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:

Life, death and being a man in Medicine HatCBC News
September 10, 2020
Brandon Niwa, 37, is one of the first of several men that Medicine Hat has lost to suicide in recent months. Niwa was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and worked to manage his disorder as an adult. His family owned Niwa Crane company, which he was set to take over as owner. After his death, more men took their own lives, mostly in their 30s and 40s. Niwa’s good friend, Ryan Pancoast, who had struggled with thoughts of suicide in the past, tried to hold their friend group together, but later ended up dying by suicide himself. At Pancoast’s funeral, cousin Quinton Pancoast said, “Since his passing, he’s taught us all a big lesson. Check in with your friends and family more often. Have those dreaded heart-to-heart conversations and really make sure they’re OK. I never knew so many guys could open up and talk about their feelings until this week.” Robert Olson, Research Librarian at Centre for Suicide Prevention, said that there are no easy answers to why people die by suicide. “If there’s one word to sum up suicide, the word I would use is: complex,” he said. “There’s not one causal reason that someone takes their life. It’s usually a vast array of factors.” Olson also notes that men don’t seek help as readily as women; they instead have “individual, maladaptive coping tendencies.” Collective risk can be a factor among individuals when they’re part of the same crowd, for example Olson says, “people who like to party. They tend to associate with one another and, in that respect, it can lead to problem drinking, or escalate into alcohol-use disorder. And that, in itself, is a risk factor for suicide.”

World Suicide Prevention Day highlights need for ongoing conversation and supportsCalgary Herald
September 10, 2020
Distress Centre Calgary has been experiencing higher suicide-related call volumes during the pandemic, and as organizations around the world take time to recognize World Suicide Prevention Day, Mara Grunau from the Centre for Suicide Prevention wants to highlight the importance of talking about suicide and reaching out to help others. “Suicide is real but we can talk about it, and if we can talk about it and build a trusting relationship with people around us, then we’re in a position to offer help,” said Grunau. “Even in the midst of a pandemic or in the midst of a natural disaster, the suicide rate going up isn’t inevitable. There are things we can do to help each other.”

Alberta suicide deaths trend downward despite pandemic, recessionCTV News
September 10, 2020
Distress Centre Calgary is seeing an alarming increase in suicide-related calls; between August 19-24, there was an increase of 83.8%, and an overall 23.5% increase in suicide-related calls since the pandemic started. “But that’s not necessarily bad, the volume is alarming and we are definitely sitting up and taking notice but it is the behaviour we want to see. It’s people reaching out for help or people reaching out to help others,” said Mara Grunau, executive director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention. “We know that 2020 has been a difficult year and is still full of a lot of uncertainty. This uncertainty can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress and a whole range of emotions. We encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out to us by phone or online chat. Counselling is also available by phone and video,”  said Jerilyn Dressler, executive director at Distress Centre Calgary.

‘Suicide is not inevitable’: Crisis calls up amid COVID-19 pandemic Edmonton Journal
September 10, 2020
Crisis lines in Calgary and Edmonton seeing an increase in suicide-related calls during the pandemic.  Mara Grunau, executive director at the Centre for Suicide Prevention, said this doesn’t necessarily indicate that the suicide rate will increase, and collecting accurate suicide and suicide attempt data during the pandemic may be difficult, “Most people are avoiding hospitals so we’ve lost that feed altogether. We’re relying on our crisis call centres’ data to give us an indication of what’s going on in the community. We know people are struggling, we don’t know what the death rate is or what it will be.” The City of Edmonton, as part of their community suicide prevention plan, has provided suicide prevention training, Start, to interested Edmontonians. The goal of the training is to equip more people with the knowledge to respond to people at risk of suicide, and the community suicide prevention plan is “built on the belief that the whole community can play a role in suicide prevention. There is a shared responsibility to learn, think and talk about suicide with compassion and openness,” said Ione Challborn, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton.

Suicide has rocked Medicine Hat recently… time to fight backMedicine Hat News
September 10, 2020
The city of Medicine Hat, Alberta, has experienced many suicide deaths in recent months. The deaths were all male, including one teenage boy. “We always want people to have somebody to talk to,” said Breanne Mellen, suicide prevention program co-ordinator with Canadian Mental Health Southeast and chair of the Regional Suicide Prevention Council. “We have a lot of help lines that people can call if they are struggling, but also we try to urge people to talk to the friends and family that they have and let them know that something is going on and they might need some help.” Robert Olson, Research Librarian at the Centre for Suicide Prevention, said, “When we can talk about our problems with other men or whoever, it alleviates a lot of stress. A lot of the pent-up problems dissipate if we have conversations with people who actually care. Ideally, that’s the goal. For men to come together and talk about their problems. Does that happen in reality?” Referencing the Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Buddy Up men’s suicide prevention campaign, Olson says, “Hopefully we’re making a change for the better.”

SPIN rethinks approach to suicide preventionBrandon Sun
September 10, 2020
The Brandon and Area Suicide Prevention Implementation Network (SPIN) has implemented Buddy Up, a men’s suicide prevention campaign by Centre for Suicide Prevention, in Brandon, Manitoba. The campaign encourages men to have real conversations with their buddies and support them when they’re struggling. Men die by suicide three times more often than women.

Suicide prevention course now available online for freeCTV News
September 11, 2020
Through their community suicide prevention plan, the City of Edmonton has made Start suicide prevention training free to Edmontonians. The training is online, and teaches people to identify the signs of suicide and have a conversation with those they’re worried about. The training has been made available in a partnership between Mental Health Commission of Canada, Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton Region, LivingWorks, and the Centre for Suicide Prevention (CSP). Mara Grunau, executive director at CSP said, “We may not see an increase in suicide during the crisis, it may still be to come. If we shore up interventions now, we can stave that off.”

TikTok tries to remove widely shared suicide clipBBC
September 13, 2020
Social streaming platform TikTok has been struggling to remove clips that show a man dying by suicide. The initial video was shared on Facebook, which removed the video, but not before some users downloaded the clip and shared it on TikTok, as well as Twitter and Instagram. TikTok has said that they will ban accounts uploading the clip.

New CAMH campaign aims to change Canadian suicide statistics Global News
September 10, 2020
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has released a new suicide prevention campaign for World Suicide Prevention Day: Not Suicide. Not Today. CAMH is Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital, and the goal of their campaign is to encourage people to help those they think may be struggling. “Our goal is that if we can work together, if we can encourage people to seek help, if we have time to make new discoveries, then every day will be the day we don’t lose someone to suicide,” said Dr. Juveria Zaheer, CAMH psychiatrist and researcher.

World Suicide Prevention Day: Here’s how to help CNN
September 10, 2020
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are calling suicide a “growing public health problem.” In 2018, over 10 million American adults seriously thought about suicide and 1.4 million attempted suicide. The good news is that suicide is preventable – and we all have a role to play. Learning the risk factors is one first step to preventing suicide; this helps us identify those in our lives who may have a higher risk than others, for example, people who have experienced trauma, have a mental disorder, or have attempted suicide in the past have a higher risk of suicide. Learning the warning signs is also important – if someone you know starts looking for ways to kill themselves, starts to behave recklessly, or increases their use of alcohol and drugs may be thinking about suicide. Checking in on loved ones is a good way to ensure they’re not exhibiting warning signs. Help is always available through crisis lines. If we notice someone who is struggling, we can connect them to a crisis line and, if we’re struggling ourselves, we can reach out.

Toronto police enhancing training following discussions on Suicide Prevention Day Global News
September 10, 2020
Following the suicide deaths of three Toronto police officers in 2020, Toronto Police Service has announced that they will make changes to enhance training and offer support to members in need as part of a suicide prevention initiative. On World Suicide Prevention Day, Interim Police Chief Jim Ramer met with Ryan Teschner, the executive director of the Toronto Police Services Board, and Brian Callanan, the acting president of the Toronto Police Association to discuss what action would be taken. “We sometimes don’t know where to turn. My brother was a Toronto police officer and he took his job with a lot of pride and he’s human and he took his job so seriously that at the end of the day what he had to deal with it ate him,” said Dilnaz Garda, whose brother died by suicide.  Ramer said Toronto Police Service will be implementing “education for supervisors, for senior managers to help understand the problem and to help approach individuals who might be needing help.”

Experts Fear COVID, Rising Gun Sales, Could Bring Increase In Teen SuicideNPR
September 10, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed Americans about their mental health during the pandemic, and found that symptoms of anxiety and depression were up sharply since the same time period last year, March-June. 11% of people said that they had ‘seriously considered’ suicide in the past 30 days, but for those ages 18 to 24, 25% said they had seriously considered suicide. “Teenagers are in a developmental space where it is critically important that they have regular contact with their peers and are able to develop close and ongoing relationships with adults outside the home, such as their teachers, their coaches, their advisers,” says Lisa Damour, an adolescent psychologist who is a columnist and host of the podcast Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting. “And I worry very much about what it means for that to be disrupted by the pandemic.”

15-year-old Chestermere, Alta. girl dies by suicide; family believes bullying is to blameCTV News
September 8, 2020
Abeg Kon, 15, died by suicide last week, just before beginning her Grade 11 year of high school in Chestermere, Alberta. Kon’s family said she experienced bullying at school. Kon’s father Angelo Kon said, “The bullying never stopped and that caused anxiety, that caused stress, that caused trauma.”

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