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Uruguay suicide rate reaches new record in 2022, cementing position as outlier in regionToronto Star
July 21, 2023
Uruguay’s suicide rate has reached 23.3 per 100,000. In other countries in the Americas, the average suicide rate is only 9 per 100,000. “Suicide rates have been on the rise since the 1990s up until the present, with some minimal declines in a few years,” said Gonzalo Di Pascua,  psychologist and member of the Coordinator of Psychologists of Uruguay. “The pandemic, much like in numerous other areas of healthcare and mental health, mainly exacerbated a pre-existing trend, which was the increasing suicide rate.” The difference between other countries in the region could be due to other country’s underreporting suicide, and the fact that there is low adherence to religion in Uruguay compared to other countries in the region, according to Eduardo Katz, who leads the mental health department at Uruguay’s State Health Services Administration.

‘We’re in an emergency’: Mercury exposure linked to high youth suicide attempt rate in Grassy Narrows First NationCTV News
July 20, 2023
A new study has found a link between mercury exposure and suicide rates in Grassy Narrows First Nation, a community that experiences higher suicide rates than many other First Nations communities. The study found that the consumption of contaminated fish led to nervous system disorders and psychological distress. The community’s waters were contaminated in 1970 when a paper mill dumped 9 tonnes of mercury upstream of Grassy Narrows. Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Rudy Turtle said the community is “very saddened” by the findings which confirmed what they already knew, “The impacts of mercury have been very devastating in terms of our economy and our way of life. Over the years, we’ve done the best we can to address those issues, but, we need a lot of help… . We’re unable to continue our traditional activity.”

‘It’s a huge sign of progress’: the battle to decriminalise suicide The Guardian
July 20, 2023
Ghana, Malaysia, Guyana, and Pakistan have all decriminalized suicide in the past year, a trend that is likely to continue given that Kenya and Uganda have filed petitions to change their laws and both Nigeria and Bangladesh are discussing the possibility of decriminalization. When suicide is illegal, people are denied access to services that could help them and are discriminated against because of the mental health struggles they’re experiencing. Research has shown that the suicide rates are lower in countries where it’s decriminalized because people are able to seek help. Anita Abu Bakar, founder and president of the Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (Miasa) in Malaysia says that she’s already seen a change in the number of people accessing mental health services since the decriminalization of suicide. Abu Bakar says,  “I’m a person with lived experience. What does decriminalisation mean to people like me? We feel supported, we feel this conversation can go to a different level. Obviously decriminalisation is not the only way to prevent suicide, but it’s a big one. I’m happy for this progressive move – better late than never. I’m excited to see what happens next, not just for Malaysia but for the rest of us.”

Suicide Risk Rises for Children and Teens During School Year, Study Says BNN Bloomberg
July 19, 2023
A new study has found that suicide attempts and deaths among young people in the US increase during the school year. “The in-school experience brings social, academic and extracurricular stressors as well as poorer sleep habits, each of which may have detrimental outcomes (for mental health)”, say study authors.

Covering suicide responsiblyQuill
July 17, 2023
This article discusses the history of suicide reporting guidelines for journalists and the current state of suicide reporting.

Black suicide rates, once among the nation’s lowest, have risen dramatically among youthsUSA Today
July 16, 2023
The suicide rates among young Black people have risen in the US more than 36% from 2018 to 2021, the largest jump for any demographic. Black young people are likely to experience racism by the age of 6, which is a known factor in suicidal ideation. They’re also more likely to live in environments that expose them to adverse childhood experiences like domestic violence and financial hardship, such as low-income communities or the foster care system. “Young people can clearly see that Black lives are devalued when they see images of people being brutalized on the internet and on TV,” said Sherry Molock, an associate professor of clinical psychology at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “And it’s not lost on young people that there are different consequences to their behavior. Those are systemic issues.” Suggestions for protecting Black youth against suicide include utilizing the church system to help support them and increasing research in the area of Black youth suicide. “The field of youth suicide has not really focused on subgroups so we are far behind in looking at what risk factors are for Black youth specifically,” said Arielle Sheftall, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “We are now on the brink of folks paying attention to the problem.”

A crisis of neglect: How society can help those with mental illnessGlobe and Mail
July 14, 2023
**Paywall** This article talks about how views on treatment for mental illness have evolved, starting with the de-institutionalization of psychiatric care, and where we’re at now. Making involuntary treatment more common is once again up for discussion, but the author of the article, CAMH psychiatrist David Grazer, says, “More coercive care makes for a good sound bite but not necessarily a meaningful way out of this problem. Here is the less media-savvy alternative: we need to do some hard work.” Grazer suggests “providing evidence-based care for anyone interested in achieving sobriety” and meaningfully study new approaches” to treatment for those who may not become sober. He also suggests offering people support through “Assertive Community Treatment Teams” that include access to a psychiatrist and a team of other mental health professionals could help treat those who are struggling with a mental illness. Finally, Grazer recommends, “build(ing) up housing options with the goal of eliminating homelessness among those who have mental illness and are precariously housed” and focusing on recovery, “people, place, and purpose.” Dr. Thomas Insel, a psychiatrist at the US National Institute for Mental Health, emphasizes the importance of, “Social support, a decent environment with housing and food and things that help people to prosper…” as people who have access to these provisions “will have to have something to live for.”

Quebec coroner recommends more ‘mixed police squads’ to help prevent deaths by suicideAPTN
July 14, 2023
Indigenous people have higher rates of suicide than non-Indigenous people in Canada, and advocates say mistrust in police and lack of resources are major issues in Quebec that have perpetuated the crisis. In June, Quebec Coroner Julie-Kim Godi made a number of recommendations to help prevent suicide and one of them was to introduce “mixed police squads” that pair police officers with trained mental health professionals during crisis interventions. The Montreal police service has since implemented this approach, and in 2022, over 2020 interventions were made by the mixed squads. Recent information still shows that Indigenous women are being stopped for police checks far more frequently than non-Indigenous women, however, and it’s been noted that there is a vital cultural training element missing from the mixed squads training. Johanne Lacasse of the Native Friendship Centre said, “This cultural approach is necessary and very well integrated in the Native Friendship Centre. We, therefore, act as a partner to ensure that we accompany them (police and organizations) in a culturally adapted approach.” Communities need more resources in general, as well, for mental health supports. Chief Lucien Wabanonik of Lac Simon, a community that experienced a number of youth suicides in the span of 5 months last year says, “Our organization does the best it can with the means it has. We don’t have all of the means. We don’t have the same resources like the federal and provincial governments do. They have professionals, and we are in desperate need.”