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:

Can Three Numbers Stem the Tide of American Suicides? The Atlantic
September 22, 2019
The Federal Communications Commission has recommended a three digit number for the national crisis line in the US, as opposed to the current 10 digit number. In this context, this article explores the efficacy of suicide crisis lines in general, including the vital role of the people who operate them. “It takes a certain kind of person to not be judgmental and to be in a moment with someone who is talking about life and death,” says Shari Sinwelski, the associate director of the Lifeline and a former director of three crisis call centers. “But if they have that natural ability to listen and put themselves in that person’s shoes, then the communication skills can be taught.” 

Opinion: I was a pastor when I nearly died by suicide. Churches should look more like psych wards.USA Today
September 22, 2019
This opinion article discusses the role of churches and pastors in suicide prevention, following the death of Pastor Jarrid Wilson. Steve Austin, who wrote the article, talks about how, when he was a pastor, he considered suicide. He also discusses how pastors can help prevent suicide. Austin suggests, among other things, that, “Church(es) should work toward transparency in corporate worship, by investing in mental health support groups and hosting events encouraging open dialogue,” and bring in professionals to help.

Who helps the caregiver? Penn counselor’s suicide highlights how experts aren’t immune from strugglesUSA Today
September 21, 2019
Dr. Gregory Eells, counselling center director at the University of Pennsylvania, died by suicide earlier this month. Many college counselling directors have said that they are under pressure and can face a struggle to seek help. “I feel like there is a culture of encouraging people to seek their own help,” said Sharon Mitchell, the president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors. “But whether or not they do that will depend on how comfortable they are being in the client chair versus the therapist chair.”

Opening up about my mother’s suicide was life-changingCNN
September 18, 2019
Ruth Golden lost her mother to suicide when she was 19, her mother 47. Golden is a television producer and filmmaker who has worked on a documentary about suicide loss. She discusses the experience of living with her mother, who battled depression for years, as well as the experience of losing her, and the stigma attached to her death. Golden explains, “I told people (her death) was ‘cancer related’ but stayed silent about the reality that it was suicidal depression for 30 years, because… it is universally stigmatized and typically taboo even to discuss.” Golden discusses the impact of staying silent about her mother’s cause of death, ” By staying silent as I did, the focus remained on how my mom died, robbing me the ability to grieve my actual loss. Nearly three decades later, my dog’s cancer diagnosis triggered a massive panic attack and a months-long debilitating depression. Therapy helped me see how the severity of my reaction was directly related to the trauma and grief over my mother’s suicide, left unresolved and compounded by our family silence.”

How To Help Suicide Attempt Survivors, From Someone Who Has Been ThereThe Oprah Magazine
September 18, 2019
This article is told from the perspective of a suicide attempt survivor, and offers suggestions of how to support someone who has experienced a suicide attempt. Suggestions include: “Start by telling your friend or loved one you care – and remind them you are there,” “Listen – without judgement, guilt, or shame,” and “Create a safe space.”

‘It was life-changing’: Windsor-Essex programs teach the language of suicide preventionCBC
September 18, 2019
Tina Szymczak, who describes herself as a multiple suicide survivor and is on her recovery journey, discusses her experience with the suicide awareness and prevention workshops safeTALK: suicide alertness for everyone, and ASIST: Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. These workshops, developed by LivingWorks Education, take place all over the world, and were hosted by CMHA Windsor-Essex when Szymczak attended them.  ASIST and safeTALK Trainer Jenny-Lee Almeida says, “Embrace the idea that it’s okay to be scared. If you are thinking that someone might be thinking about suicide, it’s okay to feel scared — that’s your natural response, it means that you’re caring. But I really want for individuals to embrace asking ‘Have you been thinking about suicide?'” If you’re interested in ASIST and safeTALK workshops in Alberta, visit our website. For workshops elsewhere, check out the LivingWorks Education website.

‘Time to take action:’ Children’s advocates call for national youth suicide strategyCBC
September 17, 2019
The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates are calling for a national youth suicide prevention strategy, following the release of their report A national paper on youth suicide. The council is made up of children’s advocates from across Canada, each of whom investigates the deaths of children in care, including deaths by suicide.  “I’ve sat with parents and family members overwhelmed with the grief of losing their child to suicide. And I keep thinking it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Del Graff, president of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates. “We have to find ways to stop this and it’s time to take action.”

A 40-year-old Chicago police officer has killed himself. It’s the 4th suicide this year on the city’s forceCNN
September 17, 2019
The Chicago Police Department (CPD), the second largest in the US after the New York Police Department (NYPD), has experienced 4 suicides this year alone. Last year, the CPD launched a suicide prevention campaign called, “You are not alone CPD.” They also have a peer support network within their department, and grief counsellors will be made available for those affected by this most recent death. The NYPD has also been struggling with the suicides of its members.

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