Category : Suicide

(The Age) Productivity Commission to examine mental health spending in wake of Australian suicide crisis

The Productivity Commission will undertake a major inquiry into the role of mental health in the economy as the Morrison government looks to extract better value from the $9 billion a year spent on mental wellbeing.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt have asked the commission to examine “whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money”, as well as how to improve economic and social participation for people struggling with their mental health.

Four million Australians deal with a chronic or episodic mental health issue each year, and one in five people affected by mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma, Mr Hunt said.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(NBC) Montana had the highest suicide rate in the country. Then budget cuts hit.

Libby is in Lincoln County, which has a population of nearly 20,000 but just one behavioral health employee, Amy Fantozzi, a graduate student who oversees the county’s contracts with medical providers who do mental health assessments.

The town had a clinic run by the nonprofit Western Montana Mental Health Center, the largest service provider in the region, which had 12 clinics serving 15,000 clients across 15 counties. But after the cuts were announced last year, the center laid off more than 60 case managers and shut down three clinics, including the one in Libby. That left hundreds of patients without access to therapy, medication and a case manager to check on them.

Now, when those patients are in crisis, their only option is the emergency room at Lincoln County’s lone hospital. Once they check in, Fantozzi gets a call, and she must decide whether to spend $100 of her $18,500 annual budget on a mental health assessment. Depending on the results, she could then spend an additional $300 to have the patient evaluated and involuntarily committed at the nearest mental institution 90 miles away.

There have yet to be any publicly reported deaths by suicide as a result of the local clinic’s closure, but county officials fear the current system of mental health triage won’t hold up…

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, State Government, Suicide, Theology

(Commentary) Christine Rosen–The Suicide Epidemic

The recent suicides of fashion entrepreneur Kate Spade and chef-turned-TV-star Anthony Bourdain have sparked a culture-wide discussion, as often happens when a celebrity dies in a horrible fashion. But unlike previous celebrity suicides, the anxieties prompted by these deaths took on a different coloration when it became clear in their wake that their deaths are part of a larger and disturbing public-health crisis we’ve failed to acknowledge. 

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., killing twice as many people (45,000) as homicide does each year. In more than 25 states across the country, the suicide rate has increased by more than 30 percent since 1999.  

Most of the deaths are people (like Spade and Bourdain) at an age once considered the prime of  life, which suggests a kind of epic, deadly new form of the midlife crisis: The largest number of suicides are happening among white men and white women between the ages of 45 and 65 (although rates are rising steadily for nearly all racial and ethnic groups). The news is grimmest for men, who account for three-quarters of all suicides. The CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, told Business Insider that the new data are “disturbing.”

Disturbing and confusing. Suicide has often increased during times of economic hardship; in 1932, during the height of the Great Depression, for example, the rate was 22 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the New York Times. But in the U.S. today, during an economic recovery under way for nearly a decade, the rate is 15.4 per 100,000. And the number of deaths has stubbornly increased despite much better screening and mental-health diagnosis. As the CDC researchers who worked on the recent report noted, “More than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death.” Rather, the researchers listed substance abuse, job loss, relationship problems, and financial woes as some of the many factors potentially implicated in rising suicide rates.

How did suicide, a disease of despair, a last resort, become a solution to the challenges of everyday life for so many people?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(AJ) Anglican Church of Canada hires two new suicide prevention workers

The Anglican Church of Canada has hired two new suicide prevention workers as part of its Indigenous ministry.

Jeffery Stanley, a master of divinity student at the Vancouver School of Theology, began work June 25; Yolanda Bird, a former member of Council of General Synod (CoGS) with extensive experience working with children and youth, began July 3.

Each will be responsible for helping deliver existing suicide prevention programs in the dioceses in their areas, as well as helping develop new ones, said Indigenous ministries co-ordinator Canon Ginny Doctor. Their work will also include developing teams of volunteers in dioceses where the need for suicide prevention is especially high, she said.

“We’re looking forward to working with them and developing a strategy that will hopefully alleviate suicides in our communities,” Doctor said. “It’s a start. It’s not going to end everything really quick, but we’ve got to start somewhere.”

Stanley, who will be based in Gingolx, a Nisga’a community on the Pacific coast of British Columbia northeast of Prince Rupert, will cover British Columbia, Yukon and Western Arctic; Bird will be based in Montreal Lake First Nation, about 100 km north of Prince Albert, Sask., and will cover Alberta and Saskatchewan, and, if necessary, also Manitoba and northern Ontario.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Psychology, Suicide

(NYT Op-ed) Clay Routledge–Suicides Have Increased. Is This an Existential Crisis?

As a behavioral scientist who studies basic psychological needs, including the need for meaning, I am convinced that our nation’s suicide crisis is in part a crisis of meaninglessness. Fully addressing it will require an understanding of how recent changes in American society — changes in the direction of greater detachment and a weaker sense of belonging — are increasing the risk of existential despair….

Critically, studies indicate that it isn’t enough to simply be around or even liked by other people. We need to feel valued by them, to feel we are making important contributions to a world that matters. This helps explain why people can feel lonely and meaningless even if they are regularly surrounded by others who treat them well: Merely pleasant or enjoyable social encounters aren’t enough to stave off despair.

All of which brings us to the changing social landscape of America. To bemoan the decline of neighborliness, the shrinking of the family and the diminishing role of religion may sound like the complaining of a crotchety old man. Yet from the standpoint of psychological science, these changes, regardless of what you otherwise think about them, pose serious threats to a life of meaning.

Consider that Americans today, compared with those of past generations, are less likely to know and interact with their neighbors, to believe that people are generally trustworthy and to feel that they have individuals they can confide in. This is a worrisome development from an existential perspective: Studies have shown that the more people feel a strong sense of belongingness, the more they perceive life as meaningful. Other studies have shown that lonely people view life as less meaningful than those who feel strongly connected to others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide

(LA Times) Church attendance linked with reduced suicide risk, especially for R Catholics, study says

Against a grim backdrop of rising suicide rates among American women, new research has revealed a blinding shaft of light: One group of women — practicing Catholics — appears to have bucked the national trend toward despair and self-harm.

Compared with women who never participated in religious services, women who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide between 1996 and 2010, says a study published Wednesday by JAMA Psychiatry.

It’s not clear how widely the findings can be applied to a diverse population of American women. In a study population made up of nurses and dominated by women who identified themselves as either Catholic or Protestant, the suicide rate observed was about half that for U.S. women as a whole. Of 89,708 participants aged 30 to 55, 36 committed suicide at some point over 15 years.

Read it all from 2016.

Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide

(NY Post) Salina Zito–How suicide became my ‘family secret’ — and shaped who I am

Three generations later, my great-grandfather’s suicide is still impacting my life.

I distinctly remember the moment my mother told me about the family secret. I was a teenager, and she let me know with the firmness and compassion only a mother possesses that the choice her grandfather made was one nobody should ever face.

Not only did it rob him of his life, it delivered countless blows to his immediate family. His children lost their father, they lost their home, my great-grandmother was forced to become a boarder who worked three backbreaking jobs to make ends meet, but it wasn’t enough.

Eventually, my 12-year-old grandfather was forced to quit school to help support the family.

Despite never meeting him and despite my grandfather never speaking of it, three generations later Clifford’s decision shaped who I became. Not because it was something I ever considered doing, but because I felt the importance of looking for signs of hopelessness and despair in the people I knew.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Suicide

(USA Today) Kirsten Powers–Americans are depressed and suicidal because something is wrong with our culture

In September of 2004, I received the call that every person dreads: My father had dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 61. It came at a time when I was already grappling with other issues, including watching my mother fight breast cancer for the preceding six months, a breakup with a boyfriend and a lack of structure in my life as I was freelancing as a consultant while I tried to determine what I wanted to do next with my career.

I was in an emotional free fall, so I visited a psychiatrist. He said the antidepressant my general practitioner prescribed to help with my life-long struggle with anxiety wasn’t what I needed, so he prescribed a new one. This seemed to only make things worse. Within a few days, I found myself thinking the unthinkable: I want to die.

I couldn’t imagine a life without my father and our hours-long conversations about, well, everything. The pain was debilitating, getting out of bed was an Olympian event, and life was utterly devoid of meaning. I stopped eating and shed 15 pounds in a month. I couldn’t see any reason to be alive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

A NY Times Article on this week’s CDC Report–Defying Prevention Efforts, Suicide Rates Are Climbing Across the Nation

The analysis found that slightly more than half of people who had committed suicide did not have any known mental health condition. But other problems — such as the loss of a relationship, financial setbacks, substance abuse and eviction — were common precursors, both among those who had a mental health diagnosis and those who did not.

Other studies have found much higher rates of mental health disorders among people at high risk of suicide, experts noted.

The reason most suicide decedents don’t have a known mental disorder is that they were never diagnosed, not that they didn’t have one,” said Dr. David Brent, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

Access to guns can make it more likely that an impulsive or intoxicated person will attempt suicide even if he or she has no clear mental health problem, Dr. Brent added.

“We have worked really hard to explain to the public that suicide is not simply a matter of too much stress, but that it involves the identification and treatment of mental disorders as one important component,” he said.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(NPR Shots blog) CDC: U.S. Suicide Rates Have Climbed Dramatically

Suicide rates have increased in nearly every state over the last two decades, and half of the states have seen suicide rates go up more than 30 percent.

Suicide is a major public health issue, accounting for nearly 45,000 deaths in 2016 alone. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta decided to take a comprehensive look at suicides from 1999 to 2016.

“Suicide in this country really is a problem that is impacted by so many factors. It’s not just a mental health concern,” says Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC and the lead author of the new study. “There are many different circumstances and factors that contribute to suicide. And so that’s one of the things that this study really shows us. It points to the need for a comprehensive approach to prevention.”

She and her colleagues collected data on suicide deaths from all states. In addition, to better understand the circumstances surrounding suicide, they turned to more detailed information collected by 27 states on suicides that occurred in 2015.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(Usa Today Op-ed) Daniel Payne–Assisted suicide is not about autonomy. It’s a tragedy that we shouldn’t allow

The skeptic might ask: Why object to legalized suicide, particularly where terminally ill patients are concerned? If people want to take their own lives, why should anyone feel entitled to stand in the way?

The answer is twofold. For one, we should not as a rule grant doctors the prerogative to help kill their patients. The whole history of medicine has been one of improved healing or, in terminal cases, reduced suffering; euthanasia, which devalues life to the point of liquidation, is the precise opposite of good and responsible medical care. To legalize suicide in this way is to weaponize the medical system against the very people to which it should be most attentive.

On a deeper, more substantive level, legalized suicide strikes at the heart of one of the most indispensible ideas in human history: That every human life is precious beyond reckoning and worthy of both honor and protection. Killing someone, even someone who is already dying, directly controverts this principle; you cannot inject people with fatal doses of barbiturates without declaring, however implicitly, that their lives are worth less than an artificial minimum standard.

Those who advocate for legalized suicide see it as a matter of radical autonomy: We should leave it up to each individual to determine the worth of his own life, up to and including an act of suicide. But this is simply an evasive, almost cowardly instance of passing the buck. If you are actively or even passively complicit in an act of euthanasia, you cannot say you do not, in some way, agree with the suicidal person’s assertion that his life is a waste and that he is better off dead.

It is philosophically unavoidable.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

(NPR) Hospitals See Growing Numbers Of Kids And Teens At Risk For Suicide

The number of kids who struggle with thoughts of suicide or who attempt to kill themselves is rising. New research, published Wednesday in Pediatrics, finds children ages 5 to 17 visited children’s hospitals for suicidal thoughts or attempts about twice as often in 2015 as in 2008.

The study found kids of all ages are affected though increases were greatest for older adolescents.

Lead author Gregory Plemmons, a pediatrician and researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., says the study results confirmed what he had been seeing at the hospital.

He says he hopes clinicians and families take note. “The No. 1 thing to take home is that it’s important to talk about this and important to ask about it,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Teens / Youth

(BBC) UK Student suicide rates overtakes that of non-students

The suicide rate among UK students is higher than among the general population of their age group, say researchers.

A study from the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention says it means for the first time students have a higher suicide rate than non-students.

The Hong Kong-based researchers say that female students were particularly likely to have a higher suicide rate.

Researcher Edward Pinkney says it shows a “real problem in higher education”.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Young Adults

(CT) Theologian Jack Deere Went Through Hell to Come to Faith

Mere paragraphs from the conclusion of his story, Deere is not saying, “This was something I dealt with,” but “This is something I deal with.”

This rawness is rare in the church today. We are often told by leaders that they sin, but Deere’s memoir is refreshingly full of his sin. It is not gratuitous in any form. We never get the sense that he wants to gain our pity or empathy to manipulate us into thinking he’s better or worse than he is. He is simply factual (to our knowledge) and unapologetic to his reader, while increasingly more repentant toward those against whom he has sinned—God foremost among them.

In a world where, all too often, leaders present themselves as one-dimensional characters (primarily speakers, teachers, pastors, musicians, or writers), Deere shows us we are irreducibly complex beings. Our bodies matter. Our souls matter. Our minds matter. Our emotions matter. Our histories matter. These together form the whole of who we are, and any true ministry we do out of the whole is going to be wholly complex. Otherwise, it will be anemic, one-dimensional, and devoid of power. Deere recognizes this now. But it took hell to get him there. I haven’t even mentioned the half of it in this review.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Children, Christology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Marriage & Family, Soteriology, Suicide, Theology, Violence

Fleming Rutledge’s Tuesday Sermon at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama–Alone in the Dark

You may find the mp3 there. Watch carefully for that rarest of things these days, an Anglican preacher referencing Hell (from my vantage point, most welcome and much needed).

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Holy Week, Psychology, Suicide, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture