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 rate for Native American women is up 139% – USA Today
June 22, 2019
Suicide rates in the US are rising, and have increased 33% since 1999: this is significant. However, Native American women and men have seen an even greater increase of 139% for women and 71% for men, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Native Americans may be affected by historial trauma, and Native American women experience higher rates of physical and sexual violence – they also experience PTSD at a rate double that of the general population. Shelby Rowe, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, was diagnosed with PTSD and experienced thoughts of suicide. However, she remains hopeful: “Despite all of the things that tribes have endured, we’re still here. There is strength and resilience we can find in that.”
U.S. Suicide Rates Are the Highest They’ve Been Since World War II – TIME
June 20, 2019
Suicide rates in the US have increased by 33% since 1999. The rate now sits at 14 per 100,000 (Canada’s rate was 11.4 per 100,000 in 2017). “I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits all reason (for the increase)” since there’s almost never a single cause of suicide, says Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit that supports suicide prevention research, education and policy. “I don’t think there’s something you can pinpoint, but I do think a period of increased stress and a lack of a sense of security may be contributing.”
Suicides outpace HIV deaths among gay, bisexual men; researcher urges more mental health support – CTV
June 19, 2019
An ongoing study has found that, while HIV deaths among gay and bisexual men are dropping, the number of men dying by suicide is rising. From 2000 to 2016, the suicide rates among this population group were four times higher than the rate of heterosexual men. During that time, there was a 75% drop in HIV mortality rates. Lead researcher, Travis Salway, a social epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, was surprised by the findings, “(This is) because we saw really dramatic gains in the legal rights and social acceptance of LGBTQ people in Canada,” he explained. “And we would’ve hoped (that) would have reduced the rates of suicide.” LGBTQ youth still have higher rates of suicide than adults, and Salway attributes this to the fact that they deal with many minority stressors, especially when they live in communities that aren’t accepting of their orientation. “For example, a lot of people in the LGBTQ2 (community), leave the communities where they grew up to meet and connect with other LGBTQ2 communities,” he said. “This means they give up some of those social support networks they had from family or peers from when they were younger.”
Learn more about suicide in transgender and sexual minority populations with our resources.
Suicide data inadequate, health minister admits – Nunavut News Online
June 18, 2019
Health Minister George Hickes told Nunavut’s legislative assembly that there is still a lack of comprehensive data of suicide deaths and attempts in the territory. Nunavut launched a suicide-prevention action plan in 2017, and keeping good suicide data is vital to the implementation of any suicide prevention plan. Health Minister Hickes said, “It’s not where we want to be… I’ll fully admit and stress that. There have been some challenges with establishing this, but I can say that it is something that we’re very ardently working on.” Part of the issue, Health Minister Hickes says, is that the territory has yet to hire a mental health epidemiologist in a permanent position.
Inuk student biking across Canada to raise awareness of suicide crisis among Inuit youth – CBC
June 16, 2019
Hannah Tooktoo, 24, is bicycling across Canada to raise awareness of the prevalence of youth suicide in Nunavik. Tooktoo has been touched by the suicides of her friends and family, and has struggled with mental health issues herself since moving to Montreal, out of her home community of Kuujjuaq. “What can I do to heal myself and what… can I do to do my part? This is a way for me to take control of my life,” said Tooktoo. “Biking is medicine for your body, mind and your soul. Especially, going up those mountains in B.C. is going to be a test of how strong I am, how mentally strong I can be. I need to exercise that.”
Suicide prevention curriculum gives students tools to thrive, not just survive – CBC
June 13, 2019
The Thrival Kit curriculum is a tool available to schools to help teach grade-school students how to manage their mental health. Its content is based on a multi-year study of teen suicide done by the office of Manitoba’s Advocate for Child and Youth. “One of the key things is that youth who are most at risk for suicide really struggle with school attendance, and we rely really heavily on the public school system to deliver a lot of suicide prevention information for youth,” said Ainsley Krone, the deputy Manitoba advocate for children and youth. “What our study was finding was that the youth who maybe need that information the most might not be in the classroom to receive it.”
A Friends-and-Family Intervention for Preventing Teen Suicide – UnDark
June 10, 2019
Teens who have been hospitalized for suicidality have a higher risk of re-attempting, and the transition from inpatient to outpatient sees a greater risk of subsequent attempts, too. Researchers at the University of Michigan are studying how home care might be more effective in supporting teens who have attempted suicide as they transition from hospital care to home care, with the goal of preventing a subsequent attempt. In particular they’re studying the effectiveness of having four trusted and familiar adults, not just parents, who promise to support the teen through their recovery. The research team trains family and friends of teens struggling with suicidal thoughts to become helpers and listeners, and to encourage them as they move through their recovery journey.