacy of Ralph Rowe – Anglican Church of Canada
Jan. 20, 2017
In a statement released last week, the Anglican Church of Canada has publicly acknowledged their involvement and responsibility in the intergenerational trauma of Indigenous people: “We acknowledge that our past actions have helped to create a legacy of brokenness in some First Nations communities, and we express our willingness, in spite of failings and false starts in the past, to renew our commitment to dialogue and discernment that will help us understand more deeply and act more effectively on our responsibilities.” Their statement specifically details the actions of Ralph Rowe, an Anglican priest and Boy Scout leader who abused many Indigenous boys throughout the 1970s and 80s in northern Ontario communities, which are now seeing increased suicide attempts and deaths. “Ralph Rowe’s abuse was massive in its scope and horrendous in its impact, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those who with great courage have borne witness to that abuse…”
Wapekeka First Nation asked for suicide prevention funds months before deaths of 2 girls – CBC
Jan. 19, 2017
During a First Nation suicide crisis news conference, it was disclosed that First Nations leaders in northern Ontario asked the federal government for suicide prevention funding months before the suicide deaths of two 12 year-old girls. After the deaths, the funding was received. Ottawa says the request came at “an awkward time” when all funding had already been allocated. “We just didn’t have the funding to support the program,” Keith Conn, First Nation and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada told CBC News. “We don’t have necessarily a flexible fund that we hold back for different projects.”
Study: Depression and suicidal ideation among Canadians aged 15 to 24 – Statistics Canada
Jan. 18, 2017
A new study, based on the results of a 2012 survey, shows that 14% of youth ages 15 to 24 have had suicidal thoughts in their lifetime, while 6% had suicidal thoughts within the year. “Depression and suicidal thoughts were more common among young women than young men. Also, the prevalence of both depression and suicidal thoughts was higher among those who lacked emotional support or had a relatively low ability to deal with stress.”
Alberta’s child advocate calls for expanded role to offer mental-health supports – CBC
Jan. 18, 2017
Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff believes that the advocate’s office should have an expanded role, as currently they can only offer mental-health supports to youth in the justice or child welfare system, and, as Graff says, “If young people have mental health concerns and they need advocacy, and they don’t have involvement with those other two systems, then currently they’re not within our designated services group.”
Bell, Northwestel announce funding for new suicide prevention program – CBC
Jan. 18, 2017
Bell and Northwestel are providing $250,000 for funding to deliver safeTALK: suicide alertness workshop for everyone at Iqaluit high school Inuksuk. The training is a basic half-day suicide prevention workshop that teaches people how to identify the signs of someone who is suicidal and connect them to help. This training is provided in Alberta by the Centre for Suicide Prevention.
Tragic death outside Foothills Medical Centre highlights crisis support – Global Calgary
Jan. 17, 2017
Last Tuesday, a man killed himself in front of the ER doors of the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta. “It would have been an unsettling thing even if you didn’t witness or weren’t aware that a weapon was present,” said Stuart Brideaux, spokesperson for Calgary EMS. “There certainly was a very significant and very swift police presence at the hospital. That alone can cause some anxiety or concern among people.” AHS has said they are taking steps to ensure the safety of patients and visitors.
‘I was desperate’: Sask. men say mental health system failing people in crisis – CBC
Jan. 17, 2017
Two Saskatchewan men who feel failed by the mental health system are petitioning for a new mental health ministry. One man, Todd Rennebohm, said he went to an ER one day when he was in suicidal crisis, and “said he was lucky to see a psychiatrist that day.” However, the psychiatrist promptly allowed him to leave the hospital and said, “He just agreed with me, ‘Yeah, I agree you’re suicidal, just keep taking your meds and come back when we have room,'” said Rennebohm.
Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening – Mosaic
Jan. 17, 2017
Iceland effectively cut teenage drinking, marijuana use, and smoking by more than half since 1998. Teen drinking and drug use used to be a major issue in the country, until they built sport facilities and adopted after-school classes in the facilities. Iceland also created stronger bonds between parents and schools, and the drinking and tobacco purchasing ages were increased. “Protective factors have gone up, risk factors down, and substance use has gone down – and more consistently in Iceland than in any other European country,” said Álfgeir Kristjánsson, who worked in Iceland as part of the initial study of youth that brought about the changes.
Work-life balance ‘increasingly stressful for fathers’ – BBC
Jan. 16, 2017
Working fathers are finding it difficult to spend time with their children, and MPs in the UK are considering an inquiry into whether or not employers should be doing more to help dads “take a more active role in childcare.” Data from a survey done by Working Families has found that many men find their workplaces “unsupportive of their aspirations for a better work-life fit.” We know that middle-aged men have the highest suicide rates, and we also know that spending time with family is a protective factor against suicide ideation.
Stop the tragic suicides on reserves: Editorial – Toronto Star
Jan. 16, 2017
Nishnawbe Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler wants the federal government to implement a national suicide prevention strategy to help direct the course of suicide prevention in Canada. Grand Chief Fiddler has seen many suicide deaths and attempts in his communities, including Attawapiskat, which saw 100 attempts last year, and Wapekeka which has seen 270 youth suicides in 30 years.
Sharing her story: SMU athlete opens up about her suicide attempt, ending stigma – Metro Halifax
Jan. 16, 2017
Hannah Wallace, a player for Saint Mary’s Huskies rugby team, has opened up about her struggle with depression and suicide attempt. In 2016, one of her teammates died due to mental illness, and because of her own experience decided to take action against stigma. Now Wallace is working on mentorship campaign “Here for Peers” that helps varsity athletes succeed, and Elephant in the Room campaign which aims to end mental illness stigma. “If I took a hard tackle on the field, they’d send me to physiotherapy. It should be no different for an illness to your mind. Learning to understand and talk about these things is a big step,” Wallace said. “It’s hard to open up and share my story, but it shouldn’t be such a struggle or scary to tell people how you feel inside. We need to make the journey easier for everyone and end the stigma.”
Opinion: We must turn the tide on Canada’s opioid crisis – Globe and Mail
Jan. 13, 2017
Health Minister Jane Philpott wrote this opinion piece about the need to look deeper at the issue of addiction, and recognize that individuals suffering from it, such as deep psychological pain. “It is true that, for some, addiction starts with physical pain or biochemical risk factors. But for many, the pain that leads to substance use is not as simple as a broken limb or postoperative wounds. Very often, social isolation and trauma are at the core of problematic substance use.” Minister Philpott goes on to say that “Addiction is not a crime. Addiction is not a mark of moral failure. It is a health issue. For many, it is a mechanism to manage unbearable pain, an attempt to relieve suffering when life offers few alternatives.”