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:

Suicide notes: Canadian researchers look at final words for clues on preventing deathsGlobal
July 16, 2018
A new study has examined 1,565 suicides in Ontario between 2003 and 2009 and, if suicide notes were left behind, the contents of the notes. Researchers gained insight from the notes, and found three common sentiments reflected: a feeling of powerlessness, a battle between the ‘real self’ and mental illness, and hopelessness in mental health treatment. Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Hilary Sirman discussed how you can help if you suspect someone is thinking of suicide: “Asking directly if an individual is considering suicide, contrary to what people may think, it actually is a protective factor against suicide, it actually reduces the likelihood of death… It’s important to keep the lines of dialogue open, continue to check in with that person, continue to show your support and seek their input on how you can help.”

Royal Military College had no suicide prevention plan when three cadets took their own lives in 2016, inquiry findsGlobe and Mail
July 20, 2018
An inquiry into the suicide deaths of three cadets attending the Royal Military College (RMCC) has revealed that, at the time of the deaths in 2016, the college had little understanding of the prevalence of mental health issues and suicide ideation among their students. The RMCC “has many elements aimed at suicide prevention but does not have the overarching suicide prevention strategy required for effective implementations of these elements,” says the report of the board headed by Colonel François Messier. In addition, the report says, the RMCC chain of command “could not state, with a degree of certainty, the number of attempted suicides that occurred between January to June 2016.” The deaths led to Chief of Defence Staff General Vance taking over command of the college, resulting in 79 recommendations to improve the culture, most of which have already been implemented.

Opinion: The ‘strong black woman’ stereotype is harming our mental healthGuardian
July 20, 2018
Speaking from a personal perspective, Marverine Cole talks about how she felt she was unable to open up to her family about her struggles with mental health, and how the “strong black woman” stereotype kept her from seeking help. “We joke about our steely, resolute, no-nonsense African-Caribbean mothers, aunts or grandmothers. Naturally the media has taken those anecdotes, stories and images and then portrayed us as such in movies and TV shows over the decades. Yes, that’s a positive role model, but the problem is, this has been the dominant, steadfast image of black woman. That image sticks. We begin to believe it and wear a mask, feeling under pressure to live up to that trope. So when things get us down, we try to brush things off, while all the time groaning under the weight of the burden.”

Root-cause analysis reveals better recognition of cancer-related suicide triggers is neededOncology Nurse Advisor
July 19, 2018
A recent study published in Psycho-Oncology has found that suicide risk in cancer patients can be mitigated by recognizing and addressing certain factors. Based on their findings, the researchers recommend using “comprehensive cancer centers and case managers for improved coordination of patient centered care, and referral to the NCCN Distress Management and Adult Cancer Pain Guidelines to ensure patients receive the highest quality of care and achieve the highest quality of life.”

When medication is essential to mental healthThe Outline
July 19, 2018
This article discusses the stigma of using medication to deal with mental health issues as opposed to simply improving lifestyle choices as treatment. “Psychiatric medication remains a heavily stigmatized area of treatment. Legitimate concerns about side effects, potential for addiction, and pharmaceutical industry abuses can be easily conflated with the deeply ingrained view of medication as a crutch. ‘Have you ever tried yoga?’ my new primary care physician asked me when I requested the anti-depressant medication I’ve relied on to function for 14 years. His message was clear: You shouldn’t have to need this. If only you tried harder, you could be well,” explains one of four authors who give their perspective on medication as an effective way to treat mental health issues in this article.

Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child opens up about mental health treatment Toronto Star
July 18, 2018
Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child has become a mental health advocate and recently told fans that she sought help for her mental health issues. In an Instagram post last week, Williams wrote: “For years I have dedicated myself to increasing awareness of mental health and empowering people to recognize when it’s time to seek help, support and guidance from those that love and care for your wellbeing. I recently listened to the same advice I have given to thousands around the world.”

Alone in the dark: Why we need more children’s books about suicide and severe depression – Slate
July 18, 2018
A children’s book author, Erica Perl, argues that we aren’t talking to kids about suicide, and the remedy for this could be making more books available to them that discuss suicide and severe mental illness. Perle herself wrote a YA novel, All Three Stooges, about the aftermath of suicide and although she was told by librarians and educators how important the book was, she was taken aback at the stigma surrounding the book and the topic of suicide in general. “Whenever I delivered the novel’s elevator pitch, audiences that would smile as I mentioned the book’s focus on friendship, faith, and funny business would wince when I hit the word suicide. The final blow came when a philanthropic organization that had sponsored the distribution of copies of my previous novels passed on All Three Stooges,” said Perle.

Teen suicide risk may be lower with intense team-based therapyReuters
July 17, 2018
New research has shown that intense dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which involves individual sessions and family counselling, may reduce the risk that a teen who has already attempted suicide will do it again. It was found that 6 months after DBT therapy, patients who received it were 70% less likely to attempt suicide than teens who received supportive therapy. Dr. Paul Wilkinson, psychiatry researcher at the University of Cambridge said: “I think DBT worked because it was a more complex in-depth therapy, that was better at teaching adolescents and families strategies to reduce self-harm, and the feelings that lead to self-harm.”

How to talk about your mental health when no one wants to listenHuffPost
July 17, 2018
This article offers helpful tips to those who are struggling with their mental health but who have difficulty finding someone who will respond, particularly those in racial and ethnic minority groups. These groups may find it more difficult to reach out for professional mental health help when they feel it’s needed, for example: “Latinos are expected to rely on [immediate] family, extended family, church… and friends,” said Karen Caraballo, a clinical psychologist working with Latino families in Brooklyn. “We are expected to keep our problems within our inner circle.” Seeking help from a professional, asserting the importance of conversation, and using language loved ones can understand are some tips.

‘My brain feels like it’s been punched’: The intolerable rise of perfectionismGuardian
July 17, 2018
Perfectionism is one personality trait that is linked to suicide ideation. Self-beration is one characteristic of perfectionism that can be particularly damaging. “You neglect absolutely everything. You become absorbed by your own brain. Physical things – eating, showering, not going to sleep at the normal time, not looking after yourself …” said Kirsty Schafer, who is a self-described perfectionist. “When I’m in that state of mind, I just can’t see anything on the outside. I’m in my head constantly.”

Not 9 to 5: Mental health initiative targets ‘toxic’ pressures for restaurant workersGuardian
July 17, 2018
The restaurant industry’s intensity and macho attitude make it difficult for restaurant workers suffering from mental illness to reach out for help. “The food industry is notorious for this bro attitude of pushing things to the back of your mind,” said Jakob Anderson, a former restaurant worker who has atypical anorexia. “You’re expected to put your head down, stop complaining and just do your job.” Knowing this from professional experience, Ariel Coplan and Hassel Aviles started an organization called Not 9 to 5, which is meant to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health among chefs.

Trying to stop suicide: Guyana aims to bring down its high rateNPR
June 29, 2018
The small Caribbean nation of Guyana has one of the highest suicide rates in the world with 44.2 suicides per 100,000 deaths (In 2016, Canada’s rate was 11 per 100,000). After the 2014 World Health Organization’s report on suicide, Guyana adopted a suicide prevention plan in response to the report, but rates remain high. 70% of the country’s suicides happen in rural areas where rates of alcoholism are also high. East Indians, who make up 40% of Guyana’s population, account for 80% of the suicides, a population who, in the past, worked slave labour on plantations. Researchers are looking at these factors and more when investigating the suicide rates, and how suicide can be prevented in the region.

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