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:

One mental health solution: a kinder, gentler emergency department for people considering suicideGlobe and Mail
July 19, 2020
Emergency departments are working to find new ways of treating mental health patients. EmPath units in the US are already implementing a new way – these emergency departments have comfortable chairs, soft lighting, and private rooms where patients can meet with staff. The staff aim to give patients treatment shortly after they arrive, and ensure they have a follow-up appointment before being discharged. “If you are suicidal and feel like you don’t have a friend in this world, getting put in a room alone is not a healthy option,” says psychiatrist Scott Zeller, who led the first EmPath unit in California and now consults with hospitals to set up the units. “In this unit, nobody is going to tell you, ‘Get back in that room or I am calling security.’” EmPath stands for ’emergency psychiatric assessment, treatment, and healing’ and treats patients who are often excluded from community-based clinics, for example, patients dealing with a psychotic episode, suicide attempt, or those who have been brought in by police and/or are under the influence of drugs. An emergency room in the Ontario hospital is hoping to become Canada’s first site of a similar program.

Everyone knew Anthony Nauss was suicidal. Can Canada create a system that might have saved him?Globe and Mail
July 18, 2020
This article is one of the first in a series about suicide prevention in Canada. Anthony Nauss, 20, died by suicide after multiple attempts. He had visited the emergency department for suicidal behaviour 10 times in the two years he attended college, and was once admitted for over a week and diagnosed with anxiety, a personality disorder, and PTSD. Nauss would always joke about suicide, and his closest friends and family were aware that he had thoughts of suicide. Nauss was consistently released from hospital despite clear signs that he was struggling. Treatment for suicidal behaviours in Canada isn’t consistent and often depends on a number of factors, including who is on shift, how many beds are available, etc. Wait times for people showing up to the emergency department with a mental health concern are longer than those who present with physical ailments, and Canada has approximately 1/5 of needed child psychiatrists for the youth population (345 psychiatrists in total). However, suicide prevention measures need to go beyond hospital care, including caring for a patient after they’ve left the hospital in some form of follow-up, and, ideally, caring for the person before they reach a point of crisis. “There are very effective, evidence-based treatments,” says Peter Szatmari, head of the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative, a partnership between Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto. “We know about them. But trying to implement them on a wide scale takes resources that are not readily available.” The UK has developed evidence-based guidelines for suicide prevention in emergency department settings. Patients are screened for suicidality and then are asked, alongside a mental health specialist, to draw up a ‘safety plan,’ a listing of triggers and coping strategies, including professional and emergency supports they can contact. Then, the hospital ensures the patient has a follow-up appointment shortly after, and then again follows up with the patient once they’ve arrived back home. Many families who have lost someone to suicide in Canada say that the missing piece was follow-up – upon discharge, they say, they were left to come up with a plan by themselves. Researchers at CAMH are working to adapt these guidelines for a Canadian context.

Recognition Matters: New Data Reveals Acceptance Vital For LGBTQ Youth Mental Health – Forbes
July 15, 2020
The Trevor Project, an American suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, has released the results of its National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2020. The survey, comprised of 40,000 responses from LGBTQ youth, found that the majority experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression, and 40% of LGBTQ youth and 50% of transgender or nonbinary youth had seriously considered suicide. 50% said that, in the past year, they were unable to receive the level of mental health care they wanted, and 60% had a person close to them tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender. The survey results highlight the importance of affirming support systems. Respondents who had their pronouns respected reported a suicide attempt rate that was half of those whose pronouns were not respected.

3 in 5 adults who thought about suicide received no mental health support in lockdown Medical Xpress
July 15, 2020
A recently published analysis from the UK has found that, from March 21 to April 20, 2020, 8,000 out of 44,000 people reported thoughts of self-harm or suicide. 5% of those people attempted suicide or harmed themselves at least once since the start of UK’s COVID-19 quarantine, and 9% experienced psychological or physical abuse, and 50% of those people in particular reported thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Lead author, Dr. Daisy Fancourt (University College London Epidemiology & Health Care) said: “It is crucial that we understand how people are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular who is most at risk for adverse experiences. The COVID-19 Social Study is highlighting that substantial numbers of people have been experiencing serious mental health difficulties during lockdown without access to vital support.”

Study: Warning Sign For Parents If Teens Post About Suicide On Social Mediaideastream
July 14, 2020
A new study of data from a survey of 15,000 junior and high school students has found that 23% of students who posted about a cluster of suicide deaths on social media were themselves thinking about suicide. 15% of those who posted also attempted suicide during the cluster. “When someone’s posting about a suicide cluster or a friend or family member who had died, that is a risk factor for suicide,” said study co-author Luke Werhan of the Ohio Department of Health. “Even if they’re not, in the post, expressing suicidal ideation, the fact that they’re posting about it makes it clear that that’s something they’re thinking about or wrestling with.” The 15,000 students surveyed were from the Stark County, Ohio area, which had a rapid increase of youth suicides between August 2017 and March 2018.

Khari Jones becomes an ambassador for suicide prevention groupCFL.ca
July 13, 2020
Khari Jones, head coach of the Montreal Alouettes has become a suicide prevention ambassador with LivingWorks Education Inc., a company offering suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention training.  “Anyone can help save a life,” Jones said in LivingWorks’ press release. “Let’s face it, these are difficult times. I hear from players almost every day who are struggling with the uncertainty of it all. But this isn’t just about the players, this is about everyone.” Jones has been a virtual co-Trainer with LivingWorks Inc.’s safeTALK: suicide alertness for everyone workshop for years, but is now also becoming involved as an ambassador. Centre for Suicide Prevention offers LivingWorks Inc. workshops – Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), safeTALK, Start, and suicide to Hope.

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