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:

Preliminary data shows Alberta’s suicide rates declined in 2020 RD News Now
March 9, 2021
Preliminary data for suicide rates in Alberta in 2020 show a decline in suicide deaths. So far, data, which is not yet finalized, is showing that 468 people in Alberta died by suicide in 2020, the lowest number since 2011. “Suicide is considered a lagging indicator of things that might be happening in a population. So there are things that happen right away when a really big awful thing happens, and there are things that happen kind of mid-way, and there are things that happen later,” explains Mara Grunau, executive director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention. “If we’re looking at a population level, if they are going to experience a rise in suicides, which we’re not necessarily going to, but if we were, we wouldn’t expect it for a while. It’s a delayed response.”
Related – Preliminary data shows South Zone’s suicide rates declined in 2020Lethbridge News Now

Seniors have higher risk for suicide due to major life changes, data showsMoose Jaw Today
March 12, 2021
People over 65, especially men, have a higher risk of suicide than younger people. There are many factors that affect older adults that can cause mental stress, such as significant life changes, fewer connections, and chronic illness and pain. According to a fact sheet done by Centre for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Commission of Canada, “Warning signs in older adults can be difficult to identify, as some changes in behaviour can be the result of changes as one gets older. For example, if someone is going out less frequently with friends, this could be seen as someone isolating themselves, when in reality they may be having mobility issues.” Despite this, we can all still be alert to the warning signs and have an open, nonjudgmental conversation with older adults that we are worried about. 

Veteran who killed his family, himself sought help from 6 doctors before triple-murder suicideCBC
March 11, 2021
Lionel Desmond’s fatality inquiry continues in Nova Scotia, and the six doctors he saw prior to his suicide and the homicide of his family members testified that he “fell through the cracks.” He left a highly structured environment of supports as a psychiatric patient at Ste. Anne’s Hospital to go back home where he had no mental health supports. “He kept getting passed off,” remarked the head of the inquiry, Judge Warren Zimmer.

Opinion: What Happens to Your Mental Health When You Can’t Pay Your Rent?New York Times
March 10, 2021
This opinion piece, written by an investigative journalist who frequently writes on the topic of suicide, explores the role played by environmental and circumstantial factors in suicide. He makes an argument for setting a higher minimum wage as suicide prevention. “I came to realize over time how irrelevant diagnostic labels such as bipolar disorder and major depression are to understanding deaths by suicide. I noticed that all too often, these patients’ troubles began with childhood trauma and frequently ended with economic deprivation,” says the author, Jason Cherkis. “There is no one cause for any suicide. But research shows that there is a connection between people’s ability to pay rent each month and their mental health.”

Family questions mysterious circumstances leading up to B.C. Mountie’s apparent suicideGlobal
March 9, 2021
RCMP Const. Jasmine Thiara died by suicide on February 21, and her family is wondering about the circumstances surrounding her death. “The most important thing about this is Const. Jasmine Thiara was three-and-a-half months pregnant and the father of that fetus was a superior officer working in the Richmond detachment,” said Martin Peters, the lawyer for the victim’s family. Thiara’s pregnancy was ectopic meaning the fetus would not survive, and she has not yet received an autopsy.
Related – Autopsy ordered for pregnant Richmond RCMP officer who apparently died by suicide Global

Meghan says the royals let her down during her pregnancy. Here’s how they could have helped.Washington Post
March 9, 2021
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, told Oprah in an interview aired last week that she had thought about suicide during her pregnancy. This article discusses how to help those who are experiencing depression and thoughts of suicide during pregnancy and after, as 10% of women experience depression in pregnancy and 15% following childbirth. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the US. Suggestions include normalizing conversations around mental health, and being there for someone you know who is having thoughts of suicide. Adrienne Griffen, executive director of the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance said, “If anybody ever expresses suicidal thoughts or ideations, that person should not be left alone.” Being a constant, supportive presence for someone you know who is struggling, even after they’ve sought help, is important, too.
What to do if you’re worried about someoneNew York Times
How Meghan Markle Has Already Changed the Way We Talk About SuicideNew York Times
Some people don’t believe Meghan was suicidal, and that can be so dangerous – USA Today

Meghan Markle and Cuomo accuser reveal something crucial about suicideUSA Today
March 8, 2021
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, revealed in an interview last week with Oprah that she had experienced thoughts of suicide as a result of living in a negative environment at the Royal Palace. Lindsey Boylan, former aide for New York Governer Andrew Cuomo then opened up on Twitter and and said that she too had thoughts of suicide due to being in an abusive environment. This is substantial because, as Bart Andrews, chief clinical officer at Behavioral Health Response and suicide survivor says, “We have really perpetuated this idea that suicide is driven by mental illness. And there are parts of suicide that do have internal components, but … the larger part is environmental, social, cultural.” Laura Palumbo, communications director at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center agreed, “What is very powerful about Meghan Markle coming forward in this way, is it really cues us into the fact that there’s a lot within an individual’s experience outside of themselves that shapes these issues and challenges.”
Related – What Meghan’s openness about suicidal thoughts can teach us CNN

Investigating youth suicides among children involved with the welfare systemEurekAlert!
March 8, 2021
A new study explores the relationships between suicide and the child welfare system in Ohio. The study found that young people who died by suicide were two times more likely to have accessed mental health services in the 1-6 months before their death, and nearly 50% of suicide deaths were of young people who had been involved in the child welfare system.

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