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:

New Study Highlights COVID-19 Suicide RiskPsychology Today
June 27, 2020
A newly released academic paper has highlighted four major risk factors for suicide during COVID-19, after examining suicide deaths during the pandemic in the US, Italy, Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, and Bangladesh. Common among these suicides, authors found the four major risk factors of social distancing and isolation; economic recession stemming from COVID-19 lockdowns; heathcare professionals’ stress and trauma; and stigma and discrimination. Authors recommend limiting exposure to COVID-19 news and relying only on trustworthy news sources; finding ways to connect with loved ones to limit isolation; practicing mindfulness; and watching out for loved ones, making sure they feel supported. Authors recommend that availability and accessibility of mental health support and tele-counselling be expanded for healthcare professionals.

‘We need help now’: Peaceful protesters draw attention to Nunavut’s mental health crisisCBC
June 26, 2020
Protestors in Iqaluit, Nunavut are calling for more mental health supports as Nunavut continues to see high numbers of suicides. “We need to fight for those people who are silenced, who want to be heard. Not everybody is forthcoming and will speak out loud to get to what we need to accomplish,” said Alanna Copland, a law student in Iqaluit who spoke at Friday’s peaceful protest. Copland led a march of about 150 participants at the Nunavut legislature who called out, “we need help now,” after a moment of silence for those who had died by suicide in the province. Since Nunavut’s creation in 1999, more than 600 people have died by suicide, and though a mental health and addictions treatment centre is set to open in Iqaluit in 2025, Copland says more needs to be done, and sooner: “We are dying. We cannot afford to wait five years. Lives are at stake. We need resources now,” she said. “Why are people still falling through the cracks.”

Brief health care interventions may help lower suicide rates, study findsABC
June 26, 2020
A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry examined the efficacy of brief encounters with health care professionals among people who presented for thoughts of suicide. The study, which examined more than 4,000 patients who had thoughts of suicide, found that patients who had short, in-person encounters with health care workers were more likely to seek additional help and commit to ongoing outpatient mental health care. Study authors suggest that more environments implement suicide prevention programs, and identified four vital components to a successful program that could be implemented in many environments including urgent care clinics, ERs, jails, and shelters: hiring a dedicated mental health professional, following up with patients via phone call and letters, creating a plan to cope with situations in which the patient might become a danger to themselves or others, and encouraging additional ongoing mental health treatment.

Response to domestic disputes, suicide attempts up over 2019: Regina Police ServiceGlobal
June 26, 2020
The Regina Police Service (RPS) has responded to more domestic dispute and suicide attempt calls so far in 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019.  “On average, we are attending 19 domestic the related calls per day — that’s up from 15 where we were last year,” said RPS Chief Evan Bray.“We have attended year to date 662 suicide calls. That’s almost four times we are responding per day. Sadly, 20 of those calls we’ve attended to have been… suicides.” Recently, the Regina board of police commissioners passed a motion calling to review police response to social crises and for more provincial funding for social services. “Eighty per cent of calls for service for police are not criminal in nature, they’re not criminal code violations — they’re people with addictions, they’re people with mental health challenges,” said board member and Regina City Coun. Joel Murray. “Exposing them right off the bat to police may not be the best for them. We need to look at a more holistic approach and so that’s where we’re coming from.”

60% of Indigenous people say mental health is worse due to COVID-19: surveyGlobal
June 24, 2020
A survey done by Statistics Canada that focused on mental health and Indigenous people has found that 60% of Indigenous people say their mental health has worsened since physical distancing measures have been put in place. 46% of Indigenous women and 32% of Indigenous men who participated in the survey said that most of their days were ‘quite a bit stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful.’ This is in comparison to 16% of Indigenous people who said, in the 2017 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, that their mental health was fair or poor. “When you look at mental health difficulties, there’s a number of (factors) that are important for consideration,” said Christopher Mushquash, the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous mental health and addiction. “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.”

Canada’s largest mental health hospital calls for removal of police from front lines for people in crisis CBC
June 23, 2020
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest psychiatric facility, said last week in a statement, “For too long, the health-care system has relied on police to respond to mental health crises in the community. Mental Health is health. This means that people experiencing a mental health crisis need health care. Police should not be first responders. Police are not trained in crisis care and should not be expected to lead this important work.” This statement follows public calls to provide more funding for social service programs, and to have those working in mental health to respond to mental health emergencies.

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