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:

Buddy up for men’s suicide preventionCentre for Suicide Prevention
May 11, 2020
Centre for Suicide Prevention is excited to announce a new men’s suicide prevention campaign: Buddy Up. This campaign was created for men by men, encouraging them to have real conversations with their buddies and to support them if they’re struggling with thoughts of suicide. Learn more about how you can help a man in your life at buddyup.ca.
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Suicide rates climb for young Nova Scotia menThe Chronicle Herald
May 8, 2020
Newly released government data on suicide rates in Nova Scotia show that between 2012 and 2018, there was a 60% reported increase in suicide rates for men ages 20 to 44 in the province. An increase was found across most demographics, but at lower levels. “Access to and use of lethal means, men are reluctant to seek help and are disproportionately more involved with problems to do with drugs and alcohol,” said Simon Sherry, a practising clinical psychologist who also works as a professor at Dalhousie University. “Men are also more reluctant to seek help and are generally more socially isolated.”

Saskatchewan government introduces ‘Pillars for Life’ suicide prevention plan – Global
May 8, 2020
The Pillars of Life, a suicide prevention plan for the province of Saskatchewan, was announced last week and includes $1.2 million this fiscal year in funding. The funding will go towards expanding training initiatives, conducting research, and delivering a public awareness campaign for youth in northern Saskatchewan. “Honestly, if we can save one person from suicide, this plan is a success,” said Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding.The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), who developed their own suicide prevention framework in 2017, said they were surprised by the announcement. FSIN Vice-chief Heather Bear said, “For the province to parachute something in … it could have been done better with more collaboration in terms of sharing resources and best practices.”

Crisis contacts to Distress Centre spike over COVID-19 stress and anxietyCalgary Herald
May 8, 2020
Distress Centre Calgary is reporting a 70% increase in calls from young people having thoughts of suicide in the month of April. “By far, COVID-19 is generating a high level of concern with those reaching out to us, and we expect those calls to increase the longer we stay isolated and physically distanced from each other,” said Diane Jones Konihowski, the centre’s director of fund development and communications. “The most common concerns we’re hearing related to COVID-19 involve anxiety and stress, isolation and loneliness, depression and suicide.”

’Children deserve better:’ Manitoba advocate finds gaps in suicide preventionWinnipeg Sun
May 7, 2020
Manitoba’s children’s advocate Daphne Penrose’s office has just released a report into the suicide deaths of 22 girls, many of whom were Indigenous and lived for long periods of their lives in rural or remote communities, and all of whom were met with gaps and barriers in the provincial mental health and addictions systems, according to the report. “Children deserve better and the government must begin responding in meaningful ways that demonstrates its understanding of the short- and long-term costs of inaction,” Penrose writes in her report released Thursday. “The fact is that the quality and effectiveness of health services depends on where a child lives in Manitoba.”

Mental Health Week: Canadians reporting more stress during coronavirus pandemicCTV News
May 6, 2020
A survey done in April by Nanos for the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has found that, of the 1,049 Canadians who participated, 13% said they felt stressed “all the time” in the month of April. 4% said they felt the same level of stress before the COVID-19 pandemic. “I hope this survey reminds everyone that it’s normal to feel stressed, anxious or preoccupied during this outbreak,” Louise Bradley, president and CEO of MHCC. “There is no shame in admitting as much, and there is certainly no shame in taking advantage of all the resources at your disposal to help you feel better.” The survey results were released last week, during the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week.

University of Calgary study aims to improve first responders’ mental healthCTV News
May 6, 2020
A team of researchers at the University of Calgary have developed a mental health program called Before Operational Stress (BOS) for first responders. When developing the program, researchers reached out to first responders. Dr. Kelly Schwartz, principal investigator and associate professor at the Werklund School of Education said, “There are a number of reasons these men and women may not seek out assistance — perceived social stigma, workplace culture, or fear of a reduction in work responsibilities or job loss, among them… We know that (public safety personnel) members actually prefer to seek out informal support from spouses over more formal avenues of support.” Researchers found a lack of family-based support elements among the existing mental health programs for first responders – this program will highlight that aspect in particular. BOS is an eight-week program that is a group-based, and practices proactive psychological interventions designed to increase self-awareness and encourage authentic, healthy relationships.

Opinion: Huffington, Harvard dean: End mental health stigma for front-line doctors USA Today
May 5, 2020
Following the suicide death of Dr. Lorna M. Breen, medical director of the emergency department of New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post and Michelle Williams, epidemiologist and Dean of the Faculty and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are calling for more mental health help for front-line doctors. Prior to COVID-19, 78% of physicians in the US said they experienced symptoms of burnout, while now, say Huffington and Williams, “Now, these same health care providers are being asked to shoulder once-in-a-lifetime burdens. Every day for the past two months, just like Breen, they have faced a staggering volume of severe cases and deaths, along with the risk of getting themselves and their loved ones sick.” They suggest: hospitals and health organizations recognize burnout and make addressing it a priority; front-line health care workers be supported in prioritizing their own wellbeing; and the removal of any stigma surrounding treatment for mental health issues in this population.

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