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:

On National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, A Story Of SurvivalForbes
September 17, 2020
National Physician Suicide Awareness Day took place in the US on Sept. 17. 300-400 physicians in the US die by suicide each year, and many who think about suicide are reluctant to seek help. However, suicide in physicians is not inevitable – Dr. Justin Bullock, a resident physician in Medicine at University of California, San Francisco, has experienced depression and thoughts of suicide since the age of 16. He faced stigma from his family when it came to taking medication for his mental health issues, even after a suicide attempt. Throughout school, he began to feel “gray,” a symptom of depression for him. Along with other symptoms, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He had another suicide attempt in his second year at school and took time off from school. After returning to school, Bullock became an advocate for suicide prevention and mental health, however, he continues to face stigma based on his mental health disorder.

Native Women’s Association raises suicide awareness with yellow ribbon campaignNNSL Media
September 17, 2020
The Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories led a suicide prevention campaign on Sept. 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, to raise awareness for the issue. “Suicide, along with other mental health issues such as depression and substance use, are all important issues that impact the North,” stated Damien Healy, of the GNWT Department of Health and Social Services. “When a suicide occurs, it impacts not only the immediate family and friends, but the community and territory as a whole.”

Now’s the time to have a difficult talk about physician suicide American Medical Association
September 16, 2020
Susan Bailey, MD, President of the American Medical Association (AMA) wrote this piece highlighting the third annual National Physician Suicide Awareness Day on Sept. 17, and the importance of stripping away the stigma surrounding suicide for physicians, who have one of the highest rates of suicide among all professions in the US. Bailey discusses how physicians are faced with “strains at each career stage,” and that “seeking help shouldn’t be penalized,” as longstanding AMA policy “encourages state licensing boards and other credentialing bodies to ensure confidentiality when physicians seek out counseling or other services to address their feelings of burnout, career fatigue, stress or depression. A physician’s mental health should only factor into licensing and credentialing when it currently adversely affects his or her ability to practice medicine in a competent, ethical and professional manner.” Bailey also notes the importance of using non-judgmental language when talking about suicide, for example, by avoiding the phrase “commit suicide.”

Suicide rate significantly higher in veterinary industryVictoria News
September 16, 2020
A 2018 study by the American Center for Disease Control found that veterinarians have one of the highest rates of suicide when compared to the general population. Michelle Savery, a registered veterinary technician-emergency, said that though she’s never had thoughts of suicide, she can understand why the profession has such high rates. “The struggle is so hard some days,” Savery says, and the pandemic has made things harder –  some vets are busier than usual and don’t often take breaks throughout their day. Facing long wait times, owners may become upset with vets and, as Trina Legge, a registered veterinary technician-rehabilitation explains, “Some of the comments linger and create self-doubt and anxiety. We all go into this profession to try and help people and their pets. All we ask is that clients take up their concerns with management and not through social media. We want to support our community and would like to have their support in return.”

Surviving a Family Member’s SuicidePsychology Today
September 16, 2020
*Language warning* This article explores the impact that suicide has on loved ones. Those who have lost a loved one to suicide need to process their grief, which can be complicated, more so than “expected” grief. Those grieving a loved one may need mental health intervention to cope. Therapists treating survivors of suicide loss are encouraged to consider conveying messages like: “Understand that you will survive, even if you don’t think so; Recognize that your feelings, while intense and overwhelming, are normal and will diminish; Accept that feeling angry (at whomever) is okay; Thinking about suicide does happen, but it does not mean you will act on it.”

Demand for Suicide Prevention Increases Psychiatric Times
September 15, 2020
A survey of 2072 US residents in July 2020 released by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), and Education Development Center (EDC) in the US asked questions about suicide and suicide prevention. 81% of survey respondents said that suicide prevention should be a national priority, and 93% believe suicide is preventable. 66% said that they were worried about family members with psychiatric issues and would be open to talking about suicide with them. Other research suggests that 50% of psychiatrists will experience the suicide death of a patient, which can be “far more distressing than one might anticipate,” according to Christine Moutier, MD, Chief Medical Officer of AFSP. Self-care and outside support are important after a psychiatrist, or other mental health professional, experiences the loss of a patient to suicide.

Finlay: Canada remains oddly out of step on suicide preventionOttawa Citizen
September 14, 2020
This opinion piece, written by Kathleen Finlay, advocate for innovative mental health policy and CEO of The Center for Patient Protection, discusses the need for more action on suicide prevention in Canada, including the introduction of an easy-to-remember three-digit crisis line number, which the US has already adopted.  Canada is also the only G7 country to lack a national strategy for suicide prevention.
Learn more about why Canada needs a national suicide prevention strategy.

Inuvialuit Regional Corporation announces plans to establish regional suicide prevention strategy as Inuvik marches for awarenessNNSL Media
September 14, 2020
Last week, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) announced their plans to develop a Regional Suicide Prevention Strategy for Inuvik. “In the coming months IRC will be conducting interviews with front-line staff, elders, leadership and anyone else who would like to be included – to help inform the development of the strategy,” said IRC chair Duane Ningaqsiq Smith. “Inuvialuit have had to overcome many adverse experiences in our lives. By working together, supporting one another and turning to our Elders for guidance – we will continue to thrive. IRC’s Regional Suicide Prevention Strategy will be influenced by culture and cultural practices. I encourage all of you to turn to your Elders, drum dancing, the land, the language, sewing etc. to help us through difficult times as we know we can find healing in our rich and vibrant Inuvialuit culture.”

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