News Archive: October, November 2018

November 2018

Want to help prevent teen suicide? Get rid of the gun in your house

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the safest home for a kid is one without guns.

That won’t sit well with a lot of folks, especially those who maintain that guns don’t kill people—people do—but here’s what all of us need to keep in mind. Every day in this country, 78 children, teens and young adults are injured or killed by guns.

Last year alone, 285 children got hold of a gun and inadvertently shot themselves or someone else. Add to that, adolescents, in particular, are at a higher risk for suicide when there is a gun in the home. And contrary to popular belief, a gun in the home is more likely to be used to kill a friend or family member than a burglar or other criminal.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 30, 2018

Can We Stop Suicides?

It’s been way too long since there was a new class of drugs to treat depression. Ketamine might be the solution.

The suicide rate has been rising in the United States since the beginning of the century, and is now the 10th leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s often called a public health crisis. And yet no new classes of drugs have been developed to treat depression (and by extension suicidality) in about 30 years, since the advent of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors like Prozac.

The trend most likely has social causes — lack of access to mental health care, economic stress, loneliness and despair, the opioid epidemic, and the unique difficulties facing small-town America. These are serious problems that need long-term solutions. But in the meantime, the field of psychiatry desperately needs new treatment options for patients who show up with a stomach full of pills.

Now, scientists think that they may have found one — an old anesthetic called ketamine that, at low doses, can halt suicidal thoughts almost immediately.

The New York Times, November 30, 2018

CDC Director’s Media Statement on U.S. Life Expectancy

“The latest CDC data show that the U.S. life expectancy has declined over the past few years. Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide. Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable. CDC is committed to putting science into action to protect U.S. health, but we must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and healthier lives.” — Robert R. Redfield, M.D., CDC Director

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 29, 2018

Suicide kills 47,000 men, women and children a year. Society shrugs.

If a killer roaming America left 47,000 men, women and children dead each year, you can bet society would be demanding something be done to end the scourge.

Well, such a killer exists. It’s called suicide, and the rate of it has steadily risen.

Yet the national response has been little more than a shrug, apart from raised awareness whenever celebrities — fashion designer Kate Spade and renowned chef Anthony Bourdain, to name two this year — are tragically found dead by their own hand.

USA TODAY’s comprehensive look at this public health crisis and its ripple effect, published Wednesday, includes a daughter’s heart-wrenching narrative of losing a mother to suicide, as told by former Cincinnati Enquirer Managing Editor Laura Trujillo.

Although suicide is the 10th eading cause of death in America, efforts to understand and prevent it fall dismally short. The National Institutes of Health, by far the world’s largest underwriter of biomedical study, spent $68 million last year on suicide — a relatively small amount compared with NIH funds devoted to other leading killers.

USA Today, November 28, 2018

Suicide at the holidays: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students

According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), the suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled over the last two generations.

If we want that to change, DBSA needs your support.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance recognizes the transition to adulthood can be one of the most trying times in a person’s life. The uncertainty of the future, the fear of not fitting in, the stark reality of student loan debt, and the pressures of succeeding academically, can all contribute to mental health crises and substance use.

Corsicana Daily Sun, November 25, 2018

Guest commentary: School psychologists help prevent suicide

In 2017, the suicide rate for Utah children ages 10-17 was 42 per 100,000 people. The causes of suicide are complex, but there are some things community members and schools can do to prevent suicide.

Language plays an important role, said Lacey McFarland, the suicide prevention coordinator at Weber-Morgan Health Department.

“If we report suicide within safe messaging guidelines, that can open the doors to communication,” McFarland said. “If we sensationalize it or we glamorize it, then we can contribute to that spread.”

School counselors, school social workers and school psychologists all work together to prevent suicide by actively supporting student health and safety. While the role of each provider varies depending on school district and age of the students, each holds a common goal to create a supportive and healthy environment.

The Herald Journal News, November 23, 2018

Fifth of 17 to 19-year-old girls self-harm or attempt suicide

Biggest research into young people’s mental health for 13 years shows one in 10 boys also affected

A fifth of girls aged 17-19 and one in 10 boys the same age have self-harmed or tried to kill themselves, the biggest research into young people’s mental health for 13 years has found.

Experts said the figures were “deeply worrying” and raised serious questions about the damage that social media, pressures to look good, and sexual violence were doing to the mental welfare of young women in England.

The government-funded study has also prompted concern by revealing that 5.5% of children aged between two and four have a mental health disorder – the first time official figures have captured such data on young children.

The Guardian, November 22, 2018

Suicide: Study finds 4 genes that may raise risk

New research finds four genetic variants that may raise the risk of dying by suicide, regardless of environmental factors. The study also identifies hundreds of other genes that require further analysis and that may also raise the likelihood that a person dies by suicide.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 800,000 people die by suicide every year.

Among people aged 15–29, suicide is the second leading cause of death worldwide.

In the United States, almost 45,000 people die as a result of suicide every year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death among individuals of all ages.

Medical News Today, November 20, 2018

Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ Linked to Raised Suicide Risk in Study

Suicidal teenagers have claimed the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why raised their risk of taking their lives, according to a study.

Just over half of teenagers at risk of suicide (51 percent) who took part in a study published in the journal Psychiatric Services said the series increased their suicide risk. Teens who “strongly identified” with the main character were “significantly” more likely to hold this belief, the researchers found.

13 Reasons Why tells the story of high school student Hannah Baker, who leaves a box of cassette tapes detailing her motivations for taking her life. The hugely popular program was Googled more than any other show in the U.S. in 2017, the authors of the study highlighted.

The show sparked a debate about on-screen depictions of suicide, and prompted the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to publish guidance on the series amid fears it could encourage copycat cases and impact vulnerable youths.

Newsweek, November 20, 2018

Here’s how to better support people who are suicidal

I remember whispers, silence, and shame. When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, an older cousin violently ended his life. It was never openly discussed, leaving questions and grief surrounding his death to reverberate for years.

Decades later, suicide continues to create quiet circles of despair, a circle that grows ever wider in this country: The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers show a 25.4 percent jump in the national suicide rate from 1999 to 2016, when nearly 45,000 people ages 10 or older completed suicide. For every life lost, there are even more stories – from family, friends, and colleagues – that must be heard to eradicate the deep-seated stigma and the silence that contribute to this crisis.

Mashable, November 17, 2018

The Best Way To Save People From Suicide

It seemed so ridiculous: letters that could pull a person out of an abyss that deep. Not personal messages, but form letters typed out on one of the office’s IBM Selectrics. Motto wanted them to be simple and direct, with no clinical jargon or ass-covering fine print. Most importantly, they had to demand nothing. “No expressions like ‘you really should try to resume therapy’ or ‘would you fill out this depressive scale so we can determine what your status is?’” he said. It ought to convey a genuine sense of kinship—“simply what one might say to a friend.”

Motto didn’t take long to write the first letter a patient would receive. He knew what he wanted to say, hitting upon two sentences—37 words—that felt just right: “It has been some time since you were here at the hospital, and we hope things are going well for you. If you wish to drop us a note we would be glad to hear from you.”

With each letter they sent out, the research team’s secretaries enclosed a self-addressed envelope. Motto insisted that it not include a stamp. “That’s important,” he later explained, “because some of these persons were so sensitive that putting the stamp on the envelope would be pressure, that they’d feel obligated that we wouldn’t waste our stamp.”

Huffington Post, November 15, 2018

Nearly 1 in 5 teens seriously considers suicide. Can schools offer relief?

The statistics are sobering: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for ages 10 to 18, and the number of teens reporting feeling sad, hopeless or suicidal has risen. But experts say suicide is preventable. Special correspondent Lisa Stark of Education Week reports on how one Virginia high school is confronting the problem.

PBS News Hour, November 13, 2018

Concussion Tied to Suicide Risk

People who have experienced either a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury are twice as likely to commit suicide than others, a new review suggests.

The analysis also indicates that men and women who have had a concussion are also more likely to consider or attempt suicide.

The investigators stressed that the absolute risk of suicide for any one concussion patient remains very low.

Still, study lead author Dr. Michael Fralick said he was somewhat surprised that many of the 17 studies reviewed noted “that concussion was a clear risk factor for suicide, suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts.”

U.S. News & World Report, November 12, 2018

Two Georgia Siblings Create an App to Help Prevent Teen Suicide

What if, when you’re feeling vulnerable and alone and scared, you could push one button and the people who care about you most instantly came to help? That’s the idea behind notOK, an app developed by the Lucas siblings, Hannah, 16, and Charlie, 13, of Cumming, Georgia, that launched in January. The app sends a text message and current GPS location to up to five pre-selected contacts.

The idea for the app came to Hannah during a “really, really dark time” when she was dealing with severe depression and anxiety after being diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a chronic illness that causes frequent fainting. Mental health stats reinforce the need for help for teens: Depression rates in teens jumped by 63 percent from 2013 to 2016. More than 1.7 million youth with major depressive disorders received no treatment.

Parade, November 9, 2018

Mental health is a large concern across the country, and a recent study shows just how dire the situation is with college students

According to new research published in the Depression and Anxiety journal, more than 20 percent of college students experienced stressful events in the past year that were associated with mental health problems, including harming themselves and suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Study leaders analyzed data from a 2015 college health assessment survey that included more than 67,000 students.

Health Enews, November 9, 2018

Every 30 seconds, someone in the world commits suicide. Blue lights at railway stations can help tackle this.

Three thousand people commit suicide every day – 60% more than 50 years ago, according to the WorldHealth Organization. Yasuyuki Sawada, Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank, discusses the use of blue lights on platforms and crossings to reduce suicides.

An assessment of this approach in Japan found that it led to a 84% reduction in suicide at railway stations. Blue lights are also cheap to and easy to install. This evidence resulted in the adoption of blue lights for suicide prevention by railway companies in Europe.

VoxDev, July 11, 2018 (published here on Nov. 9, 2018)

Dellie Champagne: To address youth suicide, support mobile crisis services

In the recent Finding Hope series, the Monitor highlighted youth suicide as a surging crisis in New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s youth suicide rates are 50 percent higher than the national average, and they’re spiking. To the mother of a son with a serious and persistent mental illness, this is devastating. I applaud the Monitor for highlighting what is an avoidable situation in New Hampshire.

Suicide prevention must be addressed, and our lawmakers have a duty to ensure youth have access to critical care in New Hampshire. Together we are obligated to invest in our children and youth. We can all make a difference by coordinating care and increasing supports, building on the strengths of children and their families.

Concord Monitor, November 9, 2018

This Life with Gracie: Another suicide, another parent’s drive to prevent more

Things were starting to look up. Ivey Mustaki seemed more like herself. Happy. Hopeful again.

Her mom, Lauralyn Mustaki, could hear the cheer in her voice as they talked on the phone, making plans for the weekend. It was the same way the next day when Ivey talked with her grandmother from the kitchen and the two of them agreed on poached eggs for breakfast.

Ivey seemed to be in a good place. Then just moments later, her grandmother heard a noise in the bathroom. She found Ivey inside with a gunshot wound to the head.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 8, 2018

How to Talk to a Suicide Loss Survivor: What to Say, What to Avoid

Commonly referred to as Survivor Day, International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is devoted to remembering loved ones and offering comfort for suicide loss survivors. On this day, large and small events are held in communities all around the world, and there may be programs happening in your area.

Suicide is a hard topic to talk about, especially when it involves someone you know. It can be difficult to understand how to address a suicide in a compassionate manner, and you might refrain from talking to a suicide loss survivor out of fear that you will say something hurtful unintentionally. However, even if you aren’t a close friend of the person who’s grieving, it’s better to show you care than to avoid them entirely. To someone who recently lost a loved one, your support, even if it’s nonverbal, can make a difference.

The Recovery Village, November 7, 2018

Japan’s youth suicide rate highest in 30 years

Bullying, family issues, stress main factorsMore Japanese children and teenagers killed themselves between 2016 and 2017 than in any year since 1986, according to a new government report.

The latest survey shows 250 elementary and high school age children took their own lives in that year for a variety of reasons including bullying, family issues and stress, the country’s Ministry of Education said Monday, according to local media.

“The long break from school enables you to stay at home, so it’s heaven for those who are bullied,” Nanae Munemasa, then 17, told CNN in 2015. “When summer ends, you have to go back. And once you start worrying about getting bullied, committing suicide might be possible.”

ABC News 10, November 5, 2018

Suicide jokes’ normalization not harmful, brings important issues to light

There is a pretty good chance that you or one of your friends has said something along the lines of “just kill me” this week. Dark humor, particularly in the form of suicide jokes, has been rapidly gaining popularity among this generation’s youth and on social media since around 2011. Understandably, concerns have arisen about the effects of such a morbid collective mindset. People may worry that suicide jokes cause or romanticize suicide, but this is hardly ever the case.

Humor as a coping mechanism is not a new phenomenon. In late 1840s Germany, the term “gallows humor” was coined in reference to cynical humor arising from stressful or traumatic situations. Gallows humor is even commonplace in certain professional settings. Hospital workers and ER personnel frequently crack jokes that may seem insensitive to an outsider in order to cope with emotionally painful operations and patient deaths.

Journalists who have to report on disaster events and appalling crimes also employ gallows humor to stay sane. As for teens and young adults on the internet — well, with the circus that is the current American political landscape and the bleak nature of breaking news, it really isn’t surprising that gallows humor has become a social norm.

Collegiate Times, November 4, 2018

Suicide jokes’ normalization trivializes mental health issues, negatively impacts youth

We’ve all been there. The stress builds up, you’re under pressure, and you feel like a little humor might lighten your mood — so you make a joke. Maybe you ask if you can drink from your roommate’s container of bleach. Maybe, when you get a notification that your essay has been graded on Canvas, you tell your friend, “If I don’t get an A on this, I’m going to throw myself off a cliff.”

Our generation is defined by its morbid sense of humor. Open up Twitter, and you’re likely to see a slew of jokes suggesting that students escape the horrors of college and academic stress by walking into traffic or jumping off a bridge. Go on Facebook, and it’s all too easy to find any of a hundred different pages revolving around gallows humor. Venture onto Tumblr, and it should take only a few scrolls before you’re inundated with the bleakest of wisecracks about any number of challenges our generation faces, ranging from the wage gap to the #MeToo movement.

Collegiate Times, November 4, 2018

Guns End More Lives by Suicide Than Murder

Shootings make the headlines, yet the American public doesn’t know that guns take more lives by suicide than by homicide, a new study reveals.

In the United States, suicide is twice as common as murder, and suicide by firearm is more common than homicide by firearm, the researchers reported.

However, the new “research indicates that in the scope of violent death, the majority of U.S. adults don’t know how people are dying,” said study author Erin Morgan. She’s a doctoral student with the University of Washington School of Public Health’s department of epidemiology, in Seattle.

More Americans kill themselves with guns than kill others, Morgan said. This fact should give people who have guns second thoughts about how guns are stored and if they should keep firearms at all, she added.

Health Day, November 2, 2018

Bradley Hospital doctors addressing teenage suicide in new study

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 10-34. This statistic has doctors at Bradley Hospital in East Providence acting quickly to address the issue through a research study being conducted by the hospital’s PediMIND Program.

The study aims to better understand why some children engage in self-harm and whether there’s a link to suicide. 12 Eyewitness News, November 2, 2018

Mental health diagnoses rising among U.S. college students

A range of common mental health conditions are being diagnosed more often in U.S. university students, according to a study that also finds students are more willing to seek help than in the past.

Based on surveys of more than 450,000 college students at 452 institutions, researchers found that from 2009 to 2015, the proportion who report having a diagnosis or being treated has gone up for anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic attacks.

Anxiety and depression continue to be the most common self-reported conditions. Diagnosis or treatment of anxiety increased from about 9 percent of survey participants in 2009 to 15 percent in 2015, and depression diagnosis or treatment rose from 9 percent to 12 percent.

Reuters, November 1, 2018

October 2018

Generation Z reported the most mental health problems, and gun violence is the biggest stressor

Many members of Generation Z–young people between 15 and 21–have taken more active roles in political activism this year, and a new survey indicates that the state of the nation is to blame for this generation’s stress levels.

As gun violence, sexual assault claims and immigration dominate the 2018 news cycle, the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey says that such issues are the main cause of stress among young adults.

The survey, released Tuesday, was conducted among 3,459 people 18 and older, and it included interviews with 300 teenagers ages 15 to 17. It measures attitudes and perception of stress to identify the leading sources of stress among the general public.

CNN, October 30, 2018

Film offers remarkably candid look at Palo Alto teen suicides

One of Palo Alto’s darkest chapters is explored on the big screen in a remarkably personal documentary on suicides among students at the highly rated public schools in one of Silicon Valley’s toniest enclaves.

“The Edge of Success” features interviews with former students and teachers, parents and school officials reflecting on two tragic suicide clusters from 2009 to 2015 that claimed nine students’ lives. It premiered last week at the DTLA Film Festival in Los Angeles and is being shown at the Portland Film Festival this week.

The Mercury News, October 28, 2018

Study Plumbs Sources of Students’ Pain

New study explores the causes of mental health problems in college students, finding that many are not taking advantage of campus services.

Many research studies have been devoted to college students’ mental health and a lack of campus resources to help them. Now researchers, curious about what contributed to these issues, have decided to analyze numerous studies. They found that common contributing factors to students’ mental-health challenges were race, violence and sexual assault.

Professors at North Carolina State University and Pennsylvania State University studied 165 academic and news articles from 2010 to 2015 – including some from Inside Higher Ed – on college mental health. The authors of the study, which was published recently in the journal JMIR Mental Health, mined these pieces, identified certain terms and themes, then grouped them together into six general categories: age-related factors in mental health, race, crime, services that institutions offer, the “aftermath” of negative experiences in mental health, and violence and sexual assault.

Inside Higher Ed, October 25, 2018

How One Colorado Town Is Tackling Suicide Prevention — Starting With The Kids

At the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers, the town of Grand Junction, Colo., sits in a bowl of a valley ringed by tall mountains, desert mesas and red rock cliffs. For local residents like Victoria Mendoza, sometimes the setting makes her and others feel isolated.
“I know we can’t really fix this because it’s nature,” says Mendoza. “I feel like people in our valley feel like there’s only life inside of Grand Junction.”

Mendoza, 17, has battled with depression. It runs in her family. The first funeral she ever went to as a little girl was for an uncle who died by suicide. Things got even worse during the 2016-2017 school year. There were seven teen suicides, including a student Mendoza knew from being in band together. At another high school, a student killed himself in the parking lot in front of a crowd.

“It felt like there was this cloud around our whole valley,” Mendoza says. “It got to a point where we were just waiting for the next one.”

NPR, SHOTS–Health News from NPR, October 23, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a “technical package” of suicide-prevention strategies that can be used at the state and community levels as well as by psychiatrists and mental health professionals.

The 67-page document, titled “Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policies, Programs and Practices,” describes a select group of strategies based on the best available evidence. These strategies are described in seven chapters that cover the topics of strengthening economic supports, strengthening access and delivery of suicide prevention care, creating protective environments, promoting connectedness, teaching coping and problem-solving skills, identifying and supporting people at risk, and lessening harms and preventing future risk.

“States and communities already engaged in suicide prevention can use this technical package to assess their activities and see if there are areas in which to expand their efforts,” said Deb Stone, Sc.D., M.S.W., M.P.H., in comments to Psychiatric News. She is a behavioral scientist in the Division of Violence Prevention at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “For states and communities who have not begun work in the area of suicide prevention, this technical package can help guide decision making and prevention planning.”

Psychiatric News, American Psychiatric Association, October 12, 2018

Study: 1 in 5 College Students has Considered Suicide

College is a busy time for many young adults and it can also be a very stressful time.

A recent survey shows that as many as one in every five college students has considered suicide.

Scott Bea, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the study, but said young adulthood is often a perfect storm for stressors to get the best of us, but too often, we don’t talk about it.

“We do know that that developmental stage of college-age kids – late adolescence, early adulthood–is a really challenging time where people are struggling with their identity, with becoming independent, with managing–maybe for the first time-problems with their moods, anxiety, and suicide can have a place in their thoughts at times and unless we’re actively asking about it, we’re not going to know about it,” he said.

Dr. Bea said during young adulthood, our brains are still developing and we aren’t always equipped with the ability to handle stressors effectively when they begin to pile up.

Cleveland Clinic Newsroom, October 17, 2018

Lethality of first suicide attempt in youth higher than previously thought

An analysis of data from a study published in 2016 demonstrated that 71.4% of completed youth suicides occurred at the index attempt. Findings were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

In addition, firearms were implicated in 85% of lethal first suicide attempts among youth, according to the results.

“To date, most studies examining suicide risk after suicide attempt have relied on convenience samples limited to a particular attempt method, a specific treatment setting, or a specific type of care received after an attempt,” Alastair J.S. McKean, MD, from Mayo Clinic, and colleagues wrote. “As a result, these approaches have systematically overlooked those dying at the index attempt.”

Helio Psychiatric Annals, October 11, 2018

Lady Gaga Pens Powerful Op-Ed on Suicide and Mental Health Awareness

“We can no longer afford to be silenced by stigma.”

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, Lady Gaga is doing her part to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health issues and suicide. The A Star Is Born actress, along with World Health Organization’s director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, have penned a powerful new op-ed for The Guardian—and what they have to say is truly important.

“By the time you finish reading this, at least six people will have killed themselves around the world,” the duo begin the powerful letter aptly titled “800,00 people kill themselves every year. What can we do?”

Prevention, October 10, 2018

Massive survey finds 1 in 3 college freshmen struggle with mental health—here are 4 things you can do

Mental health is a major concern on college campuses around the world. According to new research published by the American Psychological Association, over one-third of first-year college students are impacted.

Researchers from the World Health Organization, led by Columbia University Psychology Professor Randy P. Auerbach, surveyed nearly 14,000 first-year college students from eight countries (Australia, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Spain and the U.S.) and found that 35 percent struggled with a mental illness. Auerbach says this finding “represents a key global mental health issue.”

CNBC, Make It, October 4, 2018

Nonprofit says someone commits suicide every 4.5 days in our area; they’re working to change that

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people younger than 34. Prior to 2013, the death rate among people ages 10-19 declined, but rose by 12% from 2013 to 2016. An increase in the number of suicides was a contributing factor.
NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Osborne talked to one of the leaders of the local organization, Natalie’s Light. Their members are fighting hard to reverse suicide trends.
Natalie’s Light was started after an Augusta Prep senior, Natalie Wood, took her own life in 2015. Hundreds showed up to her candle light vigil and that is when her mom, Dr. Leslie Lesoon realized how many people her daughter had touched. Dr. Lesoon gathered friends like Dr. Laura Hughes and created the non-profit, Natalie’s Light, to continue impacting young lives. “In our area, someone dies of suicide every four and a half days,” says Dr. Laura Hughes.

WJBF, ABC News Channel, October 3, 2018

AFSP Has Over 40 Videos to Answer Your Questions about Suicide


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a series of short videos –over 40 of them!–on the topic of Learning More About Suicide. Covering topics like Opiods and Suicide, Social Media and Suicide, How Parents Can Talk to Kids about Suicide, Suicide Contagion and many more.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, October 2, 2018

Suicide rates are rising across the US and the numbers are not subtle

Suicide is contagious; in fact a recent British study revealed that experiencing the suicide of a close friend or family member increases your risk of attempting suicide yourself. Of course such a painful event can also make you more sensitive to another’s suffering and put you more in a position to help prevent a suicide.

I vividly recall many years ago when one of my closest friends, a fellow physician, came to see me for lunch and when he said goodbye I had the uncomfortable feeling that he was saying goodbye for good. I talked myself out of the feeling and two weeks later he drove his car into a wall at high speed, devastating his family and friends. Ever since I have been more on the lookout for the signs of desperation and a suicidal plan in others. The next time someone tried to say goodbye to me for good I called 911 just in time.

The Hill, October 1, 2018


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

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

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

We know the facts well:

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

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

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

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

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


The original post from December, 2017:

The Gun Lobby Is Hindering Suicide Prevention

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

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

The New York Times, December 26, 2017



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

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

Safe States • • 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