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:

Suicide rate drops in 2016Airdrie City View
Jan. 26, 2017
The suicide rate in Alberta dropped in 2016, showing a decrease of almost 100 in the first 6 months when compared to 2015. Mara Grunau, Executive Director at the Centre for Suicide Prevention, said we aren’t sure why the numbers have decreased, but wanted to remind people that Alberta still has one of the highest rates of suicide among the provinces. “People need to remember that even if the numbers come down, they’re still really high,” Grunau said. “They’re moving in the right direction and we applaud that, but it’s not at a level that we would consider acceptable.”

SAIT Trojans turn up the volume for mental healthMetro Calgary
Jan. 23, 2017
SAIT Polytechnic ran the #MakeSomeNoise for Mental Health Campaign from Jan. 23 – 27. They got the week started with a spin class for 100 participants, which CSP was happy to attend. “It’s about getting people engaged with mental health issues, and give people a platform to have a conversation about sometimes scary topics,” said Sheldon Kennedy, honorary chair of the Make Some Noise for Mental Health Campaign.

Study calls for more detailed data on Saskatchewan suicide ratesCBC
Jan. 30, 2017
A recent study has found that Saskatchewan is keeping inadequate suicide data and tracking – which has resulted in skewed rates. One of the study’s authors, University of Saskatchewan professor Caroline Tait says, “What we know is that we have the highest concentration of Indigenous people in northern Saskatchewan, and we know the suicide rates are elevated there, so we just assume the rates are high amongst Indigenous people, But what we don’t know is whether the rates for Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous youth, are elevated in other regions of the province as well.” The study calls for an “Indigenous youth surveillance framework,” which would allow for Indigenous people affected by suicide (whether they attempt themselves or have had a family member die) to identify their ethnicity as part of a clinical intake tool.

Dealing with the effects of suicide-by-truckCBC
Jan. 28, 2017
Patrick Forgues and partner Kareen Lapointe started a Facebook Page, SSPT chez les camionneurs, to help truck drivers who suffer from PTSD caused by incidents of “suicide by truck,” which Forgues himself has experienced first-hand. “It’s a truck driver’s worst fear,” Forgues said. “We know it happens pretty often. We always cross our fingers and hope it doesn’t.” Forgues’ company didn’t have much by way of mental health supports, and Forgues says that most drivers deal with their trauma simply by getting back to work. “That’s not the way to do it. That just traumatizes a driver all over again. It could affect a person for the rest of their life,” he said.

Irving family’s fortunate son explains how he fell into a dark depression, and rose again Globe and Mail
Jan. 28, 2017
Kenneth Irving, CEO of “a multibillion-dollar energy empire” and a member of Canada’s third richest family talks about his struggles with depression, and his eventual admission into a psychiatric hospital in the US. “By every standard, Kenneth knew he was a lucky man. And yet, alone in the dark, all he felt was anger and despair…” This feature explains in-depth Irving’s rise to success and spiral into depression. Irving describes feeling completely alone when working on offshore rigs: “I was just getting up at night, feeling total despair, and not knowing who to talk to.”

Charity not the answer to First Nations suicide crisis, anti-poverty expert saysCBC
Jan. 27, 2017
Jim Silver, chair of the department of urban and inner-city studies at the University of Winnipeg, commends the individual who anonymously donated $380,000 to fund a suicide prevention program in Wapekeka (see story following). However, Silver believes that charity is not a solution: “All credit to the private individual, but what happens when children die in the next community, is there going to be another individual who will put their private money in?” Silver argues that the government needs to meet their “constitutional responsibility to First Nations” by adopting policy and providing funding to improve overall living conditions. “What we need is a strategy that strengthens Indigenous communities, empowering people to contribute directly to their own communities,” said Silver.

Nunavut’s 2016 suicide death toll equals previous year’sNunatsiaq Online
Jan. 26, 2017
Nunavut’s chief coroner confirms that 32 people died by suicide in 2016, matching 2015’s numbers. These numbers are “in line with the 5 year territorial average” and lower than the 45 suicides recorded in 2013 – the highest in Nunavut’s history. However, Nunavut police reported 112 incidents of attempted suicides, which is almost double the number of attempts in 2015.

Four suicide deaths at the University of Guelph has some students calling it a crisisCTV
Jan. 26, 2017
Students at the University of Guelph have signed a petition asking the university to take the issue of suicide prevention and mental health more seriously. The university is hosting workshops like safeTALK: suicide alertness for everyone and ASIST suicide intervention training, but student Michala James says that the university needs to do a better job of letting students know what resources are available.

Private donor funds suicide-prevention program for Ontario First Nation communityGlobe and Mail
Jan. 25, 2017
Wapekeka Chief Brennan Sainnawap and Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Alvin Fiddler announced last week that $380,000 will be given by an anonymous donor to Wapekeka, a northern Ontario community that has been seeking money from the federal government for much needed suicide prevention programs in the community.

Bell Let’s Talk: End the stigma – Talk about mental healthCTV News
Jan. 25, 2017
Bell held their annual “Bell Let’s Talk” day last Wednesday, donating 5 cents to mental health programs for every text message and phone call made by their customers. Tweets using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk also counted towards donations.This year over $6.5 million was raised.

Spouses of critically ill patients face deadly stressCBC
Jan. 24, 2017
When a person is hospitalized for a “critical illness”, the caregiving spouse has a 67% chance of having depressive symptoms and a 16% chance of major depressive disorder. “Health care professionals seldom acknowledge the stress that partners undergo when a spouse is acutely ill.  Maybe we don’t want to acknowledge a problem we can’t fix.  Doctors expect spouses to manage an acutely ill loved one – forgetting they may have illnesses that make them increasingly frail.”

Banks face mental health challengeBBC
Jan. 24, 2017
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) has just published research to show that “periods of poor mental health put people at risk of financial trouble…” and MMHPI is now recommending to banks in the UK that they adapt their systems to help those with mental health issues. “It is time for the financial services industry to adapt its services to help support people when they are unwell – just as they do to help people with physical disabilities who struggle to access a branch or engage on the phone,” said Polly Mackenzie, MMHPI director.


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