Text Size

April 2013

“ SHARING AND HEALING ”
April  2013
A QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER
Written & Edited By  :  Al & Linda Vigil
ARTICLE INDEX
Pg 1 :   Grieving Notes:  “Positive People” - Al
Pg 2 :   NM Senate & Native American Suicide
Pg 2 :   Symposium - Intervention & Prevention
Pg 3 :   What’s Killing Us
Pg 4 :   Suicide Hotline & Texting
Pg 4 :   Most Teens Do Not Get Professional Help
Pg 5 :   One in 25 Has Teens Attempted Suicide
Pg 7 :   Saving Lives : Collections of Suicide Notes
Pg 9  :  Trying to Overcome The Sadness of Suicide
Pg 10:   Jane Fonda Talks About Her Mother’s Suicide
Pg 11  : Could Responsibilities Help
Pg 12 :  Site Address
“ GRIEVING NOTES ”
Positive People
By Al Vigil
Linda & I have been facilitating Survivors of Suicide loss support groups
for many, many years —since our eighteen-year-old daughter Mia took her life.
Once in a while a new meeting attendee or a new friend will ask,
”Why do you keep doing all that suicide meeting stuff?  Isn’t it depressing?  Doesn’t that just bring you down?”
We believe that happiness is a choice.  It is important to our mental health and well being that we choose to be among positive people  —and the most positive people I meet are at an SOS meeting.  For an hour and a-half, at our twice a month Albuquerque meetings, we choose to be with some of the
most positive persons we have ever met.
These people walk into a strange room, with ten to twenty others just like them —survivors of the suicide of someone that they love.  We ask them to share the most painful, intimate, thing that has ever happened in their lives.  They struggle to share the first name of the person they have lost to suicide.  In tears and with incredible bereavement they tell of the means that were used accomplish that end.  They talk about the gun, the rope, the bridge, the pills, and other methods of suicide  —some methods that still shock SOS veterans.
We share about guilt, abandonment, anger, should have, could have, would have, blame, fear, and the —why why why.  At the end of each meeting time, we each close with the sharing of a  ‘spark’  —a few words about something that has recently made a difference in knowing that our lives must go on and that we choose life.
Positive people?  Of course!  It’s certainly not depressing, especially during the thirty minutes after the end of the meeting when you hear exchanges of name and phone numbers.  You see touches and embraces among members.  You hear,   “See you next meeting”   “I’m glad I came”   “Thank you for letting me share and for listening to me.”
”Why do you keep doing all that suicide meeting stuff?  Isn’t it depressing?  Doesn’t that bring you down?”
These are heart-broken people who will choose to continue life and work hard not the escape into the death by suicide that someone they love  —choose.
Didn’t I just describe the most positive people you could ever meet?
Yours in Sharing and Healing
- Al V.
From New Mexico Senate - Native American Suicide Council
The overall suicide rate among Native Americans is 16 deaths per 100,000 people —at least 25 percent higher than the non-native’s  rate of about 12 deaths per 100,000.  The suicide rate among native people was significantly higher than rates for the other ethnic and racial groups —including about 12 per 100,000 for whites, 9 for Asians, 7 for blacks, and 6 for Hispanics.
In March 2013, the 51st State Legislature of New Mexico, passed the creation of a Native American Suicide Prevention Advisory Council.  NM Senate Bill 447 was introduced by Benny Shendo, Jr., a true Native to New Mexico, of Jemez Pueblo, who is serving from District 22.  This landmark Senate Bill was also introduced by Sandra D. Jeff who represents District 5, which includes McKinley and San Juan Counties.
The suicide prevention council shall consist of eleven voting members and shall assist in developing policies, rules and priorities for a New Mexico clearinghouse for Native American suicide prevention. Voting members shall serve for overlapping terms, so that voting authorities shall always be available for a quorum.
A statewide clearinghouse will work to provide culturally appropriate prevention, intervention and post-event assistance statewide to native American individuals, families and tribes, nations and pueblos living with suicide, attempted suicide, or the risk of suicide.  A true positive direction toward addressing and lessening death by suicide.
Native American in this context means a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, nation or Pueblo.
What Seems like the Right Thing to Do,
Could Also Be the Hardest Thing You Have Ever Done in Your Life!
Salt Lake City Symposium on Intervention and Prevention of Teen Suicide
The public suicide of a junior high school student last November added painful reality to Intermountain Healthcare's symposium addressing suicide. The quarterly symposium drew more than 150 participants from Logan to Provo, including medical professionals and representatives from community organizations and law enforcement agencies. The symposiums are meant to provide educational and networking opportunities to combat pressing community concerns, such as suicide.
Mikelle Moore, vice president of Intermountain's Community Benefit Department, said it was decided prior to the symposium that the recent suicide of 14-year-old David Phan would not be addressed directly during the three presentations, which covered suicide among adolescents and adults, as well as research supporting future preventative programs.
Still, Phan's death is an example of youth suicide issues facing many Utah communities, Moore said. "You look across the state, and many communities are now able to identify with a tragedy of a young person," she said.  I think it's really compelling people to focus on this issue."  Phan shot himself on a pedestrian bridge near Bennion Junior High School in Taylorsville on Nov. 29, pulling the trigger in front of classmates about 15 minutes after school was dismissed.
Dr. D. Richard Martini, director of psychiatry and behavioral health at Primary Children's Medical Center, reported that adolescent suicide rates in Utah are higher than the national average, with the number climbing since 2010.  As many as 1 million teenagers attempt suicide in the United States each year, Martini said.  Teen suicide is usually an impulsive act rather than a carefully premeditated one, he said, with more females likely to attempt suicide but more males likely to be successful.
Martini also referenced new studies indicating non-suicidal self injury demonstrates a predisposition for suicidal behavior. He emphasized the role supportive families can play in preventing adolescent suicide or self-injury behavior.  Parents who strive to create cohesive relationships, spend time together as a family and involve themselves in their children's lives are more able to support adolescents and detect suicidal feelings or actions, Martini said.
"It's a real skill, I think, for parents to make a child feel as though, when they go to their parent, there is no one that is more important or nothing that is more important than that conversation," he said.  Family support is essential in compliance and follow-up care after a suicide attempt, Martini said, explaining that roughly 70 percent of adolescents who are hospitalized for a suicide attempt attend very few follow-up appointments.
Parents and professionals assessing dangerous behavior must look at life stressors among adolescents, such as interpersonal loss, disciplinary problems or a history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, Martini said, even though young people may not consciously connect those issues to their harmful behavior.  Bullying can also be a significant stressor for teens, he said, for victims as well as perpetrators.  Participants at the symposium brought up questions regarding bullying, communicating with adolescents and treatment methods.  Martini said adults concerned about possible suicidal behavior by adolescents have several options available to them, including their primary healthcare physician or support hotlines.
WHAT’S KILLING US
Leading causes of death in the U.S., 2010 - (Most recent data available)
●  1. Heart disease: 597,689 deaths
●  2. Cancer: 574,743
●  3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
●  4. Stroke: 129,476
●  5. Accidents: 120,859
●  6. Alzheimer’s disease: 83,494
●  7. Diabetes: 69,071
●  8. Kidney disease: 50, 476
●  9. Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
●  10. Suicide: 38,364
DEATHS AMONG THE YOUNG
Leading causes of death in U.S., ages 15-24 in 2010 (most recent data available)
●  1. Accidents: 12,341
●  2. Homicide: 4,678
●  3. Suicide: 4,600Source: American Association of Suicidology
Suicide Hotline Reaching Teens Through Texting Service
By Julia Terruso / The Star-Ledger
Lynn DeVito received the text message late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve.  “Some nights I just feel so bad.  Everyone is asleep but I can’t.  I just don’t know if one of these nights it’ll be too much and I’ll give up,” it read.
The text was from a woman in her early 20's who had just moved to New Jersey.  The woman, overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and loneliness, which intensified on New Years Eve, said she didn’t know where to turn.
“Are you feeling suicidal?” DeVito, a trained volunteer at the  CONTACT We Care  suicide hotline, typed back.
“Yes,” the woman replied.  “I just cry in secret until I feel better.”
Since the statewide hotline, based in Westfield, introduced the texting service in March, it has received 500 text messages, mostly from teenagers and young adults.  The hotline is one of only a handful in the county to add the text option which offers added anonymity and secrecy.
DeVito’s conversation with the young woman continued for close to an hour as the two texted back and forth about the root of the woman’s depression.  The two also discussed what the woman enjoyed and how she could meet people.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking at first,” DeVito, 23, said of the texting.  “When you talk to someone on the phone you can hear their voice and get a sense of where they are, how they’re doing.  With this, you kind of go at it blind.”
Phone hotlines have existed since the 1960s but only in recent years have states like North Carolina, Nevada and now New Jersey expanded them to include online chat services and texting.  Some frightening statistics drove the expansion.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers.  Each year, approximately 5,000 young people ages 10-24 commit suicide and as many as 25 suicides are attempted for each one that is completed, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
“We’re not pleased people are feeling so bad but we’re pleased people have somewhere to turn,” said Joanne Oppelt, executive director of CONTACT We Care. The hotline is staffed by more than 100 volunteers who respond to more than 12,00 calls and texts each year.  Volunteers work two-hour shifts two to three times a week answering calls at a Westfield facility  and responding to texts through an external computer program.
While the texting option was directed toward teenagers, DeVito, who is pursuing her master’s degree in psychology at Columbia University, said one of her most moving exchanges was with a mother of three who found it difficult to break away from her family to make a call.  DeVito estimates she talked with the woman 10 to 15 times over the course of three months.
“I think what scared me the most was that these children could lose their mother and how important it was to try to keep her here for them,” DeVito said.  “No matter how horrible she was feeling I knew whenever I would talk to her she would be ok that night.”
The waiting period between a question like “are you suicidal” and receiving an answer can feel interminable, volunteers say, and sometimes never hearing from a person again can leave them uneasy.
But in many cases, people do follow-up, as did a 21 year old who texted the service last month: “Even though I still need to talk.  Thank you.  Cause without you guys I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have went  ....and got help.  I chose to do it.  I decided I really didn’t want to die.  I wanted these bad feelings to die.  Not everything else.”
Most Suicidal Teens Don’t Get Professional Help
By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Most teens who are thinking of suicide or already attempted suicide have not received appropriate mental health services, according to an analysis led by Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D. of the National Institute of Mental Health. Around 14 percent of high school students seriously consider suicide each year, 11 percent have a suicide plan, and 6 percent attempt suicide, according to a national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Other research suggests that less than half of teens who attempt suicide received mental health services during the year before the attempt. Over 10,000 teens, ages 13 to 18, completed the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), an in-person, nationally representative survey. They answered whether they had any suicidal thoughts (ideation), plans, or actions during the one-year period prior to the survey.
The teens also completed an interview asking about the full range of mental disorders including mood, anxiety, eating and anxiety disorders and whether they had received treatment for emotional or behavioral problems in the past 12 months.  Participants were asked to specify if they received care from a mental health specialist —such as a social worker, psychiatrist or other mental health professional — or from a general service provider, such as a primary care physician.
According to the results, within the past year, 3.6 percent of adolescents had suicidal thoughts, but did not make a specific plan or suicide attempt.  Other findings include 0.6 percent of teens reported having a plan and nearly 2 percent reported having made a suicide attempt within the past year.
Suicidal behavior among youth was not only associated with major depression, but also with a range of other mental health problems including eating, anxiety, substance use and behavior disorders, as well as physical health problems.
Between 50 and 75 percent of those who had suicidal ideation had recent contact with a health provider.  However, most only had three or fewer visits, suggesting that treatment tends to end prematurely.  In addition, most teens with suicidal ideation did not receive specialized mental health care.  The findings suggest that depression and other mood disorders are not the only pathways to suicide.  They also emphasize the importance of including a suicide risk assessment into regular physical and mental health care for teens.
The researchers conclude that even while teens are in treatment, they should continue to be monitored for suicidal ideation and behaviors.
About 1 in 25 U.S. Teens Attempts Suicide -National Study Finds
By Genevra Pittman : Reuters
About one in 25 U.S. teens has attempted suicide, according to a new national study, and one in eight has thought about it.  Researchers said those numbers are similar to the prevalence of lifetime suicidal thinking and attempts reported by adults - suggesting the teenage years are an especially vulnerable time.
"What adults say is, the highest risk time for first starting to think about suicide is in adolescence," said Matthew Nock, a psychologist who worked on the study at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The results are based on in-person interviews of close to 6,500 teens in the U.S. and questionnaires filled out by their parents.  Along with asking youth about their suicidal thinking, plans and attempts, interviewers also determined which teens fit the bill for a range of mental disorders.  Just over 12 percent of the youth had thought about suicide, and four percent each had made a suicide plan or attempted suicide.
Nock and his colleagues found that almost all teens who thought about or attempted suicide had a mental disorder, including depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or problems with drug or alcohol abuse.  More than half of the youth were already in treatment when they reported suicidal behavior.  Nock said that was both "encouraging" and "disturbing."
"We know that a lot of the kids who are at risk and thinking about suicide are getting treatment," he told Reuters Health.  However, "We don't know how to stop them -we don't have any evidence based treatments for suicidal behavior."
Who is at risk?
Amy Brausch, a psychologist who has studied adolescent self-harm and suicide at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, said the finding shouldn't be interpreted to mean mental health treatment doesn't work for teens.
"We don't know from this study if they even told their therapist they were having these thoughts, we don't know if it was a focus of the treatment," Brausch, who wasn't involved in the new research, told Reuters Health.
The findings were published this week in JAMA Psychiatry. But they still leave many questions unanswered. Because most youth who think about suicide never go on to make an actual plan or attempt, doctors need to get better at figuring out which ones are most at risk of putting themselves in danger, according to Nock. Once those youth are identified, researchers will also have to determine the best way to treat them, he said —since it's clear that a lot of current methods aren't preventing suicidal behavior.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between age 10 and 24, killing about 4,600 young people annually.
Although girls are more likely to attempt suicide —a pattern confirmed by Nock's study  —boys have higher rates of death by suicide because they typically choose more deadly methods, such as guns.
Brausch advised parents to keep open communication with their adolescent and not being afraid to ask about  depression. They should also pay attention to changes in mood or behavior, she added. Nock agreed.  "For parents, if they suspect their child is thinking about suicide  …or talking about death, I would have that child evaluated," he said.
Saving Lives with World’s Largest Note Collection
Written by John Johnston
The world’s largest collection of suicide notes, more than 1,300 in all, is at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
John Pestian has read each one.
“Loss of hope, that’s what defines suicide for me,” said the hospital’s director of computational medicine.  “In most of those notes, you see the loss of hope.”
Pestian and his research team are using advanced computer technology to analyze the language in the notes and gain a deeper understanding of the thoughts of the people who wrote them.  The goal is to create a tool, perhaps within two years, that can help mental health workers assess the likelihood a person will attempt suicide.
Pestian’s work further bolsters the reputation of Children’s as one of the nation’s top pediatric research institutions.  “Only a few other suicide researchers are merging psychology and computational analysis, and none on the scale of Pestian,”  said Michelle Linn-Gust,  president of the American Association of Suicidology.  “He’s really doing some groundbreaking work,” she added.
That’s important, she added, because research to prevent suicide has reached a plateau. And the problem “is not going away.”  Each week, about 40 suicidal young people come to the Emergency Department at Children’s, Pestian said.
  Every 14 minutes in the United States, someone dies by suicide.
  Every 32 seconds, there’s another attempt.
  In 2012  the U.S. military saw its highest number of suicides ever          recorded  —350.
And during the Great Recession years of 2008 to 2010, the U.S. suicide rate rose four times faster than in the eight years before the economic downturn, according to a study in the British medical journal the Lancet.
In typical clinical settings, assessing a person’s risk for suicide falls to social workers, nurses, psychologists or doctors. Their conclusions can be subjective, because their training and life experiences can vary greatly.
As a result,  “People hear things differently,” said Pestian, a professor of pediatrics.  “What one social worker or physician sees as a suicidal kid, another may not.”
Pestian’s team is devising a means to support professionals in their decision-making.  He’s an expert in the field of neuropsychiatric computational linguistics.  “I teach computers how to listen, and report back what they think they’ve heard from people,” he said.  He began his suicide research six years ago at the urging of a friend in the psychiatric field.  The first task: collect data-the notes written by people who died by suicide.
“When people hear you’re doing this work, they step up,” he said.  Notes-written between 1950 and present day by people ranging from adolescents to senior citizens-came from surviving family members all over North America.
Poring over the notes  ‟can be very depressing.  I’ve cried more times that I can count over some of the things I’ve read.  But in the end, you’re doing whatever you can to help save lives, to help the human condition.  This just happens to be what I get called to do.”
The notes were scanned, transcribed and reviewed for accuracy.  The research team then recruited 165 volunteers-people who had lost ones to suicide-to read the notes and select words, phrases or sentences that represent particular emotions: abuse, anger, blame, fear, guilt, hopelessness, sorrow, forgiveness, happiness, peacefulness, love, pride, thankfulness.
The result was a database-a linguistic reference set-against which computers could compare the speech of people at risk of suicide. Pestian’s lab developed an algorithm-essentially a recipe of instructions-to teach a computer how to find patterns, derive meaning and make predictions from the data. That branch of artificial intelligence is called machine learning, and it has many applications.  It’s been used, for example, to prevent credit card fraud by teaching computers to recognize the abnormal use of a card and alert the cardholder.
In a recent clinical trial at Children’s,  Pestian’s team tested the algorithm by asking a series of questions to 30 young people with suicidal tendencies and 30 in a control group.  “We wanted to know if the computer could tell, by listening to recordings of what they said, which ones are suicidal and which ones aren’t,” Pestian said.
The computer was 93 percent accurate-identifying those with suicidal tendencies over the control group-while humans were right slightly more than 50 percent of the time with the same groups.
Next: a larger experiment, conducted at more sites.  And perhaps after that, the creation of a product that can be used in clinical setting.  “That’s probably two years away,“  Pestian said. “Even if and when that day comes, such a product will support-not replace-a real person.  When assessing patients, some subjectively is necessary,”  Pestian said.  “It’s part of the art of medicine.
In the end, the clinician, the person at the bedside, makes the decisions.”
Trying to Overcome the   of Suicide
By Thomas Truelson   -Tauton Daily Gazette
Suicide is death by sadness, suffocating sorrow.  Suicide is so sudden, so shocking, so shattering.  It is an act of despair and desperation from drowning in deep, dark depression.  After engulfed in endless battles waged with the raging demons within the mind, a person becomes detached from life and ultimately embraces death as a saviour.
Life becomes a strangling struggle.  In her book,  “Girl Interrupted”  Susanna Keysen, wrote, “Life demands skills I do not have.”  A person who commits suicide loses the skills to live and the ability to face life’s demands.  A person simply becomes incapable of living.  A fatal flaw that has no boundaries and can effect anyone —like any other illness or disease.
For loved ones, family and friends, suicide is so unexpectedly final yet it has no ending.  It steals life from the living as one struggles to make sense of the loss, tries to overcome feelings of guilt and anguish and the tormenting thoughts of how the tragedy could have been prevented.  And usually a person must confront these thoughts alone in the sickening silence of seclusion and solitude.
A suicide is so incredibly devastating that life is never the same again, the wounds never heal, the broken hearts never mend.  I write with some experience. Besides losing people I have loved and adored to suicide, I have attempted suicide three times.  The last time was in 1994.  When I arrived at the hospital I was unconscious, spent the next five days in a coma and was not expected to live.  Somehow I miraculously recovered and was told by the doctors that there was no medical reason why I survived.
This is what I learned:  Not once during the weeks and days leading up to my suicide attempted did I think of the ramifications of my death.  Not once did I think about how my death would effect my parents, my family and those who loved and cared for me.  Not once.  Not once did they enter my mind because my mental suffering was so powerfully overwhelming and all encompassing.  And I strongly believe the mental state of most people who commit suicide is exactly the same.
It must be carefully remembered that rarely is suicide an act of selfishness, rarely is suicide an act of a coward.  Some cold hard facts from the CDC and the NCHS.  In their latest yearly figures there are more suicides than murders, there are more suicides by guns than homicides by guns.  There are more suicides than automobile fatalities.  More than three times as many people commit suicide than are killed in alcohol related auto accidents.
Another cold hard fact from the Department of Defense and from a Time magazine cover story in July 2012.  Since the war in Afghanistan began in October 2001, more U.S. military personnel have committed suicide than have died in combat there.
When someone famous commits suicide, like Junior Seau, we read and hear how suicide is preventable.  But what is being done to prevent it?  What is being done to prevent this silent epidemic of death.
I realize there are groups like the  Samaritans  and the  American Foundation For Suicide Prevention that do great work.  But much more is needed, for suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in this country.  Suicide has become a public health crisis and must be confronted on the federal, state and local levels —as well as in our schools, particularly on our high school and college campuses.
Suicide is savage in that it tears people apart like no other tragedy and damages the psyche in ways that can never be repaired.  Suicide has been a taboo subject far too long in this country.  While everyone is looking the other way, more than 35,000 people kill themselves every year.  It has become a serious public health crisis and what is being done to prevent it?
Jane Fonda Talks About Her Mother's Suicide
Told to :  FoxNews.com
Jane Fonda said her mother’s suicide, when the actress was in her preteen years, left her wanting to help people.
“My mother was actually abused as a child and killed herself when I was 12, and that is just for starters,” Fonda told FOX NEWS.  “I have seen it up close, what abuse can do to people.”
That’s why recently the “Monster-in-Law” star has gotten involved with the One Billion Rising project, a global initiative aimed at combating rape.  The cause’s latest event, a Zumba dance celebration meant to empower women, tapped into the Fonda’s love for aerobics.
“Women everywhere are dancing and rising, it is the diversity of this which has really made a difference,” she said. “So many things have happened that we all have read about like the rape of a woman in India (which led to the victim’s death)  —so many things where we have to say, ‘enough.’ We are going to develop an international force that will stop the violence.”
Fonda stressed that it’s the little things we can all do which really make the difference in putting a dent in the worldwide epidemic of abuse.  “If a child tells you they have been molested or approached by a perpetrator or pedophile, believe them. Believe the child and go to authorities even if it means you speak out against someone who is a member of your family,” she continued. “And fight for legislation that can help protect women. In too many places police and officials say that domestic abuse is a personal issue but it is not, we have to get legislation that helps end physical and sexual abuse.”
Fonda is also a strong advocate of celebrities using their star status to bring attention to issues afflicting our world.
“We are in a unique position, we are given so many benefits being celebrities,” she said. “We can bring attention and throw light to the dark corners where evil is happening and a lot of that evil is being directed towards women.”
And at 75, the prominent Hollywood personality still has the power to turn heads not only with what she says, but how she looks. Fonda stunned in a form-fitting bright yellow dress at the Academy Awards over the weekend, landing her on many best dressed lists. However, her anti-aging secret has nothing to do with dedicating oneself to “Jane Fonda Workout” home videos.
“We started One Billion Rising this morning at a park in West Hollywood and I noticed how many really old women and some old men had gathered. I noticed they had that spark in their eye that people have when they are involved and committed,” she said. “Forget about the physical thing, that can come and go, but you have to keep that spark inside. Staying curious and involved and up on issues, that’s what keeps you young.”
There is little doubt Jane Fonda has already succeeded in what she wants her lasting legacy to be.
“I made a difference,” she added. “Whatever time I had, I made a difference.”
Life  Is  Too  Short   ❦
Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.
Laugh when you can,  apologize when you should,
and let go of what you can’t change.
Could Responsibilities Help Prevent Teenage Suicide?
By KAY WYMA  (From Internet Blog Site)
One recent Saturday, a friend of mine drove across town to a gun store.  She bought a pistol, went back to her car in the parking lot, and ended her life.
Unthinkable.
I’m shocked, confused and stricken.  I struggle with how to grieve, and how to talk about it. Complicated doesn’t begin to describe the terrain.  Even as suicide grips my thoughts, it grabs headlines, often coupled with the word epidemic.  I can’t stop questioning, and wondering if anyone has the power to tame whatever thoughts escort our loved ones to the gun store parking lot.
Still, the news exposes my greatest fear : that one of my children will drive the same road.
Knowing the statistics and trends doesn’t help:
—  Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens.
—  Suicide is second leading cause of death in colleges.
—  For every suicide completion, there are between 50 and 200 attempts.
—  8.5 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported a suicide attempt in        the past year.
—  25 percent of high-school students report suicide ideation.
As if that weren’t enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suicide prevention strategies, “the number of suicides reflects only a small portion of the problem.  Many more people are hospitalized due to nonfatal suicidal behavior than are fatally injured —and an even greater number are treated for injuries due to suicidal acts in ambulatory settings or are not treated at all.”
Not much help in calming my fears.
Talking about suicide prevention is difficult.  The causes are so complex, and often unknowable. There’s no way to simplify or compartmentalize this difficult and emotionally infused topic.  But just because it’s hard to talk about, do we sweep it under the rug? Ignore the fears? Are they unfounded?
Maybe I’m scared because this topic has been normalized.  Maybe I’m scared because I have a child who, thanks to some tough stuff, has tasted depression.  Maybe I’m scared because with five children (and all their friends in and out of my house), I get to witness the power of the “like” button as it creates false popularity, magnifies silences and offers up horrible “like if you hate” judgments.  I don’t like the trend toward isolation. With the “new normal” method of communicating through texts and sites and games, I see children replace talking face to face with what only seems like a safer, easier way.
All of those things plant a child on shaky ground —not the place I want my children to be when inevitable adolescent doubts creep in.  Doubts like that morph into lies like, “No one likes you,” “you’re a burden,” “you’re worthless, “such a loser.”  Lies that gain new life in social media.
And herein lies my fear: that a child will think the thoughts …then act.  A few years ago, I was talking with a youth leader about issues plaguing teens, specifically suicide.  “You know, it seems to hit all kinds of families these days.  Terrific families. And I don’t get it,” she told me.  She gets the emotions teenagers feel, she said, but even in the worst of her own inevitable “no-one-notices-or-would-miss-me” teen funk, she would never have acted on it.  “My family depended on me.  I helped take care of major things around our house, including my sister. It didn’t matter how unloved I might have felt; I was needed  —a necessary cog for the machine to work.”
That youth leader felt needed as a teenager.  She felt connected. Her observation is supported by the C.D.C. in describing its work to prevent fatal and nonfatal suicidal behavior.  “Connectedness is a common thread that weaves together many of the influences of suicidal behavior and has direct relevance for prevention.”  That “connectedness” comes from feeling a responsibility toward something larger than yourself.  It comes in lots of shapes and sizes, many are in our homes.
What if real, genuine, whine-inducing, independence-producing responsibility could act as a life-line of sorts?   The kind of responsibility that the youth leader remembers.  The kind that assures kids that they’re necessary cogs in their family machine.  The kind that involves them in relationship.  The kind that puts meat on the words “you belong.”
I don’t diminish the clinical nature of mental illness or presume an answer to psychosis.  I certainly don’t question the connectedness of the clinically depressed that have walked that road.  But with prevention in mind, isn’t anything worth discussing?   If “family connectedness” could play a role in helping my own teenagers through the emotional turmoil of adolescence, then family connectedness is what they’re going to get.
At least one study  suggests that the responsibilities that create that connection don’t have to be monumental. Regular stuff counts. Even small tasks like taking out the trash, doing laundry, cooking dinner, or teaching your little brother how to brush his teeth then helping him each night can offer solid grounding for a child.
I know “connectedness” is no panacea. Sometimes, a complicated chronic illness will win out over everything else. For me, my friend’s final act doesn’t define her life. But it has made me consider, even more deeply, what my children might say defines theirs.
Visit the Albuquerque SOS Web Site for Local Meeting Information at :
www.sosabq.org
Visit the Newsletter Web Site for the Entire Archive of past Issues at :
www.sharingandhealing.org
Or e-mail comments to :     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

“ SHARING AND HEALING ”Torrey Pine

                April  2013

 
                                     A QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

                               Written & Edited By  :  Al & Linda Vigil


ARTICLE INDEX

Pg 1 :   Grieving Notes:  “Positive People” - Al

Pg 2 :   NM Senate & Native American Suicide

Pg 2 :   Symposium - Intervention & Prevention

Pg 3 :   What’s Killing Us

Pg 4 :   Suicide Hotline & Texting

Pg 4 :   Most Teens Do Not Get Professional Help

Pg 5 :   One in 25 Has Teens Attempted Suicide

Pg 7 :   Saving Lives : Collections of Suicide Notes

Pg 9  :  Trying to Overcome The Sadness of Suicide

Pg 10:   Jane Fonda Talks About Her Mother’s Suicide

Pg 11  : Could Responsibilities Help

Pg 12 :  Site Address


“ GRIEVING NOTES ”

Positive People

By Al Vigil

Linda & I have been facilitating Survivors of Suicide loss support groups for many, many years —since our eighteen-year-old daughter Mia took her life.

Once in a while a new meeting attendee or a new friend will ask,  ”Why do you keep doing all that suicide meeting stuff?  Isn’t it depressing?  Doesn’t that just bring you down?”

We believe that happiness is a choice.  It is important to our mental health and well being that we choose to be among positive people  —and the most positive people I meet are at an SOS meeting.  For an hour and a-half, at our twice a month Albuquerque meetings, we choose to be with the most positive persons we have ever met.
 
These people walk into a strange room, with ten to twenty others just like them —survivors of the suicide of someone that they love.  We ask them to share the most painful, intimate, thing that has ever happened in their lives.  They struggle to share the first name of the person they have lost to suicide.  In tears and with incredible bereavement they tell of the means that were used accomplish that end.  They talk about the gun, the rope, the bridge, the pills, and other methods of suicide  —some methods that still shock SOS veterans.

We share about guilt, abandonment, anger, should have, could have, would have, blame, fear, and the —why why why.  At the end of each meeting time, we each close with the sharing of a  ‘spark’  —a few words about something that has recently made a difference in knowing that our lives must go on and that we choose life.
 
Positive people?  Of course!  It’s certainly not depressing, especially during the thirty minutes after the end of the meeting when you hear exchanges of name and phone numbers.  You see touches and embraces among members.  You hear,   “See you next meeting”   “I’m glad I came”   “Thank you for letting me share and for listening to me.”
”Why do you keep doing all that suicide meeting stuff?  Isn’t it depressing?  Doesn’t that bring you down?”  
 
These are heart-broken people who will choose to continue life and work hard not the escape into the death by suicide that someone they love  —choose.
Didn’t I just describe the most positive people you could ever meet? 
- Yours in Sharing and Healing- Al V.

NM LegislatureFrom New Mexico Senate

Native American Suicide Council The overall suicide rate among Native Americans is 16deaths per 100,000 people —at least 25 percent higher than the non-native’s  rate of about 12 deaths per 100,000.  The suicide rate among native people was significantly higher than rates for the other ethnic and racial groups —including about 12 per 100,000 for whites, 9 for Asians, 7 for blacks, and 6 for Hispanics.

In March 2013, the 51st State Legislature of New Mexico, passed the creation of a Native American Suicide Prevention Advisory Council.  NM Senate Bill 447 was introduced by Benny Shendo, Jr., a true Native to New Mexico, of Jemez Pueblo, who is serving from District 22.  

This landmark Senate Bill was also introduced by Sandra D. Jeff who represents District 5, which includes McKinley and San Juan Counties. The suicide prevention council shall consist of eleven voting members and shall assist in developing policies, rules and priorities for a New Mexico clearinghouse for Native American suicide prevention. Voting members shall serve for overlapping terms, so that voting authorities shall always be available for a quorum. A statewide clearinghouse will work to provide culturally appropriate prevention, intervention and post-event assistance statewide to native American individuals, families and tribes, nations and pueblos living with suicide, attempted suicide, or the risk of suicide.  

A true positive direction toward addressing and lessening death by suicide. Native American in this context means a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, nation or Pueblo.


 

What Seems like the Right Thing to Do,
Could Also Be the Hardest Thing You Have Ever Done in Your Life!

 



Salt Lake City Symposium

                   On Intervention and Prevention of Teen Suicide

The public suicide of a junior high school student last November added painful reality to Intermountain Healthcare's symposium addressing suicide. The quarterly symposium drew more than 150 participants from Logan to Provo, including medical professionals and representatives from community organizations and law enforcement agencies. The symposiums are meant to provide educational and networking opportunities to combat pressing community concerns, such as suicide.

Mikelle Moore, vice president of Intermountain's Community Benefit Department, said it was decided prior to the symposium that the recent suicide of 14-year-old David Phan would not be addressed directly during the threepresentations, which covered suicide among adolescents and adults, as well as research supporting future preventative programs.

Still, Phan's death is an example of youth suicide issues facing many Utah communities, Moore said. "You look across the state, and many communities are now able to identify with a tragedy of a young person," she said.  I think it's really compelling people to focus on this issue."  Phan shot himself on a pedestrian bridge near Bennion Junior High School in Taylorsville on Nov. 29, pulling the trigger in front of classmates about 15 minutes after school was dismissed.

Dr. D. Richard Martini, director of psychiatry and behavioral health at Primary Children's Medical Center, reported that adolescent suicide rates in Utah are higher than the national average, with the number climbing since 2010.  As many as 1 million teenagers attempt suicide in the United States each year, Martini said.  Teen suicide is usually an impulsive act rather than a carefully premeditated one, he said, with more females likely to attempt suicide but more males likely to be successful.

Martini also referenced new studies indicating non-suicidal self injury demonstrates a predisposition for suicidal behavior. He emphasized the role supportive families can play in preventing adolescent suicide or self-injury behavior.  Parents who strive to create cohesive relationships, spend time together as a family and involve themselves in their children's lives are more able to support adolescents and detect suicidal feelings or actions, Martini said.

"It's a real skill, I think, for parents to make a child feel as though, when they go to their parent, there is no one that is more important or nothing that is more important than that conversation," he said.  Family support is essential in compliance and follow-up care after a suicide attempt, Martini said, explaining that roughly 70 percent of adolescents who are hospitalized for a suicide attempt attend very few follow-up appointments. 

Parents and professionals assessing dangerous behavior must look at life stressors among adolescents, such as interpersonal loss, disciplinary problems or a history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, Martini said, even though young people may not consciously connect those issues to their harmful behavior.  Bullying can also be a significant stressor for teens, he said, for victims as well as perpetrators.  Participants at the symposium brought up questions regarding bullying, communicating with adolescents and treatment methods.  Martini said adults concerned about possible suicidal behavior by adolescents have several options available to them, including their primary healthcare physician or support hotlines.



WHAT’S KILLING US
         Leading causes of death in the U.S., 2010 - (Most recent data available)

●  1. Heart disease: 597,689 deaths ●  2. Cancer: 574,743
●  3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080Broken heart

●  4. Stroke: 129,476
●  5. Accidents: 120,859
●  6. Alzheimer’s disease: 83,494
●  7. Diabetes: 69,071
●  8. Kidney disease: 50, 476
●  9. Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
●  10. Suicide: 38,364

DEATHS AMONG THE YOUNG
Leading causes of death in U.S., ages 15-24 in 2010 (most recent data available)
●  1. Accidents: 12,341
●  2. Homicide: 4,678
●  3. Suicide: 4,600Source: American Association of Suicidology





Suicide Hotline Reaching Teens Through Texting Service

                       By Julia Terruso / The Star-Ledger


Lynn DeVito received the text message late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve.  “Some nights I just feel so bad.  Everyone is asleep but I can’t.  I just don’t know if one of these nights it’ll be too much and I’ll give up,” it read.

The text was from a woman in her early 20's who had just moved to New Jersey.  The woman, overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and loneliness, which intensified on New Years Eve, said she didn’t know where to turn.

“Are you feeling suicidal?” DeVito, a trained volunteer at the  CONTACT We Care  suicide hotline, typed back.

Cell phone

“Yes,” the woman replied.  “I just cry in secret until I feel better.”

Since the statewide hotline, based in Westfield, introduced the texting service in March, it has received 500 text messages, mostly from teenagers and young adults.  The hotline is one of only a handful in the county to add the text option which offers added anonymity and secrecy.

DeVito’s conversation with the young woman continued for close to an hour as the two texted back and forth about the root of the woman’s depression.  The two also discussed what the woman enjoyed and how she could meet people.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking at first,” DeVito, 23, said of the texting.  “When you talk to someone on the phone you can hear their voice and get a sense of where they are, how they’re doing.  With this, you kind of go at it blind.”

Phone hotlines have existed since the 1960s but only in recent years have states like North Carolina, Nevada and now New Jersey expanded them to include online chat services and texting.  Some frightening statistics drove the expansion. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers.  Each year, approximately 5,000 young people ages 10-24 commit suicide and as many as 25 suicides are attempted for each one that is completed, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

“We’re not pleased people are feeling so bad but we’re pleased people have somewhere to turn,” said Joanne Oppelt, executive director of CONTACT We Care. The hotline is staffed by more than 100 volunteers who respond to more than 12,00 calls and texts each year.  Volunteers work two-hour shifts two to three times a week answering calls at a Westfield facility  and responding to texts through an external computer program.

While the texting option was directed toward teenagers, DeVito, who is pursuing her master’s degree in psychology at Columbia University, said one of her most moving exchanges was with a mother of three who found it difficult to break away from her family to make a call.  DeVito estimates she talked with the woman 10 to 15 times over the course of three months.

“I think what scared me the most was that these children could lose their mother and how important it was to try to keep her here for them,” DeVito said.  “No matter how horrible she was feeling I knew whenever I would talk to her she would be ok that night.”

The waiting period between a question like “are you suicidal” and receiving an answer can feel interminable, volunteers say, and sometimes never hearing from a person again can leave them uneasy.

But in many cases, people do follow-up, as did a 21 year old who texted the service last month: “Even though I still need to talk.  Thank you.  Cause without you guys I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have went  ....and got help.  I chose to do it.  I decided I really didn’t want to die.  I wanted these bad feelings to die.  Not everything else.”




Most Suicidal Teens Don’t Get Professional Help

           By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor  

 
     Most teens who are thinking of suicide or already attempted suicide have not received appropriate mental health services, according to an analysis led by Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D. of the National Institute of Mental Health. Around 14 percent of high school students seriously consider suicide each year, 11 percent have a suicide plan, and 6 percent attempt suicide, according to a national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

     Other research suggests that less than half of teens who attempt suicide received mental health services during the year before the attempt. Over 10,000 teens, ages 13 to 18, completed the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), an in-person, nationally representative survey. They answered whether they had any suicidal thoughts (ideation), plans, or actions during the one-year period prior to the survey.

     The teens also completed an interview asking about the full range of mental disorders including mood, anxiety, eating and anxiety disorders and whether theyhad received treatment for emotional or behavioral problems in the past 12 months. Participants were asked to specify if they received care from a mental health specialist —such as a social worker, psychiatrist or other mental health professional —or from a general service provider, such as a primary care physician.

     According to the results, within the past year, 3.6 percent of adolescents had suicidal thoughts, but did not make a specific plan or suicide attempt.  Other findings include 0.6 percent of teens reported having a plan and nearly 2 percent reported having made a suicide attempt within the past year.

     Suicidal behavior among youth was not only associated with major depression, but also with a range of other mental health problems including eating, anxiety, substance use and behavior disorders, as well as physical health problems.

     Between 50 and 75 percent of those who had suicidal ideation had recent contact with a health provider.  However, most only had three or fewer visits, suggesting that treatment tends to end prematurely.  In addition, most teens with suicidal ideation did not receive specialized mental health care.  The findings suggest that depression and other mood disorders are not the only pathways to suicide. They also emphasize the importance of including a suicide risk assessment into regular physical and mental health care for teens.

     The researchers conclude that even while teens are in treatment, they should continue to be monitored for suicidal ideation and behaviors.



About 1 in 25 U.S. Teens Attempts Suicide

     - National Study Finds By Genevra Pittman : Reuters

About one in 25 U.S. teens has attempted suicide, according to a new national study, and one in eight has thought about it.  Researchers said those numbers are similar to the prevalence of lifetime suicidal thinking and attempts reported by adults - suggesting the teenage years are an especially vulnerable time.

"What adults say is, the highest risk time for first starting to think about suicide is in adolescence," said Matthew Nock, a psychologist who worked on the study at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.helppuzzlepiece

The results are based on in-person interviews of close to 6,500 teens in the U.S. and questionnaires filled out by their parents.  Along with asking youth about their suicidal thinking, plans and attempts, interviewers also determined which teens fit the bill for a range of mental disorders.  Just over 12 percent of the youth had thought about suicide, and four percent each had made a suicide plan or attempted suicide.

Nock and his colleagues found that almost all teens who thought about or attempted suicide had a mental disorder, including depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or problems with drug or alcohol abuse.  More than half of the youth were already in treatment when they reported suicidal behavior.  Nock said that was both "encouraging" and "disturbing."

"We know that a lot of the kids who are at risk and thinking about suicide are getting treatment," he told Reuters Health.  However, "We don't know how to stop them -we don't have any evidence based treatments for suicidal behavior."       

  Who is at risk?

youth-at-riskAmy Brausch, a psychologist who has studied adolescent self-harm and suicide at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, said the finding shouldn't be interpreted to mean mental health treatment doesn't work for teens. 

"We don't know from this study if they even told their therapist they were having these thoughts, we don't know if it was a focus of the treatment," Brausch, who wasn't involved in the new research, told Reuters Health.

The findings were published this week in JAMA Psychiatry. But they still leave many questions unanswered. Because most youth who think about suicide never go on to make an actual plan or attempt, doctors need to get better at figuring out which ones are most at risk of putting themselves in danger, according to Nock. Once those youth are identified, researchers will also have to determine the best way to treat them, he said —since it's clear that a lot of current methods aren't preventing suicidal behavior.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between age 10 and 24, killing about 4,600 young people annually. 

Although girls are more likely to attempt suicide —a pattern confirmed by Nock's study  —boys have higher rates of death by suicide because they typically choose more deadly methods, such as guns.

Brausch advised parents to keep open communication with their adolescent and not being afraid to ask about  depression. They should also pay attention to changes in mood or behavior, she added. Nock agreed.  "For parents, if they suspect their child is thinking about suicide  …or talking about death, I would have that child evaluated," he said.

 


Saving Lives with World’s Largest Note Collection

Written by John Johnston

The world’s largest collection of suicide notes, more than 1,300 in all, is at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.   

John Pestian has read each one.

suicide note-03Loss of hope, that’s what defines suicide for me,” said the hospital’s director of computational medicine.  “In most of those notes, you see the loss of hope.”

Pestian and his research team are using advanced computer technology to analyze the language in the notes and gain a deeper understanding of the thoughts of the people who wrote them.  The goal is to create a tool, perhaps within two years, that can help mental health workers assess the likelihood a person will attempt suicide. 

Pestian’s work further bolsters the reputation of Children’s as one of the nation’s top pediatric research institutions.  “Only a few other suicide researchers are merging psychology and computational analysis, and none on the scale of Pestian,”  said Michelle Linn-Gust,  president of the American Association of Suicidology.  “He’s really doing some groundbreaking work,” she added.  

That’s important, she added, because research to prevent suicide has reached a plateau. And the problem “is not going away.”  Each week, about 40 suicidal young people come to the Emergency Department at Children’s, Pestian said.

  Every 14 minutes in the United States, someone dies by suicide.

  Every 32 seconds, there’s another attempt.  

In 2012  the U.S. military saw its highest number of suicides ever recorded  —350.

And during the Great Recession years of 2008 to 2010, the U.S. suicide rate rose four times faster than in the eight years before the economic downturn, according to a study in the British medical journal the Lancet.

In typical clinical settings, assessing a person’s risk for suicide falls to social workers, nurses, psychologists or doctors. Their conclusions can be subjective, because their training and life experiences can vary greatly.

As a result,  “People hear things differently,” said Pestian, a professor of pediatrics.  “What one social worker or physician sees as a suicidal kid, another may not.”

Pestian’s team is devising a means to support professionals in their decision-making.  He’s an expert in the field of neuropsychiatric computational linguistics.  “I teach computers how to listen, and report back what they think they’ve heard from people,” he said.  He began his suicide research six years ago at the urging of a friend in the psychiatric field.  The first task: collect data-the notes written by people who died by suicide.

“When people hear you’re doing this work, they step up,” he said.  Notes-written between 1950 and present day by people ranging from adolescents to senior citizens-came from surviving family members all over North America.
Poring over the notes  ‟can be very depressing.  I’ve cried more times that I can count over some of the things I’ve read.  But in the end, you’re doing whatever you can to help save lives, to help the human condition.  This just happens to be what I get called to do.”

The notes were scanned, transcribed and reviewed for accuracy.  The research team then recruited 165 volunteers-people suicide note-02whohad lost ones to suicide-to read the notes and select words, phrases or sentences that represent particular emotions: abuse, anger, blame, fear, guilt, hopelessness, sorrow, forgiveness, happiness, peacefulness, love, pride, thankfulness.

The result was a database-a linguistic reference set-against which computers could compare the speech of people at risk of suicide. Pestian’s lab developed an algorithm-essentially a recipe of instructions-to teach a computer how to find patterns, derive meaning and make predictions from the data. That branch of artificial intelligence is called machine learning, and it has many applications.  It’s been used, for example, to prevent credit card fraud by teaching computers to recognize the abnormal use of a card and alert the cardholder.

In a recent clinical trial at Children’s,  Pestian’s team tested the algorithm by asking a series of questions to 30 young people with suicidal tendencies and 30 in a control group.  “We wanted to know if the computer could tell, by listening to recordings of what they said, which ones are suicidal and which ones aren’t,” Pestian said.

The computer was 93 percent accurate-identifying those with suicidal tendencies over the control group-while humans were right slightly more than 50 percent of the time with the same groups.

Next: a larger experiment, conducted at more sites.  And perhaps after that, the creation of a product that can be used in clinical setting.  “That’s probably two years away,“  Pestian said. “Even if and when that day comes, such a product will support-not replace-a real person.  When assessing patients, some subjectively is necessary,”  Pestian said.  “It’s part of the art of medicine.

In the end, the clinician, the person at the bedside, makes the decisions.” 



Trying to Overcome the sadness  of Suicide
                                                                                                           By  Thomas Truelson   -Tauton Daily Gazette

Suicide is death by sadness, suffocating sorrow.  Suicide is so sudden, so shocking, so shattering.  It is an act of despair and desperation from drowning in deep, dark depression.  After engulfed in endless battles waged with the raging demons within the mind, a person becomes detached from life and ultimately embraces death as a saviour.

Life becomes a strangling struggle.  In her book,  “Girl Interrupted”  Susanna Keysen, wrote, “Life demands skills I do not have.”  A person who commits suicide loses the skills to live and the ability to face life’s demands.sad-face

 A person simply becomes incapable of living.  A fatal flaw that has no boundaries and can effect anyone —like any other illness or disease.

For loved ones, family and friends, suicide is so unexpectedly final yet it has no ending.  It steals life from the living as one struggles to make sense of the loss, tries to overcome feelings of guilt and anguish and the tormenting thoughts of how the tragedy could have been prevented.  And usually a person must confront these thoughts alone in the sickening silence of seclusion and solitude.

A suicide is so incredibly devastating that life is never the same again, the wounds never heal, the broken hearts never mend.  I write with some experience. Besides losing people I have loved and adored to suicide, I have attempted suicide three times.  The last time was in 1994.  When I arrived at the hospital I was unconscious, spent the next five days in a coma and was not expected to live.  Somehow I miraculously recovered and was told by the doctors that there was no medical reason why I survived.

This is what I learned:  Not once during the weeks and days leading up to my suicide attempted did I think of the ramifications of my death.  Not once did I think about how my death would effect my parents, my family and those who loved and cared for me.  Not once.  Not once did they enter my mind because my mental suffering was so powerfully overwhelming and all encompassing.  And I strongly believe the mental state of most people who commit suicide is exactly the same.

It must be carefully remembered that rarely is suicide an act of selfishness, rarely is suicide an act of a coward.  Some cold hard facts from the CDC and the NCHS.  In their latest yearly figures there are more suicides than murders, there are more suicides by guns than homicides by guns.  There are more suicides than automobile fatalities.  More than three times as many people commit suicide than are killed in alcohol related auto accidents. 

Another cold hard fact from the Department of Defense and from a Time magazine cover story in July 2012. Since the war in Afghanistan began in October 2001, more U.S. military personnel have committed suicide than have died in combat there.

When someone famous commits suicide, like Junior Seau, we read and hear how suicide is preventable.  But what is being done to prevent it?  What is being done to prevent this silent epidemic of death.

samaritansI realize there are groups like the  Samaritans  and the  American Foundation For Suicideamerican-foundation-for-suicide-preventionPrevention that do great work.  But much more is needed, for suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in this country.

Suicide has become a public health crisis and must be confronted on the federal, state and local levels —as well as in our schools, particularly on our high school and college campuses.Suicide is savage in that it tears people apart like no other tragedy and damages the psyche in ways that can never be repaired.  Suicide has been a taboo subject far too long in this country.  While everyone is looking the other way, more than 35,000 people kill themselves every year.  It has become a serious public health crisis and what is being done to prevent it?




Jane Fonda Talks About Her Mother's Suicide     

                                                        Told to :  FoxNews.com


Jane Fonda said her mother’s suicide, when the actress was in her preteen years, left her wanting to help people.

janefonda“My mother was actually abused as a child and killed herself when I was 12, and that is just for starters,” Fonda told FOX NEWS.  “I have seen it up close, what abuse can do to people.”

That’s why recently the “Monster-in-Law” star has gotten involved with the One Billion Rising project, a global initiative aimed at combating rape.  The cause’s latest event, a Zumba dance celebration meant to empower women, tapped into the Fonda’s love for aerobics.

“Women everywhere are dancing and rising, it is the diversity of this which has really made a difference,” she said. “So many things have happened that we all have read about like the rape of a woman in India (which led to the victim’s death)  —so many things where we have to say, ‘enough.’ We are going to develop an international force that will stop the violence.”

Fonda stressed that it’s the little things we can all do which really make the difference in putting a dent in the worldwide epidemic of abuse.  “If a child tells you they have been molested or approached by a perpetrator or pedophile, believe them. Believe the child and go to authorities even if it means you speak out against someone who is a member of your family,” she continued. “And fight for legislation that can help protect women. In too many places police and officials say that domestic abuse is a personal issue but it is not, we have to get legislation that helps end physical and sexual abuse.”

Fonda is also a strong advocate of celebrities using their star status to bring attention to issues afflicting our world.

“We are in a unique position, we are given so many benefits being celebrities,” she said. “We can bring attention and throw light to the dark corners where evil is happening and a lot of that evil is being directed towards women.”

At 75, the prominent Hollywood personality still has the power to turn heads not only with what she says, but how she looks. Fonda stunned in a form-fitting bright yellow dress at the Academy Awards over the weekend, landing her on many best dressed lists. However, her anti-aging secret has nothing to do with dedicating oneself to “Jane Fonda Workout” home videos.

“We started One Billion Rising this morning at a park in West Hollywood and I noticed how many really old women and some old men had gathered. I noticed they had that spark in their eye that people have when they are involved and committed,” she said. “Forget about the physical thing, that can come and go, but you have to keep that spark inside. Staying curious and involved and up on issues, that’s what keeps you young.”
There is little doubt Jane Fonda has already succeeded in what she wants her lasting legacy to be.
“I made a difference,” she added. “Whatever time I had, I made a difference.”


 

               Life  Is  Too  Short   ♦ 

❦    Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.

Laugh when you can,  apologize when you should,  

and let go of what you can’t change.

 

 



Could Responsibilities Help Prevent Teenage Suicide?             

 

                 By KAY WYMA  (From Internet Blog Site)   

One recent Saturday, a friend of mine drove across town to a gun store.  She bought a pistol, went back to her car in the parking lot, and ended her life.

Unthinkable.

I’m shocked, confused and stricken.  I struggle with how to grieve, and how to talk about it. Complicated doesn’t begin to describe the terrain.  Even as suicide grips my thoughts, it grabs headlines, often coupled with the word epidemic.  I can’t stop questioning, and wondering if anyone has the power to tame whatever thoughts escort our loved ones to the gun store parking lot.

teen_suicide-girlStill, the news exposes my greatest fear : that one of my children will drive the same road.
Knowing the statistics and trends doesn’t help:

—  Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens. 

—  Suicide is second leading cause of death in colleges. 

—  For every suicide completion, there are between 50 and 200 attempts. 

—  8.5 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported a suicide attempt in the past year. 

—  25 percent of high-school students report suicide ideation.

As if that weren’t enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suicide prevention strategies, “the number of suicides reflects only a small portion of the problem.  Many more people are hospitalized due to nonfatal suicidal behavior than are fatally injured —and an even greater number are treated for injuries due to suicidal acts in ambulatory settings or are not treated at all.”

Not much help in calming my fears.

Talking about suicide prevention is difficult.  The causes are so complex, and often unknowable. There’s no way to simplify or compartmentalize this difficult and emotionally infused topic.  But just because it’s hard to talk about, do we sweep it under the rug? Ignore the fears? Are they unfounded?

Maybe I’m scared because this topic has been normalized.  Maybe I’m scared because I have a child who, thanks to some tough stuff, has tasted depression.  Maybe I’m scared because with five children (and all their friends in and out of my house), I get to witness the power of the “like” button as it creates false popularity, magnifies silences and offers up horrible “like if you hate” judgments.  I don’t like the trend toward isolation. With the “new normal” method of communicating through texts and sites and games, I see children replace talking face to face with what only seems like a safer, easier way.

All of those things plant a child on shaky ground —not the place I want my children to be when inevitable adolescent doubts creep in.  Doubts like that morph into lies like, “No one likes you,” “you’re a burden,” “you’re worthless, “such a loser.”  Lies that gain new life in social media.

And herein lies my fear: that a child will think the thoughts …then act.  A few years ago, I was talking with a youth leader about issues plaguing teens, specifically suicide.  “You know, it seems to hit all kinds of families these days.  Terrific families. And I don’t get it,” she told me.  She gets the emotions teenagers feel, she said, but even in the worst of her own inevitable “no-one-notices-or-would-miss-me” teen funk, she would never have acted on it.  “My family depended on me.  I helped take care of major things around our house, including my sister. It didn’t matter how unloved I might have felt; I was needed  —a necessary cog for the machine to work.”

That youth leader felt needed as a teenager.  She felt connected. Her observation is supported by the C.D.C. in describing its work to prevent fatal and nonfatal suicidal behavior.  “Connectedness is a common thread that weaves together many of the influences of suicidal behavior and has direct relevance for prevention.”  That “connectedness” comes from feeling a responsibility toward something larger than yourself.  It comes in lots of shapes and sizes, many are in our homes.

What if real, genuine, whine-inducing, independence-producing responsibility could act as a life-line of sorts?   The kind of responsibility that the youth leader remembers.  The kind that assures kids that they’re necessarymental-illness-awareness1cogs in their family machine.  The kind that involves them in relationship.  The kind that puts meat on the words “you belong.”

I don’t diminish the clinical nature of mental illness or presume an answer to psychosis.  I certainly don’t question the connectedness of the clinically depressed that have walked that road.  But with prevention in mind, isn’t anything worth discussing?   If “family connectedness” could play a role in helping my own teenagers through the emotional turmoil of adolescence, then family connectedness is what they’re going to get.

At least one study  suggests that the responsibilities that create that connection don’t have to be monumental. Regular stuff counts. Even small tasks like taking out the trash, doing laundry, cooking dinner, or teaching your little brother how to brush his teeth then helping him each night can offer solid grounding for a child.

I know “connectedness” is no panacea. Sometimes, a complicated chronic illness will win out over everything else. For me, my friend’s final act doesn’t define her life. But it has made me consider, even more deeply, what my children might say defines theirs.



Visit the Albuquerque SOS Web Site for Local Meeting Information at :
www.sosabq.org
Visit the Newsletter Web Site for the Entire Archive of past Issues at :
www.sharingnhealing.org

 

Or e-mail comments to :     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Security code
Refresh