News

newspaper_and_keyboardOn this page we’ll be posting links to articles and information that will help our visitors gain a broader perspective of issues important to us. We will look across the wide spectrum of suicide research, adolescent brain development, and the diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. For more links, please see our News Archive page.

 


April, 2018


Question, persuade and refer. How QPR can help prevent suicide

Kathleen Fuchs isn’t afraid to ask people if they’re contemplating suicide.

Fuchs is a retired counselor who spent decades helping students at Lawrence University, including more than a few struggling with suicidal thoughts.

“We’ve grown up with the thought that it’s intruding if we ask someone if they’re thinking of suicide,” she said.

Fuchs is part of a group of about a hundred volunteers who have taught thousands of people in Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago counties a technique meant to help them prevent suicide.

The technique is called QPR, which stands for question, persuade and refer. The training focuses on asking questions of the individual thinking about suicide, persuading them to get help and referring them to mental health services.

The first step — asking about suicide — is often the most difficult, Fuchs said.

Post-Crescent, April 22, 2018


Saving Face, Losing Lives: The Political Importance of Cornell Suicides

Why is it that when we hear about hate crimes on campus, we can easily interpret such acts as political, systemically determined events — and are thus moved to anger — but when we hear of a student committing suicide in her own dorm room, all that we have to offer is our sympathy? Rather than reading her suicide as political, we deem it merely personal; a grieving process is initiated, and in a few weeks, the rest of the world moves on.

When talking about suicide, one is inevitably pushed towards discussing the personal rather than the political. The individual circumstances or symptoms unique to the person – and not the social or political conditions which produced them – are what tend to shape discussions following a suicide. For suicide theorist Suman Gupta, this is because more often than not, the act of suicide is deemed by mental health authorities (and subsequently, the media) as an “involuntary” decision:

Regarded as persons with a psychological dysfunction and subject to pathological disorder . . . suicidal individuals are divested of responsibility for themselves. Thus regarded, their motives and intentions can be disregarded, especially if they are inconvenient to establishment norms. They become involuntary symptoms of a malaise and therefore devoid of rational judgment . . . and suicide is thus removed from the possibility of political resonance.

The Cornell Daily Sun, April 19, 2018


‘It is really about listening’: Teen suicide-prevention expert counsels parents, teachers and students in Jordan School District

Parents showed up by the hundreds Monday to hear a national suicide-prevention expert speak at Jordan School District, a community alarmed by a spate of youth suicides this school year.

More than 200 parents, many with notebooks and pens in hand, attended the evening presentation in Riverton by Scott Poland, a psychology professor at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, on strategies for identifying and preventing youth suicide.

District staffers brought in Poland as part of their response to five students enrolled at Herriman High dying by suicide since summer. State officials also say they’re investigating several other youth suicide cases in that southwestern corner of Salt Lake County, though they noted it is too early to know whether the deaths are linked by anything other than location.

The Salt Lake Tribune, April 17, 2018


Touring exhibit drives home rate of suicide among college students

Send Silence Packing, a national traveling exhibition of donated backpacks representing the roughly 1,100 college students lost to suicide each year, is making stops this spring at central San Joaquin Valley community college campuses.

The program by Active Minds, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to changing the discussion about mental health, is designed to raise awareness about the incidence and impact of suicide, connect students to needed mental health resources, and inspire action for suicide prevention.

At each exhibit of Send Silence Packing, about 1,100 backpacks are displayed in a high-traffic area of campus — for instance, the quad or, in the case Monday at Fresno City College, the cafeteria — giving a visual representation of the scope of the problem and the number of victims.

The Fresno Bee, April 16, 2018


Six Ways Social Media Negatively Affects Your Mental Health

The rise of social media has meant that we as a global population are more connected than we have ever been in the history of time.

However, our reliance on social media can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, with the average Brit checking their phone as much 28 times a day.

While social media platforms can have their benefits, using them too frequently can make you feel increasingly unhappy and isolated in the long run.

The constant barrage of perfectly filtered photos that appear on Instagram are bound to knock many people’s self-esteem, while obsessively checking your Twitter feed just before bed could be contributing towards poor quality of sleep.

Independent, April 16, 2018


Suicide among teens and young adults tripled since 1940s: Local middle school counselor says level of anxiety has soared among students

At only 15 years old, one Fenton freshman has already lost two of her close friends to suicide.

Fenway Jones doesn’t know exactly why her friends, age 16 and 15, decided to take their own lives, but she wants to help prevent it from happening to other people.

“I am planning a Dungeons and Dragons charity event where all of the proceeds are going to a suicide prevention charity,” she said. “I lost two friends in the past year to suicide.”

She’s trying to do some good so other people don’t have to feel the grief of losing someone close to them to suicide. The event, called Jasper’s Game Day, named after one of Jones’ friends who died from suicide, will take place April 21 at Ziege Games in Howell. All the proceeds go to the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network. See sidebar for more information.

Suicide, which claims 4,600 young lives every year in the U.S., is the third leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That amounts to more than 12 suicides a day from young people.

“More kids have died from suicide than school shootings in the past year,” Jones said.

Tri-County Times, April 13, 2018


What’s the Best Way to Treat Mental Health Problems in Kids?

Research finds the emerging field of integrative behavior health shows promise.

No one knows for sure, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 13 and 20 percent of youth ages 3 to 17 experience a mental health problem each year. This includes diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders and Tourette syndrome.

In fact, many mental health problems that continue into adulthood – including substance abuse and behavioral problems – actually begin during childhood and adolescence. This issue raises many questions; maybe the most pressing is, what’s the best way to treat mental health problems in children?

Psychology Today, April 13, 2018


Irritability in childhood linked to teen suicide risk

Most children experience mood swings from time to time, but kids with chronic irritability and serious depression or anxiety are at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in adolescence, suggests a large Canadian study.

Based on records for 1,430 children followed for up to 17 years, researchers found that those who were particularly irritable and depressed or anxious between ages 6 and 12 were twice as likely as peers to think about suicide or make a suicide attempt between ages 13 and 17.

For girls in particular, the combination of high irritability and depression or anxiety in childhood was tied to a three-fold higher risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts in the teen years, the study found.

KFGO FM/AM, April 11, 2018


Why is there a higher suicide rate in the spring?

Thanks to heightened public awareness of seasonal affective disorder, conventional wisdom now says that most suicides occur during the cold, dark months of winter, but that’s wrong — it’s actually the warmer months. It’s a serious problem, too: In the U.S. in 2015, for example, the CDC reports there were 44,193 suicides, or 13.7 for every thousand people. It’s been suggested that seasonal depression might have to do with springtime taxes, but something more biological might be the cause. It could be pollen.

Big Think, April 10, 2018


Devastating obituary details bullied 12-year-old’s ‘intense pain’ before suicide 

A 12-year-old in North Dakota who took her own life after being bullied at school “experienced intense pain most people her age will never know,” her heart-wrenching obituary reads.

Cherish “Chance” Houle had been living in a foster home, in addition to dealing with bullies at her Bismarck school, before her death on Saturday.

“Those who loved Cherish didn’t know how unbearable the pain she was experiencing had become for her,” her relatives wrote. “The support and love she was able to receive from those around her wasn’t enough to heal the scars of the relentless bullying she had already suffered.”

New York Daily News, April 5, 2018


A.I. Could Accurately Predict Those at Risk of Suicide in the Future

Suicide results in approximately 44,965 American deaths each year and is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Deaths from cardiovascular disease and other ailments greatly outnumber those caused by suicide, but suicide rates have either remained steady or even increased in certain parts of the U.S., while heart condition casualties have been decreasing.

For science journalist Lydia Denworth, this is a clear sign that current efforts to prevent suicide aren’t working. She believes doctors simply aren’t able to identify potential risk factors and act on them for all of their patients. Denworth tells Cheddar’s Morning Bell that artificial intelligence developed by social scientists could predict who is most at risk so doctors can act more effectively instead of spending time analyzing medical records.

Inverse, April 5, 2018


‘We’re racking our brains’: A series of teen suicides has left the Herriman High School community searching for answers 

When Herriman High School Principal James Birch heard about the first student suicide last summer, he immediately thought of his own two teenagers and sat them down for a talk.

“I made it known that I loved them, and that anything they were going through, they could talk to me about it,” Birch said in an emotional interview. “It didn’t matter how small it was — I was interested, and I would be there.”

Since that summer day, four more students enrolled at Herriman High have died by suicide, and state officials say they’re investigating several other youth suicide cases in that southwestern corner of Salt Lake County. It’s still too early in the probe, authorities say, to know whether the incidents are linked by anything other than location.

The Salt Lake Tribune, April 5, 2018


CDC Begins Investigation on Stark County Suicide Cluster After 12 Adolescent Deaths in Less Than a Year

In the last seven months, the communities in Stark County have experienced a concerning and tragic trend. Twelve teens in the Perry, Plain, Jackson, Northwest, and Canton local school districts have committed suicide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have arrived in Stark County to begin a two-week site visit in an attempt to detect the motivations and connections between a dozen suicides in an isolated location. 

Scene, April 4, 2018


Kat Chat discusses suicide warning signs, prevention

Representatives from Kansas State’s Counseling Services and the Student Access Center hosted a Kat Chat presentation Tuesday for students on suicide prevention and the warning signs, titled “Below the Surface: Suicide Awareness and Prevention.”

The Kat Chat was hosted by Paige Humphrey, senior in biology, and Sammie Hillstock, senior in human development and family science. Humphrey stressed the importance of starting the conversation with the person who you may feel is considering suicide and noticing the risk factors of suicide.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among college students, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. A study done in 2012 by the SPRC reports about 6.6 to 7.5 percent of college students consider suicide. With the Kansas State student population of 25,000, that means about 1,600 to 1,800 students consider suicide at K-State alone, Humphrey said.

The Collegian, April 3, 2018


 

Health Matters: Let’s Talk Mental Health with Children

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in children under the age of 14. A problem, Dr. Emad Salman, the regional medical officer of Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, says can be prevented. “About one in five kids, that’s 20 percent of children, by the age of 14 will have a diagnosis of a mental health condition.”

Currently, mental health conditions have few options for care. “There’s a big fear of mental health. It’s a cultural fear,” said Dr. Salman.

The most common mental health conditions for children under 18 are anxiety and depression. “Most of the treatments is behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been scientifically proven to make a difference,” explained Dr. Salman.

NBC 2, April 2, 2018


March, 2018


Suicide Exposure: Perceptions of Impact and Closeness

People exposed to suicide are at greater risk for mental health symptoms if they perceive a high level of closeness with the deceased and that the suicide had a large and lasting impact on their lives.

Using a sample of 807 suicide-exposed individuals in Kentucky, researchers examined the effects of perceived closeness with the deceased and perceived impact of the death on the following mental health outcomes: (1) depression and anxiety symptoms over the past two weeks, (2) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to the suicide, (3) prolonged grief, and (4) current suicidal ideation. Perceived closeness was measured on a scale ranging from “not close” to “very close” to the decedent. Perceived impact was measured on a scale ranging from “the death had little effect on my life” to “the death had a significant or devastating effect on me that I still feel.” 

Suicide Prevention Resource Center, March 30, 2018


Raising awareness about teen suicide risk

Temple Glassier is still a self-proclaimed mess. It’s been less than six months since her son, 15-year-old Basalt High School freshman Patrick Palardy, killed himself. But she’s doing everything she can to ensure his name will live on, and that comes from not shying away from the circumstances around his death.

“The thing that stands out the most to me is all the parents that would come up to me and say, ‘thank you for talking about it.’ Everyone’s first impulse is to say my son died, not to say that my son committed suicide, which was huge,” Glassier said.

The Sopris Sun, March 28, 2018


Relationships between anhedonia, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in a large sample of physicians

Anhedonia is the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable, e.g. exercise, hobbies, singing, playing an instrument, sexual activities or social interactions.

Background

The relationships between anhedonia and suicidal ideation or suicide attempts were explored in a large sample of physicians using the interpersonal psychological theory of suicide. We tested two hypotheses: firstly, that there is a significant relationship between anhedonia and suicidality and, secondly, that anhedonia could mediate the relationships between suicidal ideation or suicide attempts and thwarted belongingness or perceived burdensomeness.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study, 557 physicians filled out several questionnaires measuring suicide risk, depression, using the abridged version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-13), and demographic and job-related information. Ratings of anhedonia, perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness were then extracted from the BDI-13 and the other questionnaires.

Results

Significant relationships were found between anhedonia and suicidal ideation or suicide attempts, even when significant variables or covariates were taken into account and, in particular, depressive symptoms.

PLOS, March 27, 2018


Mistakes should not define you, suicide prevention speaker tells students

Don’t let mistakes define you or limit your self-worth.

That was the message Roger E. Breisch gave to students Monday morning at South Lewis Central School during the first of a week full of suicide-related talks to students and community members throughout the north country.

“Mistakes make you human, not inhuman,” Mr. Breisch said.

And he knows of what he speaks, having spent the past 15 years and more than 3,000 hours counseling callers on the Illinois state and national suicide hotlines.

Mr. Breisch told students and staff members at South Lewis, along with those at Copenhagen Central School via videoconferencing, that he started volunteering on the hotline at the age of 51 after being asked to speak to his local suicide coalition and hearing stories of board members who unexpectedly lost their children to suicide. “I didn’t want that to happen to me,” he said.

Watertown Daily Times, March 27, 2018


School Pays To Get an Algorithm To Scan Students’ Social Media For Threats and Suicide Risks Posts 

When someone visits the buildings of Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica, as they walk through the secure foyer, they have to get their driver’s license or another state-issued ID scanned. But the secure foyer does kind of a high-level national background check, too, explains Superintendent Tim Broadrick. 

The “LobbyGuard” scanner is the size of a computer tablet. It scans a driver’s license, takes a picture of the school visitor and if all is OK with the person’s background check, almost instantly clears the person to enter the school. An employee behind a window then pushes a button and unlocks the door to the school hallway.

Amid nationwide concern about school shootings, there’s talk at Shawsheen Tech of covering the wall of glass in the lobby with a special film to make it harder for a bullet to pierce. There’s also a police officer – known as a school resource officer – stationed at the school. He has an office in the lobby. And the school has adopted another security measure to try to protect students from attacks – one you can’t see. It’s a computer program designed to detect threats against the school in social media posts. And it runs 24/7.

Slashdot, March 23, 2018


Internet a ‘Lord of the Flies’: Teen suicide rise started after Instagram, Snapchat began

A counselor at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano faces a gathering of somber students and asks if they knew any of the teens who recently took their lives.

A half-dozen hands immediately rise. After a pause, more hands poke up.

“I knew Kyle,” one boy quietly volunteers. “He always seemed super happy. I never would have guessed.”

In new series of sessions about suicide at JSerra — as well as at many other schools — little by little kids open up.

One student talks about 13-year-old Emma Pangelinan who lived in Mission Viejo. Another teen says he knew Patrick Turner, a 16-year-old who lived in Corona del Mar. A girl mentions two girls in a nearby town. A boy asks about another boy who died.

It used to be that kids in high school knew one, maybe two kids who committed suicide. Back then, there wasn’t the reach of social media and methods to kill yourself weren’t just a Google search away.

With the Internet as well as Instagram and Snapchat “likes” creating round-the-clock races for online popularity — who sleeps anymore? — high school today is not your mother’s high school.

The Orange County Register, March 22, 2018


What to Do If Your Child Expresses Suicidal Thoughts

Here’s how parents can get kids who are at risk the help they need.

Suicide is a serious public health concern, and data continues to show disparities between risk and prevention efforts. There has been an ongoing discussion about the mental health of youth and the need to address difficulties before they reach the level of a crisis. However, parents, teachers and other adults may overlook concerning signs when behaviors are falsely attributed to typical child development.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals ages 5 to 18. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that in 2016 the suicide rate was highest among whites, at about 15 per 100,000 individuals, and second highest among American Indian and Alaska Natives.

US News, March 21, 2018


Guns tied to high suicide risk for teens with self-harm history

Teens and young adults who harm themselves without suicidal intent often kill themselves soon afterward, and the increased risk of death is greatest when guns are involved, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined insurance-claim data on more than 32,000 patients ranging from 12 to 24 years old who were followed for one year after a nonfatal self-harm episode. Unlike suicide attempts, which require suicidal intent, episodes of self-harm can also include poisoning, cutting, firearms or other violent methods used to cause nonfatal injuries.

Poisoning was by far the most common method of self-harm, accounting for 65 percent of cases, followed by cutting at 18 percent, the study found. Guns were used in slightly less than 1 percent of cases.

WHTC 1450 AM, Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Suicide Risk for Youth Sharply Higher in the Months after Self-Harm

A study led by Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) revealed that young Americans had a sharply higher risk of suicide in the months after surviving a deliberate self-harm attempt. The authors say the findings, published online today in Pediatrics, underscore the need to direct clinical interventions toward youth who survive such attempts during this critical period.

“Our latest study shows that time is of the essence in preventing a nonfatal self-harm event from leading to a fatality,” said Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead author of the study. “Although young adults compared to adolescents had a higher risk of suicide over the year after self-harm, adolescents had a particularly high risk during the first few weeks.”

Nonfatal self-harm—meaning self-poisoning or self-injury (e.g., cutting) with or without suicidal intent—is common among young people. Although around one-third of young people who die of suicide have nonfatal self-harm events in the last three months of life, little is known about which young people with self-harm are at the highest short-term risk of suicide.

Columbia University Medical Center, March 19, 2018


Record Numbers of College Students Are Seeking Treatment for Depression and Anxiety — But Schools Can’t Keep Up

Not long after Nelly Spigner arrived at the University of Richmond in 2014 as a Division I soccer player and aspiring surgeon, college began to feel like a pressure cooker. Overwhelmed by her busy soccer schedule and heavy course load, she found herself fixating on how each grade would bring her closer to medical school. “I was running myself so thin trying to be the best college student,” she says. “It almost seems like they’re setting you up to fail because of the sheer amount of work and amount of classes you have to take at the same time, and how you’re also expected to do so much.”

TIME, March 19, 2018


American teenagers’ quiet despair

Most statistics are meaningless. But once in a while one comes across a figure that cannot be summarily dismissed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2006 and 2016 there was a 70 percent increase in the number of white children aged 10 to 17 who committed suicide in this country. For black teenagers, the increase was even higher, at 77 percent. Only 48 American teenagers in 100,000 die each year; at present some 4,600 Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 take their own lives every year, which makes it the third leading cause of death.

The death of even a single child is something that’s almost impossible to discuss without finding language inadequate. How can one even begin to come to terms with the fact that in the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world, a growing number of young people, of all races and classes, are taking their own lives? Why is this happening?

The Week, March 21, 2018


Our View: No easy solution to stop child suicide in the social media age

Andrew Michael Leach, a sixth-grader at Southaven Middle School, committed suicide after being bullied, his mother told a television news station earlier in the week.

Andrew was only 12 years old.

It’s mind-boggling to think that a child would even consider suicide much less carry it out.

Andrew’s mother, Cheryl Hudson, told WREG that her son left a note for his family and then hanged himself.

Hudson said she talked to the principal about the bullying and Andrew’s father discussed the bullying with a teacher. 

“But from what we are hearing, there was a group of kids that would go around calling him fat, ugly and worthless,” Hudson told the station.

Clarion Ledger, March 18, 2018


Mind Matters: Recognize the signs of suicidal behavior and then act, either for yourself or others

Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, having risen 24 percent over the last fifteen years, particularly among teenagers, and Utah is no different. Suicide is the leading cause of death among individuals in Utah ages 10-24.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the leading cause of death among individuals in Utah ages 10-24 and the second-highest cause of death among individuals ages 24-44. As suicide is becoming more prevalent, it is vital that individuals learn how to recognize the warning signs as well as how to react when someone becomes suicidal.

St. George News, March 17, 2018


Youth suicide expert helps adults talk to teenagers about depression, suicide; praises SPEAK initiative

Adolescent depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Researchers say as many as one in five teenagers suffers from clinical depression, and untreated, it is the strongest risk factor for suicide behavior.

WHNT News 19, along with the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, is taking action to arm parents with the knowledge to spot depression warning signs in teenagers and the confidence to talk about it.

The daily pressures teenagers face are enough to put them on edge.

WHNT News 19, March 15, 2018


Study debunks fears of increased teen suicide risk from popular flu drug: Other side effects remain a concern

A new study published by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago suggests that the drug oseltamivir – commonly known as Tamiflu – does not cause an increased risk of suicide in pediatric patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration originally approved the drug in 1999, but subsequent case reports of abnormal behavior in adolescents who used the medication led the agency in 2006 to require that all packaging of the drug include a warning label about potential neuropsychiatric side effects, such as hallucinations, delirium, self-harm and even suicide.

However, clinical studies examining the association between the use of Tamiflu and neuropsychiatric side effects in children, including suicide, have so far been inconclusive and limited by methodology and potential confounding factors.

Science Daily, March 13, 2018


Taking steps toward suicide prevention

Q: With what seems to be a rise in teen suicide, both across the country and locally, what should we know as parents, friends and community members to help change this frightening trend?

A: The past year, suicide has made headlines many times, for not only the losses of iconic rock stars, but also the tragic losses of our friends, neighbors and loved ones. Suicide also made headlines as the focal point of rap artist Logic’s record-breaking hit “1-800-273-8255,” featuring Khalid and Alessia Cara. What inspired a telephone number to be the title of a rap song? It happens to be the 24/7 direct phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The American Association of Suicidology reported suicide was the second leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds in 2015, and the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 14. 

Grosse Pointe News, March 14, 2018


April 9: Centerstone to host free screening of Suicide: The Ripple Effect

Centerstone will host a free screening of the film Suicide: The Ripple Effect at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) on Monday, April 9, 2018, at 7 p.m.

Suicide: The Ripple Effect shares the story of Kevin Hines, who at age 19, attempted to take his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Hines is one of only 36 individuals to survive this jump. Seventeen years later he is on a mission to use his story to help others find hope and stay alive. The film is part of a global mission to help reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts around the world.

Riverbender.com, March 12, 2018


6th grade Southaven student kills himself after being bullied

The family of a 6th grade Southaven Middle School student confirmed he took his life Tuesday, March 6 after being bullied.

Cheryl Hudson, the mother of 12-year-old Andrew Leach, tells us her son killed himself over continuous bullying.

She says he left a note for his family and then hung himself. His 16-year-old brother found him.

Hudson also says bullying runs rampant in Southaven Middle School.

News Channel 3 Memphis, March 11, 2018


Researchers unclear why suicide is increasing among black children

After 11-year-old Rylan Thai Hagan hanged himself with a belt from his bunk bed three days before Thanksgiving, people wanted to know why he did it.

He was a model sixth-grader at Perry Street Prep in northeast Washington, where he received a stipend to tutor other students. He was a basketball player whose team had just qualified for a tournament at Walt Disney World. He played the trumpet.

Standing in the room where her only child had taken his life less than two months earlier, that question tortured Nataya Chambers. The apartment, where she had not slept since his death, was in disarray, belongings spilling out of boxes as she prepared to search for a new start.

“He was the perfect son,” she said. “Very smart. He was happy. So far as I know of.”

Rylan appears to be the youngest person to take his own life in Washington since at least 2013, though data for last year isn’t available, and the idea that a child so young would commit suicide is unfathomable to most. But in January this year, another African-American child, 12-year-old Stormiyah Denson-Jackson, apparently hanged herself in the dormitory of her charter school in southeast Washington.

Chicago Tribune, March 8, 2018


New Bill Could Change the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received a lot of attention in 2017. Calls to the suicide prevention service tripled after rapper Logic performed his song named after the Lifeline, “1-800-273-8255,” at the Grammys. Now, Congress is considering a piece of legislation that will take a closer look at the life-saving resource.

On Saturday, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah (R) took to the Senate floor to explain why this bipartisan proposal — called the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act — would make it easier for Americans to get help when they’re experiencing suicidal thoughts. “Across our great nation, there are millions of people, especially young people, who are alone and suffering in the shadows of depression. Many of them are bombarded by suicidal thoughts and have no idea where to turn for help,” he said.

Hatch explained that the Lifeline number itself — 1-800-273-TALK — is not intuitive or easy to remember, especially for those experiencing a mental health emergency. He also shared an anecdote from a mother whose daughter tried to call her therapist but couldn’t get through the day she died by suicide. This new bill would create a three-digit suicide and mental health hotline — so one day, reaching a crisis counselor could be as easy as dialing 911.

The Mighty, March 7, 2018 


Preventing child suicide is complex, but experts say do not avoid the subject

Many parents find the possibility their child might commit suicide unthinkable — so unthinkable they might not be prepared to try to stop it from happening.

That is a mistake, according to experts. To prevent tragedy, parents should be on guard for an array of warning signs.

“Suicide is vastly complex,” said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “There’s not one cause of suicide. There are many factors that come together.”

Washington Post, March 7, 2018


 

“A Thorough, Independent Review”: Parents Who Lost Son To Suicide Say Report Omitted Key Information

Two months after her son committed suicide, Teresa Tronerud was handed a review detailing how his school, Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, had handled reports he was being bullied. She leafed through the 28-page document, written by a Hartford attorney hired by the school as a third-party investigator, her disbelief mounting as she neared its conclusion.

The review found Marianapolis had done “an exceptional job at preventing and responding to bullying,” and took the proper steps and alerted the proper people after Tronerud’s son, Connor, reported being bullied in November 2016.

But missing from the review, Tronerud said in an interview, was “a very, very important, probably the most important, piece of information:” A record of a crisis intervention involving her son, administered in 2017 at a Marianapolis-run summer camp.

Hartford Currant, March 4, 2018

 


 

TO OUR READERS: In December 2017 we published a link to a New York Times op-ed piece that was critical of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s position on the role of guns in suicide (see below). In the interests of fairness we feel it is important to offer the AFSP’s own words on Firearms and Suicide Prevention.

As we begin 2018, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention embarks on the next phase of Project 2025, the first, large-scale initiative focused on reducing the suicide rate in the U.S. Suicide is a major public health issue with a 25 percent increase over the past two decades; suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death with the rate continuing to increase. As the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, AFSP has set an imperative to use new evidence-based approaches to save as many lives as possible through Project 2025.

Project 2025 identifies a set of critical areas, based on in-depth analysis, where the most lives can be saved in the shortest amount of time. In the critical area of suicide by firearm, we learned that educating firearms owners about suicide prevention has the potential to save more than 9,000 lives by 2025 if implemented nationwide.

We know the facts well:

•Half of all suicides in the U.S. are by firearm
•Suicide risk increases when lethal means are readily accessible
•Research shows that having a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide

To date, efforts to reduce suicide by gun have largely failed – with 23,000 lives lost each year – we must try a new approach. There is promising evidence that providing suicide prevention training for those who influence a specific community can reduce the suicide risk for that community. Research also tells us that by educating the firearms-owning community about suicide risk, safe storage and removing access to lethal means, including firearms, when someone is at risk, we can reduce suicide. In fact, this approach is called for in our country’s 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

This is why AFSP made a strategic decision to work with the firearms-owning community on suicide prevention education. By working with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, we are systematically disseminating suicide prevention education to thousands of gun retail stores, shooting ranges and gun owners nationwide. This education focuses on risk factors and warning signs, and actions that must be taken: temporary removal of firearms from the home during periods of risk, safe storage (locked and unloaded) at all times; and denying sale when appropriate.

Importantly, AFSP receives no funding from NSSF, firearms manufacturers or gun lobbying organizations, nor is AFSP providing funds to NSSF or similar groups. As an organization that welcomes all people with diverse views, we do not currently engage in any political action related to gun policy.

We are taking an unprecedented, large-scale step to reduce suicide by firearm and save as many lives as possible. In 2018, we look forward to working with additional partners to help extend the reach of this critical Project 2025 area.

 

The original post from December, 2017:

The Gun Lobby Is Hindering Suicide Prevention

In August 2006, my father fatally shot himself with a gun he pilfered from a friend’s bedroom. I wanted to do something positive in my mourning, so I went on a suicide-prevention walk organized by a nonprofit organization called the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Santa Monica, Calif.

After conversations with the A.F.S.P. staff area director in Los Angeles about my passion for suicide prevention and gun control — issues she told me she cared about, too — I joined the group’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter board, which required me to donate or raise $1,000 a year. I also helped organize an “Out of the Darkness” walk in Pasadena, Calif.; the organization raises more than $22 million a year at such walks around the country.

The New York Times, December 26, 2017


 


 

Deaths From Suicide: A Look at 18 States
A Special Report with Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, 2013-2014

Established in 1993, the Safe States Alliance is a national non-profit organization and professional association whose mission is to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention. Safe States is the only national non-profit or-ganization and professional association that represents the diverse and ever-expanding group of professionals who comprise the field of injury and violence prevention.

Safe States • www.safestates.org • February 2017

 


 

 

The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team – whose investigative work was the subject of the acclaimed 2015 film Spotlight – has produced a report on the current state of mental health care in Massachusetts, The Desperate and the Dead: Families in Fear. Closing psychiatric hospitals seemed humane, but the state failed to build a system to replace them, June 23, 2016.  

 


 

 

Children’s Hospitals Admissions for Suicidal Thoughts or Actions Double During Past Decade – Report from the Pediatric Academic Societies.

 

 

Suicide Rates After Discharge From Psychiatric Facilities

IMPORTANCE: High rates of suicide after psychiatric hospitalization are reported in many studies, yet the magnitude of the increases and the factors underlying them remain unclear.

OBJECTIVES: To quantify the rates of suicide after discharge from psychiatric facilities and examine what moderates those rates.

JAMA Psychiatry, June 01, 2017


 

The World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention have released an updated version of their guide for media professionals, Preventing Suicide. It’s a 21 page resource for responsible reporting about suicide and includes a section on the scientific evidence of the impact media has on suicidal behavior.

Highly recommended reading for anyone who cares about this issue. If you come across insensitive or inappropriate reporting on suicide, consider sending this guide to the editors and reporters.


“13 Reasons Why” – Waiting for the Light,
Cursing the Bread 

The Netflix adaptation of the young adult novel 13 Reasons Why has stirred up debate about how this topic is covered across media – especially in popular fiction. 

Here on the Tommy Fuss News page we’ve covered this topic several times:

City teen’s suicide prevention video goes viral – 13 Reasons Why Not
– The Journal Gazette, June 3, 2017

Is Suicide Contagion Real?
Psych Central, May 19, 2017

How To React When Your Friend Is Talking About Suicide
Refinery29, May 5, 2017

Educators and school psychologists raise alarms about 13 Reasons Why
The Washington Post, May 2, 2017 

Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and the trouble with dramatising suicide
The Guardian, April 26, 2017

How 13 Reasons Why gets suicide wrong: Voices
USA Today, April 18, 2017

To these we’d like to add this publication from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Tips for Parents to talk with their Children about 13 Reasons Why and Suicide.

 

 

Critics have pointed out that the framing device – the central character Hannah sends 13 cassette tapes to friends and others detailing how they contributed to her decision to end her life – is not the typical course of the mental illness and stressors that result in suicide.

[May I be forgiven for suggesting that a contemporary teenager using a cassette tape recorder instead of a smartphone to make and distribute their post-suicide diatribes seems a wild anachronism. Akin to having Hannah send the info via telegram. The teens I know today would be hard pressed to identify a cassette tape much less use one.]

13 Reasons Why has been accused of  romanticizing suicide, a claim that also could be made against the most famous teen suicides in all of literature: 15 year old Romeo Montague and 13 year old Juliet Capulet. 

The arch of the 13 Reasons Why story also defines suicide as a means of revenge against those who Hannah felt betrayed and ostracized her. This, researchers and professionals tell us, is almost never the case in real life. Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses that, left untreated (or improperly treated), can result in suicide. 

It is not the actions of others that is the primary cause of suicidal ideation. It is a self-generated condition. Externally many suicides can appear successful in all the ways we measure success.


Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked; 
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; 
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head. 

– Edwin Arlington Robinson