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:

Alberta documentary sheds light on men in the oilpatch and suicidesGlobal Calgary
November 19, 2019
A new documentary, Digging in the Dirt, addresses the issue of men working in the oilpatch and suicide. The producers, Omar Mouallem and Dylan Rhys Howard were inspired to create the documentary after hearing about men’s experiences with mental illness and suicide while working in the oilpatch. “We felt it was time to shed light on the issue in a way that was more compassionate towards people in oil and gas,” Rhys Howard said. Men as a group are far more likely to die by suicide than women. “Men typically choose more irreversible and unstoppable means once they’re at the point of attempting, so there aren’t a lot of last-hope interventions,” said Mara Grunau, executive director at the Centre for Suicide Prevention. “For women, because of the way they approach it, there [are] other ways to save them.”

‘Leave your armour at the door’: How bonding is helping Indigenous men heal body, mind and spiritCBC
November 24, 2019
DUDES Club is a kind of social club for men, located in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, where men can build community, get free hair cuts, share a meal, play bingo, and talk about their health. According to long-time Club member Robert Chippeway, 54, DUDES Club encourages men to “leave all your toxic masculinity at the door,” and join in a community where everyone is “at the same level.” Chippeway joined the Club when he was struggling with addiction and mental health issues. “My mental health was all over the place. I was powerless and I felt hopelessness.” He says the Club was crucial to his recovery. DUDES Club was started by the Vancouver Native Health Society, after male patients at the HIV clinic continually expressed loneliness. “They all identified loneliness as their main mental health concern … it manifests in substance use, depression, anxiety, and PTSD,” said Dr. Paul Gross, a family physician and co-founder of DUDES Club. “So, [we were] just trying to be a sanctuary, a safe space where men can come and connect.”

What I have learned from my suicidal patientsGuardian
November 22, 2019
*Method warning* Gavin Francis, a general practitioner, talks about his experiences with patients with suicidal behaviours, and what he has learned from therapists, other physicians, the patients themselves, as well as the families of those who have died by suicide. 

Untangling men’s depression and suicidePursuit
November 22, 2019
Professors John Oliffe, University of British Columbia, and Rob Moodie, University of Melbourne, have been studying men’s suicide, and why they die by suicide three times more often than women. Their goal is “to map the pathways and factors that underpin connections between depression and suicide, so we can build targeted programs to help reduce male suicide.” So far they’ve discovered that depression in men is often not diagnosed, as symptoms such as anger, irritability, substance use, and risk-taking behaviours are contrary to the more stereotypical symptoms like sadness and introspection. Professors Oliffe and Moodie have also found that, contrary to popular belief, men do go to the doctor – 60% of men who die by suicide have accessed professional health services in the year before they die. Finally, social isolation is a major risk factor for suicide in men, therefore, social connection can help keep men mentally healthy. 

‘Critical lifesaving project:’ New mental health centre for youth to open in CalgaryCBC
November 22, 2019
Construction of the Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health in Calgary began last week; the Centre is slated to open in Fall 2021. It will house a triage for youth patients, an intensive treatment program, as well as a day hospital. “Kids can receive treatment during the day and sleep in their own beds at night,” said Alberta Health Services board chair David Weyant. “When it opens two years from now, the Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health will give young people and families new options to help identify and manage mental heath challenges before they escalate into crisis.”

Makwa Sahgaiehcan under ‘black cloud’ after recent suicides, including 10-year-old girl: chief CBC
November 22, 2019
Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, located in northwest Saskatchewan, is grieving the recent suicide losses they have experienced. Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth, Lisa Broda, says youth suicide in northern Saskatchewan has been an ongoing issue, and that discussions on how it can be prevented have taken place. “The paths have been laid and it’s really just time for action,” she said. “We know what to do and really it’s that they need more access and more service in the communities so the kids don’t have to come south.”

Surge in suicides on GO Transit tracks highlights need for new prevention tacticsGlobe and Mail
November 20, 2019
*Method warning* Ontario’s Metrolinx GO train network is exploring how they can prevent suicides after 17 deaths in 2019. This number includes access by distressed people, but also people short-cutting across the tracks. “As we see more [incidents] and as we see more families affected, more individuals affected, more of our staff affected, more of our passengers affected, it does create more urgency,” said George Bell, the Metrolinx vice-president of safety and security. “Our mantra is, ‘Everyone home safe, every day.’ And by that we mean everyone. People who are at risk of accidental injury or intentional injury, we want everyone to go home safe.” Metrolinx has already installed some anti-trespass panels, mats placed on the ground that are difficult to walk on, in the hopes that this will deter people from accessing the tracks. Bell will soon be succeeded by Martin Gallagher, chief safety officer at Metrolinx, who has experience with railway suicide prevention. He was part of a campaign that coincided with a 12% decrease in rail suicides. 

‘It’s literally life or death’: Students say University of Toronto dragging feet on mental health servicesCBC
November 20, 2019
Students at the University of Toronto (U of T) are protesting, demanding that the school provide more resources for mental health services. Four students have died by suicide in the past two years at U of T, and students believe the university isn’t doing enough to help those who are struggling. “It’s literally life or death, what is at stake here,” says fifth-year computer science student Shahin Imtiaz. “The university has turned into a pressure-cooker of intense demands, without the resources to meet the student needs to back it up.”

Maritime hockey players to get mental health awareness, suicide-prevention training CBC
November 20, 2019
More than 280 players on the 12 Maritime Junior ‘A’ Hockey League teams will receive suicide prevention training, thanks to Talk Today, a partnership between the league and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Specifically, the players will receive safeTALK: suicide alertness for everyone training. A designated mental health coach will be chosen for each team to provide support and information to players who are struggling with their mental health. “(The players) are role models within the community both now and down the road and people will look up to them and their friends will look up to them, so if we’ve given them that little extra piece of knowledge, then it’s all good,” said Ross Gorman, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s representative for the Fredericton Red Wings.

Three In Ten Young Trans People Attempt SuicideForbes
November 20, 2019
The Trevor Project has released their National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, and found that 39% of LGBTQ respondents seriously considered suicide in the past year, and more than 50% of transgender and non-binary youth. Over 34,000 American LGBTQ young people were surveyed, making this the largest of its kind. “Transgender and non-binary youth may face a range of unique stressors associated with their adolescent development as well as increased experiences of internalized stigma, discrimination, and rejection from others,” Dr. Amy E. Green, Director of Research for The Trevor Project explains. “No one factor causes an individual to attempt suicide, but the cumulative effect of these stressors can be detrimental to one’s mental wellness and increase the risk for suicidal ideation.”
Centre for Suicide Prevention reports, based on multiple studies, that around 2 to 4 out of 10 trans people will attempt suicide. 
Related – ‘We are not drag queens’: For transgender people in 2019, a conflicted reality of breakthroughs, barriersUSA Today

Men have a suicide rate 3 times higher than women. What’s causing it?Global
November 19, 2019
Men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. “Men die by suicide more than any other group, and these realities must be addressed,” said Fardous Hosseiny, interim national CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, referencing the Centre for Suicide Prevention’s toolkit about Men and Suicide. “Instead of talking about stress or trying to seek help for their depression, men will often mask their stress and deal with their depression through harmful behaviours and actions.” Hosseiny suggests that leveraging technology may be a good way to help men who are struggling, “Not everyone may want to unburden themselves to another person, even over a helpline. Online approaches for most men work much better. We need to give them a mechanism to find out answers on their own before they’re ready to seek help.”

‘Truly saddened and heartbroken’: OPP officer who died by suicide remembered by colleaguesGlobal
November 19, 2019
Months after the Ontario provincial government has launched an independent review into the Ontario Provincial Police’s (OPP) workplace culture, another officer has died by suicide, Sgt. Carolle Dionne. 12 OPP officers have died by suicide since 2012. Ontario’s Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said, “The mental health and overall well-being of Ontario’s everyday heroes in our police services is a central priority for our government. The panel reviewing the OPP’s workplace culture continues to do their important work. We are providing the panel with the time needed to carefully accomplish this review. We look forward to receiving the panel’s advice and recommendations when the review is complete.”

Toyota worker’s suicide ruled work-related after harassment CTV
November 19, 2019
Authorities in Japan have ruled that a Toyota engineer, 28, killed himself as a result of trauma caused by harassment by his boss. “When a worker suffers psychologically from the traumatic experience of harassment, that worker may continue to suffer even after he or she is able to return to work,” Yoshihide Tachino, the man’s attorney, said. Japan’s workaholic culture and the social pressures faced at work are issues, so too are the long hours put in by Japanese workers: more than 60% work more than 40 hours a week. In 2018, there were 199 suicides ruled to be job-related.

Sheshatshiu woman ‘sewing hope’ in light of suicide crisisCBC
November 18, 2019
After a recent suicide crisis in her community of Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador, Helen Aster asked for the help of community members to create a quilt of hopeful messages. “This quilt would symbolize when we went into crisis that we worked together, and it would also give us something to look forward [to],” Aster said. “That quilt would remind us we are strong.”

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