Hello Friends,

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:

CSP Response to OCYA Mar 2021 ReportCentre for Suicide Prevention
March 26, 2021
Last week the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate of Alberta (OCYA) released their March 2021 Mandatory Report, which asked the Ministries of Health and Children’s Services to share the actions taken and results achieved in the first two years of Alberta’s five-year youth suicide prevention plan, as well as steps for action to be taken in the coming two years. Centre for Suicide Prevention (CSP) commends the OCYA for continuing their important work in reviewing the deaths of young people in Alberta and providing recommendations to the Government of Alberta. CSP also commends the Government of Alberta for developing Building Strength, Inspiring Hope: A Provincial Action Plan for Youth Suicide Prevention 2019 − 2024 and launching its implementation. Two years in, it is important to take stock of the work thus far and set the course for the next phase. Promising outcomes have emerged, including Community-led life promotion plans for Indigenous youth and communities, a Guide focused on preventing Indigenous youth suicide

Suicide PreventionCBC
March 28, 2021
In this documentary, part of the Maamuitaau series which explores life in James Bay Cree communities, the Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou communities discuss their suicide prevention programs.

Suicide and Self-Harm: Bereaved Families Count the Costs of Lockdowns
New York Times
March 27, 2021
This article explores the impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns on mental health, especially that of young people. Some hospitals are reporting an increase in youth arriving at emergency rooms and psychiatry wards for mental health concerns. Some factors for young people that contribute to poor mental health during the pandemic include: worries of a constrained job market and limited social life. “If you are a young person, you are looking for hope,” said Dr. Rory O’Connor, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. “But the job market is going to be constrained, and opportunities to build your life are going to be slimmer.” Fabrice Jollant, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Paris says, “Imagine a young person in a small room, who takes their course online and has limited social life due to restrictions, they may be tempted to consume more drugs or drink more alcohol, and may have less physical activity, all of which can contribute to symptoms of depression, anxiety and poor sleep.” Lily Arkwright, 19, died by suicide during the pandemic. Annie Arkwright, Lily’s mother, says, “Lockdown put Lily in physical and emotional situations she would never have in normal times.”

Opinion: I Don’t Want Another Family to Lose a Child the Way We DidNew York Times
March 25, 2021
Dr. Pamela Morris, a developmental psychologist, lost one of her twins, daughter Frankie, to suicide. Morris “imagine(s) a world in which every health worker, school professional, employer and religious leader can recognize the signs of suicidal thinking and know how to ask about it, respond to it and offer resources to someone who is struggling. Just as today we all know to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency, we would all know the national suicide prevention hotline… We would ‘suicide-proof’ our homes by locking up handguns, lethal medications and other things teenagers can use to harm themselves. And families would ask their children often about suicidal thinking.”

Michael Phelps on the pandemic’s impact on mental health struggles: ‘It honestly destroys me’USA Today
March 24, 2021
Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, has been open about his struggles with thoughts of suicide and depression. In response to Meghan Markle opening up about her own struggles, Phelps says, “When I see somebody like that, yes, I do feel for them because, again, I know what that feels like and it does break my heart. I can understand to some degree what that feels like. It is very scary and you kind of really don’t know what to do.” Markle experienced challenges when seeking help for her mental health. Phelps says, “Getting our thoughts and feelings out in the open is something that changed my life. If there is backlash or anybody does feel like that, your story is your story… You want to be the authentic you as much as you possibly can.”

Suicide Attempts Spike Soon After Dementia DiagnosisUS News
March 24, 2021
A new study of US Department of Veterans Affairs patients has found that suicide rates rise in the months following a dementia diagnoses. Patients recently diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is often a precursor to dementia, had a 73% higher suicide risk, while those recently diagnosed with dementia had a 44% higher risk. Neuropsychologist Jami Halpern says, “Following a diagnosis, patients, their loved ones and providers should be conscious of an increase in symptoms of depression, for example, increased social withdrawal, apathy, increased feelings of sadness, increased tearfulness and suicidal thoughts, to name a few.”

Opinion: How my Facebook post about suicide uncovered so much hidden male pain and sufferingToronto Star
March 23, 2021
*Terminology warning – use of the word ‘commit’* Ana Chevalier talks about the feedback she received on her Facebook post about men and suicide that began with ‘Men get cheated on,’ and ended with, ‘Men (die by) suicide.’ She received dozens of notifications from men discussing their experiences with abuse leading to trauma. Chevalier says, “They spoke of further alienation, abandonment, physical abuse, and homelessness … as their self-created coping mechanisms proved powerless against ceaseless molestation. ‘They don’t take it seriously when we report it. They tell you to toughen up or ‘act like a man.’ What does that even mean? It isn’t so easy.'” John, a struggling Gen Xer, told Chevalier, “We don’t have the same support network (as women), so they tried to squeeze me into an existing program. The women didn’t want me there. That only made it worse. So I left. I didn’t know where else to go.”

Barriers to ‘immediately’ be installed at Goldstream trestle as part of suicide prevention strategyCTV
March 23, 2021
Barriers are being installed on the Goldstream trestle on Vancouver Island. The barriers are part of a regional joint suicide prevention strategy including, among other organizations, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) BC and the Island Corridor Foundation. Jonny Morris, CMHA BC CEO says, “For every person lost to suicide, many more experience thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. Suicide is a tragedy, but it is not inevitable, and lives can be saved with the appropriate services, supports, and safety measures in place.”

Post-Infection Symptoms Of Covid-19 Are Increasing Rate Of Suicide Forbes
March 22, 2021
Many people are struggling with both the physical and mental effects of post-COVID-19 symptoms, which include tinnitus, a loud buzzing or ringing in the ears; a continued loss of taste and smell; brain fog; and fatigue. Tinnitus in particular is already associated with an increase in anxiety and depression – 33% of people with tinnitus have major depression and 45% have anxiety. People who continue to have symptoms of COVID-19 long after their infection are known as ‘long-haul’ patients, and some are reporting that symptoms are decreasing and even resolving after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

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