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:


Virtual Run for Life 2020Centre for Suicide Prevention
CSP is hosting our third annual Run for Life on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020! Run for Life will be a virtual event this year. Anyone who has lived experience with suicide or is passionate about suicide prevention is welcome to join us for a (virtual) journey from darkness into light: Walk or run to remember your loved one and raise awareness for suicide prevention.  This year’s event will consist of a virtual walk or run (5 or 10 km) anywhere, anytime between Friday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 27 and a LIVE program on Sunday, Sept. 27 from 7 – 8 am MT.
Register now

Should We Brace for a New Wave of Suicides?Psychology Today Canada
May 30, 2020
It is unclear whether or not the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to an increase in suicides. One study found that the H1N1 virus epidemic was ‘weakly correlated’ with suicide up to 2 months after the epidemic. Suicide rates may drop or remain steady after major catastrophic events like 9/11, and often these events bring us together. However, recession-related suicides may occur, and basic stressors like stable housing may affect mental health. Regardless of what might happen, this article argues, “Predicting an outcome may be less useful than preparing and preventing it. Rather than simply bracing for subsequent ‘waves’ of fallout from COVID-19, we need to shift from the prediction mindset to a preventive one.” Comprehensive prevention measures should be put in place that target vulnerable populations and consider enhancing factors that promote resilience. Financial policy making should also come into play: “We must continue funding welfare, unemployment insurance, and other policies to stem the impacts of job and financial loss,” say authors. Further recommendations for preventative measures include stable funding for crisis call centers, encouraging social connection, setting a  directed research agenda, focusing on high-risk groups, and enhancing mental health resources.

Mental health concerns spike in Canada amid virus restrictionsBNN Bloomberg
May 30, 2020
A survey of 46,000 Canadians between April 24 and May 11 by Statistics Canada has found that the negative mental health impacts of COVID-19 have been felt most by those ages 15 to 24 who have been financially affected. Respondents of this survey indicated lower levels of mental health as compared to another survey done in 2018 – 24% reported fair or poor mental health compared to 8% in 2018, 31% reported good mental health compared to 24% in 2018 and 46% said they had very good or excellent mental health, compared to 69% in 2018.

Self-Care for Mental Health Problems in the Time of Covid-19 Psychiatric Times
May 30, 2020
This article reviews lifestyle changes that can make a big difference for those struggling with a depressed mood, anxiety and insomnia. Some of these changes include maintaining a healthy diet, rich in 12 essential nutrients including Omega-3s and B-vitamins, exercising regularly for for 20 to 30 minutes per day, and establishing a regular relaxation, mindfulness or mind-body practice.

Predicting the pandemic’s psychological toll: why suicide modelling is so difficultThe Conversation
May 28, 2020
Predicting how the suicide rate might be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult. Suicide rates cannot be modeled as the COVID-19 spread has been modeled. Mental illness and suicide are complex – there is a wide spectrum of suicide behaviours, ranging from fleeting thoughts of suicide to suicide attempts or deaths. No existing suicide prediction tools have been able to account for these factors, and most predictions have not been accurate. “The recent modelling takes into account social factors such as homelessness, unemployment, domestic violence and substance use as causal factors for suicide. Importantly, psychological distress, a critical causal factor, can change rapidly and is very difficult to measure. The lack of clear, objective tests for mental illness together with the many rapidly changing social and personal factors makes it very difficult to develop a reliable mechanistic model for suicide,” explains Jayashri Kulkarni, Professor of Psychiatry at Monash University. Factoring in stressors related to COVID-19 makes it even more difficult to develop a reliable model: factors such as isolation from family and friends and disrupted home and work routines, along with fear of becoming ill with the virus “can create temporary psychological distress of varying severity, which changes with time and is difficult to measure.”  Kulkarni says that despite having a reliable model to predict suicide rates following the pandemic, we need to take action to prevent suicide deaths.

Calm before the storm for Japan suicides as coronavirus ravages economyReuters
May 28, 2020
Suicides in Japan fell 20% in April 2020 compared to April 2019, but experts worry that, though suicides may decrease during a crisis, they may rise after the crisis. “We need to take steps now, before the deaths begin,” said Hisao Sato, head of an NGO that provides counseling and economic advice in Akita, “It’s the quiet before the storm, but the clouds are upon us.” Economic factors such as unemployment and financial stress may contribute to a rise, say experts. 

Why suicide is still the shadow that hangs over reality TVGuardian
May 27, 2020
Over the past few years, many reality TV contestants have died by suicide, most recently Hana Kimura from Japanese reality show Terrace House, and Love Island presenter Caroline Flack earlier this year. Kimura was bullied online following her appearance on the show. Japanese government officials are now calling for action against cyberbullying, and the UK government conducted an inquiry after Love Island contestants Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon died by suicide. “It is impossible to ignore how the fame that reality TV provides, combined with a lack of crucial care for those involved, makes a possibly dangerous situation potentially deadly. Although some programmes are taking steps to better safeguard contestants, producers cannot wait until the next tragedy to make much-needed changes,” says article author Yomi Adegoke.

Many LGBTQ youth who die by suicide are bullied before their death, study findsCNN
May 26, 2020
A newly released study examining the death records of hundreds of LGBTQ youth who died by suicide has found that bullying was mentioned five times more often in their records than in the records of non-LGBTQ youth. It was also found that two thirds of LGBTQ children aged 10 to 13 who died by suicide were bullied before their death. “These findings strongly suggest that additional steps need to be taken to protect LGBTQ youth — and others — against the insidious threat of bullying,” lead author Kirsty Clark, a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Public Health.

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