A few simple questions could help doctors stem the suicide epidemic – Washington Post
November 8, 2019
New research has found that a large number patients in the US who present to the emergency room for an unrelated problem have suicidal thoughts. Researchers suggest doctors and nurses ask all emergency room patients about suicidal thoughts. This idea of screening for suicide has been met with resistance from the hospital industry and ER doctors and nurses, who say they do not have sufficient resources to treat patients who say they are suicidal. However, it has also been found that combining screening with brief telephone counselling after the ER visit led to 30% fewer suicide attempts over 52 weeks of follow-up, compared with standard ER care. A different study found that making a safety plan with suicidal patients before discharging them made a significant impact, decreasing suicidal behaviour by 50%. “A lot of times, patients don’t seek further care other than what they get in the emergency department,” said Barbara Stanley, a Columbia University psychologist who wrote the study. “This may be the only time we have with them. So the idea was let’s give them something they can walk away with, even it’s small.”
Find out more about safety plans with our resource toolkit on the topic.

People ‘in darkest hours of their life’ wait months for help, warn Calgary mental health agencies – CBC News
November 7, 2019
Growing demand due to the ongoing economic recession and shrinking funding are hitting Calgary agencies who provide mental heath supports hard. Hugh McGeary, director of counselling with Catholic Family Services (CFS) says “We’re talking like 6,000 people a year are calling our intake line. [We’re] providing 4,000 hours of counselling a year and  we still can’t touch it (the demand)”. In the summer they started a wait list. At the end of the month, there were already 130 people waiting up to five months for a counselling appointment. CFS has been affected by provincial cuts and a reduction in grants from the United Way. As a result, CFS  has  been forced to eliminate four counsellor positions. The United Way, a pipeline of support for more than 90 local organizations, reduced funding for all agency programs by 12% this year–a direct effect of declining donations since the onset of the recession (2014).

Inuit help Innu, as Nunatsiavut lends support to Sheshatshiu suicide crisis CBC News
November 6, 2019
 The wider Labrador Indigenous community has been brought together to provide assistance and support for the suicide crisis in Sheshatshiu, Labrador.  Chief Eugene Hart called for external supports last week in the wake of 10 attempted suicides in his community. Two members of the Nunatsiavut Mobile Treatment Team were among the first to arrive. Among the services they are helping to support is the Mary May Healing Centre which has been operating 24/7 since the crisis was declared on October 29. April Andersen, one of the two from Nunatsiavut, is a trauma and addcitions social worker. She said, “It is a good idea to have 24-hour support for the youth because when you’re having difficulty coping, it just doesn’t happen from 8 to 4, it happens 24/7, 7 days a week”. The Innu of Shesatshiu and the Inuit of  Nunatsiavut differ in cultural backgrounds and beliefs but share common past experiences with colonialism, such as forced resettlement, historical trauma, and systemic racism. Andersen added that their assistance “shows that we can come together and support the people of Labrador, the Indigenous groups.”

I treat teens who attempted suicide. Here’s what they told me – Vox
November 6, 2019
A column in Vox by pediatrician and child health advocate, Stephanie Douponik, describing her experiences with 27 clients who came to the emergency department for suicidal ideation or attempted suicide. The results informed a study published in Hospital Pediatrics. The anecdotes present rare insights into the thoughts and actions of suicidal youth. Some of the themes include: Coping with social pressures; Relationship problems; Social media; Treatment, among others.

Youth not employed or in school more likely to have poorer mental, physical health: study – Globe and Mail
November 5, 2019
Statistics Canada research reveals that 11 per cent of youth aged 18 to 29 who are “without work, studies or training opportunities’ are at a greater risk for “social and economic challenges” and will be more likely to “have poorer mental and physical health, suicidal thoughts and lower levels of life satisfaction as a result.” The focus of the report was on Canadian youth not currently employed or engaged in education or training. This is a classification known as NEET. This is one of the first research forays into the psychological well-being of NEET youth. Previously, the emphasis has been on mostly socio demographic characteristics in the past. 

U.S. Democratic contender Warren vows to halve veterans’ suicide rate in four years National Post
November 5, 2019
Democratic U.S. presidential contender Elizabeth Warren says she will reduce the suicide rate of veterans by half in four years by investing in mental healthcare, research into military suicides, and providing annual mental health cheques for afflicted veterans. According to 2017 data, 17 veterans die by suicide each day. Their rate of suicide is 1.5 times higher than for non-veteran adults. 

Sask. NDP introduces legislation for suicide prevention strategyGlobal News
November 5, 2019
NDP MLA for Cumberland Doyle Vermette has re-introduced legislation to develop a provincial suicide prevention strategy. The NDP had previously introduced legislation but it did not pass. This newly proposed legislation “would task the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) with launching a consultation process on the strategy within 180 days of the bill coming into force. Then the SHA would be responsible for doing an annual progress report”.

Jail Suicide Epidemic Doesn’t Extend To Northwest PrisonsOregon Public Broadcasting
November 4, 2019
An investigation by the OPB, KUOW and the Northwest News Network has discovered that suicide is the single cause of death in county jails but not in the region’s state prisons. They found that between 2008 and 2018, 47% of deaths in jails were suicides, as opposed to northwest prisons where 6% of deaths were suicides.  Experts believe the discrepancy can be attributed to the uncertainty a person has when they are first arrested and jailed and “the challenges local jail officials have keeping people safe as they also wrestle with issues like substance use disorders and mental illness”.

Ontario teens who visit ER for self-harm treatment at increased risk for later hospitalization, suicide, study shows Globe and Mail
November 4, 2019
A forthcoming paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal states the number of Ontario teens seeking help in for self-harm at emergency departments has doubled in ten years. The authors found that self-harming teenagers are also eight times more likely do die by suicide than teens visiting the emergency department for other reasons.  The authors conclude that timely follow-up care after emergency department visits are crucial. 

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