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:

‘Some people just shouldn’t have handguns’: Mentally ill allowed to own, buy guns – CBC News Saskatoon
January 21, 2018

Family members who have lost loved ones to suicide through the use of guns feel Canadians need to know that current gun control measures are not as rigid as many think and that we cannot afford to be “smug” about our current regulations. They feel a lot more could be done to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a risk to themselves or others.

80% of all firearm deaths in Canada are by suicide, according the RCMP. However, a medical opinion is not required to own a gun, even if someone suffers from mental illness. This requirement is optional in most provinces.

For example, Adrian Clavier killed himself with a gun at the age of 50. He had been under psychiatric care for 35 years and was on heavy medication that “could have contributed to suicidal thoughts”. Adrian applied for a gun licence and disclosed all of his psychiatric history. The “Saskatchewan official did not speak to his psychiatrist or get a medical opinion to see if Clavier should have a gun”.

Clavier’s family has spent the last 2 years since his death seeking answers. They wonder how someone such as Adrian, “with  a long and well-documented history of mental illness and an obsession with guns could continue to have legal and ready access to them”.

The RCMP said they would investigate the case but have yet to contact the family with any results. This prompted the family to go public with their concerns.

Sadly, there are far too many stories similar to Adrian Clavier.

A remedy for this situation will not be easy. The Coalition for Gun Control blames the former government of Stephen Harper for the current climate and they believe the Liberals do not have the “political will” to rectify matters. Conversely, gun advocated like the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights feel that government regulation can only do so much and more legislation won’t change that.

Statistics Canada says  the number of firearm-related suicides increased from 136 in 2004 to 262 in 2014.

Suicide prevention experts say say limiting access to guns for those at risk of suicide is part of the solution, along with access to mental health support.
“When someone is in suicidal crisis, the absolute point of crisis is typically short-lived. And so if they cannot access lethal means in that short amount of time, and they come out of the crisis, either through intervention or they can take themselves out themselves, they’re not going to necessarily enter the crisis again,” explains
Mara Grunau, Executive Director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention.

Mara Grunau of Centre for Suicide Prevention speaks with CBC Edmonton about Indigenous suicide – CBC Radio
January 16, 2018

Mara Grunau, Executive Director for the Centre for Suicide Prevention sat down with CBC Edmonton’s Mark Connolly to discuss the over-representation of suicide amongst Indigenous youth in Alberta. She said,

“When we look at Indigenous suicide, suicide in general, it is complex. There is no easy fix. There is even greater complexity with Indigenous suicide. Like Del Graff, Alberta’s Children and Youth Advocate said, healing needs to come from within the community. When we speak with our Indigenous leaders and the youth themselves, they know what they need… They know where we can support them. It’s only through collaborative work that we can unwind the risk factors that they face on a daily basis.”

The impetus for the interview was the release of the Alberta Child and Youth Advocate’s report, Five Years of Investigations April 1, 2012 – March 31, 2017(see below), which focuses on the continuing crisis of Indigenous youth suicide in Alberta and the urgent need for the province to take action.Click here to listen to the interview: http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/edmonton-am/episode/15493176

‘Tragic’ youth suicide numbers laid bare in new report from Alberta’s child advocate -CBC News
January 16, 2018

A new report by the Alberta Child and Youth Advocate, Five Years of Investigations April 1, 2012 – March 31, 2017, states that 25 of  35 young people who took their own lives between 2012 and 2017 while in care were Indigenous.

Del Graff of the ACYA adds that they were “either in government care, receiving intervention services, or had previous involvement with the child intervention system”.The 25 youth equates to 71 %, the same percentage as those in care overall who are Indigenous.

Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee stated, “The most urgent issue raised in this report is the distressing overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in our child intervention system. We must do more to address this issue.”

In past ACYA reports Del Graff has called for a provincial suicide prevention  strategy to address the issue.

The provincial government is listening: “Several Alberta government ministries are working on that strategy. The government expects to have it in place by the end of 2018”.

Read the report here:http://www.ocya.alberta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/OCYARpt_2018_Investigations_FiveYearSummary.pdf

Alys Cole-King: Suicide is a tragedy – particularly when it is a doctor or nurse’ – The Guardian
January 16, 2018

Dr Alys Cole-King, psychiatrist with National Health Services(NHS) in the U.K. says she is increasingly noticing signs of distress amongst her NHS colleagues on Twitter, and other social media. She is worried that those in crisis will not seek help because she believes there is a culture of secrecy at NHS, to keep such things to oneself, because of a fear of reprisal.

One message she has tweeted to reach out to her colleagues in crisis:”Struggling at work during #NHSCrisis?”.  “Extra important look after yourself when possible PLEASE reach out & tell someone If you can’t tell colleagues, family or friends then make a SafetyPlan”.

The Office for National for National Statistics cites doctors and nurses as occupations at  high-risk for suicide. For example,the risk among female health professionals for suicide was 24% higher than the female national average. Because of this, and the widespread inaction on these professionals seeking attention, Cole-King believes it is imperative to get the message out that help is available.

Pangnirtung starts work on community wellness, suicide prevention – Nunatsiaq Online
January 16, 2018

The Baffin island community residents of Pangnirtung–elders, youth, parents, counsellors, school staff– are primed to spend the next two weeks designing workshops for a five-year community wellness action plan.
The topics of these workshops will include: “Building safety”, “Healthy relationships”, “Making powerful choices”, “coping and strength-building” and “Hope, help and healing”.

They hope these workshops will give people more personal support and decrease the risk of young people becoming unhappy or thinking about suicide.

Suicide continues to be a crisis in Nunavut. In 2016, 32 people died by suicide in Nunavut. 32 also died in 2015. No figures have been released yet for 2017.

The community plan stems from a territory-wide suicide prevention plan initiated by the Government of Nunavut(GN), Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Quality of Life Secretariat and the Embrace Life Council. One of the directives of the plan is that there would be money and support to strengthen existing efforts and new preventative measures.

The plan, called Inuusivut Anninaqtuq, or United for Life, provides $16 million over five years for community programs that support suicide prevention from a five-year fund of $35 million that the GN earmarked for mental health in its last budget.

The workshops in Pangnirtung start with a workshop for elders on Jan. 16 to Jan. 19, for parents, Jan. 17 to Jan. 20, for school staff, Jan. 16 to Jan. 25, and for youth, Jan. 23 to Jan. 26.

The community-wide workshop takes starts Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Childhood bullying linked to suicide risk for teens – Reuters
January 17, 2018
A longitudinal study by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) suggests that adolescents who were bullied in earlier childhood are more prone to later experiences of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts than those who were not bullied.

1,363 children born in 1997 and 1998 in Quebec were surveyed and asked about peer victimization and bullying from the ages 6 to 13. They were also “monitored for any mental health issues through age 15”.
The majority experienced little or no victimization but 26 % reported some bullying and a little under 15 % had suffered severe victimization.

At the age of 15, respondents were asked if they suffered from depression. 7% of those who had no victimization had depression, compared with 18% experiencing depression after a childhood of  severe victimization. For anxiety, the difference was 7% for those with no childhood victimization versus 20% for those who experienced severe victimization. Finally, those with no childhood victimization had 3% reporting suicidal ideation and 13 % of those with severe victimization had suicidal ideation.
Read the report:http://www.cmaj.ca/content/190/2/E37


Embracing an Awkward Moment Can Save a Life, Say Droga5’s Suicide Prevention Ads -Adweek
January 17, 2018

The Ad Council, The Jed Foundation, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Droga5 are all behind a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign and accompanying website called “seize the moment”. Its aim is to “help prevent suicide and promote mental health among teens and young adults”, using humour to address larger and darker issues.

The creators want to focus on providing young people with the tools and language they readily understand to allow for greater ability to take action  in moments of crisis. They also hope it will help facilitate communication and reduce stigma.

Celebrities like Markiplier, Meredith Foster, Orion Carloto, Shannon Beveridge and Tyler Oakley are featured in PSA  videos which are “packed with useful anecdotes and insights for anyone willing and able to listen”.


UPEI expands suicide intervention program – CBC News
January 17, 2018

The University of Prince Edward Island(UPEI) has received a grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund and is using it to bolster its suicide prevention strategy.The $25,000 grant will be used to train two UPEI student affairs employees in ASIST(Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), who will then train other students, faculty and staff.

This is a very exciting development in UPEI’s move to better equip our whole campus community to support our students, faculty and staff,” said Treena Smith, director of student affairs, in a news release.

UPEI aims to train up to 200 people in ASIST in the next three years.


Japan’s suicide rate drops for 8th straight year in 2017 – XinHuaNet
January 19, 2018

Japan has seen a decline in the number of suicides for the eighth straight year according to a report from the National Police Agency.

The number of suicides declined by 3.5 percent from 2016 to 21,140 cases.

The number of suicides in Japan peaked at over 34,400 cases in 2003 and had stayed above the 30,0000 line for 14 straight years.

The decline is attributed to better access to counselling and a stronger economy.


‘You do contemplate suicide’ — Michael Phelps opens up about his battle with depression – Business Insider
January 19, 2018

Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, with 28 medals to his name through five runs at the Summer Olympics, opened up to David Axelrod of CNN about his battles with depression over the years and said he has thought about suicide in the past. He hit his worst patch of depression after the 2012 games in London and he thought at the time, “I didn’t want to be in the sport anymore … I didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

He has subsequently been treated for his depression and now has a “much healthier relationship with his emotions”.

He is now a strong advocate for mental health issues. He is a firm believer in that it is “ok” to not be ok”. He has also added stress management programs to the offerings of the Michael Phelps Foundation,

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