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:

Opinion: We need a compassionate recovery to address the hidden hurtCalgary Herald
July 21, 2020
Sue Tomney, CEO of YW Calgary and Sandip Lalli, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, wrote this opinion piece about how we can cope with mental health issues during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. “Centre for Suicide Prevention suggests that, in most cases, it takes 12 to 18 months after a major financial crash to see an increase in mental illness and suicide.” Unemployment, along with the possibility of another wave of the virus and an uncertain economic environment, could influence mental health. Tomney and Lalli suggest a compassionate recovery plan that prioritizes mental health of employees, and including mental health as part of an obligation to safety.

In Chicago, a Steep Rise in Suicide Among Black PeopleThe Trace
July 25, 2020
*Method warning* The number of suicides among black people in Cook County, Illinois, has doubled in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019. Chicago is in Cook County, the most populous county in the US after Los Angeles County. The increase in suicides has not been noted for white residents or Latino residents and the rise started before the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is no one cause of suicide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that anxiety and depression have increased among Black Americans since the COVID-19 pandemic has begun along with a “national reckoning over racism, and how Black people disproportionately are victims of poverty and police abuse.”

Priscilla Presley Speaks Out About Grandson Benjamin Keough’s “Devastating” Death E Online
July 22, 2020
*Method warning* Benjamin Keough, 27, died by suicide earlier this month. Keough was the son of Lisa Marie Presley and Danny Keough. Grandmother Priscilla Presley posted about his death, “These are some of the darkest days of my family’s life. The shock of losing Ben has been devastating. Trying to put all the pieces together of all the possible whys has penetrated my soul.”

More Albertans seeking doctors’ help with mental health issues during pandemic, numbers show CBC
July 21, 2020
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 12% increase in Albertans accessing mental health supports through their family doctors via virtual visits. “I think we’re all facing circumstances, with family, worries about health, financial concerns, all sorts of things,” said Dr. Bailey Adams, a family physician practising in St. Albert. “I think it’s a good sign, in my opinion, that patients chose and recognized it was a good place to turn to to get support for that.” Dr. Peter Silverstone, interim chair of the University of Alberta’s psychiatry department said, “I think that the future will involve a mix of both in-person and what we call e-mental health, electronic mental health, and that offers huge, huge opportunities.” The U of A  launched an online mental health program in April called Centre for Online Mental Health Support. Dr. Melanie Marsh-Joyal, a psychiatrist in the emergency department at the Royal Alexandra Hospital said, “I think that in the short-term, [virtual care visits are] very good and they’re important. I think in the long-term for psychiatry, it’s actually better if we see people in person.”

As COVID-19 crisis continues, suicide risk for veterans likely to growThe Hill
July 21, 2020
Military veterans have a higher risk of suicide than the general population, and the impact of COVID-19 on unemployment rates in the US may affect them more, too. A new report projects that for every 5% increase in the unemployment rate, an additional 550 veterans in the US will die by suicide. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has quickly pivoted their mental health services to be accessible during the pandemic online, however, older veterans especially are having difficulty accessing these online services, as they may not be able to afford the technology required.

Olympic Figure Skater Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya Dies At Age 20HuffPost Canada
July 20, 2020
*Method warning* Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, 20, an Olympic figure skater, died by suicide last week in Moscow. Alexandrovskaya and her skating partner Harley Windsor were the first Australian Olympic pairs’ skaters in 20 years at the 2018 Winter Games, and they finished 18th place. They also won a junior world title together in 2017 after training for only one year as a pair. Windsor said of her passing that he was “devastated and sick to my core about the sad and sudden passing of Katia. … This news is something you can never prepare for.”

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