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.

 

 


LIVE 4-Hour Webcast – Jan. 24, 2018
Adolescent Suicide Prevention: Recognizing Teens at Risk & Responding Effectively

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 8:30―12:30 PM EST
Location: live webcast
Sponsored by: NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP)

Join experts for this live 4-hour videocast about adolescent suicide prevention, which will include techniques for early detection and management of young people at risk. Speakers include NIMH grantee David A. Brent, M.D., from the University of Pittsburgh, and NIMH scientists Elizabeth Ballard, Ph.D., Lisa Horowitz, PhD, MPH, and Argyris Stringaris, MD, PhD, MRCPsych.

Webcast location

National Institute of Mental Health, January 24, 2018

 


TO OUR READERS: Last month 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 last month:

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

 


January, 2018


Childhood bullying linked to suicide risk for teens

Adolescents who experienced severe bullying by their peers earlier in childhood may be more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than teens who weren’t routinely victimized by other kids, a Canadian study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 1,363 children who were surveyed about peer victimization and bullying from ages 6 to 13 and monitored for any mental health issues through age 15. Most participants experienced little or no victimization, but about 26 percent reported some bullying and almost 15 percent said they suffered severe, long-lasting victimization.

Compared to teens who experienced little or no bullying as kids, adolescents who suffered chronic tormenting by their peers were more than twice as likely to be depressed and more than three times more likely to be anxious or seriously consider suicide, the study found.

Reuters, January 16, 2018


 

Officials address ‘suicide contagion’ after 6 deaths in northeast Ohio school district

Parents in a northeast Ohio town are being asked to watch their children closely after six students in the same district took their lives.

The Perry Local Schools District in Canton along with law enforcement and mental health experts expressed their concern on Friday.

Four high school students, one middle school student and a recent graduate all ended their lives within this school year.

Health experts are calling this a “suicide contagion.” It means exposure to suicide can increase suicidal behavior in others.

10TV News, January 15, 2018


Book chronicles mother’s struggle with suicide of son

A local mom, struggling to deal with her son’s death, wrote a book about her search for answers.

She hopes her pledge to write her son’s name – on every beach – will help others. A sand-sketched tribute that salt water will soon wash away. But for Susan Auerbach the exercise brings a lasting calm as she reflects on her son Noah. “Just trying to connect with his memory,” she said.

In life, Noah Langholz loved the beach and surfing. He loved his family.

So when the outwardly confident college junior took his life by hanging, in his parents’ garage two days after running the Los Angeles Marathon in 2013, the unthinkable traumatic loss hit his mother like a tidal wave.

“You’re not only full of grief, you know, the worst nightmare a parent could ever have, you’re full of shock and your body is reacting to the shock,” said Auerbach. She chronicled her journey through the recovery process in a book, “I’ll Write Your Name on Every Beach.”

Eyewitness News ABC 7, January 15, 2018


‘Suicide contagion’: 6 teens die in small Ohio school district

Community leaders are asking parents to talk to their children about suicide following the deaths of five current and one former students in a small Stark County district this school year.

The Perry Local School District on Friday announced the most recent student death and categorized all six deaths as suicides. School officials were joined at a news conference by representatives from law enforcement, township government, churches and the mental health sector to discuss what they know about the deaths and to express their commitment to preventing future suicides…

…The string of deaths, however, is being looked at as a “suicide contagion,” which is when exposure to suicide increases suicidal behavior. Carole Vesely, with the Crisis Intervention and Recovery Center, said being a teenager or going to the same school could be enough of a connection.

The Columbus Dispatch, January 14, 2018


After young hat model’s suicide, dad invites bullies to funeral to see ‘devastation’

Australians loved her pretty little face. They knew her name.

Dolly.

She was the Akubra Hats girl, the face of the iconic outback hat company’s advertising campaign when she was younger. She became the symbol of Australia’s Outback.

Now she’s gone.

Amy Jayne Everett, known as Dolly, killed herself on Jan. 3 “to escape the evil in this world,” her father says.

By evil he means bullies.

She was 14.

The Kansas City Star, January 11, 2018


A week later, YouTube condemns a Logan Paul vlog of a suicide victim’s body, says it’s looking at ‘further consequences’

A week ago, Logan Paul uploaded a video to his 15 million subscribers titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest . . .” The video’s thumbnail image — the still image that shows up on YouTube’s trending pages and search results as a preview for the video — showed a partially blurred body hanging from a tree in the background; in the foreground was the YouTube superstar’s worried face. Paul was wearing a funny green hat.

The video title, sadly, was not clickbait. The vlog contained extensive, close-up footage of an apparent suicide victim’s body. Paul’s vlog horrified many YouTubers, before the outrage spread from YouTube’s immediate community to the wider public — including the shocked parents of Paul’s huge, and very young, fan base. The video came down as the outrage became a national news story, and Paul apologized, and announced that he was going to step away from his daily vlogging schedule to take “time to reflect.”

The Washington Post, January 9, 2018


iPhones pose suicide risk to teenagers, Apple investors warn

Two major Apple shareholders have taken the unusual step of warning the Cupertino company about the potential dangers of their most popular product.

In an open letter to Apple, published on Saturday, Barry Rosenstein and Anne Sheehan cited studies linking the use of iPhones and other devices to increased suicide rates among teens.

Writing on behalf of hedge fund Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)—who collectively own around $2 billion in Apple shares—the pair highlighted the need for more research into the impact of smartphone use among young people.

“More than 10 years after the iPhone’s release, it is a cliche to point out the ubiquity of Apple’s devices among children and teenagers, as well as the attendant growth in social media by this group,” the letter stated.

“What is less well known is that there is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences,” it continued.

Newsweek, January 8, 2018


Can Canada Use AI to Crack Suicide Trends?

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and in Canada, it is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 19. Globally, roughly 800,000 people die by suicide every year. Unfortunately, only 60 countries have up-to-date, quality data on suicide, and 28 have a reported national strategy for how to handle and prevent suicide.

Canada has recently taken a stand against suicide, and the government has hired an Ottawa-based company which specializes in both social media and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify online trends and find patterns of suicide-related behaviors.

The major goal of this project is to “define ‘suicide-related behavior’ on social media and use that classifier to conduct market research on the general population.

Futurism, January 6, 2018


Hopelessness and the increasing suicide rate in America

… I thought about this story after a conversation I had with my oldest daughter, regarding the increase of suicide among young girls. She was troubled by the number of teenagers and young adults she encounters, who bear scars in their arms and wrists, evidence of their profound despair and hopelessness.

The conversation prompted me to do some research on the stats of suicide in America.

According to a report released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of almost 45,000 Americans every year. Furthermore, after a steady decline in the ’80s and ’90s, statistics now show that the suicide rate has increased steadily in the past several years, with one group standing out — girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Although they make a small portion of the total of suicides, the rate for this group has increased more than any other, tripling over 15 years from 0.5 to 1.7 per 100,000 people.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, January 5, 2018


Long Before Video, Japanese Fought Suicide in the ‘Sea of Trees’

AOKIGAHARA FOREST, Japan — Long before the YouTube star Logan Paul brought renewed notoriety to this primeval forest at the foot of Mount Fuji by posting a video of a body hanging from a tree, local officials fought to reverse Aokigahara’s bleak reputation as one of Japan’s top suicide destinations.

The forest looms large in the national consciousness, emblematic of a persistent suicide problem in Japan, which has one of the highest suicide rates of developed countries despite improvements in recent years.

At Aokigahara, signs at the foot of walking paths promote a suicide hotline. “Life is a precious thing that your parents gave to you,” the signs read. Another offers a number for help with debt. Locals patrol the forest, talking to people who are alone or show signs of depression or suicidal plans.

The New York Times, January 5, 2018


Bullying drove SC boy to kill himself, mother says. State agents are investigating

State authorities are investigating the suicide of a 12-year-old Lexington County boy who, his mother said, killed himself after being bullied at school.

The boy’s mother said in a Facebook post Monday that her 12-year-old son killed himself “to ease his extreme pain from bullying at school.”

“My sweet sweet boy was suffering an unbearable pain in silence and I couldn’t help him because I didn’t know,” she wrote. “I couldn’t see.”

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher ruled the boy’s Dec. 29 death a suicide. She said he left a note that helped investigators make that determination but declined to comment on further details about his death, including the potential role of bullying.

The State, January 4, 2018


Before Suicide: A Parent’s Journey

A parent’s love is highly durable, and when a child suffers a mental illness that love bears a special responsibility that will last a lifetime. Stefanie Hoffman has this Perspective.

It’s funny how we only hear about suicide when it’s too late – after it’s been committed. For many, suicide is always accompanied by shock as well as sorrow. “Why would they do that?” I often hear. But I have a bit more insight.

For the past eight years, my daughter – who goes to school in another state – has struggled with a volatile depression associated with bipolar disorder that has led to several suicide attempts. And I’ve had a front row seat.

KQED, January 4, 2018


Suicide and social media in the suburbs: A cascade of hearts, a sense of loss

On Instagram and Snapchat, sadness melded with rumor and fear. Students reeled first from the suicide of a 16-year-old girl at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. Six days later, social media lit up again.

Another student was dead in the same suburb outside Washington.

For a second time, teenagers shared the loss by posting an emoji heart set against a stark black background on Snapchat. The first suicide drew a red heart. The second was green. Then, amid a wave of disbelief, some teens posted a heart in blue, suggesting a third death.

“It was pretty shocking,” said Anna Kessler, 14, a ninth-grader at Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland, who recalled wondering how many colors of hearts would accumulate. “I thought, how long is this going to go on?”

Chicago Tribune, January 2, 2018


The Logan Paul video should be a reckoning for YouTube 

By the time Logan Paul arrived at Aokigahara forest, colloquially known as Japan’s “suicide forest,” the YouTube star had already confused Mount Fuji with the country Fiji. His over 15 million (mostly underage) subscribers like this sort of comedic aloofness—it serves to make Paul more relatable.

After hiking only a couple hundred yards into Aokigahara—where over 247 people attempted to take their own lives in 2010 alone, according to police statistics cited in The Japan Times—Paul encountered a suicide victim’s body hanging from a tree. Instead of turning the camera off, he continued filming, and later uploaded close-up shots of the corpse, with the person’s face blurred out.

“Did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” Paul said to the camera. “This was supposed to be a fun vlog.” He went on to make several jokes about the victim, while wearing a large, fluffy green hat.

Wired, January 3, 2018

 


 

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