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:

Ex-NHLer Clint Malarchuk talks suicide survival, mental health in ReginaGlobal
January 31, 2020
Clint Malarchuk, who attempted suicide after struggling with PTSD following a traumatic injury sustained while in the NHL, has been telling his story in hopes that it will help others. Malarchuk hopes to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, and encourage people to seek help, “I think we’ve progressed a long way with our therapies, medications, counselling, diagnoses, but there’s still a stigma. That’s why people don’t step out right away and get the help they need because they’re afraid.”

Life after losing my father and sister to suicideNewsweek
January 31, 2020
Margit Livingston lost her father, then her sister to suicide. In this article, she recounts her grief journey through the questions she’s asked herself: “What are the warning signs? Could I have prevented it? Will it happen to me? How do I move forward?” The last question she answers: “I gave everything I had to (my sister) during the last days of her life, but it wasn’t enough. In the end, I’m not God nor do I presume to be. I honor my sister’s memory by trying to have the best life I can. I know that’s what she would want for me.”

We Lost Our Son to Suicide. Here’s How We Survived.New York Times
January 30, 2020
Julie Halpert describes her experience of losing her son, Garrett, 23, to suicide in 2017. Halpert notes that “despite the agony, my husband and I made a deliberate choice not to crumble,” so they could care of their surviving children, who were also grieving the loss. Halpert sought help through professional resources and peer support groups. She joined three online groups for parents who had lost children to suicide, and continued with her exercise routine, which included a ballet class that allowed her to “momentarily lose myself in the movement and the classical music.” Finally, Halpert and her husband created meaning out of Garrett’s suicide by establishing a nonprofit organization, Garrett’s Space, which is a residential centre for young adults with mental health challenges. “The grief will never go away completely…” but as the years pass, “you’ll have longer stretches between episodes of debilitating sadness,” said Vanessa McGann, chair of the American Association of Suicidology’s Loss Division.

Suicide Rates Are Increasing. Here’s How You Can Help Change That.HuffPost
January 30, 2020
New data from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown an increase in the US suicide rate by 1.4%. How can we all play a role in preventing suicide? This article suggests, “Reach out to your loved ones, even if they act like or say nothing is wrong, understand that suicide isn’t the result of one bad situation, talk about mental health and suicide without judgment, and remember that suicide is an issue that affects all of us in some way.” Jill M. Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said, “Suicide prevention is in everyone’s domain. We all play a role in preventing suicide, whether it is taking care of yourself or reaching out to someone who is in the deep emotional pain that leads to suicide.”

‘There is help’: Canadian senator whose husband died by suicide wants to end the stigmaCTV News
January 29, 2020
Senator Denise Batters is continuing to break down the stigma surrounding suicide, 10 years after her husband, Dave, died by suicide. According to Senator Batters, Dave was “happy” and “outgoing,” and, “I think what Dave’s story really illustrates is that everybody has the risk of suffering from mental illness. It doesn’t matter how good of a job you have, how well off you are, even how outgoing you are.” She encourages people to talk about mental health issues and reach out to those you think may be struggling, “Reach out to someone that perhaps you haven’t heard from in a while who you perhaps might be concerned about, just ask someone you care about ‘Are you OK?’” 

Many soldiers thinking about suicide show no signsNational Post
January 29, 2020
A new study has found that 40% of deployed US army soldiers who reported having thoughts of suicide did not have a diagnosed mental illness and “would not be identified through mental health diagnostic screening.” The other 60% reported non-combat related trauma, a significant finding as combat trauma wasn’t found to be predictive of suicidal behaviour in these soldiers. Other factors that contributed to the likelihood that a soldier would think about suicide included: being white (white soldiers were 3 times more likely to report thinking about suicide), and major depression. “This is a very important study,” said Nadine Melhem, director for the program of neurobiology of stress response and suicide at the University of Pittsburgh. “It suggests we can look for predictors before deployment to see if they are at risk of suicidal ideation in order to help them.”

Suicide is preventable, but experts say we need better data and more support Global
January 29, 2020
This article argues that more data to create an accurate picture of suicide in Canada. “For us to get prevention and treatment efforts to the right people we need a picture of potential predictors and there are gaps,” said Danielle Rice, a therapist and psychology PhD candidate at McGill University. Under-reporting of suicide is an issue, as it is not always clear whether or not a death was a suicide, for example, in the case of overdose, which may be intentional or accidental. However, in the coming months the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) will release data on self-harm and suicide for the first time ever. “I think that will be a very important baseline,” says Rice. Dr. Mark Sinyor, psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and vice-president of the board of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention argues that we know enough to help people: “Rather than trying to predict the future, which is notoriously difficult to do, we know people who are at risk for suicide and we should be giving all of them outstanding care and preventions.”

First person: Grieving suicide is tough but we need to be honest about how much it hurtsGlobe and Mail
January 28, 2020
Monica Catto talks about her grief journey after losing her daughter Hilary to suicide. She said that “during the first few months after my daughter’s suicide, I learned that people could be put into one of three categories: people who were genuinely there for me… (people that) neither helped nor hurt… merely showing up… or sending condolences… With these benign expressions of sympathy came the freedom to not respond…” and “those who caused harm.” Catto attended gatherings with others who had lost someone to suicide and “witnessed the transformative power of communication and connection.” Ultimately, Catto has learned that talking about her grief has been the most helpful – “Whatever we keep hidden has power over us. Exposing it to the light – bringing it into the open, is what banishes the darkness. This belief had always been true for me, but perhaps more than ever, I’m putting it into practice.”

‘Future used to be a black void’: Woman climbs out from under crippling depression in U of C study – CBC
January 27, 2020
The University of Calgary is currently studying the efficacy of a new treatment, deep brain stimulation, for people with treatment-resistant depression. The treatment under study involves implanting an electrode in the brain, which is wired to a rechargeable battery in the chest. Study lead Dr. Rajamannar Ramasubbu, University of Calgary psychiatrist, said about 10% of people who have depression are treatment-resistant. The electrode works because, “This area of the brain (the subgenual cingulate region) is crucial, it connects the frontal and limbic areas of the brain, which are important for emotional regulation. Based on imaging studies, we found that this region is malfunctioning in depressed people. When you use electrodes and stimulate constantly, it becomes normalized and to some extent, it starts working so that emotions will be regulated.” Study participant Bath Mackay had success with the treatment, after experiencing depression for years and attempting suicide. But that’s less of a concern for participant Mackay. “The future used to be a black void. Now I see a cripplingly large number of options. I can do anything. I can get out of bed in the morning. Once you can get out of bed, you can do anything,” said Mackay.

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