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:
When kids are in crisis, how can we help them? – Broadview Magazine
January 5, 2021
*Content and method warning* This article discusses suicide in children, which is rare but likely also under-reported, according to Centre for Suicide Prevention. When there is ambiguity over the death of a child, often coroners or medical examiners are hesitant to label the death a suicide. The author of the article, Miranda Newman, opens up about her own childhood suicide attempt, and notes that she exhibited warning signs, just as many children do. Research shows that some children may attempt suicide to escape an unbearable environment or situation. Ruth Lanius, professor of psychiatry at Western University said, “If you haven’t had a secure base or if you haven’t had a secure attachment relationship, your capacity to regulate your emotions and your nervous system is profoundly impacted. f you add that history and then experience trauma on top of it, I think the results are much more devastating.” Learn more about how suicide in children can be prevented in our toolkit on the subject.
Psychologist says ‘come together effect’ may have helped reduce suicides in Sask. in 2020 – CBC
January 8, 2021
Preliminary numbers show that in 2020 in Saskatchewan 134 people died by suicide, compared to 204 suicides in 2019. Clinical psychologist Lila McCormick said she was initially surprised by the decrease. “I would have expected, based on the information that’s out there, that our suicide numbers have trended upwards. But what we see is the opposite, trending downward.” According to research, says McCormick, “…there can be a short term decrease in suicides that can occur initially due to something that’s been termed the ‘come together effect.’ This happens when there’s an increased social cohesion or a pulling together phenomenon where people and communities stand together and care for each other in their time of need.” McCormick also noted that, “What has been seen in the past is that there can be an additional reduction in suicide rates, but then afterwards, something called an ‘echo pandemic’ can occur such that the toll of COVID-19 might result in a wave of increased mental health challenges and mental illness.” Note from Centre for Suicide Prevention: The data reported is considered preliminary and likely to change as OCME and coroners continue their investigations to determine if a death was by suicide, or not, and finalizes all cases.
Welcome to Plathville’s Olivia Plath Says She Contemplated Suicide 1 Year Ago: I Felt ‘Alone’ – People
January 7, 2021
Olivia Plath, of the reality show Welcome to Plathville, opened up about past thoughts of suicide on Instagram on December 31, 2020. “I spent last New Year’s Eve feeling scared, alone, sobbing and contemplating suicide,” said Plath. “I woke up on New Years Day and knew I needed to get help and surround myself with good people if I was going to make it… Sometimes it was easy to feel overwhelmed with criticism and hard choices, but I also gained some close confidants who cheered me on and brought me countless smiles, laughs and thoughtful conversations.”
Here’s How You Can Help Someone Struggling With Suicidal Ideation – People
January 6, 2021
*Method warning* More than 10 years ago, Mike Richey intervened with Mark Henick who was about to attempt suicide. Henick was a teenager at the time, and is now a mental health advocate. Richey encourages those who come across someone they’re worried about to reach out, if they can safely: “If you see an opportunity to help someone and you can do so safely, don’t wait for someone else. Just jump in and do it. There were other people that I’m sure passed him that night, and Mark said it as well, so they might’ve seen him and made that choice where, ‘I’m not getting involved with that,’ or, ‘Someone else can deal with that.’ Just be the someone else.” John Draper, executive director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline says, “[You can help] just by being there and letting them know that they’re not alone, that you’re going to be there for them and help in any way you can. It’s typically enough to reduce that pain to a point where they can be engaged.”
Before Georgia Tech recruit Bryce Gowdy’s suicide, a year of pressure and poverty – Washington Post
January 6, 2021
Bryce Gowdy, 17, died by suicide in December of 2019, just days from receiving a scholarship to Georgia Tech. Gowdy excelled at football but his home life was challenging; his family was on the brink of homelessness, a fact that Gowdy hid from most people. His childhood was also difficult, but academically and athletically Gowdy thrived. Gowdy’s mother Shibbon Winelle said, “There were signs. If I take away all the talk about Georgia Tech and the future, he was definitely suicidal in the final month of his life. But our lives were upside down, and he couldn’t — or I couldn’t — see how much he was hurting.” In 2017, Gowdy was offered a number of football scholarships, but told people he had dreams not of becoming a football player but of being a doctor, an engineer, or a music producer. In November 2017, he broke his leg playing football, then in August 2018 was diagnosed with his second concussion. He worried that playing football was causing damage to his body, and after his concussion, he began to act more erratically and irrationally. Since his death, Winelle has started two foundations in Gowdy’s name, hoping to raise awareness for teen suicide, particularly among people of colour.
Statement of Congressman Jamie Raskin and Sarah Bloom Raskin on the Remarkable Life of Tommy Raskin – Medium
January 5, 2021
Congressman Jamie Raskin and Sarah Bloom Raskin today released a statement following the suicide death of their son Thomas (Tommy) Bloom Raskin. The statement celebrates Tommy’s life, his accomplishments, his personality, his family, and acknowledges his struggles with depression. Raskin and Bloom Raskin say in the statement, “We have barely been able to scratch the surface here, but you have a sense of our son. Tommy Raskin had a perfect heart, a perfect soul, a riotously outrageous and relentless sense of humor, and a dazzling radiant mind. He began to be tortured later in his 20s by a blindingly painful and merciless ‘disease called depression,’ … a kind of relentless torture in the brain for him, and despite very fine doctors and a loving family and friendship network of hundreds who adored him beyond words and whom he adored too, the pain became overwhelming and unyielding and unbearable at last for our dear boy, this young man of surpassing promise to our broken world.”
Teen Suicide Rate Quadrupled Over the Past Decade – Psychiatry Advisor
January 5, 2021
A new study from the US analyzed health insurance company data from more than 12 million individuals across all age groups in the US who had health insurance and found that, between 2009 and 2018, the “incidence of all diseases of despair increased by 44% and prevalence increased by 65%.” Diseases of despair include accidental overdose, alcohol-related disease, and suicide. It was found in the data that suicide rates have increased across all age groups and most significantly in teens, a group which saw a 287% increase in suicide between 2009 and 2018.
More young men in Western Canada died than expected last year — and not just because of COVID-19 – The Star
January 4, 2021
Statistics Canada released new numbers looking at ‘excess deaths,’ which is the number of people who have died “above and beyond what would be predicted in a normal year.” From May to October 2020, 7,172 Canadians under age 45 died, which is 1,385 more than statisticians predicted for that time period. 81% of these deaths were male, and most took place in the summer in BC or Alberta. Less than 50 of these people died from COVID-19, and 13% of the deaths between January and October have no determined cause as of the date of data release, as coroners and medical examiners continue to investigate the deaths. The BC Coroners Service confirmed that some of the excess deaths were related to toxic and illicit drugs. Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, director of the University of British Columbia’s psychotherapy program and head of the men’s mental health website HeadsUpGuys, worries that some of the excess deaths may be due to an increase in suicides, as men under age 45 make up 75% of suicide deaths and men die by suicide more often during times of greater social stress, for example, during the 2008 financial crisis. “Suicide is a very complicated issue but some of the things we know likely contribute to suicide in men — a lot of young men feel this enormous pressure to conform to masculine norms. There tends to be reduced distress disclosure in men and in the same regard there’s lower help seeking — they just don’t reach out,” said Ogrodniczuk. “If guys are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious whatever it is — do not keep it to yourself. There are folks out there who can help.”
The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health in Canada. Will it also change mental health care? – The Star
January 4, 2021
Since the outset of COVID-19, non-profits like Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and companies like Morneau Shepell have been investing in mental health research to monitor the changes in people’s well-being during the pandemic. Survey results show that more Canadians are struggling with their mental health than before the pandemic, and calls for universal mental health care have been renewed. “My wishful thinking is, maybe the fact that 40 per cent of Canadians now have been impacted and understand what it’s like to experience anxiety, means there’s more willingness for the public to actually push politicians to have that long term built-in support, not just for the pandemic, but after,” said CMHA National CEO Margaret Eaton.
Nurses Are Stepping Up To Prevent Suicides Among Their Colleagues – Forbes
December 31, 2020
A recent study found that beginning in 2014, female nurses, who have a higher risk of suicide than females in the general population, began using more lethal means of suicide than they had in the past. “We used to teach firearm safety to patients, not thinking we needed it ourselves,” said lead author Judy Davidson, a nurse scientist at UC San Diego Health. “We need to give ourselves the same PSA we would give others.” Health systems are working to prevent nurse suicides: in the UC San Diego Health system, a doctor-focused suicide prevention program has been extended to nurses. It’s an anonymous online program where nurses can be screened by and chat with counsellors. The counsellors then refer nurses to mental health support.
Opinion: The 48 Mountains That Held My Grief – New York Times
December 28, 2020
In this piece, a mother who lost her son, Ben, 23, to suicide, describes her grief journey, and how she found peace in the nature that her son felt most at home in. She hiked the 48 mountains making up the ‘NH48’, New Hampshire’s highest mountain peaks. She says, “I hike not to hide, but to seek. I find Ben, but I also find myself: someone broken, now reassembling into someone braver and more capable, yet more vulnerable.”