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:

Opinion: Data Dive with Nik Nanos: Canadians are losing the mental-health battle against COVID-19 Globe and Mail
May 14, 2021
**Subscribers only** In this opinion piece, Nik Nanos, chief data scientist at Nanos Research, discusses the views expressed by Canadians through polling during the COVID-19 pandemic, including how well they are coping and how they would rate their mental health. In April 2020, 38% of respondents in Canada said that their mental health was worse or somewhat worse than before, whereas in April 2021, that percentage rose to 44%. At the end of the piece, Nanos says, “The very first step to mental wellness is to recognize that there is a problem… At the very heart of the matter are three simple yet powerful words: ‘Are you okay?’ Once everyone is vaccinated and the economy is strong, if Canadians are ‘not okay’ when it comes to their mental health, will we really have defeated the virus?” At Centre for Suicide Prevention we ask, “How are you really doing?” The next time you ask someone a question like that, pause, wait them out; invite them to answer honestly. Authentic conversations are key to building a sense of belonging, a protective factor for suicide prevention.

Fresh Start Challenge Day 1: How Are You, Really?New York Times
May 17, 2021
In Day 1 of the Fresh Start Challenge, Tara Parker-Pope encourages readers to ask themselves: “How are you, really?” She says, “Think before you answer. Find a word that describes exactly what you’re feeling… Studies show that regularly labeling your emotions and creating a ‘feeling vocabulary’ is good for your health.” Parker-Pope explains this is important because “many people make the mistake of trying to ignore negative feelings rather than acknowledging them.” We at Centre for Suicide Prevention couldn’t agree more that this question needs to be asked, in fact, this question is suicide prevention. It is vital to address our emotions, emotions that, if avoided for too long, may lead to unbearable psychological pain and even thoughts of suicide. Asking other people, “How are you, really?” opens the door for them to express significant emotions, inviting them to share their overwhelming feelings and even thoughts of suicide. We as listeners then have an opportunity to connect that person to life-saving assistance, and be there for them. This is why the question, “How are you really doing?” is the tag line for Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Buddy Up campaign for men’s suicide prevention. June is Buddy Up month – join us in raising awareness. Authentic conversations can save lives.

Creating Gender-Affirming Spaces Literally Saves LGBTQ Kids’ LivesHuffPost
May 19, 2021
Last week the Trevor Project released the results of a survey of almost 35,000 LGBTQ youth 13-24 in the US. The survey found that having even just one supportive and accepting adult in their lives lowered the likelihood that an LGBTQ young person would attempt suicide by 40%. Meanwhile, dozens of US states are introducing anti-LGBTQ laws, including banning trans kids from playing sports at school and criminalizing parents for providing gender affirming care. “We’re seeing policies that are working to consistently take away the ability of trans and nonbinary youth to be affirmed in their identity and to live their lives authentically,” Dr. Amy Green, vice president of research at The Trevor Project. “The legal initiatives are of course harmful in what they’ll prohibit, but also they’re harmful in terms of the rhetoric that trans and nonbinary youth are hearing about themselves on a national level in such a consistent way.”

Conservatives call on Liberal government to set timeline to establish suicide prevention hotlineCBC
May 19, 2021
The federal Conservatives are asking the Liberal government to set a timeline for the implementation of a national three-digit suicide prevention hotline. Currently, Canada’s Suicide Prevention Service can be reached throughout the country at 1-833-456-4566, but an easy-to-remember three-digit number was voted for unanimously in December 2020. MP Todd Doherty said in a statement, “The mental health and wellness of Canadians have been severely impacted during this pandemic. Now is the time for action, not more delays or more consultations. The simple fact is struggling Canadians can’t afford to wait any longer.”

State of emergency declared in Shamattawa because of suicide crisis says chiefAPTN News
May 19, 2021
Shamattawa, a remote First Nation community of about 1,400 people 700 km west of Winnipeg has declared a state of emergency following a number of suicide attempts and a death. Chief Eric Redhead is calling for additional supports for the community, which is only accessible by air or winter road. “One of the reasons why we’re calling on additional supports is our health team at the local level is actually, they’re fatigued. We’ve had multiple deaths, natural deaths in the community that affected the health staff and really the entire community. That overlapping grief for our service providers at the local level is just overwhelming and so we’re calling on additional supports to be provided to my member’s,” said Redhead.

Snoop Dogg’s Daughter Cori Talks Mental Health After Suicide Attempt: ‘Appreciate Your Life’ PEOPLE
May 19, 2021
Cori Broadus, 21, is the daughter of musician Snoop Dogg, and she has opened up in an Instagram post about a recent suicide attempt and the support she’s received from family and friends. She said in the last few weeks her mental health “has not been so great,” and that “at one point I tried to end my life.” She says, “Just because my dad is who he is doesn’t mean I don’t get sad, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want things or that I don’t feel a way. I don’t know how to explain it.” She also opens up about having chronic suicidal thoughts, “I can’t handle stress. When stuff gets too hard for me, my mind instantly goes ‘kill yourself’ or ‘end it.’ … This is the way my mind is thinking.” Broadus ends the post by saying, “Your mind is very powerful, it really is. So just appreciate your life because we only get one. When things get hard, just pray. Taking your life is not worth it. It’s not okay. … Let’s get our mental right. Let’s do what we gotta do together.”

Nova Scotia’s suicide rate dropped in 2020 in spite of pandemic strain CBC
May 17, 2021
Nova Scotia’s medical examiner has recently released data to indicate a decrease in the number of suicides in that province for 2020. In 2020, 120 people died by suicide compared to 137 in 2019. This is the lowest number of deaths since 2014, when there were 113 deaths. Mental health advocate and educator with CMHA Nova Scotia Seana Jewer says she believes that additional financial supports put in place in response to the pandemic were a huge help in easing people’s stress. Mental health supports were also bolstered. Jewer is cautious and notes that though numbers were down last year, suicide rates are still on an upward trend overall when looking at numbers starting in 2008 to now. “We have to be careful that these supports remain in place, that people still acknowledge the importance of these supports in maintaining and improving people’s mental health. Or we could see another rise [in suicide] come again over the next few years,” says Jewer.

Female nurses face a greater suicide risk than female physicians, all women: study Safety+Health
May 17, 2021
Female nurses in the US are almost two times more likely to die by suicide than females in the general population, and 70% more likely to die by suicide than female physicians, according to a recent study. Lead study author Matthew Davis, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing says, ““The takeaway for me is we’ve focused so much on physician welfare that, historically, we haven’t paid enough attention to this huge workforce that, based on our data, is at much higher risk.”

‘Talk to me’: A train driver asking men to open upBBC
May 12, 2021
Heather Waugh, Scotland’s only female freight train driver, had the experience of being the driver of a train that a young male used to take his own life, and following that, her own mental health suffered. Her employer supported her as she took leave for counselling, and one of the things that helped the most, Waugh said, was support from her colleagues, “Big, hard, burly men, who don’t show their emotions, rang me up to say: ‘I’ve been through this too, I’m here for you.'” Still, Waugh struggled following the incident when she returned from work, and her colleagues continued to be a source of strength. Now, being one of the few females in her company, she’s found that people seek support in her, too, which she attributes to the fact that men feel comfortable confiding in her as opposed to other men. “I’ve had conversations with colleagues where I know I’m the first person they’ve had that conversation with,” Waugh says. “I realised that it’s important that you don’t shy away from being a woman. Diversity is about bringing different energies into the room.”

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