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:
First responders getting mental health clinic of their own – CBC
November 4, 2018
A mental health clinic specifically for first responders will open in Ottawa next year. “First responders face a much greater risk of mental health issues and suicide than the general population, and they also face particular challenges in accessing support,” said Dr. Simon Hatcher, the Ottawa Hospital psychiatrist who led the study that preceeded the clinic. 45% of first responders in Canada have symptoms of at least one mental health disorder: it is thought that first responders experience symptoms at a rate four times higher than the general population.
Young Inuit leaders optimistic about future, despite Nunavik’s bleak suicide statistics – CBC
November 1, 2018
Inuit youth are working to reduce suicide rates and focus on hope in their communities. Lucasi Iyaituk, 18, from Puvirnituq in Nunavik is the youngest youth centre coordinator in Nunavik, and wants to continue helping his people. “My people are … important… I don’t want anyone to [commit] suicide, and I want to help them a lot… I’m going to tell them that they are not alone, they are loved, and make them happy,” said Iyaituk. Inuit experience the highest suicide rates in the world, and have continued working to identify suicide prevention initiatives. Robert Watt, president of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, set up meetings for community members to suggest actions to prevent suicide in the Nunavik region. Suggestions that came out of the meetings included: sharing more information about mental health issues, providing more treatment for victims of sexual abuse, doing more traditional activities with youth, and implementing anti-bullying strategies.
Related: Emergency meetings begin as Nunavik grapples with string of suicides – CBC
No longer forgotten: Silver Cross Mother recognizes death by suicide for first time – Globe and Mail
November 1, 2018
Canada’s Silver Cross Mother medal is given annually to a parent who has lost a child in connection with military service. This year, the medal will go to Anita Cenerini, who lost her son Thomas Welch, 22, to suicide. This is the first time the medal is being given to a parent whose child died by suicide, and whose service in the military was acknowledged as being a factor in their suicide. “There are a lot of soldiers out there who have fallen in the cracks and we’re not reaching them and they have to matter,” said Centrini. “I want them to matter, because for 13 years Thomas’s death didn’t matter. Thomas’s death didn’t matter to anyone except our family.”
National suicide prevention conference held in St. John’s – Telegram
November 1, 2018
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention‘s annual conference was held in St. John’s, Newfoundland last week. Centre for Suicide Prevention was in attendance. Eugene Hart, chief of Sheshatshiu, was one of the keynote speakers. He spoke about the impact of suicide in Indigenous communities and, particularly, Innu communities: the rate in Sheshatshiu is 14 times higher than the rate in Newfoundland. “The only time we will be recognized is if there’s a breakout of mental illness or there’s an emergency crisis in our community, then the funds are there … rather than for them to develop what we need in our community,” he said, though Hart acknowledged an improvement and said, “it’s getting there.”
A call for hope during a time of pain: Nunavik looks for solutions to suicide crisis – CBC
October 31, 2018
Quebec’s Inuit territory Nunavik has experienced the suicides of many youth in the past year. Last week, community members gathered in the town of Kuujjuaq for two days of meetings to have open discussion about the issue, to discuss what could be done, and to talk about what they as individuals have experienced in their own lives. Kuujjuaq Mayor Tunu Napartuk opened up about his own suicidality as a teen: “I’ve been very fortunate to have people around me such as my mother and my father who were understanding enough to make me know that ‘yes, this pain and suffering that you’re feeling right now is going to come to pass. It will finish. It will end,'” said Napartuk. “I’m 46 years old right now, and that sense of hopelessness — oh wow, I’m just so happy I had someone around me who cared about me.”
Related – Nunavik looks within to stem suicide crisis – APTN
Care workers must recognize past trauma, child advocate says in review of teen’s suicide – CBC
October 30, 2018
Last week the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) Alberta released three reports of investigation into the deaths of three youth in care, one by suicide. Del Graff, Alberta’s child and youth advocate, is emphasizing the importance of “culturally appropriate, timely interventions that directly address the impact of trauma on the developing brain.” The OCYA has released 6 investigative reports for youth who have died by suicide in provincial care this year.
Related – Suicide, stabbing: Complex needs of kids in care not addressed, says child and youth advocate – Edmonton Journal
Alberta veterans march to raise money for suicide prevention – CBC
October 29, 2018
Veterans in Alberta came together on November 3 for the second annual Rucksack March for Remembrance, a 22 kilometre hike through Edmonton’s river valley. The March’s goal is to encourage conversation around mental health and build a support network for people struggling. Last year, they raised $6,000 for Wounded Warriors Canada.
Mental-health problems hit hard at survivors of Fort McMurray fire – Globe and Mail
October 28, 2018
New research has found that the wildfire that Fort McMurray, Alberta, experienced last year has had profound effects on the mental health of residents, who are reporting elevated rates of depression and other mental health problems. Vincent Agyapong, the psychiatrist and University of Alberta professor who published the new research, developed a survey with the team at his clinical practice and collected responses from 486 residents. They wanted to look not only at how many people were experiencing mental health issues, but also at their resilience. One of the most impactful factors in resilience was the presence of family support. “Those who reported they received no support were about 13 times more likely to present with a major depressive disorder compared to those who reported they received high levels of support. Receiving support from family and friends can actually protect you from possible major depressive disorder,” Agyapong said.