Hello Friends,

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:

Yes, Canada should ban conversion therapyGlobe and Mail
July 19, 2019
An opinion piece by sexual and gender minority studies expert Kristopher Wells, who discusses the pernicious effects of conversion therapy on an LGBTQ person, both historically and currently.

At the core of conversion therapy is the belief that an LGBTQ person is “intrinsically disordered, pathological or sinful”.

The effects of this therapy can be dire. Wells mentions research at UBC that has found as  many as 20,000 Canadians have been subjected to conversion-therapy efforts, with one third of those individuals attempting suicide.

Some provinces have banned the practice outright. Others, including Alberta, have not. Wells “urges our elected leaders to rise and show the human-rights leadership necessary to create safe, welcoming and affirming communities that fully include everyone regardless of who they are or whom they love”.

Problem gamblers much more likely to attempt suicide – study The Guardian
July 19, 2019
A study commissioned by a UK gambling charity, GambleAware, has found that problem gamblers are 6 times more likely to experience suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide than non-problem gamblers.

The study found that 19% had considered suicide in the past year, compared with 4.1% of the general population, while 4.7% attempted suicide, compared with 0.6% in the wider population.

The report’s co-author Dr. Heater Wardle says” “The harms from gambling are profound  and can be devastating for individuals, families and communities,” she said. “These results show how people with gambling problems are a higher risk group for suicidality.”

Former NHLer Greg Johnson’s death ruled a suicide, according to reportCBC
July 17, 2019
Former Nashville Predators captain Greg Johnson has died by suicide, according to a Rochester Police report. There was no note but the evidence at the scene did indicate suicide.

Johnson played 12 years in the NHL, the last seven for the Predators. He was 48.

Men make up majority of deaths by suicide in 2017: new dataCTV
July 17, 2019
New data released by the BC Coroners Service reveals that, although men still make up the majority of suicides in the province, the number of overall suicides  have decreased for the first time in 3 years.

There were 572 deaths by suicide in 2017. The previous three years all reported more than 600 suicides. This is the lowest number since 2013 when there were 525 suicides.

Douglas Todd: Suicide among foreign students little talked aboutVancouver Sun
July 16, 2019
British Columbia Coroners Service data reveal there have been 15 suicides of international students between 2013 and 2018. This is a disconcerting figure.Experts say that foreign nationals face different stressors than their domestic counterparts. One major stressor is” Intense pressure to please their often well-off parents by earning good marks, by finding a job in Canada and often by obtaining permanent resident status in Canada”. The majority of these suicides were by young males.

This phenomenon of foreign students taking their lives is not isolated to Canada. An Australian coroner’s study “found it was young men from Asia who were most likely to kill themselves, including because they want to keep poor grades hidden from their parents”.

Kathleen Stephany, a Douglas College nursing instructor, says there is no easy solution to this situation but she “encourages both foreign and domestic students who are feeling distress to use Douglas College’s free counselling services, to overcome cultural stigmas against seeking psychological help”.

Graphic suicide scene edited out of 13 Reasons Why finaleCBC
July 16, 2019
A controversially graphic scene depicting youth suicide in the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why is being edited following recommendations from medical experts.

The scene depicts the protagonist, Hannah, slitting her wrists in a bathtub. This scene has alarmed mental health groups and others since its original release in 2017.

The American Association of Suicidology(AAS) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention(AFSP), among other organizations, lauded the move.

School issues are No. 1 reason behind youth suicides in 2018, Japanese government white paper finds – Japan Times
July 16, 2019
It was announced Tuesday by the Government of Japan that school-related matters are the chief risk factor for the suicides of youth aged 10 to 19. 

A survey of students which informed the report ” found that for elementary and junior high school students, family-related matters such as discipline issues or bad relationships with their parents were major factors related to suicide”.

For high school and post-secondary students,though,risk factors included anxiety over poor academic performance, as well as other education-related issues.

Too much time on social media can hurt teens’ mental health: studyGlobal

July 15, 2019

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics indicates that young people are more at risk for depression the longer they spend time on social media or watching TV. Elroy Boers, who co-authored the study, said that the more  exposure to these media increases the exposure to often idealized and unrealistic images of adolescence, which can affect a teen’s self-esteem.”These harms appear to be most potent on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where teens are more likely to compare themselves to other people with “perfect lives” — and feel worse about their own” Boers said.

Yet, Boers also stresses that not all digital media is negative. For example, “research suggests that playing video games has increasingly become a social activity, either in person or online”, he said, and is more likely to facilitate relationships with “like-minded people”.