World Suicide Prevention Day commemorated in Lower Mainland

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      Activities across the region are serving as a reminder that this is World Suicide Prevention Day. 

      This evening from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the Crisis Centre is holding a free suicideTALK awareness session at the Vancouver Public Library central branch.

      In addition, B.C. Place will be lit up in yellow later this evening to symbolize hope for those needing support.

      Meanwhile in Surrey, the Valley View Funeral Home (14660-72nd Avenue) is hosting the Man-Up Against Suicide photo and art exhibit.

      In May, the Straight reported on this initiative, which was brought forward by artist Foster Eastman and UBC nursing professor John Oliffe.

      Oliffe, principal investigator with the Masculinities and Men's Depression and Suicide Network, will speak at the event in Surrey, which runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

      In 2011, three-quarters of all suicide deaths in Canada involved men. Helpful resources include the Crisis Centre (604-872-3311), the 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) line, hospital emergency rooms, and medical doctors. 

      Media can also trigger suicides

      Sometimes, the news media can inadvertently contribute to suicide contagion in the way they cover this subject.

      A U.S. national workshop on this topic noted nearly 25 years ago that the likelihood of suicide contagion from coverage increases when journalists provide simplistic explanations.

      "Suicide is never the result of a single factor or event but rather results from a complex interaction of many factors and usually involves a history of psychosocial problems," the workshop concluded. "Public officials and the media should carefully explain that the final precipitating event was not the only cause of a given suicide. Most persons who have committed suicide have had a history of problems that may not have been acknowledged during the acute aftermath of the suicide. Cataloguing the problems that could have played a causative role in a suicide is not necessary, but acknowledgment of these problems is recommended."

      Another contributing factor associated with suicide contagion is "engaging in repetitive, ongoing, or excessive reporting of suicide in the news". That can have a more serious impact on people between the ages of 15 and 24.

      Sensational coverage and providing how-to information about suicide can also elevate the risk, as can presenting suicide as a method to accomplish something.

      Another no-no is glorifying the person who committed suicide as opposed to providing a more balanced account.

      "News coverage is less likely to contribute to suicide contagion when reports of community expressions of grief (e.g., public eulogies, flying flags at half-mast, and erecting permanent public memorials) are minimized," the workshop noted. "Such actions may contribute to suicide contagion by suggesting to susceptible persons that society is honoring the suicidal behavior of the deceased person, rather than mourning the person's death."