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:
Billie Eilish Opens Up About Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm – Teen Vogue
January 25, 2020
*Method and Trigger Warning* In an interview with Gayle King on The Gayle King Grammy Special, Billie Eilish, the 18-year-old Grammy winner opens up about struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide. Eilish told King she’s in a better place now, and uses her past experiences to help fans: “I just grab [the fans] by the shoulders and I’m like, ‘Please take care of yourself and be good to yourself and be nice to yourself,’” she said. “‘Don’t take that extra step and hurt yourself further.’”
Opinion: We need to pay more attention to the epidemic of suicide – Washington Post
January 24, 2020
In this opinion piece, author Arthur C. Brooks, professor of public leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School explores the issue of suicide and why rates in the US are increasing according to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Brooks argues for greater public awareness of the issue: “To turn the tide on this crisis, in addition to better identification and treatment of suicidality, we urgently need to raise public awareness and shift the direction of public opinion on suicide in the United States… It is especially important to remember that, unlike so many other issues, suicide is not someone else’s problem. The epidemic is remarkably democratic…We are all in this together. Will we act before more lives are needlessly lost?”
How Devon Freeman died: An Ontario teen’s suicide raises hard questions about child welfare and Indigenous youth – Globe and Mail
January 23, 2020
This feature article delves into the facts and questions around the suicide death of Devon Freeman, who died by suicide in 2017 after leaving his group home near Hamilton, Ontario. Freeman’s family is asking for an inquest into his death, as the group home didn’t disclose his earlier suicide attempt, and he was not taken to hospital after the first attempt. Further, more than 6 months passed before Freeman’s body was found behind the property of the group home. His death is also renewing calls for mandatory inquests in all cases of children who die while in the welfare system in Ontario.
For some trans youth, suicide risk lowers with puberty suppression – Reuters
January 23, 2020
A new study suggests that transgender youth who receive puberty-blocking medicines may be at a lower risk for suicide than those who do not. Based on survey data of 20,619 transgender people ages 18 to 36, 17% said they wanted puberty-blocking medicine but only 2.5% received it. Survey respondents who received the treatment were less likely to report suicidal thoughts or attempts. “Transgender youth often experience distress during puberty as their body begins to develop in a way that does not match who they know themselves to be,” said lead study author Dr. Jack Turban of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Suicide Research Could Be the Mortality Breakthrough of the 2020s – Bloomberg Opinion
January 21, 2020
This opinion article argues that if suicide were studied as a medical problem, significant progress could be made in preventing suicide deaths. The author, Faye Flam, says, “We may not know the reason for the rising suicide rate, but we do know it is killing too many people — and that those deaths ought to be preventable. While science has a pretty detailed understanding of cancer and heart problems, suicide was studied by relatively few researchers until recently. It’s good news that we’re finally starting to learn more.”
‘He was so loved’: Mother of man who died by suicide wants to erase stigma – CBC
January 21, 2020
*Method warning* Brent McLellan, 43, died by suicide last year, and now, parents Marjorie and Allan McLellan are working to break down the stigma surrounding suicide. “It has to come to light more, be out in the public more,” said Marjorie McLellan. “People have to take advantage of (the resources) out there and not be embarrassed by it.”
Reaching out: How caring letters help in suicide prevention – CBS News
January 19, 2020
*Method warning* People who are thinking about suicide are desperate for a human connection, according to both people who have experienced suicide attempts and academic studies. Kevin Hines, who survived a suicide attempt from the Golden Gate Bridge, said of the hours before his attempt, “If one person had shown me an ounce of care, I would not have jumped off that bridge.” Dr. Jerry Motto, a psychiatrist and war veteran from the University of California, remembered the powerful impact receiving letters of encouragement during his time at war had on him. The letters helped him feel more connected, and he wondered if people who had just been released from a psychiatric facility might experience the same positive effects of connection. Between 1969 and 1974, he sent half of patients discharged from a psychiatric facility “caring letters,” while the other half, the control group, did not receive letters. The letters were simple, stating, “This is just a note to let you know that we are interested in how you are coming along. If you have the inclination, feel free to drop us a note and let us know.” The letters had a huge impact: Motto found that in the first two years after leaving the psychiatric facility, the suicide rate of those who received “caring letters” was half the rate of those who did not. “He showed that a simple intervention, or any intervention, could prevent suicide, and that’s enormous,” said Ursula Whiteside, a clinical psychologist and researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine.