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Parent calls Sask. government’s new bill a ‘smokescreen’ over mental health, addictions crisisCBC News
October 12, 2023
Sarah Mackenzie, the mother of a 14 year-old non-binary, pansexual youth who died by suicide, spoke in the Saskatchewan legislature on October 12. She is speaking against the provincial “Parental Bill of Rights”, which is a “controversial new policy dictating how schools deal with gender-diverse students”. Mackenzie says her child “came out as pansexual and non-binary at age 11, requesting to go by they/them pronouns and the name Bee going forward”. But “they struggled with mental health issues and addiction” and “lost hope after 4 friends died from suicide or overdoses”. Mackenzie feels that the government does not want to be accountable for these deaths or these issues. She says they are using this legislation as a diversion, instead of addressing the “holes in the system”, “like a lack of counselling in schools and in the community”.

The acute suicide crisis among veterinarians: ‘You’re always going to be failing somebody’ – BBC News
October 10, 2023
Data from the United States CDC National Center for Health Statistics show that nearly 400 veterinarians died by suicide between 1979 and 2015. A separate study also showed that 70% of veterinarians have known a colleague or a peer who died by suicide. Researchers say that there are many contributing factors to the adverse mental health experiences and suicidality veterinarians face. These include: “the pressures and long hours of the job, expectations of pet owners and exposure to trauma and frequent euthanasia”. There are financial stressors as well, incurred from veterinary school and the struggles of running a business. Fortunately, the profession itself is beginning to recognize the crisis. In the fall of 2021, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) held a roundtable discussion of suicide prevention. The organization now “offers a host of resources, including a free course known as “gatekeeper training” to teach veterinary professionals who don’t have a mental health background to recognise when their colleagues might be at risk”. There are also peer-to-peer online support groups, like Lifeboat, that offers veterinarians a safe space to be “imperfect” and to talk about their struggles.

Amid nationwide mental health crisis, suicide prevention hotlines struggle with repeat callersABC News
October 10, 2023
A surge of callers to a crisis phone line in Northeast Wisconsin in the last 15 months has forced the line to make difficult service decisions. The installation of the 988 number in the summer of 2022 has resulted in a spike in demand unlike anything they had previously experienced. Shelly Missall, who manages the 988 program for the center, says they are forced to restrict repeat callers in order “to meet the needs of the entire state and be able to get to the other folks who need help”. Despite an increase in federal funding for the hotline, widespread staffing shortages are causing 988 centers nationwide to restrict frequent callers. Some solutions, like limiting calls to a time frame over a certain time period, as well as the transfer of some calls to mental health warmlines, do help curtail some of the demand. However, advocates worry about the adverse effects restrictions will have on those repeat callers in need. There are other ways to help frequent callers other than restrictions, says experts like Madelyn Gould, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. There are brief interventions like recurring check-ups or utilizing peer supports more robustly. Unfortunately, these alternatives are not readily available for all yet.

Fifth of women abused in intimate relationships have attempted suicide – researchIrish Times
October 9, 2023
A survey of 500 Irish women, aged 18-25, who have been subjected to abuse (emotional and physical) by a partner, or an ex-partner has revealed startling findings. 40 per cent have had suicidal thoughts and 20 per cent have attempted suicide. The study finds that other impacts of intimate partner violence on youth women include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Mary Hayes, of the #TooIntoYou campaign says that young people should not minimize their experiences of abuse. They should not suffer alone but seek support.

Newfoundland jail death renews calls for accountability in provincial correctionsGlobe and Mail
October 9, 2023
A death in August in a St. John’s, Newfoundland jail called Her Majesty’s Penitentiary was deemed to be a suicide. It was the seventh death in Newfoundland jails since 2017. Newfoundland also ranks first in Atlantic Canada for inmate suicide. Bob Buckingham, a Newfoundland defence lawyer, wants to see changes in provincial jails. Corey Shefman, a Toronto Human rights lawyer, says provincial jails lack accountability or independent oversight found in the federal system. Only some provinces launch inquests into deaths that are not from natural causes, for example. This is especially disconcerting, as many inmates in provincial jails are on remand awaiting trial (an interval where someone is at the greatest risk for suicide) and many are Indigenous who are disproportionately represented in provincial jails.

Losing a loved one to suicide can cause immense grief and anger. But the truth can set you freeThe Guardian
October 8, 2023
The Reverend Sharon Hollis is an Australian minister who lost her husband to suicide over ten years ago. In this column, she relates how she reconciled her grief with her faith. She ultimately urges compassion, love, and truth as ways to cope.