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:

High suicide rates for Indigenous youths sparks action from Alberta governmentCalgary Herald
September 10, 2019
The government of Alberta has launched graphic novels for First Nations and Metis youth as part of their Youth Suicide Prevention Plan. In addition to the release of the novels, Centre for Suicide Prevention announced the newly developed guide, “Community-led life promotion plans for Indigenous youth and communities.” This guide is an additional resource to support Indigenous communities in developing life-promotion strategies and activities.
Related – Suicide-prevention resources for Indigenous youthGovernment of Alberta

Suicide Prevention Day means opportunity for discussion about a difficult issue, expert saysGlobal
September 10, 2019
World Suicide Prevention Day took place last week, on September 10. The day is an opportunity to discuss suicide, a topic still shrouded in stigma, and to bring attention to the fact that it is preventable. “If we can create an atmosphere and environment around us that is non-judgmental and open, then hopefully we’re going to be able to see people who are at risk more readily, and people who are at risk might be more comfortable in speaking to us,” said Mara Grunau of the Centre for Suicide Prevention. “When people get to the point of considering suicide, that means that is the only exit they can see. It’s the only way out of the pain. They don’t really want to die, they want the pain of living to end.” 

Which countries have banned pesticides used in suicide?BBC
September 15, 2019
Pesticides are used globally as a means of suicide, and the UN is calling on tougher regulations to reduce their availability. Sri Lanka has banned a series of pesticides over the past 20 years, which led to a 70% drop in their suicide rate. China also experienced a decrease in suicides after increasing regulations. In China, this decrease is also attributed to fewer people working in agriculture, urbanization, and better health care and emergency services. 

Out of the darknessCBC
September 14, 2019
This feature article traces the recent history of suicide and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Toronto has seen an increase in suicides on the subway system. TTC is speaking openly about the deaths, and the drivers of trains used to die by suicide have also been speaking out about their experiences with PTSD. TTC is examining the potential of adding platform-edge doors, making it more difficult for people to access the train track. They’ve also refreshed their crisis line posters. Another strategy was launched last week: the TTC is encouraging commuters to intervene with those they believe to be at risk. “I think the next big untapped resource is asking our customers to look at their fellow citizens and just talk to them,” says John O’Grady, head of safety at the TTC. “You don’t have to be trained for that. Just say hello, you know, how’s the weather today, how about those Leafs, you feeling OK? Something just to break that impulse, that chain reaction. So I think that’s the next thing we can try to do until we get an engineered solution.”

How Telling My Immigrant Parents I Contemplated Suicide May Have Saved My LifeTeen Vogue
September 13, 2019
In this opinion-editorial piece, Fiza Pirani recounts her experience with telling her immigrant parents about her thoughts of suicide. “It took me more than a decade to tell my parents how I felt because I didn’t want to hurt them. But I thank God, though I’m not sure I believe in a God, for the snowstorm that winter, for the quiet breakdown that led to our first openly honest conversation about mental illness — a conversation that ultimately introduced me to antidepressants, to behavioral therapy, to a more consistent will to breathe in then out,” said Pirani.

Veterinarians Face Unique Issues That Make Suicide One of the Profession’s Big WorriesTIME
September 12, 2019
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US have found that veterinarians have a higher suicide rate than the general population: they’re 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide. Euthanizing animals is one factor that may contribute to suicide risk, as well as cyberbullying by pet owners who were unable to afford their services and were therefore turned away. A 2014 survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) found that 1 in 5 veterinarians had been harassed online by pet owners, or had received reviews that threatened their business. Financial stress is another possible factor: students graduating from veterinary school in the US in 2018 had an average of $150,000 in debt.

The TSA is worried about the suicidal thoughts of its airport screenersQuartz
September 12, 2019
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been exploring suicide prevention opportunities among their organization, after losing one of their members to suicide earlier this year. TSA would like to train “gate-keepers,” those who intervene with people who are suicidal. TSA believes it will benefit both employee’s wellbeing and job performance to have suicide intervention supports on-staff. “In addition to the suicidal employee’s well-being, an employee considering suicide is not likely focused on their security screening responsibilities. If work or job performance issues are involved, the employee presents an increased risk of workplace violence or malevolent action using their access to public and secured areas of the airport,” notes the TSA in their request for proposals from organizations able to offer the gate-keeper training.

What Lies in Suicide’s WakeNew York Times
September 12, 2019
In this opinion article, Peggy Wehmeyer, who has been impacted by suicide loss, describes her continued journey of grief after losing her husband to suicide. Wehmeyer initially found it difficult to be honest about the way her husband died, explaining that, when asked how her partner passed, she, “opened an imaginary door to a closet full of disguises I now owned.” Wehmeyer also recounts feeling like a failure to her husband, a feeling that haunted her years after his death, “In the months and years after my husband’s death, I would slip into a foggy depression of my own, fueled by my loss and sense of failure. How is it I could persuade the man I loved to apply sunscreen, get regular checkups and wear a bike helmet, all in an effort to prolong our life together, but I couldn’t keep him from killing himself? Wasn’t it my job as his wife to help him stay safe and happy — securely tethered to life?” Ten years on, Wehmeyer says that the grief now comes in “manageable waves on occasions like our daughters’ weddings, the births of our grandchildren, other firsts my family always dreamed we’d share with him.”

Can a New Diagnosis Help Prevent Suicide?Undark Magazine
September 11, 2019
Some researchers are pushing for suicide to be declared a mental health condition on its own – researchers from Mount Sinai Beth Israel and Florida State University have put in a joint proposal to the American Psychiatric Association for a new diagnosis that they hope makes it into the next Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). 

‘Final frontier of stigma’: Senator speaks up on World Suicide Prevention DayCBC
September 11, 2019
Former MP Dave Batters died by suicide in 2009. Now, his partner Senator Denise Batters is speaking out about losing her husband, and how suicide is still greatly stigmatized in our society. Batters is hoping that people reach out to those they’re worried may be thinking of suicide. “Please don’t be hesitant to reach out to them and ask them, are you suffering? Is this something you’re thinking about?” Batters said. (It’s important to, if you’re worried about someone, ask directly if they’re thinking about suicide.)

City launches awareness campaign on World Suicide Prevention DayEdmonton Journal
September 10, 2019
As part of their municipal suicide prevention strategy, Living Hope, the implementation strategy of which was released earlier last year, the City of Edmonton has launched their public awareness campaign, 11 of Us. The campaign will be posted around the city, and will display the warning signs of suicide, as well as increase awareness about the prevalence of suicide. 

‘Hyper-masculine environment’ contributes to higher rate of suicides in oilpatchCBC
September 10, 2019
Digging in the Dirt is a new documentary produced by Omar Mouallem, who initially wrote about suicide in the oilpatch for BuzzFeed back in 2017. Mouallem explores the issue of men and suicide in the documentary, and specifically men working in the oil fields.  “Men are often associated with the approach of stoicism,” says psychologist Dan Bilkser in the film. “The downside of it is … men who are dealing with suffering and are taught to say nothing about it, who are being taught to take no action, who are isolated, and who … are being encouraged to drink more as a way of dealing with that distress.” 
Related – ‘Boys don’t cry’: Q&A with Alberta oilpatch worker on industry’s mental health crisis Narwhal

‘Evelyn’ is a raw, powerful look at a family trying to make sense of suicideThe Daily Dot
September 10, 2019
Orlando von Einsiedel, an Oscar-winning documentarian, turns the camera on himself to record his own family’s experience with suicide loss in Evelyn, a documentary appearing on Netflix. Von Einsiedel lost his brother Evelyn, the film’s namesake, to suicide 13 years ago. The film follows von Einsiedel’s family as they describe their individual grief experiences. 

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