News Archive: April, May, June

June 2020

The large majority of young people who experience suicidal thoughts or self-harm experience only mild or moderate mental distress.

Researchers from Cambridge University found that young people who thought about suicide or engaged in self harm were at medium risk for mental distress, rather than having obvious symptoms from a diagnosable disorder.

“In two large and representative samples of young people, one replicating the other, we found that the majority of those who had suicidal thoughts or so called non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) were at medium risk in terms of mental distress. The minority of subjects with very high distress were at greatest risk, but there aren’t very many of such people, so they generate few of the total individuals with suicidal thoughts or NSSI,” Professor Peter Jones, senior author of the study and a professor at Cambridge’s Department of Psychiatry told Theravive.

Theravive, June 29, 2020

Antidepressants linked to increased suicide and self-harm in teens

• Antidepressants linked to increased suicide and self-harm in teens 

• Australian researchers note a link between rising antidepressant usage and rising suicide rates in youth. 

• The top method for self-harm and suicide in younger age groups is overdosing antidepressants. 

In 1947, Dr. Howard Rusk published an article in the NY Times. The doctor is advocating for better public education on issues of mental health. Considered to be the founder of rehabilitation medicine, Rusk was trying to destigmatize mental disorders in the same manner as physical disorders. 

Psychiatrists were facing an upward battle. “Madness” was considered an aberration, not a treatable ailment, in a health care system that was increasingly relying on pharmacology. Thanks to a new class of tranquilizers showing promising results, Rusk drew a parallel between diseases of the brain and diseases of the body.

“We must realize that mental problems are just as real as physical disease,” he wrote, “and that anxiety and depression require active therapy as much as appendicitis and pneumonia.”

Big Think, June 29, 2020

How To Stay Informed, But Protect Your Mental Health

Fun is not a word anyone would use to describe watching the news during the past few months. Necessary is more like it. Perhaps that, and the fact that people are cooped up in their house, is why TV news viewership is surging. The three broadcast evening news shows are seeing their highest numbers in 15 years.

The trouble is that it is very hard to balance informing yourself with the feelings you get when you watch. Sometimes simply turning on the television can feel exhausting, or like it is worsening your overall emotional state. You’re not alone.

Forbes, June 23, 2020

The National Suicide Prevention hotline number is changing in 2022

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is being shortened to three digits to make it easier to remember and reduce the stigma around mental health.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission spoke exclusively on TODAY Tuesday about the coming change of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number to 988, a switch the agency said will help fight the stigma associated with mental health.

Ajit Pai said the hotline will change from its current number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to make it similar to 911 calls for emergencies. The new number is expected to be implemented across the country by July of 2022, Pai said.

TODAY, NBC News, June 3, 2020

Brief Interventions Could Reduce Risk of Suicide

A single intervention could pay dividends for individuals at risk of suicide ideation, according to new data.

A team, led by Stephanie K. Doupnik, MD, MSHP, PolicyLab, Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness, Division of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, examined whether brief interventions delivered in a single encounter to individuals at risk of suicide could improve patient outcomes.

In the systemic review and metal-analysis, the investigators identified 14 studies involving 4270 patients.

The investigators sought primary outcomes of subsequent suicide attempts, linkage to follow-up care, and depression symptoms at follow-up. They measured suicide attempts and linkage to follow-up using validated patient self-report measures and medical record reviews.

HCP Live, June 21, 2020

Suicide risk: Recognizing and responding during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some people with mental health problems may be at elevated risk for suicide. This is because the levels of stress that many are experiencing can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. People who are already in treatment for suicide risk may need additional support. This includes people who are having suicidal thoughts as well as those with a recent history of suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt.

Other people may experience an exacerbation of existing or emerging mental health problems. This includes those with psychiatric disorder — depressive and bipolar disorders, alcohol and substance use disorders, and psychotic disorders — as well as individuals who struggle with aggressive or disinhibited behavior and find it difficult to manage strong negative emotions. It is important to speak up about your or your family member’s needs during this time and to accept that additional help may be needed.

Morrison County Record, June 19, 2020

‘Wake Up: Stories From the Frontline of Suicide Prevention’: Film Review

Nate Townsend’s doc examining pain and recovery among both those who have attempted suicide and those who have lost loved ones to it premiered as part of the We Are One online film festival.

While a new deadly pandemic continues to grip attention worldwide — understandably — the documentary Wake Up: Stories From the Frontline of Suicide Prevention throws the spotlight back on an ancient and no less complex scourge: suicide. A major contributor (along with substance abuse) to the inexorably rising number of deaths of despair in the United States, suicide is now a leading cause of death for several demographics, particularly young men.

Director Nate Townsend, who comes from a background in shorts and advertising, tackles the subject by emphasizing the personal stories above all, with a lighter focus on psychology, politics and sociology. The survivors met here — those who have attempted suicide and those who have lost loved ones to it — come from very diverse backgrounds and range from LGBTQ folks and bereaved parents to veterans and gun owners.

The Hollywood Reporter, June 10, 2020

The Millennial Mental-Health Crisis

Suicides and overdoses among young adults were already skyrocketing before the pandemic started. Now experts fear that the situation is going to get even worse.

Throughout the summer of 2012, Tylor Morgan would call his sister Lacey at night and beg her to come over and sit with him.

It wasn’t obvious why Tylor felt so depressed. Growing up in Pocatello, Idaho, Lacey and Tylor had a fairly happy childhood. Tylor was shy, with lily-white hair and blue eyes. He retreated to the background while their charismatic older brother, Mark, drew the limelight. Their parents had divorced and remarried, but the siblings stayed close. Recitals were attended and mountains explored. Tylor was “pretty much a normal kid,” Lacey, who is now 26, told me.

Tylor graduated high school in 2007, right before the Great Recession. But even that initially seemed okay; he liked to work. As a young man, he managed stores and fast-food restaurants around Pocatello. In his free time, he would tinker with his pickup truck or ride motorcycles.

The only troubling thing Lacey noticed was that Tylor had been drinking a lot. Occasionally, he would get drunk and tell Lacey that he was in pain, and he wanted it to stop. The air felt heavier around him. He would get upset about girls, or not having a good enough job, or not making enough money. The exact problem wasn’t always clear. A few times, Lacey sat with him in the hospital, where he was staying the night because his blood-alcohol level was teetering on deadly.

Then, that May, Mark died at 25 in what was ruled a suicide. His brother’s death left Tylor awash in guilt and horror. The brothers had argued the night of Mark’s death, and Tylor blamed himself.

The Atlantic, June 11, 2020

The Big Ten Student Suicide Study: A 10-year Study of Suicides on Midwestern University Campuses

The Big Ten Student Suicide Study was undertaken from 1980-1990 to determine the suicide rates on Big Ten University campuses. The study design attempted to address many of the statistical and epidemiological flaws identified in previous studies of campus student suicides. The 10-year study collected demographic and correlational data on 261 suicides of registered students at 12 midwestern campuses.

The largest number of suicides for both males and females were in the 20-24-year-old age group (46%), and amongst graduate students (32%). The overall student suicide rate of 7.5/100,000 is one half of the computed national suicide rate (15.0/100,000) for a matched sample by age, gender, and race. Despite the overall lower suicide rate, the analyses revealed that students 25 and over have a significantly higher risk than younger students.

Although women have rates roughly half those of men throughout their undergraduate years, graduate women have rates not significantly different from their male counterparts (graduate women 9.1/100,000 and graduate men 11.6/100,000).

PubMed, June 5, 2020

May 2020

Does bullying of LGBTQ teenagers increase risk of suicide?

Bullying and suicide are an increasing problem in child and adolescent populations. The problem becomes even bigger when looking at just lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) children and teenagers. These children are more likely to be bullied and have suicidal thoughts. A research letter in JAMA Pediatrics looks at whether bullying is an antecedent of death by suicide among LGBTQ children and adolescents.

The investigators used postmortem records from 2003 to 2017 taken from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). The NVDRS is created by using information from state health departments that is taken from death certificates, coroner or medical examiner reports, and law enforcement reports. Each record has 2 narratives, one from the coroner or medical examiner and one from law enforcement that can include the description of suicide antecedents from the family, any personal communication such as a diary or social media messages, and any suicide note. Investigators found narratives involving either bullying or LGBTQ status for 9884 children and teenagers aged 10 to 19 years who had died.

Contemporary Pediatrics, May 29, 2020

These Girls From Brazil Built A Suicide Prevention App For Gen Z

A team of Brazilian girls have turned a school project into a mobile app aimed at confronting the world’s second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds: suicide.

Generation Z, the generation who began to be born in the mid-nineties, has the highest recorded suicide rate in history, as well as a higher risk for mental illness than the previous generation. Teen girls, in particular, are three times as likely as boys to experience depression. 

To help fight this, Anna Ferronato, Jhuly Carvalho, Ana Giacomeli, Clara Pithon da Silva, and Emanuela Maraskin, all school students from the south of Brazil, developed Safe Tears, a suicide prevention app.

Forbes, May 27, 2020

What the Coronavirus Pandemic Means for Our Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic can have a harsh mental health toll as a result of social distancing and isolation — not to mention the impact it can have for frontline workers. So, this Mental Health Awareness Month, Teen Vogue is highlighting both the struggles we face and the ways we’re coping. As we collectively manage our mental health during this challenge, remember that it’s OK to not be OK — and that help is always available.

Before terms like “shelter-in-place” and “self-isolation” became part of our everyday lexicon, experts warned against a different kind of public health emergency. You may recall around 2017, when mentions of the “loneliness epidemic” started circulating in the news after previous U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, wrote an article using the term. His focus, as conversations about mental health often are in this country, was centered around productivity in the workplace.

Teen Vogue, May 26, 2020

Instagram Launches ‘Guides’ Feature, Focus On Mental Health

On Monday, Instagram launched a new Guides feature that enables users to find curated content from specific creators. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the app is initially partnering with a small set of creators and organizations around the world specifically invested in creating wellness content. 

Among the first participating accounts are the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Heads Together in the UK, Vita Alere in Brazil, Sudah Dong in Indonesia and e-Enfance in France. Heads Together, a mental health group, kicked things off with a guide to talking about how we feel, replete with 30 posts that encourage the reader to “Share your anxieties and encourage others to share too,” or utilize publicly available mental health services.

Forbes, May 20, 2020

Letter: A friend’s teenager died by suicide with an unsecured gun

Kids are naturally curious — with kids home, hiding a gun isn’t securing a gun.

The teenage daughter of our good friend died by suicide with a gun that was hidden but unsecured in her home. This was heartbreaking for the family, a pain that endures to this day.

An estimated 4.6 million children in the United States live in a household with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked. In this time of confinement with children home all day, it is more important than ever to secure any guns and ammunition.

Kids are naturally curious and an unsecured gun can lead to unintentional or intentional shootings. Hiding a gun is not securing a gun. Guns in the home with children present must be unloaded and secured with a cable lock, lockbox or in a gun safe, with ammunition stored separately. It’s our responsibility as adults to prevent access to guns by children; it’s not a curious child’s responsibility to avoid guns.

The Mercury News, May 9, 2020

Colorado emergency departments take new steps to prevent youth suicide: Storing firearms and medications more safely can help parents save lives

A new study conducted in seven Front Range emergency departments demonstrated success in helping parents make their homes safer when a teen is distressed.

The study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine showed that efforts by hospitals to counsel parents on safe storage of guns and medications were successful. For the study, investigators from the Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research (PIPER) in the Colorado School of Public Health on the Anschutz Medical Campus collaborated with investigators from Northeastern and Harvard Universities.

The researchers worked with mental health providers at emergency departments to counsel parents of adolescents at risk of suicide. The counseling included advice on how to more safely store guns and medications, and parents received free locking devices.

Scienmag, May 5, 2020

How to support your child’s mental health during COVID-19 and beyond

For parents already concerned about their children’s social media activity, the “infodemic” of misinformation and even greater dependence on phones during the COVID-19 pandemic will only heighten anxieties. Deepening these challenges is a lack of collective experience that could help parents decide what guidelines to adopt to protect their offspring’s health online.

World Economic Forum, May 1, 2020

Ohio State alum shares story of child’s suicide, tells parents COVID-19 isolation is real

It’s a heartbreaking question to a father: How do you want him to be remembered? “What I remember is hugging him,” Brad Hunstable said. “I miss kissing him on the head and feeling his hair. I miss playing football with him. I miss joking around with him and wrestling.”

There’s so much to miss for a dad who is missing his son. “My son died from the coronavirus as I mentioned,” Hunstable says in his online video. “But not in the way you think.”

Hunstable’s 12-year-old son, Hayden, died by suicide on April 17, just four days before his 13th birthday. Photos show a crowd of family and friends joining to celebrate and remember Hayden. His dad believes the why is a “perfect storm” of reasons.

WBNS 10 News, May 1, 2020

April 2020

Remove barriers to make mental health services accessible for college students

The coronavirus pandemic has led colleges and universities to navigate the “new normal” with a singular focused goal: supporting our students and campus communities in a holistic way. As presidents of Jesuit institutions, we use the term “cura personalis” — care for the whole person — to describe the caring and formation of our students, faculty and staff. Special attention is given to students in their journeys. We display this in solidarity whereby we accompany one another toward the end for which we believe we are created.

Students’ growth is measured by academic success and, in equal part, their social and emotional well-being. While we are working tirelessly to ensure our students can flourish as part of their new virtual learning community through rigorous and meaningful instruction, we also want to do more to address students who are struggling to obtain help for their mental, behavioral and emotional needs, but are facing barriers associated with state laws on telehealth and licensure.

The Hill, April 26, 2020

Suicide risk and prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic

The mental health effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic might be profound and there are suggestions that suicide rates will rise, although this is not inevitable. Suicide is likely to become a more pressing concern as the pandemic spreads and has longer-term effects on the general population, the economy, and vulnerable groups. Preventing suicide therefore needs urgent consideration. The response must capitalise on, but extend beyond, general mental health policies and practices.

There is some evidence that deaths by suicide increased in the USA during the 1918–19 influenza pandemic and among older people in Hong Kong during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic.

The current context is different and evolving. A wide-ranging interdisciplinary response that recognises how the pandemic might heighten risk and applies knowledge about effective suicide prevention approaches is key. Selective, indicated, and universal interventions are required.

The Lancet, April 21, 2020

You’re not alone: Campus suicide prevention initiatives

Still recovering from the fallout of her aunt’s suicide several months earlier, Megan Nedden knew she needed to find a way to incorporate mental health care work into her campus activities when she arrived at UW-Madison as a freshman in 2016.

“I never wanted anyone to have to feel how my family [did] losing someone [or] how I felt,” Nedden said. “You don’t get over it — it sticks with you, and I wanted to be able to help people.”

When she saw a sign for Ask.Listen.Save with the words “suicide prevention” in big green letters at the student organization fair, Nedden knew it was how she wanted to get involved.

Now, a graduating senior and president of the organization, she has been able to serve on the Suicide Prevention Council — a group of mental health professionals, faculty, staff and students tasked with creating and sharing campus mental health resources on suicide prevention.

The Daily Cardinal, April 19, 2020

How to protect your mental health in the time of coronavirus

From social isolation to working on the front line, the mental health challenges of the pandemic are wide reaching. We ask experts how to protect ourselves

After weeks of complete social isolation, Italy has undergone what psychiatrist Paolo Brambilla calls “a social experiment that has never been done before”. The country has suffered a massive death toll from the coronavirus, and has endured one of the strictest lock downs in the world. The effects on the nation’s psyche will be profound, says Brambilla, who is at the University of Milan. This month saw half of the world’s population enter some form of confinement, and many people are facing the biggest threat to their health and livelihood in recent history.

“We are seeing the spread of a virus, but we have also, from the very beginning, been seeing the spread of fear as well,” says Aiysha Malik, a psychologist at the World Health Organization. As well as having to wrap our heads around the threat of the virus itself, public and personal life has changed beyond recognition. The actions we have had to take to curb the spread of disease have left some of us struggling to cope with a lack of childcare while working, a loss of income, separation from family and friends, and serious health fears.

New Scientist, April 22, 2020

‘The most stressful time ever’: how coronavirus affects children’s mental health

Barnet Pavão-Zuckerman’s 10-year-old daughter worries about her parents when they leave their home in Silver Spring, Maryland, to get groceries.

She’s concerned about her grandparents, too. And, though she’s been busy with virtual playdates and online learning, she’s bothered by the thought that she may never get to see her friends or teacher again in person.

“This is kind of a lot,” the girl told her mom recently.

Her seven-year-old brother is still too young to express how he feels in words. So instead, he screams and storms out of the house. Then, he sits cross-legged in the driveway, taking deep breaths.

“This is truly the most stressful time that they’ve ever experienced,” Barnet said.

The Guardian, April 17, 2020

San Francisco Suicide Prevention Seeing Record Surge In Calls During Coronavirus Pandemic

Less than a month after the coronavirus shelter-in-place order began in the Bay Area, mental health officials in San Francisco reported seeing record surges of calls about depression, anxiety and loneliness.

As of Wednesday, 17 people have died from the coronavirus in San Francisco. From March 1 to April 14, 12 people have taken their own lives. KPIX spoke to someone who suffers from depression with a hopeful message for those who may need to hear it.

John-Paul Strom says he has suffered from depression for years, but this past week was one of the hardest he’s had during this pandemic. “Well, I’m stir-crazy, but aren’t we all?” Strom said.

Like everyone else, he’s been confined to his home for weeks, which doesn’t help those feelings of isolation and darkness that people with depression may already battle on a daily basis.

“A lot of negativity, a lot of the kind of thoughts and feelings like, if I’m busy or I’m out in the world, I can sort of tune out,” Strom said. “When you’re all alone in your room, they are right there with you.”

KPX5 CBS, April 15, 2020

Feeling the pressures of the pandemic: Suicide hotlines see 800 percent spike in calls

Jobs disappearing, businesses shutting down, and separation from friends and family due to COVID-19 have placed an uncomfortable, emotional strain on people. Some describe feelings of unmanageable stress, isolation sadness and thoughts of being trapped or powerless.

With that, Former Congressman Patrick J Kennedy says calls at suicide hotlines have increased by 800 percent as resources shift to COVID-19 relief. The mental health advocate sounded the alarm at a Metro Nashville news conference, raising the question – Will the silent killer of mental illness be our country’s next major crisis?

“The tragedy of COVID is it exacerbates this already prevalent mental health and addiction crisis. No one doubts that mental health and addiction is real,” Kennedy commented. “Every single American has been faced with a mental health issue in this COVID crisis, themselves, not just a family member, but themselves.”

Fox17 Nashville, April 14, 2020

Why suicide risk may increase as we cope with COVID-19

The global pandemic caused by the coronavirus has upended every aspect of people’s lives. More than three-quarters of Americans say they are living in relative isolation, avoiding small gatherings and public places. The communal hobbies and events that bring people joy and meaning — sports, movies, birthday parties, weddings — are now virtual affairs, if they happen at all. Meanwhile, the economic impact of COVID-19 is staggering: more than 16 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment in just three weeks.

Trauma and grief follow in COVID-19’s wake as the disease destroys our collective sense of normalcy, kills thousands of Americans, and threatens to be deadly for a projected 60,000 people in the U.S. The loneliness, anxiety, and depression that, for some, accompany the pandemic has prompted concern about a brewing mental health crisis. Now, a new article published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that COVID-19 may lead to increased risk of suicide. The suicide rate, which is 14.2 per 100,000 people, has been rising steadily for years.

Mashable, April 10, 2020

Going online, suicide-prevention walk finds success

Hundreds of people took part in Sacramento State’s online Out of the Darkness Campus Walk on Thursday, April 9, connecting virtually with others across the city to support mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

With donations still coming in, the event had raised $16,000 by Monday, a significant portion of the goal of $20,000 set for Sac State this year.

This year’s walk was unique because of concerns about spreading the coronavirus. For the first time, participants walked individually rather than gather on campus with others. They walked their chosen routes, distancing themselves from one another as they strolled with friends and relatives, carrying signs and expressing sentiments about the issue and its impact on their lives. They shared moments from their walks through social media.

Sacramento State News, April 10, 2020

U.S. Suicide Rate Climbed 35% in Two Decades

The U.S. suicide rate has jumped 35% in the past two decades, health officials reported Wednesday.

From 1999 to 2018, the suicide rate rose from 10.5 to 14 per 100,000, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers found the rate of suicide rose by about 1% a year from 1999 to 2006, then increased to 2% a year from 2006 through 2018.

The report also shows that men are more likely to die by suicide than women, and people in rural areas are at greater risk than their urban counterparts.

U.S. News & World Report, April 8, 2020

Netflix to launch weekly Instagram Live series about coping during the COVID-19 pandemic

Netflix is launching a new series on Instagram that will focus on taking care of yourself and your mental health during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The series, which will begin airing on Instagram Live tomorrow at 7 PM PT, features the stars of some of Netflix’s top Young Adult shows and movies, including “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “The Kissing Booth,” “Stranger Things,” “Cheer” and “13 Reasons Why.”

The series will run every Thursday from now through May 14 on the @Netflix Instagram account, and will discuss the sort of challenges that young people are facing during the health crisis.

For example, it will touch on topics like “what helps if you’re having trouble sleeping?,” “how do you stay connected during social distancing?,” “how do we manage anxiety?” and “what self-care actually means.”

Tech Crunch, April 8, 2020

Coronavirus Isolation: Calls To Suicide Hotline Up 40% In March

Calls to a suicide crisis hotline have increased across the Sacramento region, one company says.

According to WellSpace Health, which claims to have the region’s largest certified crisis center, says calls to its suicide prevention and crisis line increased by 40 percent between February and March. They also answer calls made to the National Suicide Prevention Crisis Lines.

The company’s CEO traces the increase in suicidal thoughts to factors out of people’s control.

“People feel exceptionally helpless right now and those feelings are translating to thoughts of suicide and self-harm,” said Dr. Jonathan Porteus, a licensed clinical psychologist and CEO of WellSpace Health.

CBS 13 Sacramento, April 6, 2020

Podcast: Monday Event Congressman Seth Moulton & Dr. Christine Moutier on Suicide Prevention

Representative Seth Moulton will host Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for a digital fireside chat. Podcast is posted below.

Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said: “It is more important than ever to prioritize our mental health. By recognizing what we can control during this unprecedented public health crisis, we can take protective, proactive measures to safeguard our own mental health and that of others. I would like to thank Congressman Moulton for engaging in open dialogue about mental health during these challenging times.”

Moulton and Dr. Moutier talk about strategies to maintain mental wellbeing during a stressful time for most Americans.

MSO News Sports, April 6, 2020