Hello Friends,

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:

Students who started suicide pact in Montreal say it was a ‘joke,’ experts not laughing Global
December 1, 2017
Three Montreal high school students were suspended after they distributed plans for a suicide pact around their school and collected dozens of signatures. The students said it was a joke, but suicide pacts, while rare, are very serious. Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Robert Olson said that “For those who are at risk, it could be an added reason to carry through with the act,” and that teens can be “incredibly susceptible.” Dr. Gail Beck who works with youth at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre said that “For some, it was probably not a prank. If you look at the number of people who signed it … suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young Canadians. So you can’t ignore these numbers.”

Excessive screen time linked to suicide riskScience Daily 
November 30, 2017
Dr. Thomas Joiner, academic psychologist and leading expert on suicide, has said that spending time on digital devices is becoming a risk factor for depression and suicide. “There is a concerning relationship between excessive screen time and risk for death by suicide, depression, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts,” said Joiner, after co-authoring a study that found a rise in mental health problems in teens since 2010 (correlating with an increase in cellphone ownership).

Nearly half of soldiers who killed themselves in 2016 were dealing with loved one’s suicide Globe and Mail
November 29, 2017
A new military report, released last Wednesday, shows that of the 14 soldiers who died by suicide last year, 6 were struggling with the suicide death of a friend, spouse, or relative. Other factors included failing relationships, financial hardship, physical injury, mental illness, and alcohol and drug dependence. “It is very important to look at the people that are left in the wake,” said Colonel Rakesh Jetly said, noting it is crucial to ensure that support is available from supervisors, peers and mental-health specialists. “I don’t think the idea of completing suicide starts with the death of someone that you can relate to. But I think if people are already vulnerable, this may be something that tips them over.”

Facebook is using AI to try to prevent suicideWashington Post
November 27, 2017
Facebook has implemented an artificial intelligence tool to go through user posts and videos and flag those that indicate the user may have a plan to die by suicide. This was implemented previously in the US, but is now available to most of its 2 billion users. Pattern recognition is being used to scan posts and comments for certain phrases that will identify if someone is at risk. Reviewers can call first responders, and AI is being used to prioritize user reports of potential suicides. Regarding live video, users (both those who are posting the video and those watching) are able to report a video and contact a crisis line to seek help.
Related: Commentary: Using AI to prevent suicides? Bad idea, FacebookFortune 

Family of Quebec teen who died by suicide speaks out against bullyingCTV
November 26, 2017
Simon Dufour, 15, died by suicide. Now Dufour’s family is trying to warn other parents that their children may be struggling, too. “Parents, watch (your) kids, talk to them, because you never know if there’s something under it,” said Martin Dufour, Simon’s father. Simon was bullied, and sister Karine Dufour is encouraging people to step in if they see someone being bullied, posting on Facebook: “If you are witness to intimidation, act!… If you are a parent, prepare your children,” Karine’s post reads, in part.

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