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:

‘Be gentle with yourself’: Mental health phone lines see increase in callsCBC
April 5, 2020
The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC has seen a 6% increase in phone calls compared with this time last year, and Stacy Ashton, executive director, said that it’s coming up “on every single call.” 
Related – Suicide hotline gets more calls in wake of coronavirus-related layoffsMontreal Gazette

‘An obligation just like safety’: Employers urged to keep workers’ mental health at forefront Calgary Herald
April 5, 2020
Business leaders in Calgary are urging employers to keep employee mental health in mind as leadership navigates the COVID-19 pandemic. “(Employees) bear the emotional burden of the tough decisions and they’re acutely aware of how these decisions impact individuals. Mental health in the workplace starts with how the leaders are caring for their own mental health,”  said Jenn Lofgren, founder of Calgary-based leadership and executive coaching company Incito. The Calgary Chamber of Commerce is encouraging leadership to reach out to their team members individually to ensure they’re mentally healthy. The Chamber is also offering a webinar series, #Here4YYC, with topics focusing on mental health and resilience in the a business context. 

Months-long isolation will take its toll on people’s mental health, experts sayCBC
April 4, 2020 
Sandro Galea, dean at Boston University’s School of Public Health, worries that physical distancing, as well as uncertainty about how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, may contribute to increased anxiety, and highlights that “It’s actually very important that we are recognizing that mental illness is going to be the next wave of this epidemic and I think it’s very important that we de-stigmatize mental illness.”
Related – Is social isolation getting to you? Here’s how to know — and what experts say to do. – Washington Post

Opinion: COVID-19 Is Likely to Lead to an Increase in SuicidesScientific American
April 3, 2020
*Method warning* Adriana Panayi, MD, is an instructor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Panayi writes in this opinion piece that panic and trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to an increase in suicides. Panayi discusses some possible COVID-19-related suicides, acknowledging that there are many factors at play. She compares the current pandemic and its impending economic crisis to the Great Depression, when the suicide rate rose in the US to 21.9 per 100,000. She recommends governments implement targeted mental health surveillance of vulnerable populations such as older adults and those with existing mental health disorders, and follow that with effective interventions to minimize suicide ideation. Mental health programs should be proactively established and created specifically for the pandemic aftermath, says Panayi. 

Coronavirus distancing: Don’t forget about veterans. For them, loneliness can be deadly. USA Today
April 2, 2020
Veterans are one group that is especially vulnerable to the effects of social distancing, and we need to check in with those veterans in our lives – they have higher suicide rates than the general population and many do not seek mental health support. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has found that loneliness is a significant factor among veterans as it is linked to high levels of depression and suicidal thoughts. 

Is an ‘echo pandemic’ of mental illness coming after COVID-19? CTV News
April 1, 2020
Some experts worry that the COVID-19 outbreak will be followed by a psychological pandemic as stress related to finances, physically distancing, and the loss of a stable routine will become more and more acute. The pandemic gave people little chance to financially prepare for its consequences, another factor contributes to financial stress, according to Dr. Roger McIntyre, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto, who said, “You lose your job overnight, you lose the security of your paycheque overnight. That is nothing short of an assault to your mental health and well-being, and we already know that being at work is not just a place that one takes away a paycheque, but it’s often a very important source of interpersonal connectedness.”
Related –  Corbella: Alberta psychiatrists say mental health disaster is looming Calgary Herald

Air Force Academy eases coronavirus lockdown after two cadets die by apparent suicide – Washington Post
April 1, 2020
The American Air Force Academy is experiencing difficulty in balancing the need for social interaction for the wellbeing of their cadets while physically distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Cadets are now in lockdown, spread out throughout the campus, and until recently were being punished for coming within 6 feet of one another, and asked to dine alone. Several complained of living in prison-like conditions. Two apparent suicides took place amidst the lockdown – officials say these were not COVID-19 related, but they have changed lockdown protocol to allow for more socialization. Cadets are allowed to have roommates and the leadership team and mental health professionals are always available for support when needed. Service dogs will be allowed to roam the campus and small barbecues are also being allowed.

Comment: Protecting the psychological health of children through effective communication about COVID-19The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health
March 31, 2020
During the COVID-19 outbreak, children are being exposed to “large amounts of information and high levels of stress and anxiety in the adults around them.” They’re also experiencing disruption of their routines and social lives, which “ordinarily foster resilience in challenging events.” It is vital that adults are able to discuss the pandemic with children in a sensitive and effective way that is appropriate for their development levels. For example,”Children need honest information about changes within their family; when this information is absent, children attempt to make sense of the situation on their own.” Further, adults need to be aware that children will read their emotional and behavioural cues, and may perceive their behaviour as a threat, which can result in anxiety. It’s important, too, that adults share their emotions in a calm but honest manner, as “an absence of emotion-focused conversations might leave children anxious about the emotional state of the adults around them.”

Opinion: COVID-19 anxiety shows why Canada needs a 9-8-8 number for mental health emergenciesCBC
March 31, 2020
Disruptions to our daily lives as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak may lead to a mental health public health emergency – and this author, founder of the 911 Campaign for Canada and CEO of the Centre for Patient Protection, Kathleen Finlay, argues that the mental health of Canadians is not getting the attention it deserves in Canada’s national response to COVID-19. Finlay is among many proposing a 3-digit crisis line number for Canada, and she argues it is more important now than ever. She would also like to see more information provided to citizens about the mental health effects of COVID-19. 
Related – How to access free mental health and emotional support during the COVID-19 crisis CBC 
New mental health support program available through University of Alberta – CBC

People financially affected by COVID-19 outbreak are experiencing more psychological distress than othersPew Research Center
March 30, 2020
The Pew Research Center has found in their research that nearly 1 in 5 Americans said they have had a physical reaction when thinking about the COVID-19 outbreak. In an attempt to track the effects of the outbreak, members of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel were asked how often in the past week they had experienced five types of psychological distress. The Center then took those responses and broke them down into levels of high, medium, or low distress and found that women, young people, and those with lower incomes and whose jobs or income had been cut by the outbreak were most likely to fall into the “highly distressed” category. 

‘I’ve never been so stressed’: Health-care workers in COVID-19 battle face PTSD, mental health issuesCBC
March 25, 2020
A new study published in the JAMA Network journal presents survey results of front-line workers in China and found that those who were involved in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of COVID-19 patients were more likely to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress. “I expect it’ll have quite a lot of psychological impact on people, not only doctors but nurses and everyone else who works within [the critical care] team,” said Dr. Laura Hawryluck, the critical care response team lead at Toronto Western Hospital. “We’ve got a longer journey to go — getting through this particular pandemic. I think this is going to hit the medical community quite hard.”
Related – The Covid-19 crisis too few are talking about: health care workers’ mental healthStat

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