Leading Stories, Articles

July 9th, 2021

Mass. proposes legislation for prison system suicidal prevention plan

By Eileen Weber

In March, a bill was presented to the Massachusetts legislation that effectively upgrades suicide prevention plans in the state’s prison system. Based on a report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) after an investigation of the suicide response practices of the Department of Corrections (DOC), serious concerns were identified and the bill, S. 1283, seeks to rectify those issues.

For example, some correctional officers who supervised prisoners on suicide watch were found asleep. Some reportedly encouraged self-harm or failed to stop instances of self-harm. And, in some cases, that “willful disregard,” as noted in the report, led to prisoner injury or even death.…

June 4th, 2020

Why Suicide Prevention Advocates Right Now Don’t Despair

By Janine Weisman

Mental health infrastructure has come a long way since 1918-1919 influenza pandemic.

Social isolation, a key strategy to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 , is considered a significant risk factor for suicidality. So school closures, mandated face masks, and bans on large gatherings along with the most rapid change in the employment sector ever recorded in the U.S. have led to growing dread that suicide rates might rise.

But is an increase in the suicide rate inevitable?

Not according to Jerry Reed, Ph.D., MSW, a nationally recognized leader in the field of suicide prevention.…

August 29th, 2018

CDC report shows challenge facing public health campaign goals to prevent suicide

By Janine Weisman

The World Health Organization wants to reduce the suicide rate by 10 percent by 2020.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Project 2025 wants to reduce it 20 percent by 2025.

The Zero Suicide movement aims to prevent 100 percent of suicides in the first 30 days after a patient is discharged from inpatient or day treatment.

Are these goals realistic when new federal data show the reverse has actually been happening?

Twenty-five states saw their suicide rates rise by more than 30 percent between 1999 and 2016, including four of the six New England states.…

March 6th, 2018

In-service training to focus on police officers’ mental health

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In-service training to focus on police officers' mental healthThere were 19 deaths of police officers by suicide in Massachusetts in 2016 and 2017, the fourth highest number of suicides in the country. That is not fourth highest rate per 1,000 but fourth highest total number overall. The state is the 15th largest by population.

According to Blue H.E.L.P., a non-profit law enforcement mental health awareness group based in Auburn, Mass., there were 286 deaths nationwide.

A bill currently before the state’s legislature looks to address the issue by mandating in-service training on mental health as well as annual mental wellness and suicide prevention courses for all current officers.…

February 6th, 2018

Report documents problems at Maine detention center

By Janine Weisman

Report documents problems at Maine detention centerUnderstaffing has contributed to “dangerous and unhealthy conditions for both youth and staff” at Maine’s only state juvenile detention center, an independent report finds.

Seven vacant Juvenile Program Worker positions at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland led to the use of regular forced overtime last year when the report by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) was compiled.

The overtime was necessary to achieve a required staff to youth ratio of 1:8 during waking hours and 1:16 during overnight hours.

The report made public in December was commissioned by the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG) last August to assess conditions at Long Creek, a secure facility for youth ages 13 to 19.…