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:

Did ’13 Reasons Why’ lead to a spike in adolescent suicides? Researchers are dividedCNN
January 18, 2020
A new study looking at whether or not the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why correlated with an increase in adolescent suicides has found that there wasn’t a “statistically significant” increase in suicides. The new study reanalyzed the data used for previous studies, but also adjusted for the broader increase in suicides from 2013 to 2017. Author Daniel Romer of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania said that while the increase wasn’t statistically significant, producers of the show should “recognize the potential for harm to vulnerable audience members.”

Fighting suicides in dairy country through ‘farmer angels’Washington Post 
January 18, 2020
*Method warning* After the suicide death of Leon Statz, farmers in his community of Loganville, Wisconsin decided something must be done to prevent further suicides. The Farmer Angel Network was created, and since its inception the Network has been bringing in social workers, agricultural educators, economic development consultants, and more to help prevent suicide and further economic crises. Other similar grassroots farmer suicide prevention organizations have been popping up in Wisconsin, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, farmers are five times more likely to die by suicide than those in the general population. Chris Frakes, project director for farmer suicide prevention at the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program, says they are ” very proud… very private, and there’s a lot of resistance to seeking mental health assistance.” She’s combating this resistance by “(thinking) about how do we put positive community events, positive messaging, to get stories out into communities where people can realize, ‘I’m not alone.’ It’s really okay to ask for help, and we can do this together. Our communities can figure this out.” Randy Roecker, who attended December’s Farmer Angel Network meeting, said, “Farmers need to talk to farmers.”

Can historical analysis help reduce military deaths by suicide?Washington Post
January 17, 2020
Authors of a recently published study looking at historical records of US army suicide from 1819 to 2017 argue that historical data can inform policy to help prevent military suicide. They believe that “incorporating historical data can help scientific researchers recognize and separate chronic forces from acute factors affecting suicide rates.” Their study found that throughout the 1800’s and the early 1900’s, there were periods of war when suicide decreased in the military. Until 2007 and 2008, military suicide rates were lower than civilian rates: now they’re higher than civilian rates, and no one knows exactly why that is. In this article, authors suggest different policies that may have effected the increase or decrease of suicide rates, for example, during World War II, civilian mobilization and new legal and financial protections and opportunities for service members are believed to have contributed to a decreased rate. In 2007, military medical costs were cut, leaving some military hospitals underfunded, understaffed, and overwhelmed with patients.

Black kids and suicide: Why are rates so high, and so ignored? The Conversation 
January 17, 2020
This article examines the increasing suicide rates among black youth in the US: in 2016 and 2018, among children, black children had the highest rates of suicide. Rheeda Walker, Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston, discusses some possible factors, including that black youth at-risk of suicide may be more difficult to identify than non-black youth. One study suggested that college aged racial/ethnic minority people are less likely to disclose thoughts of suicide, and possibly due to stigma and the fear of being outcast or ignored. Walker also examines the differences between non-black and black Americans, including the potential trauma of having faced racism – a factor which has been associated with thoughts of suicide in this population. Prevention is also explored; Walker says, “Caring adults are a child’s first line of defense. If a child discloses that he is thinking about dying, it is important to ask him to share more about his ideas and if he knows he might die,” then, connect that child to help.

Reducing The Annual Rate Of Suicide In The US By 20% By 2025Forbes
January 14, 2020
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has released a plan for reducing the annual American suicide rate by 20% by 2025. Project 2025 proposes targeting four critical areas that “have been identified to save the most lives in the shortest amount of time: firearms, healthcare systems, emergency departments and corrections systems.” AFSP will work with community partners in each of the categories to reduce suicides using their identified strategies for suicide prevention in each area, including: “educating range, retail and broader firearms-owning communities” in suicide prevention, “collaborating with healthcare systems and accrediting organizations to accelerate the acceptance and adoption of risk identification and suicide prevention strategies,” “basic screening and interventions… for at-risk patients seen in emergency departments,” and finally, “(changing) the culture of suicide prevention in… jails and prisons.”

What Neurobiology Can Tell Us About SuicideThe Scientist
January 13, 2020
*Method warning* Suicide is complex, and “no field of scientific inquiry can single-handedly untangle a phenomenon as complex as suicide,” but by examining certain neurobiological processes underlying suicidal thoughts, scientists are hoping to help shed some light on the complexity of suicide. Several key neurobiological pathways have been identified as having ties with suicidal behaviours, pointing to “clues” to “several interacting moderators of suicide risk.” Stress responses are often examined, as suicidal behaviours have been linked to dysregulation of the way the brain handles stress. This article provides an overview of neurobiological findings in those who have died by suicide, and is accompanied by an infographic examining the processes. 

Dying AloneTEDxHickory 
January 9, 2020
In this TEDx Talk, Dennis Gillan, who has been impacted by the suicide deaths of his two brothers, discusses the epidemic of loneliness and how to combat it, for example, “see people in real life” and “smile and say nice things.”

Coming soon: Research Roundup 

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