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:

Mental health issues common in oilsands workers, University of Alberta study revealsCBC
October 31, 2021
A new study has found that oilsands workers face significant stress and mental health challenges. Being far away from family was found to be a significant source of stress, along with loneliness, poor camp morale, difficulty maintaining healthy eating habits, discrimination, and suicidal thoughts. Darryn Ferguson worked in the oilpatch and said, “Not one person I met had a good, solid relationship at home.” Ferguson said he eventually began using antidepressants to deal with work stress, “I was a pretty calm guy my whole life and then working up there, I would instantly snap.” Ferguson has since left the industry and doesn’t plan on going back. It was found that many workers fear losing their jobs or facing other repercussions if they do seek help. Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Buddy Up campaign is focused on men’s suicide prevention, encouraging men to have conversations with their buddies to share how they’re feeling and if they’re in crisis. “We really need to have those conversations and be there so people are not suffering in silence,” said Amanda Holloway,  executive director of Canadian Mental Health Association – Wood Buffalo in Fort McMurray, a Buddy Up Champion organization. “It’s about creating a moment of safety where people can feel open to potentially engage in those dialogues.”

How COVID contributed to a worrying spike in female suicides in JapanCBS News
November 5, 2021
Japan is reporting that suicide among women with non-contract and/or part-time work increased in 2020, causing the suicide rate to increase for the first time in over a decade. The ‘copycat’ phenomenon was noted as having been a factor; in 2020 two actress took their lives. The COVID-19 pandemic is also being cited as being a potential factor in the increase, as the health ministry said, “It’s possible that the rise reflected changes in the working environment among non-regular workers, many of whom are women.” Suicides were not up among women who are unemployed, however – police reports cite ‘work-related problems,’ most commonly, ‘problems with relationships at the workplace’ as being suspected contributing factors.

South Korea Is No Country for Young PeopleForeign Policy
November 5, 2021
South Korea has the highest suicide rate among developed nations at 24.6 per 100,000 (compared to 14.5 for the US). Older adults are the demographic most likely to die by suicide but the age gap is closing as more young people take their own lives. Financial issues are an often cited contributing factor – even before the pandemic, it had become harder for young South Koreans to find work, a situation that has only been exacerbated. In November 2020, 40% of new graduates were unable to find jobs. Fierce academic competition that starts in kindergarten, a housing crisis, and social immobility are additional factors. “Suicide has become a global crisis. And financial distress, like debt, unemployment, and lower income, can significantly raise suicide risk,” said Eric Elbogen, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. “Financial strain triggered by the pandemic is critical to consider and poses a risk to elevate rates of suicide, adding to the enormous health consequences of the pandemic. Understanding this link can help bolster suicide prevention efforts.”

Manitoba child advocate demands more supports for Indigenous boys to prevent suicide, homicideCBC
November 4, 2021
A new report by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth is demanding the province provide more resources for Indigenous boys to prevent suicide and homicide among that group. The report reviewed 45 cases of boys 12-17 – including 37 Indigenous boys – who died by suicide or homicide between 2009 and 2018. “Preventing suicide and homicide of boys in Manitoba requires an understanding of the early life experiences through a socio-ecological model,” says the report. “This includes understanding how colonization, intergenerational trauma and childhood poverty influence experiences of abuse and neglect that can lead to child welfare involvement.”

Suicide-Related Emergency Department Visits Increased Among Youth During the PandemicPsychiatry Advisor
November 4, 2021
A new study has found that, during the pandemic in the US, emergency department visits for suicide attempts declined among youth ages 10-17 as a broad population, but increased among some youth subpopulations including young women and young people with no psychiatric history or previous diagnosis. Researchers say, “The disproportionate increase during the summer and fall of 2020 … may reflect higher suicidality among youth without a previous mental health diagnosis, a shift in new mental health presentations from outpatient settings to the ED, or vulnerability among youth with undocumented prior mental health diagnoses who were not currently engaged with the health care system and may have lost contact with other resources during the pandemic.”

Thousands of Alaskans are considering suicide. You can learn to help them. Alaska Public Media
November 3, 2021
Suicide is the 6th leading cause of death in Alaska, and in 2018, before the pandemic, researchers estimated 32,000 Alaskans over 18 had seriously considered suicide – almost 6% of the state’s population. “People are so desperate, they are so profoundly overwhelmed, that they cannot live life and that they want the pain to go away,” said Kris Green, who teaches suicide intervention courses with Cook Inlet Tribal Council. “They want relief from the pain. They don’t necessarily want to die. They just don’t want to keep feeling this bad.” Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is being facilitated in Anchorage, and provides people with the skills to intervene with someone who is thinking about suicide. “When a person feels disempowered, it’s really, really critical for them to know that they actually do have power over their own life,” said ASIST participant Michelle Martin.

U.S. Suicides Fall for Second Year in a Row During Pandemic
November 2, 2021
In 2020, the US suicide rate continued on a downward trend, with 3% fewer suicides than in 2019, and in 2019, 2% fewer suicides than in 2018. This trend is reversing the 35% increase in suicides that took place from 1999 to 2018. However some groups, such as young males 10 to 14, saw a 13% increase in suicides in 2020. “We know that since the start of the pandemic, some youth and young adults have experienced higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” said Christine Yu Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Increased suicidal ideation indicates distress.” The group with the highest rate of suicide was men between 25-34 and over 75. For females, those aged 45-54 had the highest rates among that demographic. Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native people had the highest rates according to race and ethnicity, followed by non-Hispanic white people.

Biden announces new military and veteran suicide prevention strategy
November 2, 2021
A new military and veteran suicide prevention strategy has been announced by the US government, focusing on safe storage of firearms and best practices for firearm dealers. All dealers will have to sell firearm storage and they will be issued a best practices guide outlining steps they are required to take to keep communities safe. “In an average day, 17 veterans die by suicide — not in a far-off place, but right here at home. Two service members die by suicide every day of the year. They’re our daughters. Our sons. Parents. Spouses. Siblings. Beloved friends and battle buddies,” said President Joe Biden in the strategy report.

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