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:

Featured: Advocates raise alarm about suicide and the economyCBC
September 27, 2019
The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy has released a new analysis of data that looked at suicide statistics and unemployment data between 2000 and 2017. The findings show that for every 1% increase in unemployment, there’s a 2.8% increase in the province’s suicide rate. Mara Grunau, executive director for the Centre for Suicide Prevention said, “Who is affected by this economic downturn? Men in their working years. And the other thing we have in Alberta is we’re known for our hyper masculine, if you will, industries.”

‘More work to do’: Police re-examining mental health supports after suicide CBC
September 29, 2019
Det. Thomas Roberts, 35, died by suicide last week inside the Ottawa police headquarters. Roberts was awarded a Chief’s Commendation after, with a team of others, running into a burning building to save a man’s life. Staff Sgt. Kal Ghadban died by suicide in the same building almost 5 years to this day, and since then, the Ottawa police service has put suicide prevention programming in place. They created a peer support program, a mental wellness program, and made psychologists easier to access. Despite these efforts, they lost 9 members to suicide in 2018 alone, prompting a coroner’s investigation. “There’s frustration. There’s confusion. At times like this, we have members looking for answers,” said Ottawa Police Association President Matt Skof, who acknowledges that stigma still surrounds mental illness. “You can have all the programming available, but you have to make sure that there’s buy-in from the members who are going to use it. And that’s something that we’re very conscious of,” he said.

Opinion: Like many Americans, my divorce destroyed my mental health and nearly drove me to suicide USA Today
September 29, 2019
*Method warning* In this opinion article, Beverly Willet describes her experience with suicide ideation during the period of her divorce. 

Military suicides hit a record high in 2018, Pentagon report says, despite prevention efforts Newsweek
September 26, 2019
The Department of Defense in the US has released their annual suicide report, which found that 541 active duty, reserve, and National Guard troops died by suicide in 2018. From 2013 and 2018, the suicide rate of active duty members has increased from 18.5 to 24.8 suicides per 100,000. In response to the report, Marine Commandant General David H. Berger said, “We all have a role in suicide prevention: individual service members, unit leaders, families and mental health professionals. Every Marine and Sailor must work together to be engaged in each other’s lives. Just as we talk about physical fitness, marksmanship, training and education – Marines must also be comfortable discussing life’s struggles, mental wellness and suicide. We must create a community where seeking help and assistance are simply normal, important decisions Marines and Sailors make.”

How Social Media Has Made Us More Willing to Talk About Suicide – Rewire
September 26, 2019
Many people are using social media to share their experiences with suicide ideation and suicide loss. They’ve also been using the platforms to create support groups. However, some people have also been using social media to post suicide attempts. Facebook responded to this by using AI to monitor people’s posts for suicidal behaviour and, when necessary, alerting authorities when they’re believe someone is at immediate risk of suicide. Experts recommend that anyone planning to write about suicide should consider safe language guidelines, which are best practices for writing respectfully and sensitively about suicide. 

Opportunities missed with Alberta youth who died in care: child advocate Global
September 24, 2019
Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff has said, “It is important the government of Alberta continue to invest in research on suicide, specifically focusing on suicidal behaviour.” Graff’s comments come after releasing the second mandatory review of the deaths of children in care. The latest review included the investigation of three children and youth who died by suicide. Graff also said, “I am… alarmed by the number of young people who continue to die by suicide. Youth suicide continues to be a disturbing trend in this country, and it is the second-leading cause of death for young people.”

As Nova Scotia’s suicide rate climbs, parents fight to change systems that shut them outCBC
September 23, 2019
The Nova Scotia Health Authority runs a Circle of Support program, which allows mental health patients’ personal information to be shared with loved ones, however, consent can be revoked by the patient. Garrett Conway, 24, died by suicide after being hospitalized for a different suicide attempt just 30 hours earlier. His family was not aware that he was in hospital for a suicide attempt, as he had revoked consent. His family is now hoping to change the guidelines for the program, as they believe that if they had known about the attempt, the could have saved his life. Other programs, such as Skills for Safer Living, developed by Dr. Yvonne Bergmans, have seen success. The program is being run at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and is being expanded elsewhere in Ontario, too. The program is for people who have attempted suicide at least twice, and is a support group that meets once a week over 140 days, supporting participants past the vulnerable 90-day period in which people are considered at high risk for re-attempting after hospital discharge. Bergmans suggests people carry with them a letter of safety instructions for emergency department staff, such as information about their medications, what they find helpful in emergency departments, and what they don’t. The letter can also instruct hospital staff to call their loved ones in a time of crisis. The letter is a way of respecting a patient’s autonomy by having them work through, in advance, what they would like to see happen in their individual situation.

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