Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #4

Recently it was the World Suicide Prevention Day,
please remember that you are all encouraged to inform us about what you did about it!

You can find more about WSPD activities in several countries HERE!

By the way here we are with a new reading suggestion!

This time it is from JAMA Psychiatry, which, as you know, with its current IF 15.3 is one of the most important journals in the field of psychiatry.

We suggest you for reading a couple of articles published in the May-June and July issues; they are about a multi-center study of suicide prevention after discharge from Emergecy Department (ED). This research has involved 8 Emergency Departments (EDs) in the United States. It is widely acknowledged that people who have attempted suicide often come to the attention of specialist care only after the gesture. Usually the first psychiatric consultation for suicide attempts occurs in the ED, and 40% of deaths by suicide (15% of self-harm) visited an ED the year before committing suicide; hence the need to implement ad hoc prevention strategies in this specific setting.

The studies we suggest for reading focus on patients with a recent suicide attempt or suicidal ideation, and compare the outcome of two treatment groups (conventional treatment and program of prevention of suicide and self-harm) at a 52 weeks follow-up.

You can find more to read on JAMA Psychiatry website, at these links: 

Looking forward to sharing with you
the next scientific news and reading suggestions!

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Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #3

Our new reading suggestion is about the recent publication by our members, in alphabetical order, Raffaella Calati, Philippe Courtet, Sebastien Guillaume and Emilie Olié:

Psychological Pain in Suicidality: A Meta-Analysis.
Ducasse D, Holden RR, Boyer L, Artéro S, Calati R, Guillaume S, Courtet P, Olié E.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2017 Aug 29. pii: 16r10732. doi: 10.4088/JCP.16r10732.

We also asked the Authors to prepare a brief presentation of their work to share with you all, so here it is:

“This is a meta-analysis on the association between psychological pain and current or lifetime history of suicidal ideation (SI) and suicide attempt (SA). Twenty case-control studies have been included. The intensity of psychological pain was found to be higher, even when controlling for depression, in: 1) subjects with lifetime history of SI and subjects with current SI versus without; 2) subjects with lifetime history of SA and subjects with current SA versus without.”

You can find it also in the recently published Section Members’ publications, Report Pubmed May-August 2017.
The link is the following:

Please contact us if you wish to share with Section Members something about your recent publications about suicide and suicide prevention, or if you have any reading suggestion!

Looking forward to sharing with you
the next scientific news and reading suggestions!

To know more, contact EPA- SSSP e-mail address:

Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #2

In a few days it will be the World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD): every year, on September 10th, the WSPD offers the opportunity to talk and reflect about a complex and global health problem.

WSPD is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and WHO has been co-sponsor of the day. The main theme of this year is “Take a minute, change a life”.

In order to spread worldwide suicide prevention awareness, IASP prepared WSPD banners in different languages (to see the banners click here).

An editorial about the WSPD has been published in the last days on The Lancet Global Health, including further reading suggestions and WPSD-related link and info.

This editorial, titled
“Suicide prevention: keeping the momentum“
is our new reading suggestion.

It can be downloaded from the Lancet website (click here to go to the page).

Looking forward to sharing with you
the next scientific news and reading suggestions!

To know more, contact EPA- SSSP e-mail address:

Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #1

Media coverage of suicide is now well known to have a significant influence on the suicide epidemiology. This influence is supposed to result from two opposite effects, the Werther and the Papageno effect. The former refers to the robust increase of suicide rates following the publication of a suicide story. This implies a suggestion process, i.e. imitation of the depicted death by vulnerable persons. The latter refers to the preventive potential of medias, which has been more recently discovered and is far less known; Papageno effect predicts that media can help prevent suicidal behaviors beyond a simple reduction of the Werther effect (Read More about Papageno HERE).

Here is our first reading suggestion, an editorial published on
August 22nd on the British Medical Journal, titled
Suicide on TV: minimising the risk to vulnerable viewers

It deals with several current news, starting from the recent Netflix serie “13 Reasons why” and the news of the suicide of the Linkin Park’s singer Chester Bennington, their impact on suicidal behaviors and Werther effect. Then, it mentions some of the themes we have recently presented in the website, including the Papageno effect, and the Blue Whale phenomenon.

The complete reference is:
Arendt F, Scherr S, Till B, Prinzellner Y, Hines K, Niederkrotenthaler T. Suicide on TV: minimising the risk to vulnerable viewers. BMJ. 2017 Aug 22;358:j3876. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j3876.

The Editorial can be downloaded from the BMJ website (

Looking forward to sharing with you
the next scientific news and reading suggestions!

To know more, contact EPA- SSSP e-mail address:

Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington and Survivors of Suicide Loss

Chris Cornell was an American musician, singer, and songwriter, ex frontman of the Audioslave and Soundgarden; Wikipedia says that he is considered one of the chief architects of the 1990s grunge movement. He was found dead in his Detroit hotel room on May 18, 2017 after performing at a concert the night before; the cause of death was determined to be suicide by hanging and “drugs did not contribute” to the cause of death: only prescription medications were found in Cornell’s system.
Cornell publicly talked about his struggle with depression, isolation and suicidal thoughts several times throughout his life

Members of his family and numerous fans of the artist were impressed by her premature death;

Associated Press writes that the representative of the artist Brian Bumbery said that his death was “sudden and unexpected”. Cornell’s wife said, “When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him.”  
Touching is the letter written by his wife: “I’m sorry, my sweet love, that I did not see what happened to you that night,” she wrote. “I’m sorry you were alone, and I know that was not you, my sweet Christopher. Your children know that too, so you can rest in peace.”  
Several tributes and phrases have been dedicated to Cornell around the world as a sign of contempt for a friend, colleague and teacher.

The relationships between Cornell’s suicide and those of other rock singers is spontaneous and also with the dead of his close friend and colleague Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, that two months after Cornell’s death, on July 20, the day that would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, hanged himself. Bennington was a close friend of Cornell’s: the two had performed together, Bennington was godfather to Cornell’s son Christopher, and  at Cornell’s funeral he sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Bennington’s family and bandmates said he had taken Cornell’s death very hard: “I can’t imagine a world without you in it,” he had written on Instagram upon hearing the news.

There are many reasons why someone commit suicide, but today we know that death by suicide devastates those left behind. “More than half of Americans personally know someone who has died by suicide, and we are all affected when a celebrity to whom we feel connected ends their life,” said Julie Cerel the President of American Association of Suicidology.
We call them “Survivors of Suicide Loss”, who are those who have lost a friend, a family member or someone they love to suicide. They are effectively at elevated risk for depression and suicide, and this is particularly true in important dates of those lost to suicide. Death by suicide stuns with soul-crushing surprise, leaving family and friends not only grieving the unexpected death, but confused and lost by this haunting loss. The underlying structure of grief for survivors of suicide loss appears complicated. It is further complicated by the societal perception that the act of suicide is a failure by the victim and the family to deal with some emotional issue and ultimately society affixes blame for the loss on the survivors. We can say that survivors should not expect that their lives will return to their prior state, they should adjust their life without their loved one.
Sometimes the individual or societal stigma introduces a unique stress on the bereavement process that in some cases requires clinical intervention.

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Movie of the Month (August 2017)

In August 2017 we choose a movie for you:

“Ordinary People”

Directed by: Robert Redford

Based on: “Ordinary People” by Judith Guest published in 1976

Starring: Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch, Timoty Hutton
Year: 1980
Running time: 124 min
Awards: 6 Academy Awards Nominee and 4 Academy Awards won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Male Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay.

Plot: Ordinary People is an American drama which narrates about the Jarrets, an upper- middle-class family who lives in Lake Forest, Illinois, strained by the death of the oldest teenaged son Buck, who died in a boat accident. The story concerns the relationship intercurring between the three other members of the family: Conrad, the younger son, who attempted suicide after the death of his brother; Beth, a mother and woman focused on success in the social norm of appearance and approval by others; and Conrad, father and husband experiencing his greif trying to connect with his son Conrad and understand his wife Beth.

We choose this movie because of the deep and sensitive relationship between Conrad and his psychiatrist, Dr. Berger, and how it describes the impact of a suicide act on a family that necessarily has to deal with it.


We often speak about the “Papageno effect”: but who is Papageno?

As many people might know, Papageno is a fictitious character that, being a protagonist of Mozart’s “Magic Flute”, enjoyed an immortal fame.

Let’s take a closer look…

In Mozart’s Singspiel, firstly performed in 1791, Papageno is the funny counterpart of the noble prince Tamino: the braver is the latter, the more fearful is the former, the more austere is the one, the more the other enjoys his food, being driven by a lighthearted joie de vivre.
You can easily find in this character many traits of Hanswurst, the comic figure of the early 18th century’s Viennese comedy.
As Tamino faces dangers with the help of an airy sounding flute, Papageno carries a panflute.

But let’s look at him on the stage…

Right from the start, he shows himself as an odd character: announced by his own pipe, a birdcatcher appears, carrying a cage on his back and claiming he can camouflage himself thanks to a funny feathered costume. But soon he reveals his bragger’s nature: as prince Tamino comes round, he claims to be the killer of the monstrous snake menacing his life. But the three Ladies, maidservants of the Queen of the Night, immediately punish him, closing his mouth by a padlock. On condition that he follows the prince on his mission to free Pamina, Papageno obtains then the padlock to be removed and gets a set of magic bells.
And again another clownish scene: when Papageno finds Pamina harassed by the wicked blackamoor Monostatos, he manages to put the latter to flight not so much by virtue of his bravery as of his nutty look, specular to the jailor’s one. Both of them run away hotfoot, being frightened by each other. Left alone with Pamina, our character shows a deeper trait of his nature: his desire to meet a beautiful maiden who reciprocates his love acquires, thanks to the music of Mozart’s, a nobler and higher dimension.
And once again, Papageno stops Monostatos’ arrival, when the blackamoor tries and grab Pamina again, thanks to his magic bells.
Their sound produces a sudden metamorphosis in the jailor and his henchmen: in an instant they start singing and dancing happily, oblivious of their mission!
For a moment, the magic of music hauls them all in a heavenly place where love and happiness reign.

Immagine correlata

In the second part, then, Papageno will counterpoint, with his hesitations and grumbles, Tamino’s resolution facing the initiatory trials they must undergo.
Pamina herself, feeling avoided by them, is the first contemplating suicide, only detained by the arrival of the three child-spirits.
Then it’s Papageno’s turn: the scene of the attempted suicide, as E.J. Dent the musicologist remembered, was in reality a traditional Harlequin’s monologue in the Italian Commedia dell’Arte.
He is saved by the three child-spirits, too: they remember him the magic power of the bells he was gifted at the start of the story.

And then finally Papageno meets the long desired Papagena!

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  • Edward J. Dent, Mozart’s Operas, Oxford University Press

Movie of the Month (July 2017)

In July 2017 we choose a movie for you:

“Girl, Interrupted”

Directed by: James Mangold

Based on: “Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen  

Starring: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Whoopy Goldberg
Year: 1999
Running time:  125 min
Awards:  Angelina Jolie won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe Award.

Plot: The story talks about 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) who takes an overdose of pills with a bottle of vodka: she denies that she tried to kill herself. For this suicidal actions, she is checked into a psychiatric hospital where meets different patients. Among these we find Polly (Elisabeth Moss), Georgina (Clea DuVall) and Daisy (Brittany Murphy) but, above all, Lisa (Angelina Jolie), who is a rebellious, but charismatic girl.

We choose this movie because it talks about suicide in different kind of psychiatric patients and also because it talks about psychiatry ward life, treatment, problems and interactions between patients.

The Blue Whale Game: what do we know about it?

Wikipedia says that the Blue Whale Game (Russian: Синий кит, Siniy kit) was born in 2013 as an unofficial community on a VKontakte Social Network, with the aim of achieving a sense of superiority administrators, who induce passive players to suffering and suicide.

The game is based on the relationship between the challengers (“players or participants”) and the administrators; it involves a series of self-harm duties given by the administrators that players must complete in 50 days and the last task is suicide.

It was probably created by Philipp Budeikin, a psychology student who was expelled from university; he said his purpose was to “clean” society by pushing to suicide those he deemed as having no value.

The first case of suicide related to the game occurred in 2015 in Russia.

The Blue Whale has received significant media attention: several posts and articles report that it likely has led dozens children and adolescents from Russia (as well as from other countries) on the way to suicide. The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, albeit in an arbitrary manner, suggested a link between 130 suicides happened from fall 2015 to spring 2016, to this presumed digital brainwashing.

Anyway, actually we really don’t know either the game’s existence or its role in child and teenage suicides or acts of self-harm. reports that an investigation by the UK Safer Internet Centre has failed to corroborate the claims. Online fact-checking website Snopes found that, although there have been reports of young people committing suicide in Russia over the past six months, there is inconclusive evidence tying them to the Blue Whale. Professor Sonia Livingstone from the London School of Economics told WIRED: “The importance of media literacy to identify and reject fake news is vital for everyone, but especially for parents whose anxieties about their children’s safety make them too easily to fall prey to clickbait designed to trap them. The responsibilities of journalists to check their facts and sources has also never been so great, as the Blue Whale scare illustrates clearly.”

Nonetheless, the implications of the phenomenon are important, at least from the sociological point of view, no matter if it is a false news or it is proven in some cases. Blue Whale phenomenon began in Russia, where the problem of adolescent suicide is widely acknowledged (in 2012, the rate of teenage suicides in Russia was three times higher than the world average), but now it has gone far beyond. Even if it was a fake, it may still be damaging. Every alarming news, every service that drives the macabre storytelling, every act of self-harm and violence automatically may fuel a vicious cycle of suggestion and discomfort. It is important to protect children from online dangers and also let them know the existence of support networks involved in offering help to people who need it.

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