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January 2011





  “SHARING AND HEALING ”torrey-pines©

                    JANUARY   2011
        Written & Edited By  :  Al & Linda Vigil

                        .   .    .   .    .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

        “ GRIEVING NOTES ”

                 By Al Vigil

In the October 2010 issue of  “Sharing and Healing”,  Linda wrote, “When Mia took her life on January 5, 1984, our lives were broken and our world as we knew it was
“Forever Changed.” If you read those Grieving Notes and the article that followed,  “What Happened to Italy?”  you will understand my next statement  - “We left a lot of Mia’s spirituality and soul in Italy.”  
We traveled to Italy in mid-October and we spent 17 days there.  UNESCO has stated that 60% of the world’s ancient fine art is in Italy. We certainly made an attempt to visit most of it.
We visited the ruins of Pompeii, we marveled at the ruins of Rome. We felt humbled at the incredible art of the Sistine Chapel. We tried to understand the powerful peace of La Pieta. We threw coins in the Fountain of Trevi.  After viewing thousands of pieces of world-known sculpture and famous works of art, we actually started to suffer from culture shock. We even got lost in Venice. There isn’t enough room in this article to write about all of the great food and the fine wine. And best of all, halfway through our tour, we were able to refresh our tired minds and bodies, for several days in a villa in Tuscany.
Yes, in Italy, we did feel the presence of Mia’s spirit and soul. We filled ourselves with those feelings and those emotions and we let the tears flow with every candle that we lit in almost every cathedral that we visited. In the flickering candle flames in those cold and drafty ancient places of worship, we were able to release Mia’s spirit as never before  ...to God, to Nature, to the Universe.
Mia now lives everyplace and everywhere. She will live in Italy as true as she will also always and forever live in the hearts of her parents Al and Linda, and her sisters Mindy and Marlo. Mia’s choice to stop her life, Forever Changed our lives.  After 27 years of missing her physical presence, we have brought to the beauty of Holland the peace and serenity of Mia’s old soul in Italy.
We look forward to our new and continued  “Sharing and Healing”

In Sharing & Healing - Al Vigil

                            WHEN SHOULD A CHILD BE TOLD ABOUT SUICIDE ?

AbbyDear Abby,
My little sister, ‘Cynda,’ committed suicide nine years ago. She was only 13. She did it because she was severely bullied at school.
I am now a mother, and my 7-year-old daughter has been asking about Aunt Cynda, and how she died. I have told her that Auntie Cynda had a bad hurt on her neck and passed away. Abby, my sister hung herself in her bedroom.
When is the right time or age to explain suicide to a child? This is a very sensitive subject in my family. I don’t want my daughter talking to others about my sister’s death, especially to my own mother. I would prefer to teach my little girl about the wonderful person that Cynda was. Do you have any advise for me?    -Holding Into Innocence.
                . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
               Dear Holding:  Yes, I sympathize with your desire to protect your daughter’s innocence. But has it occurred to you that the reason she’s asking about Cynda is because she has already heard something and didn’t get the answers she needed?
Ask your daughter why she’s asking about her aunt. Then give her bits and pieces in doses that she can absorb. A suicide in the family can be a sensitive subject, but sooner or later the truth is going to come out. It’s important that your child know that is she has questions about anything, she can come to her mother for honest answers.


SAN FRANCISCO—Plans to build a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge are moving ahead.

A committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, signed off on $5 million in federal funding to design the barrier. The full commission is expected to give its approval.

Golden Gate Bridge officials voted overwhelmingly two years ago in favor of hanging a stainless steel net from the sides of the world-famous span in an effort to stop people from jumping to their deaths.

The barrier would cost $45 million. Bridge officials are seeking federal, state and private funding for that project.

Officials say designing the barrier is expected to take about 18 months.Golden Gate Bridge

More than 1,300 people have jumped from the span since it opened in 1937.








. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Written  By  Pen & Paper MARION WATERSTON ♥ :  DECEMBER 25, 2004

          They whom we love and lose

   are no longer where they were before.footsteps

        They are now

         ... wherever we are !



The only cure for grief is to grieve.  There is no getting around the pain.  Grief is an emotion, not a disease.  It’s as natural as crying when you are hurt, eating when you are hungry, and sleeping when you are tired.  Grief is nature’s way of attempting to mend a broken heart.

No one can tell you how to grieve.  There is no normal time span during which adjustment takes place.  Some may loudly protest that the death has occurred; others may quietly resign themselves to the reality.  Some may refuse to think about the death at all; others may think of nothing else.  Some may cry hysterically; others may remain outwardly passive and emotionless.  Some may blame themselves for the death; others may project the guilt upon God, the grief-woodphysician, the nurse, a friend, or even a member of the family.  The grief process is never the same for any two people.  Don’t compare yourself with others in similar situations.  Their smiles may not reveal the depth of their sorrow.  Be your own timekeeper.  The adjustment to what has happened has to be in your own way and in your own time.  Each person’s grief is different.

Feelings  you may experience:

In the beginning you may be in shock.  You are bewildered, literally stunned.  “I feel like a spectator at a play.  But the drama is about me and the person I loved.”  You may feel numb all over, almost paralyzed in a world of unreality.  Shock is a kind of insulation, cushioning you for the full impact of the death until your mind and body system can absorb it.  Sometimes your hands and feet may tingle during the first hours or days.

You don’t want to believe it.  “It’s a bad dream.  When I wake up, I’ll find it really didn’t happen.”  Denial is when you secretly think or pretend the person will return and life will go on as before.  It is so strange.  You feel as if the death did not really occur, even though you know it really has.  Many people need time before they can face the harsh truth.  It is so hard to realize that in your lifetime you will never see or touch that person again.

You may think you are losing your mind.  Just know you are not crazy.  It takes time and effort to regain your ability to function more effectively.

Emotional suffering often brings physical distress.  You may feel tightness in your chest, or an inability to draw a good, deep breath.  You may not sleep well.  Your stomach may be tied up in knots.  Your back may be hurting.  The pain is not imaginary; it is real.  Your body is feeling your emotional loss.

One common reaction to loss is guilt.  “ I should have been there.  I should have said (‘good-bye,’ or ‘I love you,’ or I’ll take care of things.’) I should have done more.  If only I had!”  In most cases there is little or nothing anyone could have done to prevent the death.

Relief is a common response.  “Thank God, the suffering is over.”  You are glad the person doesn’t have to suffer any more.  Accept this relief and don’t allow it to grow into guilt.

Pouring out your heart is extremely important and therapeutic at this time; that is, sharing both pleasant and unpleasant memories of the person.  When each event is reviewed, a pang is felt at the thought that you will never experience that again.  As pain is felt, you begin slowly to loosen your emotional ties to the dead person.  A gradual working over of old thoughts and feelings is a necessary part of the mourning process.

Learning to cope with your loss:

Accept Your Grief  - Expect the physical and emotional consequences of the death.  Grief is the price you pay for loving and caring.

Express Your Feelings
  - Don’t mask your despair.  Cry when you have to; laugh when you can.  Your emotional needs must not be ignored.

Monitor Your Health  - Eat as well as you can, for your body needs nourishment after the physically grueling experience of your grief.  Depression can also be lightened by biochemical changes through proper exercise.  Take a walk.  Put balance back into your life with work and relaxation.  Get medical care when necessary.  You have suffered enough.  Don’t cause further damage to yourself and those around you by neglecting your health.

Be Patient with Yourself  - Your mind, body, and soul need time and energy to adjust to this event.  Grief is like weeding a flower bed in the summertime; you may have to do it over and over again until the seasons change.  Sometimes the loneliness and sadness may come back for no special reason, but by doing your grief work and allowing yourself time, you will be better able to cope.

Share Your Pain with a Friend or Friends  - It’s important that you don’t withdraw from others.  By remaining silent, you deny friends the opportunity to share your inner self, bringing on more isolation and loneliness for you.

Join a Group of Others Who Are Grieving  - Learning about the experiences of others who have gone through similar experiences can offer valuable insight into your own feelings, while also providing support, encouragement, and friendship.

Help Others  - After a time, try devoting your energies to people and causes.  You learn to better relate to others, face reality, become more independent, and begin to detach gently from the past by living in the present.

Determine to Find the Joy in Life Again  - Readjustment does not come overnight.  Make a start to put the stars back into your sky.  Hold on and keep trying.  Resolve to survive each new day and do your best.  Take time to think through which activities can bring some degree of purpose.  Start slowly and move carefully with friends who are supportive and understanding.  The goal is to assimilate the experience of grief and grow because of and through it.  Your life will never be the same again, but you can choose to begin to live again.  That is the greatest evidence of the unquenchable spirit that fires the soul of humankind.

- Compiled and edited from the writings of Earl A. Grollman -

          Psychiatric Group to White House 

            > Change Suicide Condolence Letter Policy

                                   By Shirley S. Wang

The American Psychiatric Association is the latest group of mental health professionals  to call on President Obama to overturn a long-standing White House policy of not sending condolence letters to family members of military personnel who have committed suicide.

Advocacy groups including Mental Health America and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention have circulated petitions calling for change of the policy. Mental Health America has collected nearly 10,000 signatures over Facebook and Change.org, in support, according to Steve Vetzner, a spokesman for the group.

“We feel it’s important to send a condolence letter because it will help eliminate the stigma associated with suicide and provide social support to families,” Vetzner tells the Health Blog.

Americdan FlagThough soldiers who die by suicide receive full military honors, their families don’t get condolence letters from the president, according to the APA.

The policy is unwritten but has existed for years, says Vetzner. President Obama called for a review of the policy near the start of the year, according to Vetzner. The White House couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The military has increased its attention to the mental health of soldiers and veterans, and beefed up resources, but soldier suicides continue to be problem. (The NYT wrote about this yesterday.)

“The contributions of these men and women to their country are not less for having suffered a mental illness,” APA President Carol Bernstein said in a statement. “A reversal of this policy to allow condolence letters to family members will not only help to honor the contributions and lives of the service men and women, but will also send a message that discriminating against those with mental illness is not acceptable.”

Rising Sun
At the rising of the sun
And its going down.
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind
and in the chill of the winter,
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds 
and in the rebirth of spring.
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves
and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year
and when it ends
We remember them.
As long as we live,
They too will live.
They are part of us.
We remember them.

Reprinted  from - A French Mortuary (Albuquerque) Card  


"I hate him. I'm so mad. I love him. I miss him. I want him back," Christine Lopez's thoughts twisted and churned.

Questions swirled. A void swelled. And their 4-year-old son tugged at her, asking about Daddy. Her husband committed suicide in 2007. "It's not like he died in a traffic accident," she said. "All these thoughts were running through my head. I lost my future -- the man I was in love with, my son's father. Who do I blame?"

David Sklar, 43 and a part of the baby boomer generation, grappled with depression and chronic pain.

In the last 11 years, as more baby boomers entered midlife, the suicide rates in this age group have increased, according to an analysis in the September-October issue of the journal Public Health Reports.

The assumption was that "middle age was the most stable time of your life because you're married, you're settled, you had a job. Suicide rates are stable because their lives are stable," said Dr. Paula Clayton, the medical director for the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide.

But this assumption may be shifting. Dashed expectations, economic woes, depression or chronic medical problems -- these may be factors why the suicide rates for middle-aged Americans have increased.

Surveys of baby boomers have shown a tone of disappointment.

"So many expected to be in better health and expected to be better off than they are," said Julie Phillips, lead author of the study assessing recent changes in suicide rates. "Surveys suggest they had high expectations. Things haven't worked out that way in middle age."

Richard Croker, author of  "The Boomer Century, 1946-2046: How America's Most Influential Generation Changed Everything"  said, "From Dr. Spock to Annette Funicello, growing up in the '50s and '60s, we grew up thinking we were special. Somehow, we metamorphosed from peace, love and happiness to a me generation."

"We started accumulating wealth and began focusing on providing for ourselves and our families. That's what we did and now, we're beginning to look around. What's it all about?" he said. "Many of us are divorced. Our families are spread to the seven winds. We're disappointed."

Baby boomers (defined in the study as born between 1945 and 1964) are in a peculiar predicament.

"Historically, the elderly have had the highest rates of suicide," said Phillips, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University. "What is so striking about these figures is that starting in 2005, suicide rates among the middle aged [45-64 years of age] are the highest of all age groups."

      HoldingHands            Suicide Rates Per 100,000
                         Age 15-24: 13.2
                         Age 45-64: 15.3
                         Age 65 + : 20.5 

                          Age 15-24: 10
                          Age 45-64: 15.4
                          Age 65 +: 14.7


                                                                                        Age 15-24: 9.9
                                                                                        Age 45-64: 16
                                                                                        Age 65 +: 14.2
                                                                                                                                ( Source :  Public  Health  Reports )

The 45-54 age group had the highest suicide rate in 2006 and 2007, with 17.2 per 100,000. Meanwhile, suicide rates in adolescents and the elderly have begun to decline, she said.

"What's notable here is that the recent trend among boomers is opposite to what we see among other cohorts and that it's a reversal of a decades-long trend among the middle-aged," said Phillips, who along with Ellen Idler, a sociologist at Emory University, and two other authors used data from the National Vital Statistics System.

Baby boomers had higher rates of depression during their adolescence. One theory is that as they aged, this disposition followed them through the course of their lives.

"The age group as teenagers, it was identified,  had higher rates of depression than people born 10 or 20 years earlier -- it's called a cohort effect," said Clayton, from the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide, who read the study.

But none of these factors adequately explain why one individual commits suicide.

In their suburban home near Seattle, Washington, Sklar doted on his son, Trevor, and spent time outdoors, fished on the dock and took seaside strolls with his family. Lopez and Sklar married in 2004 after a six-year relationship. David Sklar enjoyed fishing and spending time outdoors wth his family. After she had a difficult day at work, he'd draw baths for her. He prepared breakfasts in bed and cut fresh roses from the garden.

"He was just really sweet like that," she said. "He was always interested in what I liked -- he would listen to me." Sklar also struggled with constant back pain after his car was struck by a drunken driver, then lodged under a semi in 1993. After the accident, he could no longer work in construction.

Sometimes, the act of bending down to pick up an item left him bedridden. He took Demerol, a pain medication. "He suffered with depression all of his teen and adult life," Lopez said. "I know the back injury made it worse. He felt like he wasn't a real man -- that he couldn't support his family. That was an issue for him."

Sklar tried to make the best of it, Lopez said, starting a home laptop repair business. In the mid-2000s, Lopez noticed a change. Sklar became sullen and withdrawn. He no longer played with his son, cooked, fished or ventured outside. When the sun rose, Sklar retreated to the garage where he kept his computer. He played a game all day, rarely getting up to eat or to acknowledge his family.

"He was checking out from life, holing up in the garage and in his world out there," she said. He refused to get counseling and told Lopez,  " 'I'm not disabled in the game. I don't have problems in the game. I can be a whole person.' "

Some say health problems could be a factor in increased suicide rates among baby boomers. Boomers have their share of medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and complications of obesity. "There's a rise of chronic health conditions among the middle aged," Phillips said. "In the time period from 1996 to 2006, we see fairly dramatic chronic health conditions and an increase in out-of-pocket expenditures."

Some speculate that the increase in baby boomer suicides could be attributed to stress, the number of Vietnam veterans in the age group or drug use, which was higher in that generation. Boomers are also the "sandwich generation," pressed between needs of their children and their aging parents who are living longer, but have health problems like Alzheimer's or dementia.

All this is unfolding in a lagging economy, meaning boomers could be affected by the "period effect."  "One hypothesis is that the economic pressure during this period might be a driving force, with the recession in the early 2000s -- loss of jobs, instability, increases in bankruptcy rates among middle age," Phillips said.

Unemployment correlates with increased rates of suicide. People who are unmarried and have less education are also more at risk.

"Some people who've never been unemployed before, they've lost their savings during this economic trend," Clayton said. "They can't access their retirement benefits because they're not old enough. There is more stress economically on those middle-aged people than there was earlier." While all these are possible factors, there is no clear-cut answer for survivors like Lopez.

"It's not like they're taking the easy way out," she said about people who commit suicide. "They didn't do it to punish anyone. They didn't do it to cause pain. They're not thinking of the long-term consequences. They need to escape. It's a permanent solution for a momentary problem -- they're in so much pain, emotionally or physically. They can't see past that."

Breathe  In  Faith

Breathe  Out  Fear !


                                                                  by Alix Spiegel  December, 2010

     Around 32,000 people commit suicide in the U.S. each year; 20 percent of those suicides are veterans. Traditionally, when we think of suicide among vets, we think of men. But this week, for the first time, a sizable study was published that looked specifically at female veterans and suicide.FemaleSoldier

     Dr. Jan Kemp, who runs the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Suicide Prevention Hotline, says that about a year ago, her office got a call from a female vet who had recently returned from abroad. The woman explained that she was in a car, in a remote area, and was calling the hot line because she needed it to relay a message.

     "She had had a recent argument with her husband and had come to the conclusion that he and her two young children would be better off without her," Kemp said. "She had [post-traumatic stress disorder]. She had a history of MST — military sexual trauma — and she just couldn't get it together — and was tired of trying. So she had gathered up a lot of pills, she had them with her, and she called us because she wanted us to let him know that it wasn't his fault, that she was doing this for him.

    "And we could hear her actually get out of the car and start walking through the woods."
Before the line went dead though, a worker at the hot line figured out the woman's local VA office and called it. The office identified the woman and then called her husband, who gave the police a description of her car.

    "We were able to get the authorities to start driving around those backcountry roads till they found the car and followed her path in through the woods and found her," Kemp said.

     When we think of suicide, and suicide completion, I don't think we often think of women enough. That's my point. The woman — groggy and practically unconscious — was carried to the hospital and saved, which, in a way, makes this a happy story. But there aren't happy stories for everybody.

     The journal Psychiatric Services published this week the first large-scale study of suicide among female veterans. To do the study, Portland State University researcher Mark Kaplan collected information about all the female deaths by suicide in 16 states.    

     He then compared the rate of suicide among female veterans to the rate of suicide among female civilians, and found that in general female vets are much more likely to commit suicide than their civilian peers, especially, Kaplan says, younger vets.

          "Female veterans — age 18 to 34 — are three times as likely as their civilian peers to die by suicide," he said.
That's a very big difference. Because historically there have been many more men than women in the military, the problem of female suicide hasn't received much attention. But the armed forces are integrating: In the current wars, women are on increasingly on the frontlines.
Kaplan says he wants people to take suicide among female vets more seriously.

          "When we think of suicide, and suicide completion, I don't think we often think of women enough," he said. "That's my point."

       Kemp, the director of the suicide hot line, agrees with Kaplan. And though she says the underlying problems of adjustment and PTSD are similar for both men and women, there are some differences. Many of the women who call her hot line, she says, are struggling to deal with military rapes they experienced during their deployments. And the women who call, Kemp says, talk much more about their children.

     "They worry that because they sometimes get angry and don't deal with things well that they won't be appropriate with their kids," she said. "And I think that is one of the things that it most poignant on the hot line is when young mothers call and they're concerned about their ability to take care of their children because of their problems."
In the coming decades, both Kemp and Kaplan say, more women will work on the frontlines of war. An increase in female suicide, this study suggests, is likely to follow.Couple Shares Their Story to Raise Awareness about Suicide and Depression.                           - DAVID TARRANT / The Dallas Morning News                                   



Nobody wants to help distressed soldiers get help more than Maj. Gen. Mark Graham and his wife, Carol, who are raising awareness about depression and suicide after their 21-year-old son, Kevin - a promising ROTC cadet at the University of Kentucky - killed himself in June 2003.

SuicideAwareness"I think we've come a long way. It will never be fast enough for any of us," said Mark Graham, deputy chief of staff of Forces Command in Georgia. "And it's not an easy issue. If there's a physical wound you can see, it's a lot easier to tackle it."   Kevin was the middle child of three children and was more sensitive than the others, Carol Graham said. His older brother Jeffrey, nicknamed "G.I. Jeff," looked forward to a military career. Kevin wanted a similar career, but on the medical side. "From the time he was a child, he'd always wanted to be a doctor," Carol Graham said.

The moves that military families make every two to three years helped the Graham kids draw close together. "They were each other's best friends," said Carol Graham. Later, when Kevin followed Jeff to the University of Kentucky, they shared an apartment.

The Grahams were aware that Kevin suffered from clinical depression and was taking Prozac, an anti-depressant medication. At the time, Carol thought that Prozac was like taking an antibiotic and that, after a while, he wouldn't need the pills.

In fact, Kevin stopped taking his medication at some point in the spring of 2003. He was scheduled to attend an advanced ROTC training camp that summer and didn't want to report that he was taking medication for depression.

"He was the top ROTC cadet," Carol said. "He had been selected to be battalion commander his senior year. He didn't want anyone to know."

But in June 2003, he hanged himself in his apartment at the University of Kentucky. "We blame ourselves, and we always will," Mark Graham said. "We missed it and didn't see it coming with Kevin."

That tragedy was compounded eight months later when Jeff died in Iraq after a bomb exploded while he led a foot patrol. The Grahams mourned privately for several years. But as the military struggled with an increase in suicides, they decided to tell their story to raise awareness about depression.

"Kevin wanted to be a doctor, and he wanted to help other people," Mark Graham said. "We decided that if people wanted us to talk, we would do that, especially if it could help other people become aware so this wouldn't happen to someone else."

Mark Graham was a featured speaker at a spring conference in Dallas sponsored by Contact Crisis Line, the nonprofit 24-hour suicide prevention hotline.
The Grahams plan to continue telling their story as long as needed. "People need to know that you can die from depression. You can die from untreated depression," Mark Graham said.

                                                        CINDY GEORGE : HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Teens experience stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty and other fears while growing up. Trauma, the formation of a new family with step-parents and step-siblings or moving to a new community can be very unsettling. For some, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems. Always take statements like "I want to kill myself" and "I'm going to commit suicide" seriously.


•  Change in eating and sleeping habits
•  Withdrawal from friends, relatives and activities
•  Violent actions, rebellious behavior or running away           tips
•  Drug and alcohol use
•  Unusual neglect of personal appearance
•  Marked personality change
•  Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating or a decline in schoolwork quality
•  Frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions such as stomach aches, headaches and fatigue
•  Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
•  Intolerance of praise or rewards


•  Complain of being a bad person
•  Give verbal hints such as "I won't be a problem much longer," "Nothing matters" or "It's no use"
•  Put his or her affairs in order, such as giving away or discarding valued possessions, or clean room
•  Become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression
•  Have signs of psychosis, such as hallucinations or bizarre thoughts

While bullying may have played a role in a recent string of nationally publicized teen suicides, experts warned Friday that taking one's life is often the result of multiple issues.

The trio of deaths — including a 13-year-old Cypress boy — might have been avoided with simple interventions, said experts who spoke Friday at a suicide conference on the University of St. Thomas campus in Houston.

Asher Brown took his life last week after allegedly being bullied at a Cypress-Fairbanks ISD school. Cyberbullying is believed to have prompted Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, 18, to jump to his death on Sept. 22. The catalyst for Colton Tooley, a 19-year-old University of Texas at Austin sophomore, to kill himself Tuesday in the campus library is unknown.

"The emphasis on bullying is both good and bad," said Thomas Joiner, a clinical psychologist and Florida State University suicide researcher. "The good part is: It's a public health problem that causes a lot of problems, and raises attention and awareness.”

"The bad part, though, is that it encourages our tendency — which we already have — to think simplistically about suicide as if bullying caused that. Well, it was one factor. Keep in mind 33,000 of our fellow Americans are dead this year from suicide. Very few of them were bullied."


Every day, roughly 85 people in the U.S. take their lives. The toll includes thousands of adolescents annually. Suicide is the third-leading case of death for youth ages 15 to 24 and the sixth-leading cause of death for children 5 to 14.

Among the victims: Bennisha Davis of Houston, a 14-year-old who survived a triple-fatal crash this summer that killed her best friend and her half sister, but shot herself a few weeks later. She had received no counseling for her grief.

"In some populations, and adolescents are probably the best example, there are features or characteristics of the death that have more impulsive qualities," Joiner said.  "But to focus on that misses the larger point that to die by suicide whether you're 12 or 85 is a fearsome and daunting thing that people are just not able to do like they are able to do other spur-of-the-moment, impulsive things."

He also stressed that hot lines offering access to concerned counselors can thwart suicidal plans because "caring undermines intent."

Most people who die by suicide have a mental disorder, most commonly depression, according the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Clementi took his life after a roommate allegedly placed a webcam in their dorm room to capture Clementi's sexual encounter with another man, then broadcast the video online. The roommate and another Rutgers student have been charged with invasion of privacy.

David Rudd, a suicide researcher and professor at the University of Utah, said the Rutgers incident shows a clear connection between suicide and stress that activated Clementi's vulnerability.

"You just don't wake up and want to die," said Rudd, a former psychology department chair at Texas Tech University. "There are events in your life that make you more vulnerable."

Parents should monitor their teens for dramatic changes in sleep, behavior and attitude because "as we've heard over and over today, it's not just one thing," said Pam Greene, chief nursing officer and senior vice president of patient care services at The Menninger Clinic, a Houston psychiatric hospital.

She said recent high-profile cases give adults an opening to talk with teens about suicide, bullying and appropriate use of social networks.

"Parents are more likely, I think, to say something to their kids like: 'This kid — he died — and they say there's bullying. Are you being bullied? Is there bullying at your school?' " Greene said.

"Hopefully it drives families back to looking at how they are doing. It's simple things. Are families stopping to have meals together and really connecting? Turn that TV off, turn off the cell phones, turn off the gadgets and really look at each other and sit down and ask 'How are we doing?' and find out how things are going in each other's lives."


Depression and suicidal feelings can be treated and suicide can be prevented, said Merily Keller, an Austin-based suicide prevention consultant, reached by phone late Friday. Her 18-year-old son took his life a decade ago.

She encourages parents and educators to monitor Facebook and other social media, and if suicidal comments pop up, to take them seriously. She also suggests parents post help line numbers and websites on social media pages to get the information to children.

"Most teens tell another young person that they are considering suicide, but that young person doesn't know what to do with that information," she said.
Keller said she hopes every youngster learns to advocate for his or her mental health.

"If someone is bleeding, you go to stop the blood," she said. "You can look at the warning signs of suicide as emotional blood, but we don't treat it that way."

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