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:

‘I Wanted to Die:’ Northern Ireland Confronts a Suicide Crisis
New York Times
December 1, 2019
*Method warning* In 2017, Northern Ireland had a suicide rate of 18.6 per 100,000 (Canada has a rate of 10.3 in 2018). This is the highest suicide rate in the United Kingdom, and puts Northern Ireland among 15 countries with the highest suicide rates in the world. Men have an even higher rate: 30 per 100,000. Men aged 35 to 44 die by suicide most often in Northern Ireland (a trend seen in many countries, including Canada). In Northern Ireland, the childhoods of these men took place just after the war, and many experienced daily violence, forced migrations, job loss and deprivation. “For anxiety disorders and PTSD, 22 years was the average time between symptom onset and treatment, because people didn’t want to talk and ruminate over the terrible things they went through,” said Siobhan O’Neill, a professor at Ulster University. “During the Troubles, the suicide rates in Northern Ireland were actually lower than they are now. It seems that the conflict gave those who may have otherwise been suicidal, a sense of purpose — to fight, to live.”

How to reduce suicides on the psychiatric wardLos Angeles Times
December 1, 2019
*Method warning* Means restriction has been found to be an effective way to reduce suicides in psychiatric wards, and this method of suicide prevention is being recommended among these institutions by The Joint Commission, a non-profit that accredits most American psychiatric hospitals. Means restriction is effective because often, those who are considering suicide and have chosen a method are focused on that one single method: “There are people who just keep trying and die, but they are the minority,” said Johns Hopkins University psychiatry professor Dr. Paul Nestadt. “That contextualizes the role of the hospital … the hospital is there to keep someone from having access to that gun or that bridge or that train so they can be treated and the feeling can pass.” Another recommendation is that patients at high, imminent risk of suicide are not placed on the typical suicide watch of 15-minute check-in intervals, but instead are placed with a staff member who is always within arms-reach of the patient during that time.

Jury delivers five recommendations after Regina inmates death ruled a suicideCTV
November 27, 2019
*Method warning* Elton John Heebner died in his cell at the Regina Correctional Centre, and a six person jury investigating the death has found that his death was in fact a suicide. The jury recommended the following actions be taken to prevent further suicides to the Ministry of Corrections and Policing: mandatory suicide prevention training and refresher courses for employees; increased staffing including one full-time staff psychiatrist; more wellness programs for inmates; better means of communication throughout the facility; and alternating formal and informal inmate checks. 

Province announces round-the-clock mental health resources for post-secondaries
Edmonton Journal
November 27, 2019
The government of Alberta has announced they will spend $22 million on funding 24/7 access to crisis supports for post-secondary students starting in fall 2020. Supports include crisis services and counselling supports via text, phone and online chat. “Students need this support and government has listened,” Koehler said. “It’s an epidemic. We’re having a massive problem with men and mental health — and not just men, though it is a growing concern as a demographic — but everywhere on campus this is happening.” 

How the ‘lady in pink’ is trying to save the rural Queensland town of ProstonABC
November 27, 2019
Kathy Duff, Deputy Mayor of South Burnett, a town in Queensland, Australia, lost her partner to suicide and has since been promoting suicide prevention in the regional Queensland town of Proston. Duff has used the inheritance from her partner’s death to raise awareness about rural suicide, as well as towards the Proston Community Revival Project, which encourages the development of local businesses with the goal of ensuring people stay in the town so that vital services such as health care, education, and emergency are not lost. 

Depression: men far more at risk than women in deprived areasThe Conversation
November 26, 2019
An analysis of the EPIC-Norfolk study from the UK has found a link between areas of deprivation in the UK to depression in men – men living in “deprived” areas were found to be 51% more likely to experience depression than those who did not. The same statistical significance was not found for women, leading researchers to suggest that perhaps men feel more of a “primary responsibility” to provide for their families. A recent study found that men are more affected by “failures at key instrumental tasks, such as expected work achievements and failures to provide adequately for the family.” The analyst of the EPIC-Norfolk study, Olivia Remes, explains, “Knowing how men and women are affected by the hardship of living in deprivation can help focus mental health treatment, and this is a valuable step forward.”

Police investigation into officer’s suicide raises questions, concernsCalgary Herald
November 26, 2019
*Method warning* An investigation is being made by the Calgary Police Service (CPS) into the death of one of its members, Const. Britni Joyal, 27, who died by suicide. Joyal died by suicide in her car, and her death was witnessed by others. It took place during a two-hour “stand-off” in which the police TAC team, after concluding Joyal intended to kill herself, moved in on her with two armoured vehicles and set off a stun device into her car to distract her. The investigation reveals that Joyal was struggling with her mental health after a break-up with her partner and also that she didn’t feel comfortable seeking help for fear of stigma within the force. Joyal had previously thought about suicide and struggled with addiction issues during her time as a military police officer. 

‘When is it going to stop?’ asks Sask. mother who lost 10-year-old girl to suicideCBC
November 26, 2019
Jaylyn Angus, 10, died by suicide on Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation on November 21. Since her death, seven others have attempted suicide and been taken to hospital. The band leadership declared a state of emergency, and the provincial and federal government have promised emergency services will be sent to the community, and Meadow Lake Tribal Council and the Saskatchewan Health Authority have both sent out suicide and mental health counsellors. Jaylyn’s mother, Dorothy Angus, is concerned her daughter’s death may have been a copycat suicide: Jaylyn’s friend was 14 when she died by suicide just earlier in November. Dorothy Angus said, “To the parents, tell your kids every day you love them. Keep them close by you. If there are any, any red flags … even if they’re upset, even if they’re hurting, hold them.”
Related: ‘An ongoing battle that we’re losing’: Sask. Indigenous leaders address suicide crisis in province’s north CTV
‘Quit fighting and bickering,’ Sask. chief says to feds, Sask., after northern suicidesCBC
Makwa Sahgaiehcan chief disappointed at lack of long-term help to stop suicides – CBC

Suicides by K-Pop Stars Prompt Soul-Searching in South KoreaNew York Times
November 25, 2019
In the past few years, several Korean pop music (K-Pop) stars have died by suicide. K-Pop stars are trained for years in singing and dancing with the goal of impressing management companies who will hire them on as part of a band. Their training regime means that “they seldom have a chance to develop a normal school life or normal social relationships as their peers do,” according to Lee Hark-joon, a South Korean journalist who produced a documentary on the topic of K-Pop. Their careers last only a few years before younger “stars” come along, and they must move on to other aspects of the entertainment industry. “Their fall can be as sudden and as dramatic as their rise to the height of fame… Theirs is a profession especially vulnerable to psychological distress — they are scrutinized on social media around the clock, and fake news about their private lives is spread instantly,” says Lee. 
Related: Cyber bullying, star suicides: The dark side of South Korea’s K-pop worldReuters

Concussions in high school athletes may be a risk factor for suicideScienceDaily
November 25, 2019
Concussions are the most common form of traumatic brain injury and have been linked to an increased risk of depression and suicide in adults. New research from the University of Texas has found that high school students who have experienced concussions may also have an increased risk of suicide and depression. Data was taken from surveys of 13,000 high school students in the US. Students were asked if they had received a concussion related to a sports or physical activity in the past year, and then were asked a series of questions about suicidal behaviour. The 15% of students who had experienced a concussion were more likely than those who hadn’t to report having suicidal thoughts. 17% of teens without concussions reported thoughts of suicide, while  21% of teens with concussions reported thoughts.  

Doctors are dying by suicide every day and we are not talking about it – The Hill
November 24, 2019
In the US, one doctor dies by suicide every day: a review of 195 studies and almost 130,000 medical students concluded that 25% of medical residents report depressive symptoms, and 11% struggle with thoughts of suicide. This article argues that more needs to be done to prevent these suicides, including top-down changes in culture, structure, and strategy. The author of this piece, Jay Behel, PhD, calls on medical schools to reduce barriers to help-seeking and implementing support systems within the schools themselves. 

There is no link between abortion and women taking their own lives, study finds Independent 
November 22, 2019
A new study has found that there is no link between abortion and suicide in women: data from 52,000 Danish women collected over 17 years found that pre-existing mental health issues were the strongest risk factor for suicide in women. Among women who had an abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, 8.9 of 1,000 had attempted suicide the previous year. 8.6 of 1,000 women attempted suicide after an abortion, and suicide attempts correlated with people who had previously accessed psychiatric services or who had been prescribed medication for mental disorders. “The view that having an abortion leads to suicidal thoughts, plans, or even suicide attempts has been used to inform abortion policies in some regions of the world,” said Julia R. Steinberg, lead author of the new study. “The evidence from our study does not support this notion.”

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