Sunday, November 20, 2011

SUICIDE PREVENTION IS EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS: Bending the Curve on Suicide By Thomas Insel, M.D....

SUICIDE PREVENTION IS EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS: Bending the Curve on Suicide By Thomas Insel, M.D....: Bending the Curve on Suicide By Thomas Insel, M.D. NIMH Director

Saturday, November 12, 2011

~~~~~~~~~~ FYI FROM: The Weekly Spark – Week of November 18, 2011 (NOTE: CONTENT OF THIS BLOG IS PREPARED AND E-DISTRIBUTED BY THE 'SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCE CENTER (SPRC). SEE CLOSING PARAGRAPHS "About the Weekly Spark." THIS SPRC BLOG OCCASIONALLY INCLUDES THEIR RECOMMENDATION TO READERS TO PASS THIS BLOG'S CONTENT ALONG 'TO A FRIEND,' THEREBY BEING CONSISTENT WITH THE SPRC REQUEST. (posted by mmoldevenAbout the Weekly Spark) ~~~~~~ CONTENT ~~~~~ Research Summaries | National News | State and Tribal News | International News | Funding Opportunities ANNOUNCEMENTS: American Association of Suicidology announces student research proposal competition The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) invites students to submit research design proposals concerning the advancement of suicide prevention for the first annual Student Research Proposal Competition for its 45th annual conference to be held April 18-21, 2012 in Baltimore. Proposals should be descriptions of a feasible study with a two-year (or shorter) timeframe. The proposals should not be for studies that have already been completed, but for potential future study ideas. The registration fee for the conference will be waived for the winners. In addition, abstracts of the selected proposals will be featured in the March 2012 AAS Student E-Newsletter. Deadline for submission is November 30, 2011. For more information Department of Veterans Affairs launches public awareness campaign based on personal testimonials The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched “Make the Connection,” a national public awareness campaign based on personal video testimonials of veterans who faced mental health issues, reached out for support, and found ways to overcome their challenges. Developed after extensive audience research, the campaign seeks to make it easy for veterans to “make the connection” between what they are experiencing and the resources and services that can help them. For more information Archived webinars on suicide and young children now available Well Aware has made available podcasts and PowerPoint slides from their fall series of three webinars themed “starting young, starting early.” The webinars, sponsored by the state of Wyoming using Garrett Lee Smith funding. include Cry for Help: Can Children Elementary-Age and Younger Really Be Suicidal?; Guiding Light: Helping Parents Comprehend the Potential for Suicide in Their Children; and How Young Is Too Young? Age-Appropriate Programs to Foster Suicide Prevention in Children. For more information Massachusetts Transgender Suicide Prevention Working Group launches suicide prevention video Aimed at transgender people and their family and friends, Saving Our Lives comprises three vignettes that explore situations in which someone notices suicide warning signs, and asks their friend the difficult question: “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” The three scenarios presented in the video include ideas on how to support a friend who may be in crisis; appropriate questions to ask; and ways to show a friend they are supported and cared for. In addition, the video includes helpful resources for supporting someone who may be suicidal, as well as self-support to be used when helping a friend or community member with an emergency situation. The video was produced in partnership with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. For more information RESEARCH SUMMARIES: Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD, & Suicide among Veterans Brenner, L.A., Betthauser, L.M., Homaifar, B. Y., Villarreal, E., Harwood, J.E., Staves, P. J., & Huggins, J. A. (2011). Posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and suicide attempt history among veterans receiving mental health services. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 41(4):416-423. The authors of a recent article recommend that clinicians consider both post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) when assessing veterans for suicide risk. The study on which this recommendation was based was designed to help understand why veterans receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration have a suicide rate significantly higher than that of the general population. The research team also stressed the importance of developing better screening measures for TBI, given its association with suicide and a number of other physical and behavioral health problems. These conclusions were based on a study that revealed that the risk of a suicide attempt by veterans seeking mental health services who are afflicted by PTSD was 2.8 times that of veterans without a history of PTSD (but who were also seeking mental health services). A history of TBI was not found to significantly increase the risk of a suicide attempt for veterans regardless of whether they had a history of PTSD. However, the risk of a suicide attempt for veterans with both PTSD and TBI was 3.3 times that of their peers with a history of TBI but who did not have a history of PTSD, a finding which confirms the importance of screening veterans with TBI for PTSD. The research team reviewed records of veterans seeking mental health services at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The sample included 81 veterans with histories of suicide attempts and 160 controls of veterans who were seeking mental health services, but did not have a history of suicide attempts, matched on variables such age and gender. Link to Abstract Top of Page NEWS HEADLINES: National News | State and Tribal News | International News National News Harvard researcher puts spotlight on suicide, Clinical Psychiatry News, Nov. 9, 2011 This article profiles Matthew Nock, a professor of psychology at Harvard who is researching the connections between depression, anxiety, poor impulse control, and suicidal behavior. Earlier this year, Nock received a $500,000 award from the MacArthur Foundation to support his research on suicide. Nock’s work has helped to give clinicians and researchers a better sense of who is at risk for suicide, according to Morton Silverman, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago and senior adviser to SPRC. Silverman also noted that the MacArthur Foundation grant has brought recognition to the study of suicide and suicide prevention. “It’s been a tremendous boost, I think, to putting the s-word on the kitchen table,” said Silverman. Link to Article Spark Extra! Learn more about the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, which is developing a prioritized research agenda for suicide prevention Suicide prevention tool useful in teens, adults, ABC News, Nov. 9, 2011 The Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) can help identify adolescents and adults at risk for suicide, according to researchers who recently tested the questionnaire. The researchers tested the scale, which ranks suicidal thoughts and plans along a five-point scale, in three populations: adolescent suicide attempters; depressed teens; and adults who visited emergency departments for psychiatric reasons. Study participants who gave “worrisome answers” to the questions on the scale were 50 percent more likely to attempt suicide during the following year, the researchers found. According to lead study author Kelly Posner, the C-SSRS (which is already in use in jails, schools, hospitals, defense forces and other settings worldwide) is easy to administer, yet identifies a range of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Link to Article Spark Extra! Read the abstract of “The Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale: Initial Validity and Internal Consistency Findings from Three Multisite Studies with Adolescents and Adults” Murder, suicide exceed medical deaths in pregnancy, Reuters, Oct. 27, 2011 Expectant mothers are more likely to die by suicide or homicide than from several of the most common pregnancy-related medical problems, according to a new study that examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System. Women who died by suicide within the study period (2003-2007) were more likely to be white or Native American, unmarried and over 40. About half of the women who died by suicide or were murdered were experiencing conflict with current or former partners. According to lead study author Christie Palladino, pregnancy is a prime opportunity to prevent suicides and homicides, especially those related to intimate partner violence, because women regularly see health care providers. Link to Article Spark Extra! Read the abstract of “Homicide and Suicide During the Perinatal Period: Findings From the National Violent Death Reporting System” Top of Page State and Tribal News Alaska : Alaska teen leading the charge to prevent suicides, Deseret News, Nov. 13, 2011 Tessa Baldwin, a 17-year-old high school student who is a youth representative of Alaska’s Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, is using her personal story to engage Alaska youth in suicide prevention. Baldwin, who knew six people who died by suicide by the time she was 10, has testified at a U.S Senate field hearing on Alaska Native suicide presided over by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and spoken to the Alaska Association of Student Governments (AASG) conference. According to AASG executive director Carol Waters, having a student take the lead on suicide prevention efforts is invaluable because she can engage other students. “They have to hear the stories,” said Waters. “Every kid in the state is affected, whether it’s been a family member or someone they know.” Baldwin has also launched Hope4Alaska, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention, which recently received a $25,000 award from Alaska Marketplace, a competition sponsored by the Alaska Federation of Natives. Link to Article Spark Extra! Read U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s short opinion piece The Road Ahead: Reflections on Native suicide Summits Top of Page International News Europe: Solitary confinement a mental health risk, News 24, Nov. 10, 2011 Suicide rates among inmates in solitary confinement are higher than rates among the general prison population, according to a new report from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). “Isolation can have extremely damaging effects on mental health,” said the committee’s president, Letif Huseynov. The report found that maximum permitted sentences of solitary confinement varied from three days in Scotland to 56 in Ireland; in some countries, such as Italy and Russia, courts have the right to sentence defendants to serve portions of their prison terms in solitary confinement. The CPT recommends that solitary confinement should be a rarely used punishment and that its use should be limited to 14 days. Link to Article Spark Extra! Read the World Health Organization report Preventing Suicide in Jails and Prisons Top of Page FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: No Funding Opportunities Found for the week of November 18, 2011 Top of Page The Weekly Spark contains announcements and information about suicide, suicide prevention and mental health issues. We offer brief summaries of national, state and international news; analyses of relevant research findings; descriptions of funding opportunities, and links to additional resources. The Weekly Spark is written and edited by SPRC staff. Every effort is made to offer relevant and timely information with links to the original content as available. We welcome your suggestions at In general, the Weekly Spark does not include editorials, opinion pieces or information on local events. Events may be listed in the SPRC Calendar Subscribe to or unsubscribe from the Weekly Spark.

The Weekly Spark – Week of November 11, 2011

Following the experience of a traumatic or victimizing event such as combat or natural disaster, many individuals suffer some impact from the exposure but over time demonstrate resilience or the ability to “bounce back.” Others experience persistent adjustment problems and may go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorders. The webinar, Road Map to Resilience: Ways to Bolster Resilience and Well-Being,, discusses what distinguishes these two groups and examines specific ways to bolster resilience in six areas (physical, interpersonal, emotional, thinking, behavioral and spiritual domains).

For more information
“Place Matters” - webinar on addressing behavioral health needs of children and families in rural communities, Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET 
“Place Matters” A Conversation about Rural America and Social Determinantsexamines the impact of social determinants of health and effective practice to promote children's behavioral health in rural communities. Presenters Jessica Ulrich of the Carsey Institute and Joyce Sebian of the National TA Center for Children's Mental Health will introduce four broad types of rural places and explore their relationship to social determinants of health. Registration deadline is November 15.

For more information
University of Michigan Depression Center hosts 10th Annual Depression on College Campuses Conference, March 7-8, 2012, Ann Arbor, Michigan
This conference will focus on new research findings and innovative strategies to help college campuses integrate prevention, resilience, and positive mental health into their ongoing efforts to support student mental health. Agenda topics include: building strength and resilience in college students; addressing the needs of veterans and returning service members; and using educational theater to promote mental health awareness. Registration is free for students from any campus. The registration fee for non-students is $130 before February 1st, and $145 after February 1st.

For more information


Latina Adolescents and Suicide
Zayas, L. H., Hausmann-Stabile, C., & Kuhlberg, J. (2011). Can better mother-daughter relations reduce the chance of a suicide attempt among Latinas?Depression Research and Treatment, 403602. doi:10.1155/2011/403602.

Concerned that adolescent Latinas have a higher suicide attempt rate than their peers from other ethnic groups, a research team from Washington University explored the relationships among Hispanic cultural involvement, mother-daughter relations, and the risk of suicidal behavior among young Latinas living in the United States. Given that family conflict is a risk factor for suicide, and family communication and connectedness protects against suicide, the team theorized that Latina girls who were less involved with Hispanic culture (and more involved in the mainstream culture of the United States) would experience more family and maternal conflict, based on the differences between the two cultures, which in turn would raise their suicide risk.

The team interviewed and assessed 232 adolescent Latinas between the ages of 11 and 19, 122 of whom had attempted suicide in the previous six months. The mother-daughter relationship was based on an assessment of “muturality” – that is, “how attuned girls felt with their mothers” across six variables: empathy, engagement, authenticity, diversity, empowerment, and zest. An “acculturation” assessment was used to measure involvement in Hispanic (and U.S.) culture.

Previous research has indicated that “among Latina adolescents, low levels of family support and high levels of family conflict are associated with more internalizing behaviors” which raise the risk of suicidal behaviors. These internalizing behaviors include “withdrawn behavior (i.e., prefers being alone; does not enjoy very much; lacks energy; shy or timid), anxious depressive (i.e. frequently crying; feels unloved, worthless; worries), and somatic complaints (i.e., nightmares; constipation; headaches; tired).”

An analysis of the assessments revealed that Latina adolescents who had attempted suicide reported less mutuality with their mothers and higher levels of the internalizing behaviors associated with suicide risk. Girls with more Hispanic cultural involvement had better relations with their mothers, lower levels of the internalizing behaviors associated with suicidality, and a lower risk of attempting suicide. However, withdrawn-depressive behaviors were associated with in a statistically significant increase in suicide attempts even for Latina adolescents who had good relations with their mothers.

The research did not find any differences among the girls based on the country of origin of their families.

The authors of this study suggest that therapies traditionally used in the United States, which often stress individualism, may conflict with the family-centered values of Latino culture. The authors recommend using family therapies to treat Latina adolescents at risk for suicide. These therapies promote communication in the family, strengthen the mother-daughter relationship, and thus may reduce the risk of suicide for young Latinas. The authors also recommend helping Latino families understand how adolescent development and the acculturation process can strain the relationship between Latina adolescents and their parents, and how family engagement and communication can help relieve this conflict – and reduce the risk of a suicide attempt.

Link to Full Text


National News

Family crisis therapy helps suicidal teens, Psych Central, Nov. 3, 2011
A family-based intervention for suicidal adolescents in the emergency department can significantly improve rates of mental health follow-up treatment after youth are discharged, according to a new UCLA study. The researchers studied 181 youth who were admitted to one of two emergency departments in Los Angeles County due to a suicide attempt or because they had thoughts of suicide. Youth received either treatment as usual or an enhanced mental health intervention. The intervention included a family-based crisis therapy session designed to increase motivation for outpatient follow-up treatment, as well as supplemental post-discharge telephone contacts to support families in linking to outpatient treatment. Ninety-two percent of participants in the enhanced intervention group received follow-up care after discharge, compared with 76 percent of those receiving standard care (a clinically significant difference). The program was developed in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, which calls for increased rates of mental health follow-up care after treatment for suicidal behavior in the ED.
Link to Article
Spark Extra! Read the abstract of “An Emergency Department Intervention for Linking Pediatric Suicidal Patients to Follow-Up Mental Health Treatment”

State and Tribal News

Idaho :  Suicide prevention group releases new guide , The Idaho Statesman , Nov. 5, 2011 
The Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention has just released a new suicide prevention plan for Idaho. The guide contains information about Idaho suicide prevention goals as they relate to: public awareness; stigma reduction; gatekeeper education; behavioral health professional readiness; community involvement; access to care; survivor support; establishment of a suicide prevention hotline; leadership; and data.
Link to Article
Spark Extra! Check out Idaho Suicide Prevention Plan: An Action Guide

Illinois :  Helping heroes: Fighting suicide, not just fires, The Chicago Tribune, Nov. 4, 2011 
This Chicago Tribune article highlights the efforts of a Palatine-area firefighter who is working to make sure that appropriate mental health care is available for firefighters in need. Jeff Dill, a battalion chief with Palatine Rural Fire Protection District, founded the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance(FBHA) to educate firefighters and other emergency response personnel about mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide. Dill founded the Alliance after Hurricane Katrina, when he tried to find counseling help to support local firefighters who had traveled south to help with disaster recovery efforts - and found that there were no local counseling services specifically geared to firefighters. “We get frustrated when counselors don’t understand our job,” said Dill. Workshops offered through the FBHA teach fire officers to recognize the signs of behavioral health issues among their staff and to provide guidance and resources. Dill, who returned to school to get a master’s degree in counseling, also offers counseling to firefighters and educates other counselors about firefighter culture.
Link to Article
Spark Extra! Learn more about the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance

International News

Ireland:  Students Beat World Record to Raise Mental Health Awareness, The University [University College Dublin] Observer, Nov. 2, 2011 
Nine hundred and thirty-five people took part in an unusual effort to raise awareness about mental health issues: a successful bid to break the Guinness World Record for “most people to write a story.” Students from universities across the country took part in the project, each one hand-writing one sentence on the manuscript being used for the story. The event came about partly through the efforts of See Change, a non-governmental organization that works to bring about positive change in attitudes toward people with mental health problems. “Stigma and silence around mental health problems are still huge issues even for this nation of storytellers,” said See Change campaign manager Kahlil Thompson-Coyle. “We’re using this literary theme to send the message that everyone had the power to re-write the story of how mental health is perceived.” The other organizations involved in the project were Fighting Words, an organization that promotes creative writing; the Union of Students Ireland, a national representative body for students; and Trinity Students’ Union.
Link to Article
Spark Extra! Check out the multi-authored story, which begins with University students Sarah and Sparky as the two main characters and then takes many twists and turns