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:

Discussing Mental Health in Agriculture Ag Thoughts with Emmett
March 24, 2020
Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Robert Olson spoke with Emmett Sawyer, a youth advocate for agriculture, about farmer suicide and how it can be prevented. Urban and rural settings differ in terms of suicide prevention, for example, “There is a lack of mental health resources in a rural setting… there is also a reluctance to seek help and the absence of those resources is a key factor.” Olson says farmers can cope with stress by “Connecting with other farmers… this goes against the self-reliance (traits of some farmers) but nothing is better for our mental health than coming together.” Warning signs for suicide in farmers (and anyone), include “Feeling angry all the time, drinking a lot more than usual to cope with daily life, the most common one is ongoing depression that lasts for several days. (If these signs are present) maybe it’s time to get help.”

How to maintain mental health at homeCentre for Suicide Prevention
March 21, 2020
We’ve adapted a previous blog post, How to maintain mental health, for our current situation, in which many of us are physically distancing ourselves from one another due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Remaining connected to social supports, maintaining physical activity, making positive lifestyle and health choices, tapping into our spirituality, as well as practicing gratitude and optimism are a few tips we have to maintain your mental health at this time. 

Doctors and nurses treating coronavirus report high rates of depression and anxietyVox
March 26, 2020
A new survey-based study examined mental health outcomes of 1,257 health care workers attending to COVID-19 patients in China. The survey found a large number of respondents reported experiencing symptoms of depression (50%), anxiety (45%), insomnia (34%), and psychological distress (71.5%). The study concludes that, “Protecting health care workers is an important component of public health measures for addressing the Covid-19 epidemic. Special interventions to promote mental wellbeing in health care workers exposed to Covid-19 need to be immediately implemented, with women, nurses, and frontline workers requiring particular attention.”

Coronavirus: New texting initiative gives Albertans mental health support Global 
March 24, 2020
The Alberta Government has announced a new texting initiative that will help give Albertans mental health support during the COVID-19 outbreak. Alberta Health Services partnered with hospitals and other health organizations to launch the Text4Hope program. Residents of Alberta can text COVID19HOPE to 393939 to receive daily messages of hope focused on managing moods and emotions and healthy thinking. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, encouraged people to use the service and said, “I encourage anyone who needs support to reach out to someone they trust, talk to a family member, friend, or someone they can be honest with to talk through concerns.”

‘Isolation is a big trigger’: Feelings of suicide are amplified amid a pandemic USA Today
March 23, 2020
Suicide prevention experts are worried about the mental health effects of social isolation and maintaining physical distance.”Isolation is a big trigger for a lot of people,” said Norine VanderHooven, a licensed clinical social worker in California. “With SARS or H1N1 it was on such a different scale than what we’re dealing with now. People are becoming so anxious because they don’t know what to expect. Anxiety is fear of the unexpected or unknown.” Nadine Kaslow, a professor of psychiatry at the Emory University School of Medicine said, “There is certainly going to be a group of people who are suicidal where this is just one more stress for them. For others it could be a final stress, not even COVID itself, but everything that comes with it, all the financial stresses, trying to take care of kids at home, people you love dying, getting sick – the list goes on and on.” Eric Caine, co-director of the Center for the Study of Prevention of Suicide at the University of Rochester Medical Center said that we can mitigate risk to vulnerable populations by caring for one another – “Even in the midst of social separation, there are ways where we can pull together to bring out warmth and cohesion.”

COVID-19: We Must Care for Older Adults’ Mental Health American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
March 23, 2020
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is calling on us all to remember the mental well being of older adults during this challenging time, as their routines and usual support systems in particular may be disrupted. This is because older adults are more susceptible to the virus, which can exacerbate stress and anxiety. They may also find themselves with fewer social supports and contact with others, as we are all being called on to physically distance ourselves from one another. For older adults, the COVID-19 outbreak “can feel like a threat that could bring about even more potential loss to (their) baseline experiences of loss.” AFSP suggests regularly checking in with the older adults in our lives by calling or video-chatting with them, and asking how they’re doing. Offering to bring them a meal or run errands can also be helpful, as well as expressing gratitude and appreciation you have for them. 

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