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:

Conference explores suicide among entrepreneursCBC
Feb. 5, 2017
Melissa Mackey of Ignite Me Now hosted a conference in downtown Calgary for entrepreneurs, with the goal of allowing them to share their struggles. “So many entrepreneurs feel that there’s no hope,” Mackey said. “Our minds are programmed to think that suicide has no relevance to building a business, starting a business, running a business but it actually has everything to do with it because of all these feelings that entrepreneurs experience.” CSP Executive Director Mara Grunau spoke at the event, and suggested that the isolated nature of some entrepreneurial work may result in heightened risk for suicide or depression.

Let’s keep the conversation goingAirdrie City View
Feb. 2, 2017
Bell Let’s Talk Day, Jan. 25, 2017, raised over $6.5 million for mental health initiatives – a record for the day. There were some negative comments about the initiative, suggesting that it’s just an advertising opportunity for Bell, but columnist Patricia Riley argues that “At least Bell is doing something about it rather than brushing it under the rug. It would be nice to see other companies take notes and do something similar.” Mara Grunau, Executive Director for CSP told Airdrie City View that Alberta has one of the highest suicide rates in Canada. Riley says “That’s why it’s so important to create awareness about mental illness. And it’s a team effort to break down the stigma.”

Dealing with mental health in the aftermath of an ice stormCBC
Feb. 5, 2017
New Brunswick was hit with an ice storm in January, and people there have dealt with power outages for days, forcing them into “warming centres” where other services, like mental health care, are being offered. Psychologist Lucie Michaud said that “It takes a toll on people, but because of the adrenaline they don’t necessarily feel it. Some of them have started to see the aftermath of this.” It has been found that immediately after a natural disaster such as an ice storm occurs, the suicide rate may actually lower, due to the increased amount of community connectedness and support, but about a year after the disaster has occurred, suicide rates increase because people are usually working in isolation to overcome the financial and emotional aftermath of such events. Learn more in CSP’s editorial on the subject: Natural disasters and rates of suicide: A connection?

No longer ‘Canada’s suicide capital,’ Sandy Bay, Sask. has turned things aroundCBC
Feb. 3, 2017
The number of suicides in Saskatchewan’s Sandy Bay community has decreased significantly since 2007. In the years previous to 2007, 30 youth were lost to suicide in 10 years, an extremely high rate considering that only 1,500 people live in the community. After the suicide of 12 year old Heather Ballantyne in 2007, the community mobilized and made a concerted effort to reduce the suicide rate. Elder George Morin found that there was very little traditional knowledge being passed on to youth in the community, and that community leaders were acting in isolation of one another. The community then began organizing events to bring people together and emphasize culture and collaboration. The community made sure that youth were feeling loved and appreciated. While there is still an urgent need for medical care and other health supports, the suicide rate has noticeably decreased.

Social media messages encourage Indigenous youth to commit suicideCBC
Feb. 3, 2017
12-year-old Chantel Fox of northern Ontario received messages on social media telling her to kill herself the day she died by suicide. The messages appeared to have come from outside the community. Chantel’s mother, Sandra Fox, was worried the police wouldn’t take the messages seriously but it appears now that they are after some follow up. Chantel was from the Wapekeka First Nation, where several other youth are on suicide watch, some of which have received similar text messages. Chantel’s death came just days after her friend, Jolynn Winter, also 12, died by suicide.

Saskatoon conference deals with youth suicide crisis in northern SaskatchewanGlobal
Feb 2, 2017
Northern Saskatchewan communities have experienced several youth suicide attempts and deaths in the past few months, and last week they held a conference of leaders and youth from all over the region. Over 500 youth were in attendance, and organizers listened to their concerns and suggestions and hope to implement them. “We really need to listen instead of always speaking to the youth. We need to listen to them,” conference organizer Treena Wynes said.

Counselling, not canoe sheds needed for First Nations youth, mental health worker saysCBC
Jan. 31, 2017
Valerie Ooshag, 20, spoke to chiefs in Thunder Bay, Ontario last week about what the youth in First Nations communities really need. “Our people are hurting,” Ooshag told the chiefs. “We need to come together and have our youth involved, to let them tell you what they want, what they need to take care of themselves.” Ooshag says that kids need a safe place to go, referring to a youth centre, not a canoe shed, which references Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comment that First Nations youth are interested “in a place to store their canoes and paddles.”

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