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:

Media contagion of suicide is real. Here’s how to fix it.Salon
March 30, 2019
This article explores the phenomenon of suicide contagion as it relates to the recent suicide deaths of people connected to or are survivors of school shootings in the US. “Though we are not yet certain the recent suicides were due to contagion, it is likely they were due, in part, to the direct influence of sensationalized around-the-clock detailed media reporting combined with trauma, loss, grief, and a sense of hopelessness and survivor guilt. Those who survive a traumatic incident and watched others suffer, or are exposed to it via media, begin to question why they survived when others did not,” explains the article. Responsible media reporting can help curb contagion, and includes avoiding sensationalism, and detailing the suicide itself. 

Justin Bieber being open about his mental health will help youth, experts sayCBC
March 30, 2019
Recently, Justin Bieber has opened up to fans about his mental health, saying that he’s taking some time off of making music and touring as he is “very focused on repairing some of the deep rooted issues that I have as most of us have, so that I don’t fall apart.” Meredith Gardiner, a director of services for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington, said that “Anytime somebody comes forward and helps reduce stigma around mental health, it’s a positive outcome… Part of his message is to be reaching out for help and getting help and that’s OK, then it’s absolutely a very, very positive thing for sure,” she said. “That’s positive regardless of how old you are.”

Province launching plan to curb suicide ‘crisis’ at OPPCBC
March 29, 2019
The province of Ontario will partner with the Ontario Provincial Police Association to provide new mental health supports to provincial police officers, after several have died by suicide in the past few years. “When it comes to frontline OPP officers — immediate action is needed,” said Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. “Through this new program we will foster an environment where our members can freely come forward and get the help that they truly need in an environment where the stigma that keeps our members from coming forward is eliminated.” 

Why are we losing so many Indigenous children to suicide?The Conversation Australia
March 29, 2019
In Australia, 1 in 4 children who died by suicide in the past five years were Indigenous, and Queensland has experienced the suicide deaths of five youth in March alone. The long-lasting effects of colonialism, including trauma, poverty, and social exclusion, are deep-rooted contributors to Indigenous youth suicide. Delegates of two Indigenous suicide prevention conferences which took place in November last year have called for a new national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention strategy, fully funded, with a focus on Indigenous youth. 

Parkland students like me were told to get over our grief. We didn’t get the support to do it.Vox
March 28, 2019
This article, written by a Parkland shooting survivor, talks about how members of the school community were expected to function normally in the environment in which they had just experienced significant trauma, despite feelings of “collective anxiety, fear, and grief.” While mental health professionals were made available to students and staff, there weren’t enough to meet the demand of 3,000 people. After graduating in the months that followed, students weren’t given follow-up supports, either. The author implores, “This week, two more of my classmates and fellow survivors have been lost to this tragedy, this time by suicide. As the nation mourns, we must ask what we did and what we should be doing to support the mental health of those who survived Parkland and other mass shootings.”

What We Get Wrong When We Talk About the Parkland Survivor Deaths – Rolling Stone
March 27, 2019
In light of recent suicides by survivors of traumatic violence or loss, this article reminds us that trauma is a treatable mental illness. “Post-traumatic stress is real,” said Dr. April Foreman, a psychologist and a board member at the American Association of Suicidology. “But people do recover. People live with it and manage it like any other chronic health condition,” and “the vast majority of people who have experienced trauma will not develop suicidal thoughts.”

Opinion: The ancient ways suicide continues to haunt usCNN
March 27, 2019
This article discusses theories of why people die by suicide, as well as the phenomenon of suicide contagion. It also examines historical accounts of suicide in an attempt to look for answers. The author writes: “Suicide is a kind of social epidemic seemingly exacerbated by the media and technology we binge on every day. We are spending more and more time looking at our phones and less and less time actually interacting with other human beings who might offer us an outlet to help relieve our suffering. We are spending more and more time online every day ‘connecting’ with others on social media, but we’ve never been more socially isolated or possessed less self-knowledge.”

Avicii’s family to launch a foundation for mental health and suicide preventionUSA Today
March 26, 2019
Tim Bergling, aka Avicii, a world-renowned DJ, died by suicide last April at age 28. His family have recently announced that they will be started a foundation in his name to support organizations working in suicide prevention and mental illness. The Tim Bergling Foundation will also be active in climate change, nature conservation, and endangered species.

Showing compassion, accepting cultures: Preventing suicide in the Latino communityCNN
March 26, 2019
A survey from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 4 adolescent girls and 1 in 10 boys in the Latino community has thought about suicide in the year prior to the survey. “Suicide is a public health issue that affects people from every race, every age, every gender and every class,” explains Dr. Barbara Robles-Ramamurthy, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Long School of Medicine at UT Health in San Antonio. “But Latina teens have suicidal ideations and want to kill themselves more frequently.” When parents have immigrated from other countries but their children have not, there can be a clash of values and lifestyles. “The balance is in continuously teaching them about our culture, our rituals, our celebrations, our food … while at the same time respecting that they will want to do certain things that align more with the culture in which they are growing up,” said Dr. Maria Veronica Svetaz, family physician and director of Clinic Aqui Para Ti, or Here for You, in Minneapolis.

Why You Should Stop Saying ‘Committed Suicide’HuffPost
March 26, 2019
This article explains why using the term “commit suicide” is harmful to survivors of suicide loss and attempt survivors. “The term ‘committed suicide’ is damaging because for many people, if not most, people it evokes associations with ‘committed a crime’ or ‘committed a sin’ and makes us think about something morally reprehensible or illegal,” said Jacek Debiec, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan’s department of psychiatry who specializes in post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders. Further, it shrouds the complexity behind suicide, “You don’t ‘commit a heart attack.’ Instead, you might hear someone say they ‘died from a heart attack.’ Dying by suicide is the same. … When attaching the word ‘committed,’ it further discriminates against those who lost their battle against a disease,” explained Debiec.

Poverty among Indigenous Canadians linked to mental health woes, suicide: Dal studyChronicle Herald
March 25, 2019
A study out of Dalhousie University is suggesting that food insecurity, income, and employment are at the root of mental health issues and suicide in Indigenous communities. The study used data from Statistics Canada’s 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, and found that high rates of psychological distress, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts are linked to income inequalities in Indigenous communities.

Opinion: After deaths at U of T and Concordia, the silence about suicide on campus has to endGlobe and Mail
March 25, 2019
*Subscribers only* This opinion article juxtaposes responses from on-campus suicide deaths by Concordia University and that of the University of Toronto. Within hours of a student suicide death, Concordia emailed students from the same faculty as the student who died, acknowledging the death as a suicide and offering counselling to affected students. University of Toronto didn’t publicly acknowledge a student’s suicide, and other students protested, asking them to recognize what happened. “When schools refuse to utter the word ‘suicide,’ they perpetuate stigma and shame, and they sidestep their responsibility to the community,” said Andre Picard, writer of the piece. 

OPP union launching its own suicide prevention programCBC
March 25, 2019
The Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) union is launching a mental health program for members in light of recent officer suicides. “We can be leaders and support our people. We feel this program will provide members incredible support, support that they need,” said OPPA president Rob Jamieson.

Parkland suicide deaths highlight long-term psychological impacts of mass shootingsCNN
March 25, 2019
Two students who survived the high school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida last year have died by suicide this week, along with the parent of a child who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. “The Parkland survivors have been heroes in their advocacy efforts since the tragedy, but the deaths of these students are a sobering reminder that they are not only young advocates, but also trauma victims and gun violence loss survivors,” said Micheal Anestis, associate professor of psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi and co-chair of the American Association of Suicidology. Dr. David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, pointed out that the second year after a traumatizing event may be harder than the first, as the support for survivors may not be as strong as it was in the first year.
Related – The father of a Sandy Hook victim dies from an apparent suicide CNN
Related – Parkland survivors’ deaths are putting suicide prevention in the spotlightLos Angeles Times

Subscribe to this weekly mailing list