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 Day 2019Centre for Suicide Prevention
Tomorrow, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. All week long, we’ll be raising awareness about suicide and its prevention. We’ve released a new toolkit about Safety plans to prevent suicide, and thanks to our sponsors, are offering free suicide prevention workshops throughout the week. We’re hosting a suicide awareness event at the Kahanoff Centre in Calgary, Alberta, and will be be participating in Mysterious Barricades, a suicide awareness concert held across Canada. 

Why is suicidal behaviour increasing among elementary school children?
Today’s Parent
September 3, 2019
Though suicide in children is statistically rare, children are capable of thinking about and dying by suicide. Mara Grunau, executive director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention, said that, “Many people don’t believe that children are capable of suicide because they don’t necessarily have a mature understanding of death and the permanence of death, but we don’t believe that to be true. When children engage in high-risk behaviour that edges toward suicidal behaviour, it needs to be taken seriously. Whether they understand the bigger picture or not is irrelevant.” Hospitalization data for the Montreal Children’s Hospital and Ottawa’s paediatric hospital CHEO shows an over 50% increase in children presenting at emergency departments for suicidal behaviour between the years of 2015-2018 in Montreal, and 2014-2018 in Ottawa. “When we see children at a very young age, their suicidal thoughts and gestures are less well formulated and may not even be potentially fatal or dangerous. But fairly quickly, after living with a problem for years, they become adolescents and young adults who have much more concrete ideas and ways to kill themselves,” said Brett Burstein, a paediatric emergency physician at Montreal Children’s Hospital and lead author of an April 2019 study on suicidal behaviours in children in the US
Learn more about suicide prevention and children with our resource toolkit on the topic.

Suicide rate in US rising, especially among rural communitiesIndependent
September 8, 2019
A new report indicates that, while overall suicide rates in the US have increased, they have increased the most in rural areas. Factors such as poverty, low income, and unemployment may contribute to the increased rates, as well as isolation and the high number of veterans living in these areas. Often, high suicide rates were also found to correlate with the prevalence of gun shops, which were another possible factor. The authors of the study concluded that, “This study found that suicide rates have increased across the nation and most rapidly in rural counties, which may be more sensitive to the impact of social deprivation than more metropolitan counties. Improving social connectedness, civic opportunities, and health insurance coverage as well as limiting access to lethal means have the potential to reduce suicide rates across the rural-urban continuum.”

If We Want to Address the Crisis of Veteran Suicide, We Must Acknowledge Its History TIME
September 6, 2019
In recent years, veteran suicide has been gaining attention worldwide, however, this is not a new issue. Following World War I, one American psychiatrist claimed that in New York State alone over 400 veterans died by suicide after serving in the war, as a result of the psychological trauma they suffered. Still, veteran supports were minimal. After World War II, these supports improved, but still veterans were lacking mental health supports. After the war in Vietnam, it’s estimated that between 1980-1990, there were 10,000 Vietnam veteran suicides. 

Craig Kielburger: Finding resilience on World Suicide Prevention DayCanada.com
September 3, 2019
Jean-Paul Bedard, an athlete and author, shares his story of resilience ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day this week, on September 10. Bedard struggled with trauma and subsequent addiction and mental health issues, as well as thoughts of suicide. Bedard is telling his story of resilience to change the way we think about how people adapt to crisis, and how they are resilient. “(Resilience) has nothing to do with bouncing back or being bulletproof,” said Bedard. He describes his experience of overcoming addiction through sport, and how people would tell him how inspirational he was. “People saw me as this person who’d figured it out. But I’d go home and cry. I’d feel alone, like a fraud.” Through interviewing others like himself, Bedard found that many people don’t recognize resilience in themselves, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the process of recovery. 

For years, we worried 13 Reasons Why could provoke suicidal behaviours. Now we have the evidenceCBC
September 3, 2019
In this opinion article, Dr. Natalie Mota and Dr. Christine Henriksen, clinical psychologists and assistant professors in the Department of Clinical Health Psychology at the University of Manitoba, discuss the effects of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Netflix has been criticized for not following media guidelines on suicide reporting, resulting in a sensational and glorified depiction of suicide in the series. Just recently, more than one year after the show’s release, Netflix has removed one particularly sensational scene from the series after pressure from mental health experts and studies revealing a correlation between suicidal behaviours in adolescents and watching the series. Mota and Henriksen note, however, that, “While we recognize the efforts Netflix has taken to address some of the show’s problematic depictions of mental health, including the addition of a message containing mental health resources to each episode, we hope consultations with mental health professionals continue. We also hope to see the inclusion of plot lines that feature characters seeking help and overcoming adversity, which could lead to reductions in suicide rates — as opposed to elevated ones.”

Mental health hospitalizations, self-harm in Canadian children on the rise, new report finds – Star Edmonton
September 3, 2019
Raising Canada: Elections 2019, found that one in five children surveyed in 2015 report having thought about suicide. Hospitalization for mental health issues rose 55% between 2007 and 2017. “We know that many children experience problems with mental health,” said Dr. Amy Metcalfe of U of C, who helped compile the data. “We also know that only about 20 per cent of those kids are actually able to get the care they need.” The report was published by the University of Calgary, the O’Brien Institute for Public Health and Children First Canada and analyzed Kids Help Phone and hospitalization data.

Suicide rate falls to lowest level in 20 years – Irish Times
September 3, 2019
Ireland is seeing its lowest level of suicide rates in 20 years, with a rate of 7.2 per 100,000. In 2017 in Canada, the suicide rate was 11.4 per 100,000. Ireland does have a suicide prevention strategy. Learn more about how suicide prevention strategies are effective in preventing suicides with our article on the topic. 

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