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:
Mental health advocate wants you to know how to survive suicidal sadness – CBC
January 12, 2020
As a mental health advocate and someone who has experienced suicidal thoughts, John Peters writes to those who have thoughts of suicide in this article: “You are loved, you are not a bad person, you are not a bad parent, you are not a bad kid, you are not a screw-up, and you are not worthless. You are beautiful, you are talented, you are gifted, you have purpose, and we need you to stay with us. If you are struggling today, please reach out to a loved one,” urges Peters.
More Americans are killing themselves at work – Washington Post
January 9, 2020
*Method warning* A document released in December by the American Bureau of Labor of Statistics on occupational fatalities reported that the number of people killing themselves in the workplace is higher than it has ever been in the 26 years that data has been collected. In 2018, 304 people died by suicide at their workplace. Companies are recognizing that suicide prevention is a priority, according to Sally Spencer-Thomas, a psychologist and board president of United Suicide Survivors International: “Ten years ago, most companies saw suicide as a personal or medical issue, and would say it has nothing to do with work. I was banging my head against the wall trying to convince companies to talk to me. Compared to now, when I’m getting calls from major global conglomerates seeking me out, looking for answers and strategy. There’s almost too much to do,” said Spencer-Thomas.
To find out more about how workplaces can promote mental health and suicide prevention, read our toolkit on the topic.
Anna Mehler Paperny on Wanting to Die – CBC Docs
January 8, 2020
*Method warning* Journalist Anna Mehler Paperny, author of the book Hello I want to die please fix me, discusses her experience of depression and suicidality. “There are days when I just want to preserve the feeling of happiness, and there are days when the pain of continuing to be alive is so extreme that I need to express it in words or I don’t know how to keep going… This illness is extrinsic that I grapple with the way I would grapple with the flu.” When asked about reporting on suicide, Mehler Paperny said, “When we know it to be depression, when we know it to be suicide, I think we need to say so, and I think we need to be really honest about what a failure that is because it’s a societal failure when a person kills themselves after having struggled with depression and society does nothing to let them see that life can be worth living.”
Why I told my kids about my mother’s suicide – Today’s Parent
January 8, 2020
Mary Pembleton shares her experience with discussing the suicide death of her mother with her young children, and why it was important for her to be honest with them: “I didn’t want my mother’s suicide to be stigmatized with shame in the minds of my children,” says Pembleton.
Increasing the minimum wage can reduce suicide rates, study finds – Global
January 7, 2020
A new study has found a correlation between minimum wage increases and a decline in suicide rates in the US. Suicide rates among those with a high school education or less dropped by up to 5.9% for every $1 added to the minimum wage. “There’s really two main findings. The first one is that when minimum wages increased, suicide rates went down,” says John Kaufman, study author and a doctoral student in epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta. The decrease was not noted for those with a college diploma. The second finding was that raising minimum wage can provide a “protective effect” against periods of unemployment: “When unemployment goes up, suicide rates might not go up if the minimum wage is increased enough.” A previous study found that for every $1 increase in minimum wage, suicide rates decreased by 1.9%.
Related – Raising The Minimum Wage By $1 May Prevent Thousands Of Suicides, Study Shows – NPR
Regina police to hire in-house psychologist for officers’ mental health – Global
January 7, 2020
The Regina Police Service (RPS) is prioritizing the well-being of its over 600 members over the next four years. As part of this initiative, they will be hiring a full-time in-house psychologist who will oversee the mental health strategy, perform psychological assessments for new recruits, work with those in high stress units, and conduct regular check-ins with all staff as well as facilitate compassion fatigue training. “People often ask me what keeps me awake at night. I think it is the wellness of our members I worry about the most,” said RPS Chief Evan Bray.
Suicide Is Not an Act of Cowardice – Atlantic
January 7, 2020
In the context of negative and stigmatizing comments made about the suicide death of David Foster Wallace, this article explains, partly in the words of Wallace himself, what it is actually like to think about suicide and experience depression. Ken White, author of the article, writes, “Imagine that you can’t conceive of any way that the pain can end unless you die. It’s not cowardly to fall prey to that. It’s human. Resisting that, persevering, excelling, creating art when you feel that way, like Wallace did? That’s… epic. Wallace isn’t a coward for falling; he’s a hero for standing as long as he did.”
University of Waterloo student association expands mental health coverage – CBC
January 7, 2020
The University of Waterloo has expanded mental health supports for students, including doubling coverage limits for mental health services to $800 from $400 per year, and removing the previous requirement for a doctor’s referral for psychological services. A 24/7 helpline called EmpowerMe, already offered at Queen’s University, will also be available to students. The University of Waterloo lost two students to suicide in 2017. Seneca Velling, a vice-president with the undergraduate student association, said, “My hope is that students will know where to go when they need help, and also be willing to ask.”
Opinion: Why Are Young Americans Killing Themselves? – New York Times
January 6, 2020
This opinion piece, written by Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, explores why the suicide rate among American youth ages 10 to 24 has risen by 56% between 2007 and 2017. Friedman explains that young people are psychologically vulnerable: 75% of mental illness occurs before the age of 25. Young people often do not receive treatment for their mental health issues: just 45% of girls and 33% of boys who had a depressive episode received treatment, compared to 66% of adults. Friedman argues that “We just need to do a better job of identifying, reaching out to and providing resources for at-risk youths.”
Survey reveals prevalence of suicidal thoughts in Canadian kids – Prince Albert Daily Herald
January 6, 2020
Youth Mental Health Canada (YMHC) has released a report about the prevalence of suicidal thoughts in youth. The report contains data from almost 400 youth survey responses received by YMHC, who sent out the surveys between November 2018 to June 2019. 32% of respondents said they considered attempting suicide in the past four weeks, and 3% had attempted. “We must do more to protect our school-age children and teenagers and recognize and understand the challenges that are causing a large number of them to consider taking their own lives. We need to provide the appropriate tools to help them overcome their mental health challenges,” said Sheryl Boswell, executive director of the YMHC.
Commentary: After Bryce Gowdy’s suicide, let’s elevate the conversation about poverty’s effects on youth – Orlando Sentinel
January 3, 2020
*Method warning* Bryce Gowdy, 17, died by suicide just one week before he was due to begin the semester at Georgia Tech. Gowdy’s social media was filled with posts typical of young athletes, and there was nothing to indicate his struggles at home. He was homeless, but many around him did not know. Shannon Green, author of the commentary, suggests that homelessness and poverty be included in discussions about mental health, as she posits, “Thousands of teenagers across the state are under tremendous stress because they are unsure of where they will sleep and where their next meal is coming from outside of school… Some of these kids are cracking under the weight and are branded as bad students or athletes. And some, like Bryce, have the world in front of them and the crushing weight of it on their shoulders. The pressure is killing them. They are not OK.”