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:

Put down the self-help books. Resilience is not a DIY endeavorGlobe and Mail
May 25, 2019
An opinion piece by Michael Ungar, a professor of social work at Dalhousie University. He has studied extensively on resiliency and believes far too much emphasis is placed on self-reliance and not enough on social resources like the community, family, work, “health care providers and government”  to offset and rebound from adverse experiences such as trauma, addiction, or mental health struggles. 

He relates, in detail, a study that he and his team undertook to examine resiliency:” We examined how 13-to-24-year-olds with complex needs living in stressed environments (such as economically depressed neighbourhoods and homes with family violence) make use of the health and social services available to them, and whether their patterns of service use are associated with their resilience over time”.

Netflix show ’13 Reasons Why’ sends wrong message about suicide, Dalhousie professor saysHalifax Today
May 24, 2019

Dr. Simon Sherry a Dalhousie University psychology professor says “Netflix show ’13 Reasons Why’ fails when it comes to responsibly handling the delicate topic of suicide”.

He points out that there are already half a dozen studies linking the TV show to suicidal behaviours, including suicides and hospital admissions for attempts. 

He adds “that the show glorifies suicide as a solution to problems”. 

Teen suicide: 5 myths parents should know about– U.S. News and World Report
May 24, 2019

From 2009 to 2017 the numbers of youth who died by suicide increased by 33 percent. Youth suicide rates have increased so much over the past few decades that it is now the second leading cause of adolescent death in the U.S.

Suicide carries an enormous stigma. This is partially due to the many myths and misinformation surrounding it. This article looks at 5 of those: Most kids take their lives during summer; Demographically, suicide affects everyone the same; Depression is the cause of all suicides; Most parents are aware of their kid’s suicidal thoughts; Saying “committed suicide” is acceptable.

Study: Children of opioid users more likely to attempt suicideVoice of America
May 22, 2019

A new study in JAMA Psychiatry found children whose parents were prescribed opioids were twice as likely to attempt suicide as the offspring of people who did not use those drugs. It is the first research looking “to tie rising suicides among U.S. children to the opioid crisis”.

The researchers used medical insurance data from 2010 to 2016 for 300, 000 children aged 10-19.

The National Institutes of Health (NIMH) funded the study which found that 0.37% of children whose parents used opioids attempted suicide versus 0.14% of children of non-users.

NRL boots hit the ground to help prevent Indigenous youth suicide The Guardian
May 22, 2019 

The Newcastle Knights of the National Rugby League in Australia will be painting their boots (kleats) in recognition of Indigenous suicide. Each pair will be hand-painted with Aboriginal designs, showing from which part of Australia the player comes. 

It is a Cultural Choice Association initiative, an organization to ‘build awareness around Indigenous youth suicide and help fund research and prevention”.

The rates of suicide for Indigenous people in Australia is high: “since the start of this year, 62 Aboriginal people – 15 of them children – have died by suicide. More than half of them were under 25 years old, and the youngest was only 12”.

Walk on Saturday in Sudbury to take on depressionSudbury Star
May 22, 2019

The sixth annual Defeat Depression walk and run takes place on May 25 at 9 am at Bell Park in Sudbury. One in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness this year. Most of these are depression and other mood disorders. Major Depressive Disorder can result in suicide. 

This walk is a “national fundraising, awareness and anti-stigma campaign”. It is one of many Defeat Depression events that take place across Canada with three-quarters of the proceeds going to a local organization and the balance going to Mood Disorders Society of Canada, which organizes the national events.

What goes on in the mind of someone contemplating suicide? The Quint
May 21, 2019

This article looks at what is happening inside someone’s brain when they decide to take their own life. The authors mention the presence of the neurotransmitter GABA in those experiencing depression and decide to die by suicide. And they also note that those who are experiencing ideation have increased levels of quinolinic acid, a fluid surrounding the central nervous system. Serotonin, a chemical related to positive mood, is also thought to play a significant role.

There is no single factor, though, that triggers someone to decide to die. “Along with what’s going on in the brain, emotional inclinations, personality types, life experiences and lived reality – all have a role to play” the authors state.

With high stress, anxiety and depression, 40 per cent of Canadian farmers uneasy about seeking helpGlobe and Mail
May 20, 2019

The rate of mental illness in farming and agriculture exceeds those in other professions. At present, in Canada, there is no “cohesive plan” to address it but there is a House of Commons committee developing policy recommendations regarding farmers and mental illness. It is being guided by research by Andria Jones-Bitton, a veterinarian, epidemiologist and professor at the University of Guelph.

Bitton’s findings show that 45 per cent of farmers across Canada have high stress, while 58 per cent meet the threshold for anxiety and 35 per cent meet the standard for depression, exceeding levels in the general population. Farmers are also more susceptible to “burn out” than the general population.

There are efforts across Canada to support struggling farmers. Prince Edward Island has a farmer assistance program offering farmers free counselling and because of its high demand has expanded its budget. An online program in Saskatchewan “DoMore Ag” serves as a “as a global gathering place for struggling farmers to reach out for support”. They now have about 30 partners and sponsors including Farm Credit Canada who donated $50,000 to help educate on mental health.

Subscribe to this weekly mailing list