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 of Egyptian activist Sarah Hegazi exposes the ‘freedom and violence’ of LGBTQ Muslims in exile Conversation UK
July 10, 2020
Sarah Hegazi, 30, an LGBTQ activitist from Egypt, died by suicide on June 14. Hegazi was jailed in Egypt for ‘sexual deviance’ after holding a rainbow flag during a concert in Cairo in 2014. She was released on bail three months after her arrest, and sought asylum in Canada. This article examines the issue of the persecution of Muslim LGBTQ people, and the discrimination they often face as Muslims after exiling to another country. Ahmad Qais Munhazim, author of this article and self-identified queer Muslim, writes, “For queer and trans Muslims and Arabs, belonging is but a dream. Mostly we are just trying to survive.”

South Korean Triathlete’s Suicide Exposes Team’s Culture of AbuseNew York Times
July 9, 2020
*Trigger warning* Choi Sukhyeon, 22, a South Korean triathlete, died by suicide on June 26. Before her death, Choi sent a message to her mother: “Mom, please make the world know the crimes they have committed.” Choi was referring to the years of psychological and physical abuse she experienced from her team’s coach, doctor, and two senior teammates. Choi documented the abuse, and, upon her death, her family released the documentation: her diary and recordings. The evidence is bringing to light much of the abuse that has ‘long pervaded the country’s sports community,’ and has been the source of much criticism – last Monday, the Korea Triathlon Federation banned her coach and team captain from the sport for life, and criminal charges will be laid against them and the team doctor (who is referred to as such but does not hold a medical degree). Young Korean athletes live together and frequently miss regular classes, and therefore are often beholden to a career in sports. The system gives coaches immense power over athletes, and many athletes are afraid to speak up about abuse for fear that they will no longer have a career. Before her death, Choi sought help – she filed complains and petitions with the authorities about the abuse she experienced and reported her case to the National Human Rights Commission, the Korea Triathlon Federation, the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee, and the police in the city where her team is based. “She had been stressed out lately because the officials she appealed to acted as if some beating and abuse should be taken for granted in the sport,” said Choi’s father. The authorities, he said, told Choi “that the accused denied any wrongdoing and that they didn’t have enough evidence to act, even though ​we gave them the audio files. Our country may have advanced ​a ​lot in other sectors, but the human rights in our sports remain stuck in the 1970s and ’80s. Who is going to bring back my daughter alive?”

Canadian Mental Health Association on P.E.I. taking suicide prevention training onlineCBC
July 9, 2020
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) PEI has begun promoting Start, an online suicide awareness program that teaches people how to recognize someone who may be thinking about suicide and how to connect them to help. The program is being introduced as in-person training has been suspended at CMHA PEI due to COVID-19. “Once I participated in the training I was totally sold. I was very impressed with the calibre,” said, Pat Doyle, suicide prevention co-ordinator with CMHA PEI. “The messaging was very hopeful and very measured because, you know, when we are talking about mental health and suicide we need a measured approach.”  Learn more about the Start training program on the Centre for Suicide Prevention website.

The effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of Indigenous communitiesMedical News Today
July 8, 2020
COVID-19 data has been inconsistent in the US for Indigenous communities, but the incomplete data seems to indicate that the pandemic is, in some states, disproportionately affecting both Black Americans and Indigenous people. For example, in New Mexico, 8.8% of the population are Indigenous, and this small percentage accounts for over 60% of the COVID-19 deaths in that state. In Canada, a survey done by Statistics Canada found that 60% of Indigenous respondents reported having ‘somewhat worse’ or ‘much worse’ mental health since physical distancing measures were put in place. Prof. Christopher Mushquash, a psychologist and the Canada research chair in Indigenous mental health and addiction at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, commented on the survey saying, “If you think about the history of colonial impositions on Indigenous communities ⁠— from assimilation policies that have disrupted families, communities, [and] traditions and disrupted cultural practices ⁠— this has really led to an intergenerational transmission of difficulties. […] The pandemic really makes clear just how big some of the gaps are and, indeed, where they are.”

Black Americans on mental health, trauma, and resilience STAT
July 6, 2020
This article explores the perspectives of Black Americans at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting that population, and issues of long-standing deep, systemic racial discrimination urgently need to be addressed. Alexa, 29, says, “…Despite a pandemic going on, we still want to fight for justice. So it just makes me proud knowing that Black people are fighting for each other. When I do try to move forward in joy and do something that makes me happy, in the back of my mind I’m thinking about what’s happening… My mental health is not — it can’t be where I want it to be because Black folks are dying. I want to stay in the movement, I want to fight. But like, I also need a day off and like, recognizing that that’s OK, too.” Jeffrey, 67 says, “As a child of the ’60s, I’m tired… [When I was a kid] our parents bought us bicycles. A police officer pulled up on the side and let his window down. ‘What are you guys doing with those bicycles?’ We’re kind of confused. We were young, you know, 9, 10, 11 years old. ‘Where’d you get those bicycles from?’ I think I remember saying we got them for Christmas. He said, ‘How can you afford those bicycles?’ I don’t even know if I ever told anybody. But all my life I’ve been thinking about — two kids on a bicycle after Christmas? Two new bicycles and we’re suspects? You know. And this is 2020. I’m 67 years old and we’re suspects. That bothers me.”

My husband, David Buckel, died by public suicide. Here’s what I learned about grief and hope in the aftermath.The Washington Post
July 6, 2020
*Method warning* Terry Kaelber is a survivor of suicide loss whose husband, David Buckel, died by suicide two years ago. Buckel was a prominent LGBT lawyer and environmental advocate, and his death was reported widely in the news. Kaelber describes his grief process, and offers suggestions to others experiencing suicide grief. His suggestions include: don’t fight grief – surrender to it and make grief part of your self-expression. Kaelber also acknowledges that “grief can open us in unimaginable ways,” – “In grief are the seeds of hope. If we are open to this possibility and are able to plant and tend to these seeds — with the help and guidance of others — grief can help us see the world and our life in new and different ways. Life can be informed by grief but not controlled by it.”

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