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:

‘We’re losing our kids’: Black youth suicide rate rising far faster than for whites; coronavirus, police violence deepen traumaUSA Today
June 7, 2020
In the US, there is a disproportionate COVID-19 death toll in black communities and, in addition to what Washington psychologist Charlayne Hayling-Williams calls “vicarious trauma” caused by police violence, which is “particularly deleterious in our weakened conditions,” and social isolation, black youth are facing many mental health challenges. The suicide rate of black youth rose 73% from 1991 to 2017, and black children under 13 years old are twice as likely to die by suicide than white children of the same age. “We must get at the bottom of why,” said Michael Lindsey, executive director of New York University’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research. “With COVID and the continuous loop of news cycles we’ve seen in recent weeks around law enforcement and blacks, we not only have to be concerned about vicarious trauma, but the fears it incites for kids.”

U of S making student suicide prevention framework for Sask. campuses The Star Phoenix
June 7, 2020
The University of Saskatchewan has been given $28,500 by the province to build a multi-faceted campus suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention strategy that can be used by all campuses across the province. Director of student affairs and services Peter Hedley said, “Not every university is like the University of Saskatchewan. Not everyone has the resources we do. But what we learn from this framework and protocol can hopefully be useful.” Aboriginal Students Centre team leader Graeme Joseph said, “How can we create a community that welcomes people, that makes people feel safe, that makes people feel like they belong? That’s a really important thing that we must do, especially for Indigenous students at the university.”

How a Suicide Prevention Team Leader Spends His SundaysNew York Times
June 5, 2020
This article follows a day in the life of the director of public education for Samaritans of New York, Daron Marino, who works for a crisis line from home. Samaritans of New York introduced the Mental Health Wellness Support Line, a free service that was set up after the Samaritans of New York crisis line, run by volunteers, was put on a temporary hold. “Now people leave their name, number, and a time they’d like us to call them back” on a voice mail service, said Marino, “Even though anonymity is no longer a factor, we’ve found people still want to talk and be supported.” Volunteers still work on the service from home, and respond to messages within 24 hours, and Marino also does community outreach. He describes one part of his day, “After lunch, I check messages again. There might be five or 10 new ones. I call back anyone I need to. Then I work until 4, doing community outreach to churches, cultural or mental health organizations, the Y.M.C.A., the L.G.B.T.Q. community, various sports programs or schools. We are finding it’s particularly hard for children to process what’s going on, and a lot of programs have been suspended. The goal is to get the executive director or the principal on the phone. I leave 20 to 30 messages and hope they get back to me. If I’m feeling fatigued I go on our balcony for some fresh air.”

COVID-19 unemployment could trigger more than 2,000 suicides in Canada, study warnsNational Post
June 4, 2020
A new Canadian study has analyzed suicide rates in Canada in relation to unemployment and has found that generally, for every 1% increase in unemployment, there is a 1% increase in the suicide rates. Using this information, and acknowledging that there is never any one cause of suicide, researchers suggest that, depending on how the unemployment rate fluctuates as a result of COVID-19, we could see: a stable suicide rate at 11 per 100,000; an increase of 5.5% and 418 additional 418 suicides in 2020-21; or, if there is an extreme rise in unemployment, researchers predict a rate increase of 27.7% with over 2,000 additional suicides over two years. Karen Letofsky of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention said, “There has been unprecedented focus on mental health … as well as unprecedented financial accommodation, so there is no comparison.… The modelling focusing on one factor could send a misleading message that it’s inevitable.”
Related – As COVID-19 stress builds, study warns of potential spike in suicidesCTV News

First-Time Gun Owners at Risk for Suicide, Major Study Confirms New York Times
June 3, 2020
*Method warning* A new study has tracked 700,000 first time gun owners and found that, compared to people who did not own guns, men were 8 times more likely to die by suicide and women were 35 times more likely to die by suicide. Most study subjects were men, and men already have a heightened risk of suicide compared to women. “Many suicide attempts are impulsive, and the crisis that leads to them is fleeting. The method you use largely determines whether you live or die…” said Dr. Matthew Miller, a professor of health sciences and epidemiology at Northeastern University and an author on the study.

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