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Target suicide prevention strategies towards men, Indigenous people: Senate reportGlobal News
June 8, 2023
A Senate report released last week provided recommendations to the federal government regarding the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention. The report says suicide in Canada can be better addressed if all levels of government develop strategies specific to the groups with the highest rates of suicide: men and Indigenous people. The report, written by the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, says, that the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention Act, adopted in 2016, does not prioritize evidence-based interventions for suicide prevention and that better data collection and surveillance is needed. “The Framework’s stated mission is to ‘prevent suicide in Canada’ however, there has been no significant change to the suicide rate in Canada since the Framework has been in place. In fact, for the Canadian population as a whole, the suicide rate has remained largely stable over the past 20 years,” notes the executive summary of the report.

Bisexual women 3 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to straight women: Canadian study
CTV News
June 7, 2023
A new study, the first of its kind to link survey data to health records in Canada, found that bisexual women are three times more likely to attempt suicide compared to straight women. Gay men and lesbians were found to be two times more likely than straight people to attempt. “We wanted to better characterize the disparity in suicide-related behaviors across sexual orientations and gender,” said Antony Chum, lead author. “Prior research on suicide attempts has mostly relied on self-reported data from surveys, which means we don’t have information on people who are too sick to participate or have died by suicide.” Chum says the reasons that bisexual women attempt suicide at higher rates could be due to a combination of factors, “(It) could be attributed to greater discrimination that bisexual people face within the LGBTQ+ community, as well as higher rates of violence, trauma, and caregiving burden that bisexual women may experience in opposite-sex relationships.” Chum explains, “The study shows a clear need for better funding, policy and programming to address LGBTQ+ suicide risk. We also need increased training for healthcare workers to address LGBTQ+ suicide risk. Further, we want to encourage hospitals and clinics to collect sexual orientation data as part of routine patient care.”

ChatGPT’s responses to suicide, addiction, sexual assault crises raise questions in new studyCNN
June 7, 2023
According to new research, when AI chat bot ChatGPT was asked about issues like suicide and abuse, it provided critical resources in only 22% of its responses. Researchers suggest that AI companies ensure such resources are incorporated into AI responses. “ChatGPT consistently provided evidence-based answers to public health questions, although it primarily offered advice rather than referrals,” the researchers wrote in their study. “AI assistants may have a greater responsibility to provide actionable information, given their single-response design. Partnerships between public health agencies and AI companies must be established to promote public health resources with demonstrated effectiveness.”

FSU psychologist earns prestigious award for suicide prevention workFlorida State University News
June 6, 2023
Jessica Ribeiro, suicide researcher and associate professor of psychology at Florida State University, has won the 2023 Edwin S. Shneidman Award from the American Association of Suicidology in recognition of her work in the field of suicide prevention. “It means so much to have been nominated and selected for such an elite national award based on the merits of my work, especially as a young female in the field who is a first-generation college student and first-generation American,” Ribeiro said. About her work, Ribeiro says, “Without knowledge on suicidal thoughts and behaviors, what we call understanding, it is challenging to develop effective interventions to prevent suicide. Prediction focuses on advancing knowledge about suicide risk, and in my study of suicide prevention, I am interested in leveraging the knowledge about suicide causation to develop effective interventions that can be readily implemented on a large scale.”

Afghan women in mental health crisis over bleak futureBBC News
June 5, 2023
The UN estimates that 1 in 2 people in Afghanistan, mostly women, experience psychological distress, which was the case even before the Taliban takeover in 2021. The country is a “deeply patriarchal society” that has suffered four decades of war. Experts say that the psychological distress has gotten worse recently due to the economic crisis and the Taliban government’s restrictions on women’s rights. Psychologist Dr. Amal, whose first name has been withheld for protection, says, “We have a pandemic of suicidal thoughts in Afghanistan. The situation is the worst ever, and the world rarely thinks or talks about it. When you read the news, you read about the hunger crisis, but no-one talks about mental health… Day by day, they’re losing hope.” Dr Shaan, a psychiatrist who works at a public hospital in Afghanistan says, “The situation is catastrophic and critical. But we are not allowed to record or access suicide statistics. I can definitely say though that you can barely find someone who is not suffering from a mental illness.” Women and girls in Afghanistan are speaking out about these issues. One young woman says, “Nothing worse than this can happen, that’s why I’m speaking out. And I thought maybe if I speak out, something will change.” According to Dr. Amal, men are also being affected, “…Right now Afghan men can’t raise their voice. They can’t provide financially for their families. It really affects them.” Dr. Amal suggests to patients that they, “Go and talk to your friends, go and see your neighbours, form a support team for yourself, for instance your mother, father, siblings or friends… I ask them who’s your role model. For instance, if Nelson Mandela is someone you look up to, he spent 26 years in jail, but because of his values, he survived and did something for people. So that’s how I try to give them hope and resilience.”