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:

Golden Gate Bridge reports spike in suicide deterrence – The Mercury News
January 22, 2018

The Golden Gate Bridge patrol team has reported an increase in successful interventions in 2017 compared to 2016. Last year, they assisted 245 people who were intent on killing themselves. Of these, 33 died by suicide. In 2016, they assisted less people(185) but had more suicides(39). Officials credit the increase of 5 extra officers (to make a team of 36) as the reason for their increased success.

The bridge has long been an “iconic site” and “hot spot”  for those wanting to die by suicide.

Officials hope that the increased officer presence coupled with the installation of the $204 million suicide barrier/netting (which is targeted for a Jan. 12, 2021completion date) will vastly reduce future suicides.

‘We matter a lot’: Indigenous youth gather in Ottawa to tackle suicide crisis – CBC News
January 22, 2018

Indigenous youth from across the nation gathered on Sunday at Ottawa’s Wabano Centre for a two-day Hope Forum. It is hosted by We Matter, a national youth-led group that supports Indigenous youth in overcoming hardship and mental distress.

The gathering of approximately 70 youth precedes a roundtable discussion on suicide taking place on January 22 with First Nations, Metis and Inuit leaders with Jane Philpott that will address the suicide crisis affecting so many Indigenous communities.

Kelvin Redvers and his sister Tunchai started We Matter to give a national voice to Indigenous youth, which they felt was lacking. They hope minister Philpott will leave the discussion with a greater appreciation for what “mental health services and care Indigenous youth want to see in their communities”.

Grand Bank signs on to national suicide prevention project after 6 deaths in 2 years – CBC News Newfoundland and Labrador
January 22, 2018

Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula on the Grand Banks has been the location for 6 suicides in the past 2 years. This has prompted the provincial government to be the first province to sign on to a national  suicide prevention project, Roots of Hope, created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). The government will spend $1.98 million over the next 5 years.

Roots of Hope “aims to create public awareness aims to create public awareness about mental health and supports, train health care professionals in the area, and offer services such as crisis lines and support groups to people who need them”.

Eastern Health and a community advocacy group in the Burin Peninsula will partner together and offer the program in the region.

South Korea to criminalise suicide pacts – The Straits Times
January 23, 2018

The government of South Korea is trying to combat one of the world’s highest rates of suicide by making it a crime to engage in suicide pacts. Korea’s suicide rate has climbed to 25.6 a year per 100,000 people since the year 2000 (twice the average for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries).

The criminalization of suicide pacts will be combined with other prevention efforts, such as discouragement of the glorification of suicide on television or in cartoons, as well as the mandatory suicide prevention education for all soldiers. Also, all people in their 40s to their 70 will have mandatory depression screening as part of their medical checkups.

The government aims to get the suicide rate to 17 per 100, 000 by 2022.

Two 12-year-olds charged with cyberstalking in girl’s suicide – Ottawa Sun
January 23, 2018

The death of 12 -year-old Gabriella Green on Jan. 10 has led to the arrests of the two Surfside Middle School students. Police investigators suspect cyberbullying might have caused Green’s death after their investigation began and they examined the content of several cellphones and social media accounts. Interviews with two suspects yielded confessions to cyberbullying from both of them. Police have not released the indentities of the suspects, as they are minors.

The bullying consisted of spreading rumours of the “of the victim having sexually transmitted diseases, vulgar name-calling … and threats to ’expose’ personal and sensitive details of the victim’s life”, according to a female suspect.

Another suspect, a boy, after hearing the victim during a video-chat tell him of a suicide attempt she made, he  told her,’If you’re going to do it, just do it,’ and ended the call.

Sameer Hinduja, a criminology professor at Florida Atlantic University and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center says that in the United States, 1 in 3 children are the victims of cyberbullying and 12% of children have bullied others online.

Logan Paul returns to YouTube with suicide awareness video –  BBC News
January 24, 2018

YouTube star Logan Paul has attempted to redeem himself with a suicide awareness video after facing severe backlash for posting a video on Dec.31 that many viewers found “disgusting” and “disrespectful” and a trivialization and sensationalization of mental illness. It was a video of a trip to Japan where they discovered the body of a man who had killed himself in the Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji, known to be a frequent site of suicides. The video was viewed millions of times before he finally apologized and admitted he had been “misguided”. YouTube acted by suspending him from its Google Preferred programme.

This latest video, Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow, has  Paul addressing the controversy and admitting he had let people down. This is ostensibly his attempts to set things right. Among his guests on the video are Kevin Hines, who survived a suicide attempt from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge at the age of 19.

Suicides in Nunavut hit 10-year low, but more needs to be done says advocate – CBC North
January 25, 2018
The territory of Nunavut, long known for having astronomical rates of suicide, has had their lowest numbers for suicide in 10 years. In 2017, they had 25 suicides, the second year in a row that the numbers have lowered.

However, officials behind Nunavut’s suicide prevention strategy think the numbers are still far too high. Embrace Life Council president David Lawson wants to see if the trend continues. He says, “I don’t make too much of the lower number that we have. It’s great to see, but I’d like to look at it from a more long term perspective, like a 5- or 10-year period”. He wants to see the numbers continue to fall over the long-term.

Nunavut’s suicide prevention strategy is a 5-year action plan and is called Inuusivut Anninaqtuq,”our lives are valuable and should be protected”. The Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik, the Embrace Life Council, and the RCMP are those responsible for seeing it implemented.Among other initiatives, the plan has allocated $16 million for Nunavut communities to access at the local level for their own wellness programs and initiatives.

North Battleford grieving after three young people commit suicide in short span – Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
January 25, 2018

The community of North Battleford in northern Saskatchewan is reeling after 3 young people have killed themselves in recent weeks. One was a 21-year old young woman and the other 2 were male students at North Battleford Comprehensive High School.

Brenda Vickers, the director of education for Living Sky School Division says, “This is bigger than the schools. It is a community tragedy”.But school officials are focusing on support for students and staff who may need extra supports.

Vickers said the next priority will be to work on a longer-term plan for students who may be suffering.

Inside Logic’s Grammy-nominated suicide prevention video, with Don Cheadle, Matthew Modine and a mission -Los Angeles Times
January 26, 2018

The rapper Logic has a Grammy-nominated video for his single, “”1-800-273-8255”, the phone number of the National Suicide Prevention hotline, at the January 28 Grammy awards. The goal of both the song and the video was to “To tell a story that could reach people in need and let them know they weren’t alone”.

The video features actors Don Cheadle and Matthew Modine and was directed by Andy Hines and “tells the story of an African American teenager struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality”.

John Draper, the director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, says that calls have risen 30% to 50% because of the increased awareness spread by the video. Besides bearing the phone number in its title, the song and video feature lifeline’s contact number in the lyrics and throughout the video.

On Sunday, Logic will be joined by Cara and Khalid  to perform “1-800-273-8255”. They will be joined onstage by people who have lost loved ones to suicide or have attempted suicide themselves.

Fatal inquiry into prisoner’s suicide says policies were followed – Edmonton Journal
January 27, 2018

Brent Miro Matkowski hanged himself in his cell at Peace River Correctional Centre on March 12,  2012 at the age of 47. Alberta Justice released provincial court Judge Claus Thietke’s report on Friday which concluded that there is no indication that “a failure to follow procedures contributed to Matkowski’s death”.

Respected Calgary banker killed himself after lifelong struggle with drinking and drugs, widow says – CBC News Calgary
January 27, 2018

Karen Gosbee, the widow of respected Calgary businessman George Gosbee who killed himself in November 2017 at the age of 48, is speaking out about her late husband’s struggles with mental health, as well as his abuse of alcohol and pills. She hopes that her telling of George’s struggles will help others in similar situations.

She spoke with the Calgary Eye Opener last Friday. Listen to the interview here:


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