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:

How many opioid overdoses are suicides?NPR
March 15, 2018
Many US states are still working out how to differentiate suicide deaths from opioid deaths, as it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a death was intentional (suicide) or unintentional (overdose). “[Based on the literature that’s available] it looks like it’s anywhere between 25 and 45 percent of deaths by overdose that may be actual suicides,” says Dr. Maria Oquendo, immediate past president of the American Psychiatric Association. Determining cause of death is further complicated by the fact mental health issues can lead to addiction and vice versa. “No one has answered the chicken and egg [question],” says Dr. Kiame Mahaniah, a family physician who runs the Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, Mass. Is it that patients “have mental health issues that lead to addiction, or did a life of addiction then trigger mental health problems?”

Sexual orientation top risk for suicidal thoughts in college freshmanReuters 
March 15, 2018
A study spanning eight countries has found that nearly one third of first-year university students thought about suicide and one of the biggest risk factors for suicide ideation included having a non-heterosexual identity or feelings. “It is important to realize . . . that the relative increase in risk is still modest,” said lead author Philippe Mortier, a neuroscience researcher at Leuven University in Belgium. “Especially when we consider suicide attempts (with a lifetime prevalence of 4.3 percent), it is important to keep in mind that most students who struggle with sexual orientation issues will not develop serious suicidality,” he said by email.

City’s suicide prevention plan to cost $1.4MCBC
March 14, 2018
The City of Edmonton will be implementing a suicide prevention plan that includes a public awareness campaign, training for city staff, operating expenses for an implementation team, and expansion of men’s support services. The city has already installed bridge barriers on the High Level Bridge, a suicide hot spot. The plan will cost $1.39 million over three years. In 2015, 214 people died by suicide in Edmonton – double the number of those who died in traffic collisions.

Most gun deaths are suicides, not homicides. That’s a strong case for gun control Vox
March 14, 2018
This article argues that the prevalent number of people dying by suicide in the US via firearm is just as good a reason for gun control as people dying by murder via firearm. The author argues, “Many people, of various political persuasions, believe that suicide is ultimately just someone’s choice… It’s a common viewpoint, but it’s wrong. Suicide is the terminal stage of a disease. It’s a preventable death that we can, and should, prevent. And gun control is a necessary tool for doing that.”

Media guide for suicide reporting stresses need for context to prevent ‘contagion’National Post
March 12, 2018
The Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) issued an update to its guidelines for the media on suicide reporting. The guidelines emphasize the importance of reporting on the complexity and context of a suicide. “One of the things we really want to encourage journalists to do is to provide that context and to make sure that people are aware that there’s no reason that people have to die from suicide,” said Dr. Mark Sinyor, lead author of the recommendations.

Suicide, depression risk may increase with altitude, study findsMedical Daily
March 12, 2018
A review of research published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry has found that people in the US who live in areas with a higher-altitude have an increased risk of suicide and major depressive disorder. The review analyzed 12 studies and found that suicide rates increased dramatically at altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. Researchers acknowledge that both sociodemographic and environmental conditions play a role, and that the lower blood oxygen levels due to atmospheric pressure may also contribute to a higher rate of mental disorders and suicide.

Subscribe to this weekly mailing list