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:

The media’s role in suicide clustersAdvocate
September 29, 2017
This opinion article examines the media’s role in suicide clusters. The article argues that the media can oversimplify suicide, citing an example of a transgender student who died by suicide amidst his own name change process with his school. Many media outlets said that he died by suicide after becoming angry with the school for not allowing him to change his name and live as his authentic self when in reality, the name change process was moving forward as planned and likely was not a factor. The author of the article notes: “We simplify stories to reinforce larger themes and broadcast a message, but in simplifying a very complex problem, we actually cement the suicidal script deeper into the minds of our impressionable youth.”

Suicide prevention help ‘inadequate’ for First Nations people in Saskatchewan: paper CBC
September 28, 2017
In the discussion paper released by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) last week, several aspects of the suicide crisis in northern Saskatchewan communities were outlined. In the report Dr. Kim McKay-McNabb described several instances where First Nations people were faced with barriers when accessing mental health supports, e.g. not many mental health therapists listed by Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch were taking in new clients. “At the present time, there are very few options for mental health supports [for First Nations people in Saskatchewan],” McKay-McNabb wrote. “There is a need for integrating traditional/ceremonial options” for those who request them, she added.

Gay youth ‘twice as likely’ to be at high risk of suicideGuardian
September 28, 2017
New research released last Friday in Australia found that almost 50% of gay, lesbian, and gender diverse Australian youth are considered to be at high risk of suicide, double the rate of heterosexual youth.

Suicide, substance abuse and grief in focus as MMIWG hearings open in BCCBC
September 26, 2017
Last week the first day of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls hearings took place in BC. The hearings allowed those who have lost family members to open up and share their stories and experiences. Chief Vivian Tom of Wet’suwet’en First Nation spoke about having thoughts of suicide after her daughter died. Her granddaughter did, too: “She figured death, suicide, meant she could be with her mom,” Chief Tom said.

Depression: Is brain inflammation tied to suicidal thoughts?Medical News Today
September 25, 2017
New findings show that, in people with major depressive disorder, there is a link between suicidal thoughts and brain inflammation. The findings come from a study that tested the levels of a biomarker associated with brain inflammation. Journal editor Dr. John Krystal said, “This observation is particularly important in light of recent evidence supporting a personalized medicine approach to depression, i.e., that anti-inflammatory drugs may have antidepressant effects that are limited to patients with demonstrable inflammation.”

Teenage suicide is extremely difficult to predict. That’s why some experts are turning to machines for helpWashington Post
September 25, 2017
A new tool, “Spreading Activation Mobile (SAM),” is being used to analyze speech to determine whether or not someone is suicidal. Ben Crotte, a behavioural health therapist in the US, is testing the tool. “Losing a child is my worst nightmare and we all live with the fear that we might miss something,” Crotte said. “Sometimes we have to go with our gut to make a decision, so this is one more tool to help me make a final determination about someone’s health.” Physician Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, cautions that “Technology is here to stay and if we can use it to prevent suicide, we should do that… But we’re in the very early stages of learning how to use technology in this space.”

In sickness and in (mental) health CBC
September 24, 2017
Mark Lukach describes his experience as a caregiver to wife Guilia who experienced severe mental illness. About three years after they were married, she was diagnosed with “acute psychosis” and  hospitalized for 23 days. She returned home depressed and suicidal, and Mark became her caregiver until, one year later, her doctors found the right combination of medication and she was mentally healthy again. After the birth of their son, Guilia experienced further mental health issues and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Mark once again became caregiver to his wife while learning to be a father, too.

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