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:

The life-saving lesson suicidal people can teach a world in pandemic
USA Today
May 23, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to negative mental health outcomes for some, and especially those who are thinking about suicide. “Almost overnight, half the people I know lost their therapists,” said Jess Stohlmann-Rainey, director of program development at Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners in Denver. “If you rely exclusively on that to get by, things are going to get really bad for people really quickly.” Stohlmann-Rainey, who is herself a suicide attempt survivor, relied on her social supports to help her on her path to recovery, and says she really just needed someone to be there for her and to listen. She found this support in her sister, Jenny Stohlmann. “She’s someone who just understands me,” Jess said. “I feel like she has probably the biggest picture of anyone. I always feel compelled to call and just talk about my life. And I always want to know what’s happening with her.  … I trust her implicitly,” says Stohlmann-Rainey of her sister. Another suicide attempt survivor, Dese’Rae L. Stage, says that connections saved her life, too, and that, “We’ve always needed other people. We just haven’t had to make quite such a concerted effort in the past … People are finally seeing more intentionally how important it is to stay connected.”

New Study Finds More Groups At Risk For Gun SuicideGuns and America
May 21, 2020
New research from Columbia Medical Center has found new groups in the US who may be at risk of suicide by gun, including people with lower incomes, people living with disabilities, and people who are socially isolated. Gun suicide rates are highest in the US among men (14 per 100,000), people with military service (21 per 100,000) and people living with disabilities (14 per 100,000). Previous research found that older white men, people living in rural areas, and military members were at higher risk of gun suicide, however, now those outside of  ‘gun culture’ could also be at risk, including unemployed and separated or divorced people who are socially isolated. Dr. Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center and lead author of the new study, notes too that, “The study findings in a sense make an argument against this idea of means substitution, that is if you prevent people from owning firearms who are suicidal, they’ll find another means of ending their lives. In fact, we don’t see support for that hypothesis or that argument in these data.”
Related – Suicide Experts Seeing Worrying Signs During PandemicGuns and America

Can Kindness Prevent Suicide During the Pandemic? – Psychology Today Canada
May 20, 2020
Social and national cohesion have been shown to reduce suicide, however, cohesion can be difficult when physically distancing ourselves. This article suggests the following to help prevent suicides during the COVID-19 pandemic: Remember that there is no enemy in this pandemic (“good guys versus bad guys means a divisive community and that is more likely to increase feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression”); Remembering that we’re all in this together and to be grateful for those providing essential services; Not judging others for how they choose to socially distance; checking in on loved ones; and choosing kindness, “Give other people the benefit of a doubt. Err on the side of kindness. It might help ease the strain and isolation that someone else is going through.” Other recommendations include not bringing guns into the home and seeking help if you’re having thoughts of suicide. 

Physicians are used to taking care of patients; now they must care for themselves and their colleagues American Academy of Pediatrics
May 20, 2020
Physicians are facing many stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic, including patient fatalities, shortages of personal protective equipment, extra-long shifts, and more. Christine Moutier, M.D., chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is stressing the importance of self-care for physicians, “Remember you are a human being and all human beings need rest and the basics of self-care. You’re not taking a luxury by affording those things you would recommend to your patients for yourself. In fact, you’re ensuring you retain yourself as a resource for your patients the best you possibly can by prioritizing your rest and your well-being.”

Seize the Awkward’s new ad is helping young people talk about mental healthCreative Review
May 20, 2020
Seize the Awkward, a collaboration between the Ad Council, JED Foundation, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in the US, have released a music video along with social media assets to encourage young people to have a conversation with a friend they’re worried about. “We all want to check in on our friends’ mental health but sometimes it can feel a bit awkward. That’s why for the next chapter of Seize the Awkward, we created Whatever Gets You Talking to help break the ice – from a music video to GIFs, illustrations and partnerships with social platforms,” said Kevin Brady, executive creative director at Droga5. “It’s such an important conversation and we’re humbled to help as many of them happen as possible.”

Teens shocked by suicide portrayal in ’13 Reasons Why,’ study findsMedical Xpress
May 19, 2020
Researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington interviewed young people ages 13 to 18 about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and found that many were shocked at the show’s creators’ choice to include a graphic suicide scene, despite knowing that’s what the show was about. Lead researcher Dr. Sarah McKenzie from the Suicide and Mental Health Research Group said interviewees, “questioned why the show’s creators had included such graphic content, if they wanted teenagers to watch it. They described the scene as ‘shocking,’ ‘upsetting,’ ‘raw’ and ‘confronting’—and most struggled to watch it. Most believed 13 Reasons Why gave jumbled messages about suicide awareness. However, for some, the show had a positive influence, by encouraging them to think about the impact that suicide had on others.”

Instagram ‘Guides’ Want to Help You Manage Anxiety, GriefPC Mag
May 19, 2020
Instagram has launched ‘guides’ to help users connect with accounts with mental wellness and physical wellness content. The guides also connect people to international organizations that offer resources, such as American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Headspace. “We know many people are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we are first focusing Guides on wellness content,” according to a company announcement.

Coronavirus: Fewer suicides in Saskatchewan during pandemic than year priorGlobal News
May 18, 2020
Saskatchewan has seen fewer suicides from March 1 to May 4, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, than they did last year during the same time period. Last year, there were 37 suicides during that time, whereas this year, there have been 26. Canadian Mental Health Association – Saskatchewan senior program consultant Dave Nelson said, “Many people cope with the immediate problem that there is… having no job or applying for CERB or all these kind of things. It gets a lot of people to focus on what they’re doing and it kind of keeps things from building up inside,” however, Nelson warns, “A lot of times there’s an echo effect to a pandemic like this, where a month or so later when things calm down and you dealt with some of the immediate issues, then (preexisting issues)… really start bothering you.”

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