To Help Someone Contemplating Suicide, Put Yourself First – Psychology Today
April 1, 2022
People who offer care to those thinking about suicide play an important role in suicide prevention, and this article argues that they’re not getting enough support. Offering help and support to someone who is thinking about suicide can be challenging compared to some other forms of caregiving – there is stigma, therefore, talking about the stress of being the caregiver of someone thinking about suicide can be difficult. As well, usually those in supporting roles are friends and family, not formal caregivers, meaning that their care is added on to their daily responsibilities. “We don’t know the exact number of suicide caregivers out there. But we do know that they’re critical in efforts to reduce suicide death,” says article author Katherine Schreiber, a social worker who specializes in working with adults with severe mental illnesses. “There is a lack of support that focuses on the suicide caregiver’s own needs based on the unique challenges they face.” This article speaks to the lack of resources for people who are supporting someone thinking of suicide and suggests for those caregivers: putting yourself first by focusing on self-care and personal coping strategies, understanding your role, and knowing your limits.
Autistic people are six times more likely to attempt suicide – poor mental health support may be to blame – The Conversation
April 1, 2022
People with autism are six times more likely to attempt suicide than those without autism, and up to seven times more likely to die by suicide. They experience unique risk factors that increase the likelihood they may consider suicide, however, according to article authors and suicide researchers Patrick Jachyra, Jaqui Rodgers, and Sarah Cassidy, “There are many broader social, political and cultural factors at play – such as autistic people feeling excluded from society, or not feeling they belong.” People with autism may face barriers to accessing appropriate mental health care as healthcare staff often lack training in how to support their needs. The severity, type and intensity of suicidal thoughts can present differently in those with autism, and communication difficulties can make it hard for them to express what they’re feeling. Authors say, “Unless they’re asked outright by a healthcare professional if they’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, this behaviour may be missed by current clinical tools, such as screening questionnaires.” The research done by Jachyra, Rodgers, and Cassidy found that, in Canada, 50% of people with autism who had suicidal thoughts or behaviour were missed in initial screenings in psychiatric hospital emergency departments. “Part of this simply comes down to increasing awareness, so that people working in healthcare may better recognise possible warning signs of suicide and better help autistic people who are struggling .. Greater awareness… is also important for friends and family of autistic people, so they may be able to look for and recognise certain risk factors, and offer support if possible.”
A nurse’s death raises the alarm about the profession’s mental health crisis – NPR
March 31, 2022
Friends of Michael Odell, a nurse who died by suicide in January, are raising awareness for the issue of nurse suicide and calling for a focus on suicide prevention in the profession. “We have a lot of shame involved in it,” says Joshua Paredes, a friend of Odell. “I think that stigma will be the last to die with health care professionals, to be honest with you, because we just don’t talk about it.” In a recent American study examining the impact of the pandemic on health care workers, it was found that 70% had symptoms of anxiety and depression, 38% had symptoms of PTSD, and 15% had recent thoughts of suicide or self harm. Psychiatrist Jessica Gold specializes in burnout among health care workers and says, “I think there’s definitely more PTSD, and over time we’ll see more and more of it when people settle and realize what this experience has been like for them.” Odell’s friends set up a peer support crisis line for nurses and nursing assistants, and they’re working on a broader suicide prevention project, Don’t Clock Out, that will also offer online resources.
Suicidal behavior patterns in parents passed down to children, study finds – Healio
March 31, 2022
A recent study has found that children who are exposed to their parent’s patterns of suicidal behaviour are more likely to exhibit the same behaviours. “Suicidal behavior has been shown to cluster in families with higher risk in the offspring of parents who died by suicide than in unexposed individuals,” Anne Ranning, PhD, of the Copenhagen Research Center for Mental Health, Gentofte Hospital, and colleagues wrote. “Bearing in mind the excess risk among individuals exposed at a young age, early preventive interventions are warranted, as are clinical considerations of familial exposure in risk assessment of patients.”
Golden Gate Bridge suicides: A history of fatalities, and how further tragedies may be prevented– Los Angeles Times
March 30, 2022
**Content warning – suicide method, description of crisis** This article discusses the importance of suicide barriers on bridges, and specifically, the history of the Golden Gate Bridge as a suicide hot spot and what is being done to prevent suicides there. 75% of a mesh barrier for the bridge has been constructed but is not yet affixed to the bridge; only 5% (20,000 square feet) of mesh has been added. President of the Bridge Rail Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to suicide prevention on the Bridge, Paul Muller, said, “One of the things that I’ve learned in this whole fight from the very beginning when I got into it was the power of the access restriction method. You don’t have to have a degree in psychology to restrict access to lethal means. You may need nothing more than, for instance, gun locks. Reducing that access means you buy the suicidal individual more time and that gives them time for counseling treatment. It gives [professionals] an opportunity to pull them off the edge.”
Hong Kong’s suicide index hits ‘crisis level’ in Covid fifth wave – The Independent
March 30, 2022
**Content warning – use of the word ‘commit’** The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong has said that the city registered 4.03 suicide deaths per day from March 11 to 18, crossing the ‘crisis-level’ mark of 3.56. Paul Yip Siu-fai, the centre’s founding director said, “We believe social distancing introduced not only physical distancing, but also emotional disconnectedness, leading to a sense of isolation and abandonment by family members and their community… [causing] an impact on mental health.” Older adults are dying by suicide most often, followed by the 35-54 age group. “Amid the fifth wave of the Omicron variant where the elderly have to be isolated from their family members by stringent social-distancing curbs, they can easily have negative feelings such as loneliness, anger, sorrow and the feelings of being abandoned,” said Vincent Ng, Suicide Prevention Services crisis line executive director. Calls to the hotline rose 50% last year compared to 2020.
Google applies advanced AI to suicide prevention and reducing graphic search results – Mashable
March 30, 2022
Google is updating their AI systems and has said that they will use the systems for suicide and domestic violence prevention, and to ensure people don’t see graphic content when it’s not appropriate. The systems will be more nuanced, whereas previously search terms had to be more obvious. For example, Google found that people who search for ‘Sydney suicide hot spots’ may be thinking about suicide. “Not all crisis language is obvious, particularly across languages and cultures,” Anne Merritt, a Google product manager who worked on the harm reduction project, said.
Make three-digit suicide prevention hotline accessible, CRTC told in consultations – Globe and Mail
March 29, 2022
**Content warning – use of the word ‘succeed’** The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) wrapped up public consultations for the implementation of a 3-digit number that would provide access to the Canadian national suicide prevention line – 1-833-456-4566. The CRTC has said the line has widespread public support. In the House of Commons, the 3-digit number received unanimous support, and some are criticizing the CRTC for their lengthy consultation process, which finished this month, more than a year after the motion was passed by MPs in December 2020. Conservative MP Todd Doherty, who brought the motion forward, says, “It is deeply troubling when something that is supported by so many is being ground to a halt by bureaucracy. The call for immediate action has not slowed to a crawl, it has just ground to a halt. That inaction has cost lives, when minutes and seconds count.” Executive director of the London Police Association Rick Robson told the CRTC in their consultations that 3-digit access to the crisis line will be “invaluable and necessary” and will “undoubtedly save lives and money. It should be implemented at the soonest available opportunity.”
Cancer Patients Are at High Risk of Depression and Suicide, Studies Find – New York Times
March 28, 2022
New research highlights the psychological burden of cancer – one new report reviewed 28 studies of more than 22 million cancer patients globally to find that their suicide rate is 85% higher than those in the general population. The suicide risk was found to increase with the severity of the prognosis. Another new study found that chemotherapy was tied to high rates of mental disorders, whereas other treatment drugs had lower rates. “It would be so useful for cancer patients who are newly diagnosed to see what the data tell us (about psychological risks of potential treatments) and make an informed decision,” said Dr. Alvina Lai, study co-author. Dr. Nathalie Moise, professor of medicine at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons said, “I think these findings may support the need to also screen for suicide and other risk factors. Normalizing mental health treatment as an integral component of your overall cancer care may also go a long way.”
Sign of help on Windsor’s Riverfront hopes to steer people away from crisis – CBC
March 28, 2022
Suicide prevention signs with the local crisis line and words encouraging people to seek help have been installed at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario. The bridge is a ‘high risk’ area for suicides, and Tina Szymczak, who lives in Windsor and has experienced a suicide attempt, says, “…Seeing that sign and knowing that it might stop even one person from going down that path was really powerful.. There are some people that don’t have anyone in their life that can help them and just seeing that sign … I think it’s very concrete, something in the heat of the moment, being right there right in front of you.”
Oscars 2022: Jessica Chastain Delivers Heartfelt Message on Suicide Awareness After Sister’s Death – E! News
March 27, 2022
In her acceptance speech for the Best Actress award at the Oscars last week, Jessica Chastain, who lost sister Juliet Chastain to suicide in 2003, took the opportunity to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention. She spoke about the “difficult times” people are living in, “filled with a lot of trauma and isolation, and so many people out there feel hopelessness and they feel alone… (Suicide has) touched many families, it’s touched mine, especially members of the LGBTQ community, who often feel out of place with their peers. We’re faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us.”
Opinion: If we all talked about suicide, wouldn’t that be better for everyone? – Guardian
March 27, 2022
**Method warning** This opinion piece is written by Xavier Mulenga, an addiction psychiatrist, who discusses the role of a psychiatrist in helping patients, and also the importance of openly talking about suicide, “The question I ask is: If we all asked about suicide, wouldn’t that be better for everyone? I truly believe that more campaigns should centre around the destigmatisation of suicide and self-harm. This would involve the average person being able to begin discussions around suicide or self-harm in an open and non-judgmental manner. The goal would be for suicide to be talked about in the same way people talk about diabetes, heart attacks or strokes,” says Mulenga.