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Suicide prevention takes centre stage in special issue of Preventive Medicine guest edited by Dr. Melissa Henry
Dr. Melissa Henry, Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute (LDI) for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH), Associate Professor in the Department of Oncology of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, and an internationally recognized behavioural scientist, is the Guest Editor of a special issue of Preventive Medicine on suicide prevention.

Thousands of lives are lost to suicide each day and with COVID-19 pandemic-related issues and restrictions, such as the loss of loved ones to the disease, financial hardship and social isolation, concerns about mental health, and suicide in particular, have grown tremendously.

Dr. Henry, a leader in the field of suicide prevention, assembled an outstanding group of 75 scientists, clinicians and public health experts from 11 countries who weigh in on the scientific evidence for effective strategies to avert the tragedy of suicide to victims, their families, and communities. The issue features a collection of 19 cutting-edge papers describing empirical research studies on causes and mechanisms of suicide, clinical and behavioural predictive factors, and societal dimensions of the problem.

It notably includes contributions from Dr. Ashley D. Wazana, Director of the Psychosocial Research Axis at the LDI and from Dr. Melissa Henry. In the paper titled Frequent Follow-Up of Suicidal Youth Assessed in the Emergency Room: Long-Term Trajectory and Predictors of Suicidality, Dr. Wazana and colleagues report on the results of a prospective longitudinal study of youth aged 17 or less presenting to a pediatric emergency room for suicidality, pointing to the factors that should be the focus of treatment and research to improve outcomes for these youths. For its part, Dr. Henry’s article, titled Suicide in Obstructive Lung, Cardiovascular and Oncological Disease, highlights the seriously under-recognized mental health burden and suicide risk in patients afflicted by obstructive lung, cardiovascular and oncological disease, concluding with a review of general evidence-based suicide intervention strategies and potential selective adaptation of these strategies to the chronic medically ill patient populations and medical settings.

“I am grateful to this international group for their commitment to the cause of advancing the science and policy of suicide prevention and for their collaboration on this special issue, which is an important contribution to the field,” says Dr. Henry.

“This issue outlines the importance for individuals in the throes of suicide distress to have access to supportive resources (e.g., local crisis centres, crisis lines, etc.), and trusted people (e.g., their circle of family and friends), and reciprocally, for those resources to identify such vulnerable people, offering solace either in the form of support programs or policies that can attenuate their suffering and create a safety net.”

“It also emphasizes the importance of multisectoral viewpoints to suicide prevention. Suicide needs to be understood within this biopsychosocial framework to develop effective treatment strategies, guided by research and data, and supported by clinical, research and policy resources. Although we have made strides in identifying populations at risk of suicide and improving their access to care, we clearly need to promote policies aimed at consolidating those gains to decrease the ongoing morbidity and mortality associated with this phenomenon,” adds Dr. Henry.

In connection with the launch of this special issue, Dr. Henry made available important resources for the public:

For local crisis centres in Canada, please see https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/looking-for-localresources-support/ and for Canada Suicide Prevention Service (1-833-456-4566), see also https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/. In Quebec call 1-866-APPELLE or use http://www.suicide.ca for text and chat. If in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

In the United States, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). One can find resources in other countries through the International Association of Suicide Prevention https://findahelpline.com/i/iasp.

For further information, and to arrange interviews with Dr. Melissa Henry, contact:

Pascal Fischer
Research Communication & External Relations Officer 
Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital
pascal.fischer@ladydavis.ca
514-340-8222 ext: 28661

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