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Why Suicide Is More Than A Mental Health Issue

Suicide prevention efforts shift towards improving mental health of everyone

Renowned chef Anthony Bourdain has been found dead in France while working on CNN program. He’s part of an age cohort with rising suicide rates in the U.S. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
The deaths this week of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade come at at a time when new numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show suicide is on the rise.

The CDC said suicide rates in the U.S. increased more than 30 per cent between 1999 and 2016. The reasons for the rise are complicated and multidimensional.

“Suicide is more than a mental health issue,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, told reporters on Thursday.

“We don’t think we can just leave this to the mental health system to manage.”

Multiple circumstances

Bourdain took his own life, CNN said Friday. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled that Spade’s death earlier this week was also a suicide.

Spade’s husband and business partner, Andy Spade, said she suffered from depression and anxiety for many years, but was seeing a doctor regularly and taking medication.

In its Vital Signs report, the CDC said that nearly 45,000 Americans died by their own hand in 2016. The latest U.S. data suggests in 54 per cent of completed suicides, there were no known mental health conditions.

In a sampling of 27 states, relationship problems were considered a contributing factor in 42 per cent of all suicides in 2015. “Problematic substance use” was listed in 28 per cent of cases.

Even so, the CDC acknowledges that poor mental health isn’t always easy to detect. The agency said there could be a number of reasons why the reported level of mental illness could underestimate its actual effect, including:

  • Not all illnesses are formally diagnosed.
  • Stigma still surrounds a diagnosis.
  • Loved ones might not have been aware of a mental health condition.

 

‘Disturbing’ age findings

Bourdain and Spade died at 61 and 55, respectively — an age cohort with strikingly high suicide rates in the U.S., according to the CDC.

“Middle-aged adults had the largest number of suicides and a particularly high increase in suicide rates. These findings are disturbing,” said Schuchat.

Patrick Smith, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Toronto, said he isn’t aware of a similar increase among that age group in Canada. But he said Bourdain and Spade’s deaths show that high-profile status is no bulwark against depression and other mental illnesses.

“Someone doesn’t say, ‘Wow, they had everything. I can’t believe they got cancer.’ But we still say that about suicide or depression,” said Smith.

“That’s really the societal challenge — to try to understand that depression and other mental illnesses can be found in every postal code and every income bracket.”

In the U.S., middle-aged adults also have higher rates of drug overdoses, Schuchat said. She pointed to emerging social science research suggesting increases in suicide correlate with “deaths of despair” among middle-age populations who may be harder hit by economic downturns.

suicide

 

The need for intervention

Suicide ranked as the ninth-leading cause of death in Canada in 2009, the last year for which numbers are available, and is the 10th-leading cause of death overall in the U.S.

In both countries, suicide prevention efforts are shifting toward meeting people’s needs before they reach crisis. Just as doctors don’t wait until cancer reaches stage 4 to intervene, Smith said experience in the U.K. shows that after community-based programs to provide support to people in workplaces and schools were introduced, prison populations were reduced and there was a dramatic drop in emergency room visits.

In countries with more community support, rates of feeling suicidal will be similar, Smith said, but there’s a better chance of having lower suicide rates.

Everyone has to take care of their mental health and the goal is to normalize conversations to improve and enhance it, Smith said.

Bourdain spoke to CBC last year about some of the psychological challenges he faced separating from his second wife and missing his daughter while travelling the globe for his show Parts Unknown. He’d also talked about his struggles with mental health and a history of drug use.

The CDC recommends teaching children, teens and adults coping and problem-solving skills, building social connections and maintaining dialogue. The agency also encourages safe storage of pills and guns.

Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service

Toll-free 1-833-456-4566

Text: 45645

Chat: crisisservicescanada.ca

In French: Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

Kids Help Phone:  1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Here are some warning signs:

    • Suicidal thoughts.
    • Substance abuse.
    • Purposelessness.
    • Anxiety.
    • Feeling trapped.
    • Hopelessness and helplessness.
    • Withdrawal.
    • Anger.
    • Recklessness.
    • Mood changes.
CBC News      Jun 08, 2018
With files from CBC’s Amina Zafar and Associated Press
source: www.cbc.ca
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Depression Top Cause of Disability, WHO Says

Youth, pregnant or post-partum women, and the elderly are three groups particularly vulnerable

More than 4 per cent of the world’s population lives with depression, and women, youth and the elderly are the most prone to its disabling effects, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

An estimated 322 million people suffered depressive disorders in 2015, a rise of 18.4 per cent in a decade, as people live longer, the United Nations agency said in a report.

Global economic losses exceed $1 trillion US a year, it said, referring to lost productivity due to apathy or lack of energy that lead to an inability to function at work or cope with daily life.

“Depression is the single largest contributor to years lived with disability. So it’s the top cause of disability in the world today,” Dr. Dan Chisholm of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse told a news briefing.

Depression is 1.5 times more common among women than men, he said. A further 250 million people suffer anxiety disorders, including phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive behaviour and post-traumatic stress disorder, the report said. Some 80 per cent of those stricken with mental illness live in low- and middle-income countries.

“That puts paid to the notion of these disorders being diseases of the rich or the affluent, that is not the case. In fact in many countries people who are affected by poverty, unemployment, civil strife and conflict are actually at higher risk of certainly anxiety disorders and also depression,” Chisholm said.

depression
Depression is 1.5 times more common among women than men,
according to the World Health Organization.

Three age groups are particularly vulnerable to depression — youth, pregnant or post-partum women, and the elderly.

“The pressures on today’s youth are like no other generation perhaps,” Chisholm said. “Another target group is women who are pregnant or have just given birth. Depression around that period is actually extremely common, around 15 per cent of women will suffer not just ‘the blues’, but a diagnosable case of depression.”

Retirees are also susceptible. “When we stop working or we lose our partner we become more frail, more subject to physical diseases and disorders like depression do become more common.”

An estimated 800,000 people die by suicide each year, a “pretty horrifying figure”, Chisholm said.

“It is more common in males in higher income countries but more common in females in lower- and middle-income countries.”

The WHO is running a campaign to tackle stigma and misconceptions called “Depression: Let’s Talk.”

“We feel that is a key first step, that if we want to bring mental health, depression and other mental disorders out of the shadows, we need to be able to talk about it,” Chisholm said.

Where to get help

Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat (online chat counselling) – visit http://www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs:

  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Purposelessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feeling trapped.
  • Hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Anger.
  • Recklessness.
  • Mood changes.

 

related:
 
Feb 23, 2017    source:  Thompson Reuters   www.cbc.ca


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Canada Needs a Comprehensive Mental Health Strategy

Mental illness is the most common illness found in Canada’s children and teens. We all know a young person who struggles with depression, anxiety, an addiction or a behavioural disorder. Mental illness causes high levels of distress in children and can significantly interfere with their lives.

But mental illnesses can often be prevented from developing, or becoming more severe and difficult to treat.

A new report from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy found that 14 per cent of all children and teens in the province were diagnosed by a doctor with at least one mental disorder during the four-year study. These are diagnosed cases, so if we included all children who experienced a mental disorder, the percentage would be higher.

Other provinces report similar findings. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario found that 34 per cent of high school students had a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress and 12 per cent seriously thought about suicide in the past year. A report prepared for the British Columbia government found that 12.6 per cent of four-to-17-year-old children experienced a clinically significant mental disorder at any given time.

What struck us, in completing the Manitoba report, is that mental illness touches children from all corners of the province and across all socio-economic levels.

But children in families with many parenting challenges — like poverty, being a teen mom or being involved with child welfare services — are at greater risk of developing mental illness. Our results also suggest children from rural areas may not have adequate and timely access to mental health services.

Manitoba records over a four-year period show that 74 out of 100,000 teens died by suicide. And these tragic deaths are only a fraction of those with mental illness. For every teen suicide, there are another 200 or more teens who struggle with depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), addictions or schizophrenia.

Suicide most often occurs when mental illness — and the conditions that place children and teens at risk for mental illness — are not addressed. It’s crucial to instil hope in our young people and build awareness of the many solutions to their problems.

mental health

So how can we better support children with mental illness? How do we create hope and better lifelong health and success for this future generation?

It’s essential to develop and invest in a comprehensive child and youth mental health strategy at provincial and national levels. We need strategies to promote positive mental health and provide supports and services early in the illness. Home visiting in early childhood, for example, reduces depression, anxiety and use of substances in children.

Children require a warm, nurturing environment. High levels of stress damage the mental health of children. Prevention programs include positive parenting, home visiting, antibullying initiatives and mental health promotion in schools — all aimed at preventing mental illness from developing.

More than half of mental disorders have their roots in childhood, so increasing resources for children will reduce the burden of mental illness in adulthood.

Our study found that children with mental illnesses are more likely to have lower grades and less likely to graduate. They’re also more likely to be accused of a crime or to be victimized. They’re more likely to be from families living in social housing or receiving income assistance.

Increasing the mental health knowledge and skills of people working with children across education, social services and justice systems would mitigate the untoward effects of mental illness.

Canada spends too little on mental health compared to other developed countries. The Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends that nine per cent of health budgets should go to improving mental health services.

Investments in mental health and wellness for children and teens will go a long way toward creating hope and a brighter future.

Jan 17, 2017        Waterloo Region Record       By Mariette Chartier and Marni Brownell

Mariette J. Chartier, RN, PhD, is a research scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. Chartier has published in the area of population health, mental health and prevention and early intervention programs for children and their parents. Marni Brownell, PhD, is an expert adviser with EvidenceNetwork.ca and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. She is also a senior research scientist with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, and a research scientist with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. © 2017 Distributed by Troy Media


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Study focuses on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents

Study focuses on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 11 in 2014. This was the first time suicide had shown up in the CDC’s top ten leading causes of death for children in this age group.

A recent study from Arielle Sheftall, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital demonstrates that some individual characteristics and precipitating circumstances may be more prominent in children who die by suicide compared with early adolescents who die by suicide. It is the first study to exclusively focus on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents, defined as ages 5 to 14.

“Children who died by suicide were more likely to have relationship problems with family members or friends whereas early adolescents were more likely to have boyfriend or girlfriend relationship problems,” said Dr. Sheftall, first author of the study. “These differences tended to fall along developmental lines given elementary school-aged children are more likely to spend time with family and friends and less likely to engage in romantic relationships, which become more common during adolescence.”

A current mental health problem was present in approximately 33 percent of decedents in the study sample. Among this group, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD was more common in children who died by suicide compared to early adolescent decedents, who were more likely to be affected by depression or dysthymia.

Dr. Sheftall and her colleagues used the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) and analyzed suicide deaths from 2003 to 2012 in 17 different states, segregating them by age group. The NVDRS database is unique in its inclusion of information from multiple sources including medical examiners and law enforcement reports. This allows more in-depth information to be gathered concerning personal, familial, and social factors surrounding a child’s death.

suicide

“We also found that 29 percent of children and early adolescents disclosed their intention for suicide to someone prior to their death,” says Dr. Sheftall. “Our study highlights the importance of educating pediatricians, primary health care providers, school personnel and families on how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and what steps to take when suicidal intent is disclosed. These warning signs include a child making suicidal statements, being unhappy for an extended period, withdrawing from friends or school activities or being increasingly aggressive or irritable.”

Research indicates that the use of suicide risk screening tools by pediatricians increases the detection of suicide risk in youth 400 percent without overburdening clinical care. Not only do pediatricians potentially see at-risk children on a regular basis, early detection allows the healthcare providers an opportunity to alert parents of potential risks and increases the likelihood of a child receiving mental health services in a timely fashion.

“Although suicide is extremely rare in elementary school-aged children, parents should be aware that children can and sometimes do think about suicide,” says Jeff Bridge, PhD, director of the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study. “It is important to ask children directly about suicide if there is a safety concern. Research has refuted the notion that asking children directly about suicide will trigger suicidal thinking or behavior. It does not hurt to ask. In fact, asking about suicide leads to hope for at-risk youth.”

The report also notes a recent increase in suicide rates among black children. Suicide by hanging, strangulation or suffocation was more common among black decedents in both age groups. More research is needed to establish whether unique patterns of suicide risk exist, so that prevention efforts might incorporate diverse strategies according to the children’s developmental level, race or ethnicity. The research team is currently investigating the best ways to screen young people for suicide risk in healthcare settings and make treatment recommendations to keep those youth identified as being at risk safe.

September 19, 2016
Source:  Nationwide Children’s Hospital   www.news-medical.net


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Mental Illness And Teens: It Impacts Every One Of Us

It could be any of us. Any of our kids. Any of our nieces or nephews. Our grandkids. The students in our class. Our friends’ kids. Our neighbours’ kids. Our co-workers’ kids. The list goes on…

The fact is, mental illness impacts more of us than we realize.

The reality is, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime.

Did you know that 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder?

Sadly, only one out of five children who need mental health services receives them.

That is heartbreaking and unacceptable.

So many Canadian youth are struggling with depression and anxiety, and far too many aren’t getting help. Too many young lives have been cut short.

Madeline Grace German Coulter was one of them. That is why The Huffington Post Canada is launching Frame Of Mind, a new blog series inspired by The Maddie Project that will focus on teens and mental health.

The series aims to raise awareness and spark a conversation by speaking directly to teens who are going through a tough time, as well as their families, teachers and community leaders. We want to ensure that teens who are struggling with mental illness get the help, support and compassion they need.

youth

 

Kicking off our conversation

The series is running over four weeks and we start with a deeply moving blog from Glen Canning on his message to youth who are struggling and have lost hope. Mental health superhero Alicia Raimundo shares her inspiring story, and professional golfer Andrew Jensen explains why he talks about depression.

Nicole German writes about losing her daughter Maddie and why empathy is so important in mental health. Maddie’s father, Chris Coulter, writes about the real pain of depression. We also have blogs on the heartbreak of teen suicide, the complicated teenage brain and many more important topics.

Why talk about it?

From time to time I hear people flippantly say, “That is sad, I don’t want to read about that” or “That doesn’t impact me.” What many people don’t realize is that avoiding reading about something or talking about it doesn’t make the issue go away. I would argue that it contributes to the problem.

The propensity to avoid sadness and uncomfortable topics in society is akin to putting one’s head in the sand. What good is it going to serve? How will that help people who are struggling? How will services improve? How will that move policies and funding forward?

It is only when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and listen and empathize that we better understand their struggles, mindsets and frustrations.

The future is bright

Over the coming weeks, blogs in our series will be addressing symptoms of depression and anxiety, mental health in the classroom, bullying, the link between social media and depression, tips to protect your child’s mental health, suicide prevention and many more topics.

Carol Todd, Kids Help Phone, The Canadian Mental Health Association, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, former Olympians Silken Laumann and Ian Warner, parenting expert Alyson Shafer, teachers, psychologists, counsellors and dozens more will be sharing their stories, perspectives, words of advice and inspiring messages of hope.

It is blogs at their best. Personal, insightful and inspiring.

We hope you enjoy the series and learn more about how you can help teens who are struggling. Please follow along, comment, share and join the conversation.

It truly has been a passion project for us here at HuffPost Canada. Thanks to all those who have contributed to the series. Talking about youth mental illness and suicide prevention isn’t easy, but our bloggers have done so with so much grace, bravery, honesty and compassion.

They have shown that we can only truly understand one another and better understand youth mental illness when we respect each other’s Frame Of Mind.

If you or someone you know is at risk
please contact your nearest Crisis Centre
or call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868
to speak to a counsellor.
If you would like to contribute a blog to Frame Of Mind, please email cablogteam@huffingtonpost.com
09/07/2016      Amy Gibson
Managing Editor of Blogs, Huffington Post Canada


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This One Childhood Experience Turns Out to Have Major Consequences Later in Life

According to results of a new study, you might want to rethink before moving your family around at a vulnerable time.

In 2014, according to a United States national census, more than 11% of Americans relocated across state borders. In our mobile society, this might seem like par for the course—no cause for alarm. But what about the effects such internal migration has on children later in life? Washington Post writer Christopher Ingraham recently asked this very question. His conclusion: In the long run, it’s bad for the kids.

For the article, Ingraham drew on the findings of a recent study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that addressed the effects of moving one’s family around. In the study, a team of researchers conducted a comprehensive analysis using information gathered from everyone in Denmark born between 1971-1997 (which is only marginally less impressive when you consider that the country is around a third the size of New York state.) The team looked at the ratio rates of “attempted suicide, violent criminality, psychiatric illness, substance misuse, and natural and unnatural deaths” within this data set.

Their conclusion? Based on the “uniquely complete and accurate registration of all residential changes in [Denmark’s] population,” the team found that moving during childhood was directly tied to an increase in all of these measured negative outcomes later in life. And repeated moves in the course of a year — even worse. The team further found that children are most vulnerable at ages 12-14, with those who moved at 14 experiencing double the risk of suicide by middle age.

Young man in the dark

As Ingraham duly noted, however, while the study took into account parents’ income and psychiatric history as a control, the data was unable to provide information on the reasoning behind the moves. Ingraham illustrated this flaw by pointing to previous research conducted in the United States, which shows that beyond the act of moving itself, environment plays a far greater role in childhood development and its implications for adulthood. In other words, the positive effects of moving during childhood to a less violent neighborhood far outweigh any negative consequences. Of course, this oversight could also be attributed to Denmark having a generally lower rate of violent crime.

One of the study’s findings likely to carry more weight in the U.S. and abroad concerns the effects of changing schools. For these purposes, the study only considered moves across municipal boundaries, which meant a change in the child’s school district. Here the authors concluded:

“Relocated adolescents often face a double stress of adapting to an alien environment, a new school, and building new friendships and social networks, while simultaneously coping with the fundamental biological and developmental transitions that their peers also experience.”

Overall the results of the research are pretty damning. How much they directly apply contextually to other countries such as the United States is less clear. The study’s authors conceded that “the findings may not apply universally beyond Denmark, although it seems likely that they are relevant to other western societies with similar drivers of residential mobility.”

It seems pretty logical that changing one’s living environment during the onset of puberty could have lasting psychological consequences, and families that need to do so should take into account the hardship it presents to their growing children. Any direct link to higher risks of other negative consequences later on in life may be harder to establish.

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York.
He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.
By Robin Scher / AlterNet June 15, 2016


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Here’s How To Cut High School Suicide Attempts 23%

Regular exercise for high school students can reduce suicide by 23%, a new study finds.

Exercise had a beneficial effect on both suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

The study is the first to show that exercise can help students who are being bullied.

Dr Jeremy Sibold, who led the research, said:

“I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves.
Even if one kid is protected because we got them involved in an after-school activity or in a physical education program it’s worth it.”

The US survey of 13,583 high school students found that physical activity on four or more days was linked to a 23% reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts.

bullying sad teen child depression
Bullied high school students three times as likely to think about suicide.

The survey also revealed that:

  • 30% of students reported feeling sad for two or more weeks over the past year.
  • 22% reported suicidal thoughts.
  • 8.2% reported suicide attempts.

Bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness and three times as likely to think about suicide or try to act on those thoughts.

Suicide Awareness

Despite the benefits of exercise, many school administrators across the US are cutting physical education.

Currently only around half of young people in the US meet minimum standards for exercise (at least 60 minutes per day).

Dr Sibold said:

“It’s scary and frustrating that exercise isn’t more ubiquitous and that we don’t encourage it more in schools.
Instead, some kids are put on medication and told ‘good luck.’
If exercise reduces sadness, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts, then why in the world are we cutting physical education programs and making it harder for students to make athletic teams at such a critical age?”

The research was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Sibold et al., 2015).
source: PsyBlog