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Suicide and anorexia promotion sites must be addressed in online safety bill, parents and child-protection experts say
Globe and Mail
March 29, 2023
**Content warning – potentially upsetting content** It’s anticipated that Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez will table a bill calling for the federal government to regulate suicide and anorexia promotion sites. This kind of regulation is within the scope of the forthcoming online safety bill. Lianna McDonald, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and member of an expert panel on the issue said, “The other night I went on a call with two parents – just heartbreaking cases. In both cases their children had died by suicide. These platforms are actively serving up this type of harmful material. We’ve heard from families where their kids are essentially trapped by these algorithms.” Google says it has automated systems in place to suppress the content, and, when tested, it was found that links to helplines and Centre for Suicide Prevention were populated. Facebook and Instagram also have policies about preventing people from seeing sensitive or upsetting content. 

11-year-old dead by suicide, 1 of 13 who’ve died in Alberta child welfare system so far this yearGlobal
March 29, 2023
**Content warning – descriptive method** Dejai Baptiste, 11, recently died by suicide while in foster care. A family member of Baptiste’s says he is the third member of his family to have died while in the child welfare system in Alberta. The family member says she’s fighting to get her own child out of the system. “I’ve done everything (child welfare workers) have asked. My daughter has fallen through the cracks like my (three young deceased family members).” The first five calls of the Truth and Reconciliation report address the impact of the child welfare system on Indigenous families and how the system should change. 54% of children in foster care in Canada are Indigenous, but Indigenous children make up less than 8% of the child population.

N.W.T. MLAs make 10 new recommendations on suicide preventionCBC
March 28, 2023
NWT’s committee on social development put forward a motion to the Legislative Assembly last week with 10 recommendations for suicide prevention. The recommendations come out of meetings with youth-led and youth-serving agencies. Recommendations include creating a youth-focused housing strategy, ensuring aftercare following a hospital visit, and increasing the suicide prevention fund from a $225,000 annual spend to $1 million. Youth are also requesting to lead a mental health conference with workshops offering resources on “managing grief, self-care, trauma, sobriety, developing positive relationships, Indigenous languages and culture and grant proposal writing.”

Suicide prevention: Protective factors can build hope and mitigate risksThe Conversation
March 28, 2023
This article explores the recent shift from a focus on risk factors (those factors that make it more likely a person will consider suicide) to protective factors (those factors that make it less likely, and that build resilience). Included among these factors are: social support and connectedness, beliefs and sense of meaning, mindfulness and self compassion, and healthy lifestyle and habits. Authors say, “These protective factors for suicide can be regarded as pillars of resilience. As a society, it is imperative to continue bringing more awareness to the discussion of suicide and to help people build resilience individually and collectively.”

Declining suicide rates in Europe may be linked to increased preventative initiatives: reportCTV News
March 25, 2023
A recent review of suicide statistics in 38 European countries found a 20% decrease in suicide rates from 2011 to 2019. 22 countries showed unchanged rates, while 15 others showed significant declines (one example is Lithuania, which had a suicide rate of 31.8 per 100,000 in 2011 but in 2019 reported a rate of 20.2). Researchers are encouraged by the decline and acknowledge that rates may have changed since 2019 due to global events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic. “Psychiatric disorders are related to an overwhelming proportion of these cases,” said researcher Anna Gimienez. “In the last years, several specific interventions and action plans for suicide prevention have been implemented in a number of European countries, and we believe that these might have had an impact on suicide trends.”

Suicide can be contagious for teens, research shows. Here’s how parents can helpABC News
March 24, 2023
People who have lost a friend or family member to suicide are more likely to consider suicide themselves, and youth are particularly vulnerable due to constant exposure to peers at school and through social media, according to Seth Abrutyn, PhD, and associate professor of sociology at University of British Columbia. Abrutyn says, “[Teenagers’] emotional development means that they experience trauma and tragedy in slightly different ways. Youth rarely are ready to make sense of a death – let alone something as confusing as a suicide… If adults do not step in to help make sense of the trauma in health and appropriate ways…the wrong sorts of stories about suicide may spread; stories that kids can identify with easily to make sense of their own problems.” The article goes on to give suggestions to parents about how to help young people process a suicide death.

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