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:

Suicide rate for girls has been rising faster than for boys, study finds – NPR
May 17,2019

A recent study published by JAMA Network Open finds that boys still outnumber girls in suicide deaths but girls are starting to narrow that gap. Between 1975 and 2016, 85,000 youth suicides were examined and researchers found an increase of 13% for girls ages 10 to 14 since 2007 and 7% for boys in the same time period.

The study did not offer any explanations for the rise.

Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention(AFSP) believes “multiple factors are likely driving the increase but social media might be playing a major role.”

Joan Luby, a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine agrees. She thinks the relationship between young people and social media has heavily lessened the frequency of adolescent face-to-face interactions, which are vital to protecting against mental health problems”.

Many police officers are dying by suicide – Christian Post
May 17, 2019

Janice Cantore, a retired Long Beach police officer, relates her experiences with suicide as a police officer and the adverse affects it has had on her mental health. She describers how many of her former colleagues have died by suicide and suggests for those in need to contact Bluehelp.ca a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping officers in crisis.

Suicide bereavement: How crisis support prevents further harm – The Guardian
May 16, 2019

Despite rates of suicide falling (particularly those for men falling to a 30-year low) in England there continues to be 12 suicides every day.

These suicides strongly affect loved ones, families and friends of the deceased. Many grapple with guilt and shame and there is evidence that those bereaved are 65% more likely to attempt suicide themselves.
In response, the government is intent on rolling out suicide bereavement supports for every health and local authority in England. Sarah Bates, executive lead at Support After Suicide says, “Having bereavement services in every area will help thousands of people”.

What to do if you see an Instagram post about suicide – BBC News
May 15, 2019

Instagram and other social networks are experiencing greater occurrences of individuals posting messages describing intentions to die or uttering statements of suicidal ideation. What should someone do when they see such posts?

Suicide prevention organizations recommend calling emergency services if someone is in immediate danger and, if not in immediate danger, contacting the poster if you know them and notifying the administrators of the networks, as most platforms will reach out to users believed to be in danger.

The global suicide rate is growing – what can we do? – World Economic Forum
May 15, 2019

Suicide loss, globally, amounts to 800,000 lives each year. To combat these staggering annual numbers, both the WHO and the United Nations have “adopted actions plans focused on mental health and suicide prevention, and have set goals to reduce the rate of suicide by varying degrees: 10% by 2020 in the case of WHO, and 33% by 2030 in the case of the UN Sustainable Development Goals”. Internationally, some 40 countries have adopted national suicide prevention strategies with many countries seeing reductions in the suicide rate, including China, Denmark, England and others. A recent study found the global suicide rate has dropped by 32.7 % over the last 27 years.

Social media, self-harm and suicide. How can parents help kids help a friend? – Washington Post
May 15, 2019

Incidents of suicide and self-harm are on the rise for tweens and younger teens. They are using smart phone and social media more than ever to convey feelings of despair and personal struggles. Their friends who receive these posts, texts and tweets often do not know how to help.

Progress in this area includes: New laws are being tightened to restrict social media content to minors. New apps designed for suicide prevention and online guides showing how to recognize a crisis occurring on social media are now available. And teens are being trained in school to “recognize and respond” to a friend in crisis and told to tell “a trusted adult” about their concerns.

But, the author asks, what if I am the trusted adult who they turn to? Manda Ederer, a clinical psychologist in Kirkland Washington empahasizes that it is “critical to remain calm, non-judgemental and pay attention”. If there is a suicide plan or if ideation is expressed then the “course of action is clear”: They may need to call 911 and reach out to parents or neighbours to ensure the student who posted the message is not alone”.

Opinion: Study Suicide Like Any Other Public Health Problem – Bloomberg
May 14, 2019

Science has long grappled with the mystery of how people manage to kill themselves despite violating the vital instinct to live.

David Buss of the University of Texas stresses a strong correlation between suicidal thoughts and feeling burdensome to others. But Thomas Joiner of the University of Florida goes further adding “thwarted belongness”, a failure of connection to others and “capability for suicide”, those “who are also fearless or who have built up a tolerance for fear and self-harm”.

Understanding “the science of suicide” in terms such as these ” might help not only identify those at risk but also point to ways to address their suffering”.

Suicide prevention strategy sorely needed in Sask.: U of S prof – CBC
May 13, 2019

Doyle Vermette, a northern Saskatchewan MLA from Cumberland introduced a private members bill in November calling for the government to establish a suicide prevention strategy.

About 1,900 people in Sask. took their own lives from 2005 to 2017. Of those deaths, 508 of them were First Nations people. Men accounted for 1,424 of those deaths, while 474 were women.

Jack Hicks, an adjunct professor in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan who specializes in suicide prevention, says that the country’s leaders are acknowledging that Canada “is playing catch-up on suicide prevention” demonstrated by Members of Parliament unanimously voting in favour for a national suicide prevention strategy (in a motion introduced by NDP MP Charlie Angus last week).

Hicks hopes Saskatchewan will also move forward on their suicide prevention plans as the province’s MLAs will give a second reading to Vermette’s bill, The Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Prevention Act, on Monday. 

Arctic Council suicide prevention project focuses on circumpolar youth – Nunatsiaq News
May 13, 2019

A 130 page report called Project CREATeS—or Circumpolar Resilience, Engagement, and Action Through Story— which focuses on films made by youth in workshops in Canada and Finland was tabled at the Arctic Council’s May 7 ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland. The report aims to provide better understanding of suicide prevention among circumpolar youth.

The project revealed stories told by youth which provided insights about resilience, risk factors for suicide and suicide prevention.

Members of the council  include the Aleut International Association, the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Saami Council. 

The report recommends that the  Arctic Council’s suicide prevention work should focus on the implementation of suicide prevention strategies. They also recommend several actions such as “finding community members who understand resources for care and who can provide support in a crisis” and increasing “self-determination, ownership for safety and well-being, and community ability to address suicide.”

Biomarker reveals PTSD sufferers at risk of suicide – Yale News 
May 13, 2019

A team at Yale has discovered a biological marker linked to individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorded(PTSD) who are most likely to think about suicide. This is significant as individuals with PTSD are at greater risk for suicide than the general population. The researchers used PET imaging to measure a particular receptorin the brain–metabotropic glutamatergic receptor 5 (mGluR5)– which has been linked to anxiety and mood disorders in individuals with PTSD with no suicidal thoughts and ones with PTSD with current suicidal thoughts. They found high levels of mGluR5 in the PTSD group with current suicidal thoughts but none in the PTSD group with no current suicidal thoughts. 

Irina Esterlis, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale and senior author of the study, said testing for levels of mGluR5 in people who have experienced severe trauma might help identify those at greatest risk of harming themselves and prompt psychiatric interventions.

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