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:

Suicide attempts by black teens are increasing, study saysCNN
October 14, 2019
From 1991 to 2017, the suicide rate for African American teenagers rose as the rate for teenagers in other groups fell. In black children, too, the suicide rate is double that of caucasian children. Amy Green, director of research for The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization, said, “Because so much of this is newer, there isn’t a lot of data about why, but some of the factors are stressors like discrimination and the experience people have with discrimination and microaggressions.”

The grief over my daughter’s suicide never ends, but I can help other junior doctorsThe Guardian
October 10, 2019
Dr. Jonathon Phillips lost his daughter, a medical resident, to suicide.  Phillips is now spreading awareness about the mental health issues faced by young doctors and trainees, and emphasizing the need to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, as well as asking others to learn to identify those who may be struggling and reach out to help. “Young trainees are individuals with differing life experiences, resulting in varying strengths and vulnerabilities; some will need shielding from certain situations at the start of their careers. If we are lucky enough to identify someone in a crisis we should not merely signpost the route to help, but guide and accompany them along the path to recovery,” said Phillips. He also discusses some of the issues medical students face: racism, sexism, abuse, and the extremes of distress, rage, and despair.

A band of British barbers are trying to save men’s lives, one haircut at a timeQuartz 
October 10, 2019
The Lions Barber Collective is a suicide prevention initiative founded by British barber Tom Chapman. In 2015, Chapman began the initiative after losing a friend to suicide, and having clients reach out to him about their own struggles. Lions Barber Collective aims to create safe spaces for men to reach out in a place where they frequently go, and with a person whom they often trust. Chapman said, “…we are losing the art of conversation, we are losing human contact, we are losing license to touch as well. Being in the (barber’s) chair, having that conversation,  one-to-one contact, human contact, that doesn’t happen very often.”

Opinion: Reacting to campus suicide will not prevent it – Toronto Star
October 10, 2019
Means restriction, such as the barriers that were erected at the University of Toronto campus after students died by suicide, are an important part of suicide prevention, but so are reduced wait times for mental health services and stigma reduction, so students feel safe to ask for help and can access help when they need it. 

What responsibility do we have to colleagues who may be contemplating suicide?Globe and Mail
October 10, 2019
This piece, written in honour of World Mental Health Week, Oct. 6 – 12, highlights how suicide can be prevented in the workplace. Awareness of your role as a colleague is important: you don’t have to be an expert to reach out to someone you’re concerned about, and you don’t have to solve their problems. If, in the course of conversation, you find out someone you know is thinking about suicide, you just need to connect them to mental health supports. Taking accountability for reducing the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health in general in the workplace is also important: stigma is one of the main reasons why people don’t reach out when they need help. Finally, employers should act, and ensure their employees have the mental health supports they may need available to them. 

Call to commemorate officers who died by suicide persists – CBC
October 9, 2019
Josh de Bock, who served as an Ontario Provincial police officer, died by suicide in August 2018. His widow, Loan de Bock, is calling for him to be commemorated as part of the Parliament Hill memorial that honours officers who have died in the line of duty since Confederation. “He is a hero in life and in death, and he should be acknowledged and recognized equally as anyone else, any other fallen officer who died in the line of duty,” said de Bock. “His death was a result of his mental decline, and it was a cumulative toll of police work. And because of that, I believe he deserves to be up there [on the wall].”

Compassionate ‘zero-suicide’ prevention on campuses urgently neededThe Conversation Canada
October 8, 2019
As part of their mental health strategy, University of Calgary is implementing a suicide prevention framework, with the goal of reducing suicides on campus to zero. Post secondary institutions in the UK have already implemented what is called the Zero Suicide Initiative, and in this piece, the university explains what they intend to do to prevent suicides on-campus, as well as how they respond when someone does die by suicide. 
Learn more about the Zero Suicide Initiative with our article on the subject

Youth suicide attempts often involve over-the-counter painkillers, U.S. study suggests CBC
October 7, 2019
A new study from the US has found that pharmaceuticals play a role in more than 90% of suicide attempts by those between the ages of 10 to 12 and 22 to 25. “It is likely because these are so widely available, in almost every home,” said Dr. Henry Spiller, lead author of the study and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. “Additionally, they can be purchased easily and cheaply.”Dr. Lois Lee, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Boston Children’s Hospital suggested that “Parents should strongly consider locking away acetaminophen, ADHD medications, antihistamines and psychiatric medications, where even a relatively small overdose could lead to serious medical consequences. Parents can use medication lockboxes using a key that only the parent could access to secure these medications from teens and young adults.”

Cohen: Most Canadian gun deaths are suicides. We need tighter controlsOttawa Citizen
October 7, 2019
75% of Canadian gun deaths are suicides, and gun-related crimes have been increasing in the past few years. The Canadian Paediatric Society is calling for more controls on guns: youth are disproportionately affected by gun violence, and simply having a firearm in the home increases the risk that a youth will die by suicide. This opinion columnist argues, “Guns must be included in mental health policy if we are serious about reducing suicide deaths.” 

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