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:

Support is key for those who lose a partner to suicide, say researchersCTV 
Mar. 26, 2017
A new study has found that people who lose a partner to suicide are at a higher risk for physical and mental disorders. Partners bereaved by suicide have an increased risk of cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, and spinal disk herniation, as well as mood disorders, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and alcohol addiction, according to the study results. “Being exposed to such a stressful life event as the suicide of your partner holds higher risks for physical and mental disorders and is different from losing a partner from other causes of death, such as illness or sudden accident,” said study leader Annette Erlangsen.

After four students commit suicide, University of Guelph officials go door-to-door for mental health checks
National Post
Mar. 24, 2017
University of Guelph officials went door-to-door last week in student campus residences, wanting to know how the students are doing in terms of their mental health. These check-ins come just months after four student suicides, two occurring in the student residences. “I was just really trying to make sure they stay healthy — get enough sleep, go to the gym, eat well, that kind of thing. It was about their overall health, but we also want to make sure they are keeping track of their mental health too, because it’s all tied together,” said the school’s provost Charlotte Yates.

Opioid abuse tied to higher suicide risk in veterans
Mar. 24, 2017
A new American study has found that male veterans who misuse prescription opioids are 4 times more likely to die by suicide while female veterans are more than 8 times more likely to die by suicide than those who do not use opioids. Opioids pose more of a risk than even drugs and alcohol, which increase suicide risk by 2 times for male veterans and 6 times for female veterans.

First nations say suicide crisis requires same response as natural disastersCBC
Mar. 24, 2017
Last week First Nations in Treaties 3 and 9 met with the Ontario government to discuss protocols for “social emergencies” such as suicide. Jonathan Solomon, grand chief of the Mushkegowuk Council, says that he would like to see these emergencies dealt with in the same way that natural disasters are. “It would bring more of a sustainable plan. Instead of spending $2 million to send an EMAT [Emergency Medical Assistance Team] into Attawapiskat for a few days and then they’re gone and communities are left without anything,” he said. Randy Knapaysweet, 28, lives in Fort Albany First Nation and would like to see leaders take more preventative steps. “Why wait for an emergency?” he said. “Work with your youth. Work on these things and don’t wait for it to be an emergency.”

Canada’s psychologists encouraged by the federal budget 2017 focus on mental health Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)
Mar. 23, 2017
The CPA is praising the federal government for the spending allocated to mental health in its latest budget, released last week. The release breaks down exactly what areas will benefit: $5 billion over 10 years goes to provinces as part of newly signed health accords, $57.8 million over 5 years ($13.6 million per year thereafter) to expand mental health care capacity for federal inmates, $17.5 million over 4 years ($9.2 million per year ongoing) to create a Centre of Excellence on PTSD and related mental health concerns for veterans and military members, and $828.2 million over 5 years for First Nations and Inuit populations mental health care and drug addiction treatment.

University of Waterloo president writes faculty, students about suicideCBC
Mar. 23, 2017
The University of Waterloo in Ontario has experienced four student suicides in a short period of time, prompting the president to send a letter to faculty, staff, and students last week. We need to provide leadership and find solutions that are specific to Waterloo,” he wrote. “We expect to hear more from faculty, staff, alumni and especially students on what more we can do to support people who may be struggling with mental health issues. These efforts are already underway and will need to include input from all of us,” said president Feridun Hamadullahpur.

Budget targets $3.4B for ‘critical’ needs of Indigenous communities CBC
Mar. 22, 2017
In last week’s federal budget the government announced it would increase spending on post-secondary education, community infrastructure, and health for Indigenous populations, now totaling $11.8 billion over five years. $118.2 million will go towards supporting mental health programs in First Nations and Inuit communities, while $15 million has been allocated to fight drug addiction.

Steady fall in suicides offers glimmer of hope in JapanCTV
Mar. 22, 2017
Japan has one of the world’s highest suicides rates, 17.3 per 100,000 (compared to Canada’s rate of 11.5 per 100,000), but the rate has been steadily declining over the past 7 years. Though experts can’t identify one reason for the decline, they believe the ongoing efforts of the government to bring awareness to suicide could have had an effect. The Japanese government brought in national legislation to deal with suicide prevention back in 2006, and it is speculated that their consumer loan laws aimed at reducing debt may have also helped.

Precarious jobs scar employees’ mental health: surveyToronto Star
Mar. 20, 2017
A survey by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) of over 4,000 workers has found that “stress, unhappiness and an unhealthy home life are the biggest consequences of unstable employment.” 31% of survey respondents said that their mental health was most affected when they had an unstable job. The Ontario government is reviewing its employment and labour laws to better protect workers. “Right off the hop, workers should have their schedule at least two weeks in advance. They should be able to plan their lives at least two weeks out instead of sitting by the phone. The number of temporary jobs in Ontario has grown by 45 per cent since the year 2000,” said OFL president Chris Buckley.

Nova Scotia to increase mental health services for youth, childrenGlobal
Mar. 20, 2017
The province of Nova Scotia is responding to a report of recommendations put forward by their health minister’s advisory panel by investing more money into mental health initiatives for young people. $4.4 million by 2020 will be spent for 51 new mental health clinicians and community outreach workers, and the province is creating centralized place for people to go for mental health and addictions information for youth. Consistent mental health and addictions curriculum for schools will also be developed. Suicide prevention is specifically noted, too, as the Health Department said “all mental health service providers must receive evidence-based suicide risk assessment and suicide risk management training.”

Veterans advisory group to hold meeting on suicide preventionGlobe and Mail
Mar. 19, 2017
Last week, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr met with an advisory committee on mental health with a specific focus on suicide prevention. Suicide prevention was part of the minister’s mandate by the prime minister, and veterans advocates say that the government needs to be doing more to reduce military and veteran suicides. Mike Blais, founder of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy group and a member of the advisory committee, said they “have been fighting since the advisory group was struck to make suicide the top priority… There should be no compromise when we’re talking suicide prevention. There should only be 100-per-cent effort to alleviate this curse.”