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:

U of C introduces new suicide prevention framework to support studentsCalgary Herald
November 12, 2020
*Terminology warning – use of commit*   The University of Calgary has launched their Suicide Awareness and Prevention Framework, a comprehensive strategy to support students with mental illness, reduce the stigma surrounding suicide, and prevent suicide on campus. Debbie Bruckner, senior director of student wellness, access and support at the university, said, “It’s about making sure that we have many, many conversations about suicide prevention, about mental health, about coping and resilience in many different ways, and it becomes pervasive in the environment as opposed to just something you seek out if you’ve got a problem.” Centre for Suicide Prevention was on the advisory committee for the framework, alongside Distress Centre Calgary and the university’s department of psychiatry.

Buddy Up website and TV ad Centre for Suicide Prevention
November 9, 2020
The Buddy Up men’s suicide prevention campaign now has its very own website, focused on men’s suicide prevention and how to become a Champion for the cause. In addition to learning about men’s suicide and how it can be prevented, you can find information about how the campaign was created and how to be involved. Thanks to a generous donation, a Buddy Up TV ad will air on CTV Calgary from Nov. 2 to Dec. 27. The ad features campaign characters and will air during sporting events and other highly visible programming.

We need to be more careful when talking about suicide and the pandemic
New Scientist
November 13, 2020
In many areas of the world, it appears that suicide rates have not increased in correlation with COVID-19, however, these numbers are preliminary, and may rise. Authors of this article argue that, these numbers “don’t negate the fact that several studies suggest there has been a rise in people who say they feel anxious or distressed, presumably because of the pandemic or its knock-on effects. But concluding that such feelings will lead more people to take their own lives is a massive assumption. It is also potentially dangerous, because suicide deaths have an unusual feature. Unlike deaths from heart disease or cancer, say, media coverage can lead to an increase in deaths by suicide.” Authors also note that some researchers are worried that “sensationalist predictions about a surge in suicide could risk normalising the idea that this is a rational way to respond to the pandemic.”

What’s actually happening with suicide during the pandemic?Slate
November 13, 2020
A post stating ‘Suicide figures are up’ has been floating around on social media for the past few months and has recently seen a resurgence after being tweeted by CNN Anchor Jake Tapper last Thursday. The full post states: “Suicide figures are up. Could 2 followers please copy and re-post this tweet? We’re trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening. Call 1-800-273-8255 (USA hotline) Just two. Any two. Copy, not retweet.” However, many regions and countries have not reported an increase, and numbers at this stage would be preliminary. Some crisis lines have seen an increase in calls, which is a sign that people are reaching out for help. Authors of this article also note: “While it’s natural—and good—to worry about the mental health effects of the pandemic, the supposition without evidence that lockdown is leading to an actual increase in suicides is a political one (as well as one that goes against recommendations for reporting on suicide—the advice is not to exaggerate statistics).” 

New mini-magazine mindful of seniors’ mental health, offers info on suicide preventionGuelphToday.com
November 12, 2020
The Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin and the Seniors Centre for Excellence has released Mindful for Older Adults, a mini-magazine that provides resources and information about self-harm and suicide to older adults living in Ontario in the Guelph, Wellington, and Dufferin regions. “Often times, seniors are a bit reluctant to talk about suicide,” says Heather Glenister, coordinator with the Suicide Council of Wellington-Dufferin. “It’s not something many are comfortable (with). They are from that lens where it’s ‘taboo,’ and that, ‘I shouldn’t share.’ But it’s important that they do reach out. They deserve the same access to care as everyone else does, but they are sometimes a bit reluctant and some of those things, along with isolation, can fuel suicidal thoughts and suicide.” Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Buddy Up campaign is featured in the mini-magazine. 

Japan suicides rise as economic impact of coronavirus hits homeThe Japan Times
November 11, 2020
According to preliminary police data, suicide numbers in Japan over the past four months have been at their highest levels in five years. Some speculate that the numbers are rising after an initial decrease at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the economic impacts now being felt. Female suicides increased 82% in October 2020 compared to October 2019, and women are more likely to be in non-permanent employment positions such as those in the retail or service industries, and have been disproportionately affected by job loss. 

How Parents Can Help Prevent SuicideUS News
November 11, 2020
According to a 2019 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, the suicide rate for children living in the US consistently increased from 2007-2017. Parents and caregivers can help prevent suicide in children by being alert to any changes their child may exhibit. Rhonda Boyd, a psychologist and assistant director of the Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Research Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says, “If you notice changes in your kid’s behavior, whether they’re more anxious, more distressed, they’re acting out, talk to them… There is no evidence that asking a kid about suicide or suicidal thoughts or behaviors leads to their doing those behaviors. I think it should be an honest, very direct conversation asking them what they are thinking about. You want open communication so if they’re distressed, they will be able to talk without thinking that it will cause problems.”

New York City will send mental health teams instead of police to respond to some 911 calls CNN
November 11, 2020
New York City has announced that they are creating teams of EMS health workers and mental health crisis workers who will be dispatched to emergency mental health calls instead of police in a pilot project starting in 2021. The project has seen mixed reviews from experts, some of whom would like to see less police involvement, and some more. The program does have support from the police commissioner:  “The NYPD looks forward to participating in this important pilot program. The participation of mental health professionals is a long awaited improvement in the city’s initial response to people in crisis. Our officers applaud the intervention by health professionals in these non violent cases and as always stand ready to assist,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea in a news release.

Suicide rates increase after disasters strike, researcher findsMedical Xpress
November 9, 2020
Researchers from the University of Delaware examined 281 natural disasters that took place in the past 12 years and their impact on suicide rates. Suicide rates increase 23% after a natural disaster, with the largest overall increase taking place two years after the disaster itself. “That finding is important, I think, because those could be preventable deaths with better disaster preparedness and response. It’s particularly important to consider the risk of suicide since those with more existing social vulnerabilities live in areas with a greater risk of being damaged by disaster,” said Jennifer Horney, founding director of the epidemiology program in the College of Health Sciences and researcher on the project.

Man to Crawl NYC Marathon on All Fours to Honor Dad Who Died of SuicidePeople
October 29, 2020
Devon Lévesque participated in the New York City marathon in honour of his father, who died by suicide when Lévesque was a teen. “I was a 16-year-old kid and he was my best friend. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my entire life. It was hard to watch because he was a happy-go-lucky person. I haven’t been able to cope with it until about 12 months ago and that is what is driving me to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention,” says Lévesque.

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