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:

World Suicide Prevention DayCentre for Suicide Prevention
World Suicide Prevention Day is a day to remember those we’ve lost to suicide and raise awareness for how suicide can be prevented. While the pandemic continues to drag on, Canadians are reporting higher levels of stress and mental unwellness. This, however, does not necessarily translate to an increase in suicide. At this point, preliminary data indicates that suicide rates haven’t risen throughout the pandemic. Also, more people seem to be talking about mental health and their thoughts of suicide – evidenced by an increase in calls about suicide to crisis centres. People are seeking help when they’re struggling. This year, Centre for Suicide Prevention is also celebrating its 40th anniversary; a timeline of our history can be found in this year’s annual report.

After classmate died by suicide, Alberta teen wants everyone to learn signs of crisisGlobal News
September 7, 2021
Preliminary numbers for suicide in Canada show that numbers are down, however, there are many people seeking help through the crisis lines. Mara Grunau, executive director for the Centre for Suicide Prevention, says, “We are not seeing an increase in suicide in any demographic. However, anecdotally, many health authorities are reporting an increased number of young people presenting to the emergency room departments in mental health crisis.” Grunau says that we need to be on the look-out for people around us who may be struggling, and reach out to them: “What we encourage people to watch for is a significant change in behaviour,” then, mention the change in a conversation with that person, for example, Grunau says, “You’re never at the dog park anymore,” or “You took down your Facebook page.” Then ask about suicide directly: “What’s going on? Are you thinking of suicide?” If they say yes, “help them get help,” says Grunau. Call the crisis line together, 1-833-456-4566.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021Well-Being Connection
September 10, 2021
Executive director Mara Grunau spoke with Canadian Mental Health Association – Manitoba and Winnipeg in their podcast, ‘Well-Being Connection,’ for their World Suicide Prevention Day episode. When asked about suicide and the pandemic Grunau said, “We see impacts from the pandemic in different ways… We’re hearing far more… reports of Canadians saying that… they are unwell… However, that doesn’t translate into deaths so we actually have not seen an increase in suicide deaths. We only have preliminary numbers at this point… we don’t ever have instant, real-time data, but the preliminary data is not showing an increase. We’re seeing an increases to crisis lines which we can say is positive… more people are reaching out… It seems to becoming more common and more comfortable to say, ‘I’m not okay,’ because we’re not okay.”

World Suicide Prevention Day renews calls for mental health supports for Manitoba First Nations Global News
September 10, 2021
Tataskweyak Cree Nation, a remote northern Manitoba community, has experienced several suicides recently. This summer, they hosted a powwow and invited Assembly of Manitoba Grand Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. Dumas says, “It was a celebration and it something that was required by the community to help deal with the with the suicides that that were impacting their communities. Far too often, people feel that they’re isolated and they’re alone. Everybody needs to know that we come from loving communities and loving families and despite the trauma and the difficulties we’ve had, it’s our compassion and our caring for each other that helps carry us through.”

Calgary Distress Centre introduces text support as suicide-related calls spikeCTV News
September 10, 2021
Distress Centre Calgary is launching text support for clients, which will be available at 403-266-4357 weekdays from 3 pm – 6 am and weekends from 12 pm – 6 am. The Distress Centre has seen a 34% increase in suicide-related calls in 2021 compared to 2020 and suicide ideation is the second top issue among crisis chats. Mike Velthuis Kroeze, interim director of programs at the Distress Centre said, “It is really concerning to know people in the community are having those thoughts. But it’s also a positive because it means those people are reaching out to us.” Velthuis Kroeze also spoke to the importance of offering a text-line, “I think we need to recognize that we have people entering adulthood now that never really had to make a lot of phone calls, they’ve had texting in their lives the whole time. We also know though research that people are more likely to discuss their thoughts of suicide with the relative anonymity of a texting service.”

American Muslims are at high risk of suicide – 20 years post-9/11, the links between Islamophobia and suicide remain unexploredThe Conversation
September 10, 2021
American Muslims are two times more likely to attempt suicide compared to other faith groups in the US. American Muslims have been racialized, stigmatized and ‘othered’ in post-9/11 America, says the author of this article, Amelia Noor-Oshiro, and she argues that much more research is needed into suicide prevention strategies for this group: “Research on American Muslims addresses the dearth of scientific knowledge on culturally specific social factors of suicide. Yet for American Muslims, what factors contribute to our risk for suicide and what protective factors build our resilience are still to be uncovered.”

World Suicide Prevention Day: A Reminder To Business Leaders That Mental Health Is A Matter Of Life And DeathForbes
September 10, 2021
The workplace can play a role in suicide prevention, and a healthy work culture that cultivates connection can help boost mental health in the workplace, especially in a time of remote and hybrid working. A survey done before the pandemic found that 3 of 5 employees feel lonely at work, and 63% thought their employer wasn’t doing enough to build connection and combat loneliness. This article says, “Business leaders should look for signs of isolation or disconnection as possible red flags for serious mental health risk—and should reach out, express concern, and offer help when appropriate.” Psychological safety has evolved in the workplace since COVID-19 – researcher Amy Edmondson says that it’s important for employees to have the freedom to address personal issues with colleagues and supervisors – “issues once viewed as purely personal (everything from care-taking responsibilities to the stability of one’s domestic environment) can directly and dramatically impact an employee’s ability to flourish and be productive at work.” Edmondson says that leaders play a role in creating this openness, and a recent survey found that 88% of employees “appreciate when their leadership discusses mental health.”

World Suicide Prevention Day: Here’s how to help in 2021CNN
September 10, 2021
This article highlights suicide stats in the US, as well as some actions that can be taken to help prevent suicide, such as learning to recognize signs of distress, and to “Be sure to regularly check on loved ones… Listen carefully when you talk to them about to their concerns and observe how they are expressing themselves.”

Suicide still treated as a crime in at least 20 countries, report findsGuardian
September 9, 2021
According to a newly released report, suicide is considered a crime in 20 countries, with people who attempt suicide facing punishment of fines of thousands of dollars and up to three years in prison. “Criminalisation of suicide is counterproductive, it does not deter people from taking their own lives,” said Sarah Kline, co-founder of United for Global Mental Health. “It does deter people from seeking help in a moment of acute crisis and it can prevent people receiving the support they need for their mental health.”

World Suicide Prevention Day sees the launch of a new tool for post-secondaryEnergetic City
September 10, 2021
BCcampus announced the launch of a new suicide prevention resource on World Suicide Prevention Day: Let’s Talk About Suicide: Raising awareness and supporting students. This resource “was developed to reduce the stigma around suicide and to help faculty and staff acquire the skills and confidence to ask if a student is considering suicide, listen to that student in a non-judgmental way, and refer the student to appropriate resources.” Sheila Malcolmson, BC Minister of Mental Health and Addictions said, “Now more than ever, post-secondary students, faculty and staff need access to mental health supports. This new suicide prevention resource will help faculty and staff start courageous conversations with students, so that people who are struggling know someone cares, and that there is help and hope.”

From Impeachment to Hacks to Heels, TV Is Rethinking How to Show SuicideVanity Fair
September 9, 2021
**Method warning** This article discusses the portrayal of suicide in the media, noting TV series where suicide was depicted, to what extent, and why that particular depiction was chosen by writers. Media guidelines are clear that suicide should not be depicted onscreen. John Draper, the director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline says, “The evidence is pretty clear that if you show methods or how a person kills themselves, that that is more likely to be influential… Typically, what this research has shown, is we’re talking about vulnerable individuals who are already in despair, or thinking about suicide, and feeling trapped. And they see something that says here is how this person who is in despair is going to stop their pain.”

Under-pressure first responders urged to reach out for mental health support CBC
September 8, 2021
First Responder Health is an educational company that trains health care providers how to work with public safety personnel experiencing mental health issues. Their website contains a directory of specially trained mental health care professionals available to first responders and their families across the province of BC. Co-founder of First Responder Health, firefighter and registered clinical counsellor Matt Johnston is calling for more first responder support from the BC Government, “First responders are trained in a stoic paramilitary work system [that] many civilian health-care providers have no idea how to deal with. That’s a major gap that I really hope the province of B.C. can address in the coming years.”

New suicide prevention program coming to southeast AlbertaCHAT News Today
September 8, 2021
Medicine Hat is becoming a Roots of Hope community – Roots of Hope is a multi-site, community-led program aimed at reducing and eliminating suicide. Breanne Mellen, CSP Trainer and Regional Suicide Prevention Coordinator at CMHA – Southeast Alberta said, “Building hope in the community is kind of what we are aiming to do and we have seen a lot of hopelessness through the pandemic. So through Roots of Hope we are hoping to bring that back and build more resiliency and capacity for understanding suicide and mental illness within our community.”

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