News Archive: July, August, Sept. 2019


August 2019


This College Student Is a Leader in the Fight Against Teen Suicide

The nonprofit Young Minds Advocacy gives teens like Chloe Sorensen a bigger platform to advocate for mental health issues that matter to them, such as suicide prevention.

Eight days before Chloe Sorensen won a Young Leader award from Young Minds Advocacy for her work as a suicide prevention advocate, she lost another friend to suicide. For Sorensen, this wasn’t anything new. Sorensen is a recent graduate of Palo Alto’s Henry M. Gunn High School, the Silicon Valley school that made headlines for a spate of suicides in 2009. During Sorensen’s sophomore year alone, four teenagers committed suicide in her school district: one Gunn alum, two current students, and one student who attended crosstown rival Palo Alto High School.
 
Like others in the community, Sorensen felt waves of shock after each suicide cluster. On-campus grief support helped her to process her emotions. Unfortunately, suicide clusters — defined as three or more suicides in close proximity to each other — have occurred with increasing frequency in Palo Alto, where the rate is four times the national average.

But before they began happening at her school, suicide was more or less an abstract concept. “I had a few friends who dealt with mental health conditions, but never dealt with suicide,” Sorensen said. “As a 15 year old, that was a really difficult thing to process because I didn’t understand what was happening. But the way I dealt with that grief, shock and initial pain was by channeling it into something more positive.”

National Swell, August 31, 2019


Can suicide risk be detected in the blood?

A new clinical study aims to identify blood-based biomarkers for suicide risk, laying the foundation for a test that could help physicians identify people who are likely to self-harm and allow for earlier, life-saving intervention.

The project is the first longitudinal study of its kind, and is a collaboration between Van Andel Institute’s Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services’ Eric Achtyes, M.D., M.S., and Columbia University Department of Psychiatry’s J. John Mann, M.D. It is supported by a newly awarded five-year, $3.6 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health.

“Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and, unfortunately, rates continue to increase,” Brundin said. “Suicidal ideation is more than mental — there are measurable biological contributors such as byproducts of chronic inflammation that influence a person’s likelihood for self-harm. Leveraging these markers could hold the key to helping people before it is too late.”

Van Andel Institute, August 28, 2019


New Play In Chicago Aims To Teach Warning Signs About Suicide

The Morning Insiders heard about a unique program starting in Chicago on Wednesday. It’s a theatrical production designed to prevent suicide.

CBS 2’s Lauren Victory went behind the scenes of this potentially life-saving play.

The build-up to suicide is not always obvious, but it’s apparent that deaths in this way are building up nationwide.

In Illinois 15- to 24-year-olds have been dying by suicide at an increasing rate since 2013.

LaurenSage Browning – a 21-year-old writer, producer, and actress – wanted to show Chicago some warning signs. The loss of a good friend inspired her cross-country activism.

“Not in a shout in your face and wave banners around way; in a way that was compelling and relatable and honest and sympathetic,” she said.

Browning wrote and produced her play, titled “I Could Take a Nap, but Killing Myself Would Be More Productive.”

After a few tweaks at dress rehearsal, the cast is ready to take Chicago inside the journal (and mind) of 18-year-old Sofia.

The audience watches as Sofia struggles with seemingly normal teen troubles related to academics, social media and fighting with family and friends.

CBS Chicago, August 28, 2019


This DC-Based Traveling Exhibit Wants to Encourage Conversations About Mental Health on College Campuses

Each backpack represents a college student who took his or her own life.
Photos and stories about their lives are pinned on the backpacks.

The Active Minds exhibit Send Silence Packing will be at George Washington University on September 5.

For the first time in seven years, the Send Silence Packing exhibit is coming back to DC. The event is the brain child of Active Minds, a nonprofit headquartered in DC dedicated to promoting conversations about mental health and suicide prevention on college campuses.

According to Active Minds, the second most-common cause of death for college students is suicide. It also estimates that 39 percent of college students will experience a mental health issue and two-thirds of students experiencing depression or anxiety will not seek treatment. The exhibit, which has been traveling the country for over a decade, aims to change that by connecting students with mental health resources and spreading awareness about the importance of discussing mental health

The exhibit will be on display at George Washington University on September 5. Backpacks will be spread out amongst the school’s University Yard, each one representing a college student who took his or her own life. Pinned to the backpacks will be photographs of the students and stories about their lives donated by their families and loved ones.

Washingtonian, August 28, 2019


Suicide hotlines now printed on the back of student IDs for grades 7-12

“At the beginning of this school year, most local students received IDs with the hotline numbers printed on the back, while others will be distributed after upcoming picture days.”

Some days at work are harder than others for Delisa Noebel, but being there for someone in crisis is rewarding — and lifesaving.

Noebel is a substance abuse disorder specialist with the crisis hotline through Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.

But once before she was an addict and attempted suicide several times. She knows it can be scary to call someone for help. She knows because she’s had to seek help. And she knows because she speaks to people in crisis on an almost daily basis.

“It can be scary, stressful. You can be taken aback, but you were there in that moment with a person and that’s all that matters,” Noebel said. “Once we find out what’s going on, we apply the skills we know to help them. It’s very rewarding.”

To connect youth in crisis with immediate help, a new law that went into effect in July means students in seventh through 12th grades in California now have lifesaving phone numbers in the palm of their hands.

Bakersfield.com, August 24, 2019


Breaking the silence about youth suicide

A ninth-grader at Provo High School in Utah gave his watch to his best friend, saying he wouldn’t be needing it anymore. He told five other friends he planned to kill himself, but no one told an adult. The young man committed suicide the next day.

Tragedies like this happen every day, says Dr. Greg Hudnall, founder of HOPE4UTAH, which develops teams of peer mentors at schools across Utah and in 14 other states.

“Before they attempt suicide, seven or eight out of 10 young people will reach out to a friend,” Hudnall says. “They’ll give some kind of clue, some kind of warning sign.”

But they’ll rarely let adults in on their deadly secret, say Hudnall and Genevieve Morris, who coordinates suicide-prevention efforts for public schools in Grand Junction, Colo.

“What research shows us is that the most beloved and well-connected teacher is still not going to know first about that student that is really struggling,” Morris says. “Their friends are going to know. They know what’s cool before we know, and they know who’s really struggling before we know.”

Given that reality — and the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5,700 Americans ages 15-24 kill themselves each year — it’s incumbent upon parents and Scout leaders alike to understand the risk factors and warning signs of suicide. We must make sure our kids and the young people we serve know these indicators as well.

Scouting Magazine, August 25, 2019


College can be hard on your mental health. Here are 7 ways to cope.

People may joke about the carefree lives of college students, but the unique stress of succeeding in higher education is real. Between managing course work, finding a circle of supportive friends, figuring out your identity as a young adult, and paying for the privilege of a diploma, college can be the equivalent of a pressure cooker.  

Indeed, research shows that a growing number of college students say they’ve experienced a mental health condition, including panic attacks and anxiety. It appears that the rate of mental health diagnoses is increasing, and that students feel more comfortable talking about their experiences and seeking help than previous generations of college-age youth. 

Mashable, August 23, 2019


Three suicide prevention strategies show real promise. How can they reach more people?

Can a three-digit phone number avert suicides on a grand scale? Last week, the Federal Communications Commission recommended designating 988 as a nationwide suicide prevention hotline number. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached around the clock through the more cumbersome 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Many paths in life can bring someone to the brink of suicide, and a shorter phone number might seem to be a naïvely simple solution. But researchers have repeatedly found that simple works: Callers routinely credit the existing hotline, which is on track to take 2.5 million calls this year, with keeping them safe. “It’s one of the most basic human realities,” says Lifeline Director John Draper, a counseling psychologist with Vibrant Emotional Health, the New York City nonprofit that administers the hotline. “Helping people feel understood and cared about saves lives.”

More than 47,000 people died by suicide in the United States in 2017. Although the global suicide rate has dropped, in the United States it has increased 33% since 1999. Beating back that number is challenging.

AAAS Science, August 22, 2019


Paths Out of Darkness. My younger sister died by suicide. Can science succeed in helping others?

When my younger sister died by suicide 7 years ago, at age 30, the loss was shattering. If I considered the role of science at all, it was through the lens of failure—its failure to save her, along with the thousands who died before and after. More often, I pushed science aside. Given the mysteries of brain chemistry and its confluence with life experience, could science really decipher what drives an individual to want to die? Could it predict who is most at risk and find ways to intervene in the face of grim obstacles? I was doubtful.

At first glance, statistics seemed to back this gloomy outlook. The suicide rate in the United States is rising, and more than 47,000 people died in 2017. Among 10- to 34-year-olds in the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death; for 35- to 54-year-olds, it ranks fourth.

AAAS, August 20, 2019


New Research Casts Doubt On Connection Between Smartphone Use And Teen Mental Health

Some argue it is a case of correlation, not causation, and that the threat is overblown.

Fact–more teens and tweens, particularly girls, report being depressed and anxious compared with a decade ago. Suicides are also up. The reasons why are not clear. Some researchers say with nearly every teenager using a smartphone these days, digital media must share some of the blame. We take a look at the controversy in this week’s All Tech Considered.

NPR, August 19, 2019


New Idea for Suicide Prevention Hotline: Just Dial 988

The F.C.C. is considering shortening the number from its current 10 digits.

Just as 911 is universal to Americans during emergencies, a federal agency says the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline should be shortened to three digits: 988.

The Federal Communications Commission recommended simplifying the hotline’s current 10-digit number in a sweeping report this week spurred by federal legislation passed last year that called for improvements to the system.

The effort comes at a time when counseling experts say there is a deepening national mental health crisis and there has been a spate of suicides among veterans, police officers and high-profile figures.

The New York Times, August 15, 2019


Trauma begets trauma: Bullying associated with increased suicide attempts among 12-to-15-year-olds

International study finds bullying victimization is associated with suicide attempts across 48 countries.

A new study reports that bullying victimization may increase the risk of suicide attempts among young adolescents by approximately 3-times worldwide. A new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports that bullying victimization may increase the risk of suicide attempts among young adolescents by approximately three-times worldwide.

“Globally, approximately 67,000 adolescents die of suicide each year and identifying modifiable risk factors for adolescent suicide is a public health priority,” said lead author Ai Koyanagi, MD, and Research Professor at Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Deu, Barcelona, Spain.

The findings are based on nationally representative data collected through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global School-based Student Health Survey, which is a school-based survey conducted in multiple countries across the globe.

Science Daily, August 15, 2019


Social Media Hurts Girls More Than Boys

The public and experts alike have blamed social media for a long list of mental health issues, including rising rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior among America’s youth. But research on the subject is conflicting. One study published this spring, for example, found that social media use likely doesn’t have a terribly large impact on teenagers’ life satisfaction, despite all those expert warnings.

A new study published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health suggests the issue is even more nuanced. Social media is associated with mental health issues, the research says—but only under certain circumstances, and only for certain people.

In girls, frequent social-media use seemed to harm health when it led to either cyberbullying and/or inadequate sleep and exercise. But these factors did not seem to have the same effect on boys, and the study didn’t pick up on specific ways that social networks could be harming them.

TIME, August 13, 2019


Your Teens Are at All-Time High Risk for Mental Health Issues at College: What Can You Do?

Here’s the grim news from a new report conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights: Generation Z is suffering from a crushing amount of stress in the college years, more than any other generation before it (hey, no snorting or scoffing over there, Boomers and Gen X). What’s going on, and more importantly, how can we parents help mitigate the mental health challenges Gen Z is facing during their university years?

Let’s go back to the report, titled “Mental Health & Well-Being on Campus: How We Better Care for the Whole Student,” released by a branch of Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. The report surveyed current college students as well as their parents to get a broad sense of the state of mental health among college and university students today.

SheKnows/Parenting, August 14, 2019


Why Research on Suicide Is a Vital Part of the Gun Debate

Data on suicide is often ignored but can inform policymakers in key ways.

Suicide rates are rising in nearly every state. According to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “during 1999–2016, suicide rates increased significantly in 44 states, with 25 states experiencing increases >30%.”
 
Suicides make up almost two-thirds of gun-related deaths. Nearly 25,000 people die each year by firearm suicide, according to data from the CDC. In 2017 alone, around 40,000 people died from guns, over 60% of which were from suicide.

While women attempt suicide more often, men are more likely to die by suicide because they choose more lethal means such as firearms. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, “women are at a greater risk for suicidal ideation, attempts, and medically treated attempts than men.”

Psychology Today, August 13, 2019


How The CDC’s Reluctance To Use The ‘F-Word’ — Firearms — Hinders Suicide Prevention

The nation’s foremost public health agency shies away from discussing the important link in this country between suicide and access to guns.

That’s according to documents obtained by NPR that suggest the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instead relies on vague language and messages about suicide that effectively downplay and obscure the risk posed by firearms.

Guns in the United States kill more people through suicide than homicide.

Almost 40,000 people died from guns in 2017 alone — 60% of those deaths were suicides. Guns are the most common method used for suicide.

NPR, August 8, 2019


‘It’s got to end’: Mom, daughter open up about multigenerational suicide struggles

Daisha Bischoff was just 11 years old the first time she tried to kill herself. Her great-grandmother had just lost her battle with brain cancer.  Bischoff had just lost the only person she thought actually loved her.

“I took half of a bottle of ibuprofen and half a bottle of Tylenol and sat in the bathtub with a knife and tried to just stab myself,” she said.

She eventually gave up.  The pain of forcing a knife through her stomach was too much to bear.

About 4 ½ years and multiple attempts later, Bischoff felt like she couldn’t get herself out of a perpetual state of depression. 

“Each night when I thought about it, I was just like, cry and go to sleep and the next day will come.  The sun always rises,” she said.

Channel 3000, August 8, 2019


5 questions you can use to check in on your mental health every day

“It’s common for us to schedule a routine visit to the doctor when we aren’t feeling our best, so it should be common for us to check in with our mental health to ensure that we are physically, mentally and emotionally in tune,” writes author, expressive coach, and licensed social worker Minaa B. on a recent Instagram post.

It’s true: a 2018 poll conducted by Well+Good found that of the 2,700 people surveyed, 95 percent struggle with stress and 92 percent struggle with anxiety. However, 20 percent had never shared their feelings about either because they believe such mental obstacles are no big deal. The daily grind has a way of distracting from the basic human need to take an emotional time-out. Now that mental health realness is the order of every day, caring for your brain should no longer be an afterthought.

Still, it’s not always easy to separate yourself from a looming deadline or children who need your attention whenever your mental health comes calling. But these five questions (courtesy of Minaa B.) should be stashed in your back pocket for whenever that happens. A Q&A with your mental well-being isn’t an indulgence—it’s a necessity. Make an appointment to do it every single day.

Well + Good, August 8, 2019


Robin Williams’ Death and Subsequent Suicide Contagion: New research shows more suicides after Williams’ death. Is the media to blame?

Five years ago this week, Robin Williams died by suicide. Given Williams’ status as a much-loved and much-respected global celebrity, this made worldwide news.

Since then, researchers across North America have conducted a series of research studies related to Robin Williams’ suicide, centered upon the concept of suicide contagion, also known as copycat suicides, imitation suicides or the Werther effect.

What Is Suicide Contagion?

A large corpus of research indicates that suicide mortality increases after the death of a well-known celebrity. This appears to be most marked in the immediate days and weeks following the high-profile suicide. This is known as suicide contagion.

It is theorized that this increase is due to at-risk individuals identifying with the celebrity and their action. Such identification can lead individuals to perceive the celebrity’s suicide as a heroic and decisive act worthy of emulation, with suicide seen as a possible response to ongoing struggles.

Psychology Today, August 6, 2019


“Your life matters”: Suicide prevention hotline number carved into family farm’s corn maze

“Your life matters.” That is the message a family of farmers from Menomonie, Wisconsin wants the world to know. The Govin family always carves a unique message into their farm’s corn maze. This summer, they carved an important one: information for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Govin’s Meats & Berries shared an image of their new corn maze on Facebook, with a simple explanation behind its meaning. “We have always picked a theme that has meaning to our family and this year suicide was something we unfortunately had to face and learn about,” the family wrote. “We hope to make a difference in someone’s life and help them understand that they matter!”

CBS News, August 1, 2019


Five Suicides Linked to Frat Bro Fascinated With Death

A former Truman State University student is being sued by the parents of two students who committed suicide at their fraternity, Alpha Kappa Lambda. The lawsuit states that Brandon Grossheim encouraged Alexander David Mullins, Joshua Michael Thomas, and three unnamed others by giving them “advice on how to commit suicide.” The deaths occurred during the 2016–17 academic year.

According to the Kansas City Star, Mullins had hanged himself in his room at the frat house and Thomas was found hanging in a storage closet. The third suicide was a member of the fraternity, while the fourth was someone who was not a student but was in their social circle. Grossheim is also linked to a death of an unnamed woman that is still under investigation.

New York, August 1, 2019


Suicide Is a Tendency, Not a Destiny, Says Suicide Researcher

Danuta Wasserman, who is a professor of psychiatry and suicidology at Swedish medical university Karolinska Institute and the founder and head of the national Swedish suicide research and prevention center, spoke to Calcalist during a recent visit to Israel.

According to Wasserman, suicidal tendencies can be genetic in nature. Research shows that between 30% and 55% of suicidal tendencies can be traced back to genetically transferred traits, she said. Certain hereditary psychiatric syndromes, such as schizophrenia, also raise the risk of suicidal behavior, as do some biological processes that are controlled by genetic makeup, she explained.

CTech, August 2, 2019


July 2019


Addressing Suicide Risk in Trying Times: How can we safeguard those at risk?

In April, a Global Emotions Report by Gallup showed that people worldwide are sadder, more afraid, and angrier than ever before. This news may not hit you as a surprise. The sense of heaviness in a recent talk about the state of the world is palpable. It seems every day we are struck by dire existential warnings, environmental disasters, mass violence, and painful personal stories. There’s been a lingering question of how this is affecting people’s mental health and how it will continue to do so. For those of us in the field of suicidology, we worry that these effects could be life-threatening.

In the United States, the suicide rate increased by 30 percent from 2000 to 2016. It’s hard to pinpoint a single explanation for this increase. However, there are certain societal stresses that we’ve learned can have an effect. For example, studies have connected financial worries to a rising suicide rate among baby boomers. A 2010 meta-analysis showed a link between debt and suicide, while other research has revealed that even the reporting of economic downturns and hardships are associated with an increase in the suicide rate.

Psychology Today, July 31, 2019


Putting Guidelines For Reporting On Suicide Into Practice

NPR overall is indeed usually careful about its reporting on suicide. With occasional exceptions, such as those I wrote about in 2018, for the most part NPR has followed the guidelines from experts. Covering the topic is particularly complicated because, according to the guidelines from medical experts, dozens of studies have found that news coverage, when done incorrectly, can increase the likelihood of suicide, even as covering the topic is important to change public misperceptions.

Weekend Edition Saturday has been grappling with that balance recently. Earlier this year, the show decided to tackle the topic of suicide in an occasional series of about a half-dozen reports that are airing over several months. Host Scott Simon said the staff had been following the increase in suicide rates in recent years, with seemingly multiple causes, and “we felt that it would be useful to try and see why that was going on.” The second report, on suicide among seniors, ran Saturday; the first report, on police officer suicides, ran in May.

NPR, July 31, 2019


After 3 student suicides, Cedar Springs works to prevent another

Over the course of two school years, three Cedar Springs students died by suicide. Now the school district is working to prevent any other tragedies like this from happening again.

Kelli Kobayashi’s son Evan was one of those students. He took his life in 2015.

“He had access to a gun, and he took his life. We didn’t have signs, um no. It was very much a complete shock as it is for survivors of suicide,” Kobayashi said.

It was the beginning of a shockwave that rippled throughout Cedars Springs after two other students also died by suicide.

Fox 17 West Michigan, July 29, 2019


Under “Conrad’s Law,” Coercing Someone into Suicide Would Be Illegal in Massachusetts

The family of the man at the center of the Michelle Carter texting suicide case is calling for more specific legislation surrounding cases like theirs.

As Michelle Carter appeals her manslaughter conviction for convincing Conrad Roy to commit suicide to the Supreme Court, Roy’s family is filing legislation to memorialize him.

In a case that made national headlines, Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after encouraging Roy over text message to die by suicide in 2014 and sentenced to 15 months in prison. However, Carter’s conviction was puzzling to some.

“A lot of people looked at this case and they said, ‘Manslaughter? This isn’t manslaughter, telling someone to kill themselves,’” Northeastern professor and WGBH legal analyst Daniel Medwed said on WGBH’s Morning Edition.

Manslaughter fit Carter’s deeds like “an ill-fitting suit,” Medwed said in a press release from State Senator Barry Finegold’s office, adding that Massachusetts needs a law that specifically addresses coerced suicide. Massachusetts is one of only ten states in the country that does not have such a law, according to the press release.

Boston Magazine, July 24, 2019


Why Mourning Celebrities Who Die by Suicide Can Be Tricky

Mourning celebrities who die by suicide can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, people have a tendency to share stories, memories and videos of the individual. But on the other, celebrity suicides can lead to an increase in general suicides. This phenomenon is called the “copycat effect,” “suicide contagion” or specifically the “celebrity-suicide effect.”

Last year, research found that suicides in the U.S. rose about 10% in the months after Robin Williams died by suicide. Fink, Santaella-Tenorio and Keyes analyzed monthly suicide totals from 1999 to 2015, then calculated that 16,849 suicides would have been expected from August to December of 2014. In actuality there were 18,690 suicides reported in those months, or a 9.85% deviation from normal. The increase was seen in males and females, but was more pronounced for males and those between 30 and 44 years of age.

This study is the among the first to quantitatively show the effect of a celebrity suicide. There was widespread media coverage of Williams’ death and he was a beloved actor and comedian. It was known that he lived with depression and struggled with addiction. Additionally, Williams’ widow has since claimed his suicide was caused by a specific form of dementia, Lewy body dementia.

A comprehensive 76 page guide book for handling the impact of suicide on students.

The “After Suicide Toolkit for Schools” put forth by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, notes the need for balance between memorialization of someone who died by suicide, and the risk of suicide contagion among students.

Yahoo, July 23, 2019


Netflix Needs To Do More Than Cut The Suicide Scene

Netflix’s controversial first season of 13 Reasons Why, released 2017, is back in the news this week after the online streaming service announced that, in advance of the release of the third season, they would be re-editing a scene to remove the graphic depiction of suicide. The show, and that scene specifically, caused extensive controversy when it was first released, with many suicide prevention activists and institutions expressing concern that the show may be dangerous to at-risk young people.

Although most agree that cutting the scene is a good decision, analysts have pointed out that it’s not simply that scene, but the entire plot and premise of the season, that make it so dangerous. Creating more stories that depict the realities of people struggling with suicidal thoughts, stories that depict seeking treatment in a positive way, is more important than removing or censoring stories that don’t. Minimizing negative cultural shifts isn’t as important as creating a positive cultural shift.

Forbes, July 19, 2019


Statement from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” New Season One Edit

Netflix announced that after talking to mental health groups like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it is removing the scene in which Hannah Baker takes her own life from Episode 13, Season 1 of “13 Reasons Why.” The nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) , made the following statement about this decision by Netflix.

“AFSP strongly supports Netflix’s decision to remove the scene of Hannah’s death in Season One. The portrayal of suicidal struggles and suicide is complex and research shows people respond to entertainment content in a variety of different ways. The same content that can lead to increased awareness and interest, and even empathy in many – can lead to worsening of mood, anxiety, or self-image for others who are vulnerable or struggling.

Yahoo, July 17, 2019


Family in Danville starts non-profit in honor of 13-year-old suicide victim

It’s only been a few months since 13-year-old Lainey Smith sadly died by suicide in Danville and her family is doing whatever they can to help spread awareness.

Lainey Smith is gone, but not forgotten.

“She’s the passer of the light, so hopefully we can keep her light shining,” said Lainey’s mother Stacey Smith. Her death sparked the creation of a non-profit called The Lainey Project.

Her family created it to help spread awareness.

“We kind of came up with doing something about the bullying in schools, raising awareness for anxiety, raising awareness for depression for people that dealt with that because it’s not just children, it’s everybody,” said Haley Smith, Lainey’s sister.

They want to help find ways to eliminate bullying.

ABC13 News, July 13, 2019


After a six-year-old attempted suicide, I thought it wouldn’t happen again. I was wrong

A couple of years ago, I fought to save the life of a six-year-old child, to make sure she never attempted suicide again

This child is doing well but that was because I was able travel to her, in the heart of our continent, to one of our remotest regions. I was shocked that one so young would contemplate suicide. At the time I believed, or hoped, that I would never come across again a child so young and suicidal. Recently, I dedicated long-haul support to another suicidal six-year-old child, this time in one of our large cities.

Most recently, I have supported suicidal children, six, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 years of age. Without dedicated support it is my very certain belief that some of them would not be with us today.

There was one island community where a 13-year-old girl took her life. Her 11-year-old brother found her. The island has mainstream services, albeit small, but none visited the family, citing the need to give the grieving family “space”. More than three weeks later I travelled to the island and drove from the main community to an outstation near a smaller community and met the family. I was the first to do so.

The Guardian, July 12, 2019


The AI That Could Help Curb Youth Suicide

For many reasons, parents and teachers may fail to intervene when they spot LGBTQ teens in trouble. Can Google help?

In suicide-prevention literature, “gatekeepers” are community members who may be able to offer help when someone expresses suicidal thoughts. It’s a loose designation, but it generally includes teachers, parents, coaches, and older co-workers—people with some form of authority and ability to intervene when they see anything troubling.

Could it also include Google? When users search certain key phrases related to suicide methods, Google’s results prominently feature the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. But the system isn’t foolproof. Google can’t edit webpages, just search results, meaning internet users looking for information about how to kill themselves could easily find it through linked pages or on forums, never having used a search engine at all.

At the same time, on the 2019 internet, “run me over” is more likely to be a macabre expression of fandom than a sincere cry for help—a nuance a machine might not understand. Google’s artificial intelligence is also much less effective at detecting suicidal ideation when people search in languages other than English.

The Atlantic, July 12, 2019


Teens are increasingly depressed, anxious, and suicidal. How can we help?

There are good research-backed solutions to prevent suicide among young people.

As you can see in this chart, after a steep drop in the late 1990s, the number of suicide deaths among young people (as measured in deaths per 100,000 people) began climbing around 2008 before reaching a new high in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide rates lately have been increasing in all age groups in America, in almost every state. But the epidemic of youth suicide is particularly stymying, even for experts who study it.

There are plenty of hypotheses about what’s driving it floating around. They include the changing way teens interact with each other in digital spaces, economic stress and fallout from the 2008 recession, increasing social isolation, suicide contagion, and the fact that teens can more easily look up suicide methods online.

Two other enormous public health issues of our time are at play too. Children of opioid users appear to be more at risk for suicide. Same goes for young people who live in a house with a gun.

Vox, July 11, 2019


Between 16 and 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide

Depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder are the main risk factors, according to a study by Universitat Rovira i Virgili researchers.

The researchers studied a group of 720 boys and 794 girls who studied in 13 schools in Reus. They were monitored during three developmental periods: 10 years old, 11 years old and 13 years old.

At the beginning of the study, the students answered a series of psychological tests that were used to detect which of them presented emotional symptoms related to depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). From their responses, two groups were created: one group at risk of emotional problems and a control group.

The disorders were diagnosed with standardised international criteria and the boys and girls were monitored to see how suicidal ideation developed throughout the research period.

EurekaAlert!, American Association for the Advancement of Science, July 11, 2019


Five Lessons for Communicators from an Influencer’s Suicide Note

Influencers are similar to nearly everyone else in this world; they have their good and bad days. We’ll admit, however, finding a balanced view in the media of influencer marketing is rare. Once considered a fad, influencer marketing is growing. It looks to be a permanent fixture in the marketer’s toolkit. And we’ll admit you’ve likely read articles on this site that imbue influencers with seemingly mythical powers to boost brand awareness, third-party authenticity and, sometimes, sales.

On the other hand, when influencers run amok, reputational damage to brands can result. Still, stories about the negative aspects of influencers seem hard to find. Articles urging companies to vet influencers before employing them seem in short supply. Ditto articles about contracts specifying exactly what you expect of an influencer.

Influencers are similar to nearly everyone else in this world; they have their good and bad days. We’ll admit, however, finding a balanced view in the media of influencer marketing is rare. Once considered a fad, influencer marketing is growing. It looks to be a permanent fixture in the marketer’s toolkit. And we’ll admit you’ve likely read articles on this site that imbue influencers with seemingly mythical powers to boost brand awareness, third-party authenticity and, sometimes, sales.

On the other hand, when influencers run amok, reputational damage to brands can result. Still, stories about the negative aspects of influencers seem hard to find. Articles urging companies to vet influencers before employing them seem in short supply. Ditto articles about contracts specifying exactly what you expect of an influencer.

PR News, July 10, 2019


The silent suicide epidemic

The 1999 massacre at Columbine High marked a new era of outrage towards gun violence upon young people. During the ensuing two decades 11 mass shootings have caused 200 senseless in-school deaths provoking nearly non-stop national mourning.

Meanwhile however, another gun epidemic has stealthily been taking 25 times as many young lives. Firearm suicides among 10- to 24-year-olds have become the second leading cause of death in that group. At last count, in 2017, the annual toll was a whopping 261. That’s five each week. Hardly a day goes by without private grieving by relatives and friends. But, for assorted reasons, few of those stories arouse the broader attention necessary to spark public outrage.

A major roadblock has been the NRA’s strident mantra “it’s not guns but people who kill.” That’s dead Wrong! It is most certainly guns and their availability which kill these distraught victims. Young people have other suicide options – suffocation by hanging, poisoning by drugs and wrist slashing. Each of these have far lower success rates than firearms and most young people have made several attempts with one or more of them before turning to a gun with its 85 percent success rate.

The Brattleboro Reformer, July 10, 2019


I Love You, Now Die: HBO’s Documentary on Texting Suicide

Now on HBO: I Love You, Now Die; a groundbreaking, true-crime, two-part documentary about an unprecedented manslaughter case — killing via text message. One part cyberbullying, one part Romeo and Juliet tragedy, the case was both shocking for the public and revolutionary for the Massachusetts courts.

Filmmaker Erin Lee Carr pulls back the curtain on the mind of Michelle Carter, the teenager accused of driving her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy, to commit suicide solely through the phone. Carr told Inside Edition she hopes the two-part documentary will challenge viewers to decide for themselves the implications of the case — “Can you text someone into killing themselves, and can you be held liable? Yes, it’s immoral, yes it’s illegal, but there’s a lot more to the story.”

Parentology, July 10, 2019


Mobile Help for Mental Health

A Connecticut program aims to meet kids in crisis where they physically are.

By the beginning of her eighth-grade year in 2013, Julia Tannenbaum had been struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety and depression for months. She was terrified to tell anyone.

Then, in the middle of a school day that fall, she hit a breaking point.

“Julia was just in a tremendous state of crisis, just emotionally out of control,” says her mother, Katherine Wilson. “We didn’t know what was going on with her, but she just couldn’t function.”

Alarmed by Tannenbaum’s behavior, the school dialed a familiar three-digit number. But it wasn’t an ambulance that showed up to the middle school – it was a clinician from Connecticut’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Services program, which deploys trained clinicians to mental health emergencies in homes, schools and communities. People can call 2-1-1 to access it.

The goal of the state-funded initiative – among a number of similar adolescent-focused mobile services around the country – is to get children appropriate care while keeping them out of emergency rooms, which are often poorly equipped to deal with mental health crises, especially among kids. Meanwhile, the rate of young people visiting the ER for mental health issues has surged.

U.S. News & World Report, July 10, 2019


Instagram Adds Features To Combat Cyberbullying As Studies Link Social Media To Youth Depression, Suicide

Instagram is offering two new anti-bullying features to its platform to combat cyberbullying and the devastating effects it can have on young people.

“We know bullying is a challenge many face, particularly young people,” Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, said in a blog post when announcing the new features

The first anti-bullying feature Instagram added is one that helps prevent harmful comments before they even appear on the site. “In the last few days, we started rolling out a new feature powered by AI that notifies people when their comment may be considered offensive before it’s posted,” Mosseri said.

This feature allows a person to reevaluate a hurtful comment they might post with the hopes that they either change their comment or do not post it at all. Early testing of this feature shows it does cause some to reconsider and fewer hurtful comments are made, according to the blog post.

Daily Caller, July 9, 2019


Stigma Often Keeps Guys from Seeking Help for Mental Health

Behavioral health is not a male issue or a female issue — it’s a human issue. Yet, the imbalance between the problems facing men and their willingness to seek help has raised alarm bells in the field over the years.

Suicide rates provide one of the starker contrasts, with men making up more than 75% of all suicide victims in the U.S., with one man killing himself every 20 minutes on average. Substance abuse — sometimes referred to as ‘slow-motion suicide’ — follows a similar track, ensnaring three men for every woman.

And, yet, men don’t want to bring up these issues, said Sara Kendall, vice president of Clinical Operations at MHA in Springfield.

“In our society, we have expressions like ‘man up.’ So many things in our culture are geared toward men being strong, and therefore, seeking any help — especially anything behavioral-health-related — been viewed as weakness,” she told BusinessWest. “It’s often difficult for men to feel comfortable talking to someone, so there’s a disconnect with how to help. We encounter that a lot.”

BusinessWest.com, July 9, 2019


What App-Based Therapy Is Really Like–Without an IRL connection, can treatment still work?

I was wide awake at one in the morning, scrolling through my contacts. My life felt impossible and bleak, like a movie I didn’t want to watch. I knew I needed to talk to someone, but I also felt cagey and vulnerable — even if I called someone and they actually picked up, I wasn’t sure I could explain what hurt.

I’d stopped therapy over a year ago, when my graduate program ended and I lost access to the university’s free counseling center. On days when my depression and anxiety felt unbearable, I’d research therapists and counseling centers in my area. I’d get overwhelmed by the intake evaluation, expense, transportation, and the possibility of a waitlist.

As a freelance writer, my work schedule is as unpredictable as my ACA insurance is terrible. After a few days of searching, I’d feel marginally better on my own and decide to forego help. I’d get along fine until nights like this, when everything caught up to me.

That night, in a last ditch effort to calm down, I searched the phrase “internet therapy” and found a promo code for $45 off a month of Talkspace, a mental health platform that connects clients like me with licensed therapists in their state (subscriptions cost between $260-$396, depending on the frequency of video therapy sessions).

Instyle.com, July 9, 2019


Better ways to prevent suicide

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States, overall. For people ages 35 to 54, it ranks fourth, and for 10- to 34-year-olds, second.

Over the decades, suicide rates have climbed and fallen and climbed again. Between 1999 and 2017, the suicide rate increased 33%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (see March Monitor, “Worrying Trends in U.S. Suicide Rates”). Meanwhile, health-care providers still struggle to identify those at risk and to intervene. Yet suicide researchers say that situation is starting to change.

Within the field of psychology, experts are bringing their unique skills to bear on the problem of suicide. Basic scientists are exploring brain changes and risk factors associated with suicidal ideation and behavior. Applied scientists are seeking new ways to identify those at risk. Clinical researchers are testing new therapeutic interventions, and clinicians on the front lines are helping deliver those treatments to people who are struggling.

In the first of a series, we look at how psychologists in a variety of settings are building on one another’s work to address today’s most challenging issues. Here is how they are working together to advance the field of suicide prevention.

American Psychological Association, July 3, 2019