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:

Why doctors are leery about seeking mental health care for themselvesWashington Post
Jan. 7, 2017
A recent survey of 2,000 American physicians showed that about half of those surveyed “met criteria for a mental health disorder” but did not seek treatment. The physicians surveyed listed the reasons why they had not sought treatment, one of which was the stigma. Another reason, though, was the fact that 90% of medical licensing applications ask doctors about their mental health. “Such questions are intended to protect the public, based on the idea that impaired or distressed physicians could endanger patients. A physician having hallucinations, for example, might not be able to focus or practice safely.Yet because applications can be used by medical boards to restrict licensing or mandate treatment, these questions may actually encourage silence.”

Military watchdog calls for better transition services after murder-suicide in Nova ScotiaGlobal
Jan. 5, 2017
Military Ombudsman Gary Walbourne responded to the murder-suicide in Nova Scotia last week, carried out by a veteran, Lionel Desmond, who died by suicide and killed three of his family members. Walbourne says that the deaths “underscore the military’s responsibility to ensure that when members rejoin their communities, the support they need is already in place.” Desmond was treated for PTSD at a joint personnel support unit before his release from the military in July 2015, but was unable to “secure further treatment” after moving home.

UBC to honour goalie who died by suicideCTV News
Jan. 6, 2017
Laura Taylor, goalie for the UBC Thunderbird’s women’s hockey team, died by suicide last year after struggling with mental health issues, including bipolar disorder and depression. An event at UBC will honour her life and open up a dialogue about mental illness. “Her sister, Heather Taylor, says when Laura died they had to make a decision to do what they could to ensure this didn’t happen to another family.”

When there’s no therapist, how can the depressed find help?NPR
Jan. 5, 2017
Indian nonprofit group Sangath is finding new and innovative ways to help people in India receive mental health care. One approach is to train laypeople to become counsellors – in just 40 hours. Counsellors are trained to listen to people, and assign specific tasks to their patients. This story follows that of Deepali Vishwakarma, who is a lay counsellor in her community. “She’s been trained to listen and to assign specific tasks to her patients. She might tell someone who’s feeling really low to go for a daily walk, or go out and play soccer, or work in the garden or listen to the radio. For depression, it means thinking about anything other than that paralyzing howling tempest. For schizophrenia, it means helping people, many of whom are on medication, adjust to living in society.” Lay counsellors are available in two Indian states, but Parliament is “considering a plan” that could mean lay counsellors, or other forms of open mental health care, for all communities. Lay counsellors do consult with doctors who “do the initial diagnosis and help with the training program.”

Gun owner groups, health professionals team up to prevent suicidesHarvard School of Public Health
Jan. 3, 2017
A new movement has brought gun shop owners, firearm instructors, and gun rights stakeholders together to help prevent gun-related suicides. “It really doesn’t matter what your political ideology is or whether you’re an avid gun rights supporter,” said Mary Vriniotis, who is part of the movement. “When it comes to preventing firearm suicides, there’s tremendous common ground.”

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