Archive for mental health

"We hear about murders, not suicides (until someone like Williams dies)."

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comedy tragedy masks suicides depression

We and the news media have the attention spans of gnats. Something monumental shocks us into a Rubbernecking Moment... until the next monumental thing comes along. Murder headlines get a whole lot of play and keep us looking, darting from one to the next. Lamenting. Opining. Outraging. Suicides? Not so much. At least not for long. In a previous post-- The aftermath #RIPRobinWilliams-- I wrote the following:

The news media swarm and hyper-focus on huge, painful stories like these, and we all listen and discuss and cry and scream and care immensely.

And then we stop.

We don't stop caring, but we stop being pro-active, because the next Big Story comes along and that wave of emotion or controversy or fear or sadness or tragedy or outrage or terror or death or civil unrest or trauma or injustice comes along and diverts our attention... again.

This country is dysfunctional and needs extended rehab. This country needs to pay attention. We need sustained treatment as a nation, not spot checks. We need to continue to listen, care, and respond, to seek help, to be vigilant, to reach out, to get well. We need to lengthen our attention spans and accept the therapy that will help heal us.

We must listen to and heed the advice we're getting from experts. Hanging ourselves is not an option.

Today in the Los Angeles Times, there was similar reaction to my old improv buddy Robin's tragic death, along with some excellent commentary on treating people with mental illnesses. Please read these very astute letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Depression: It's so deep inside. No one can touch it.

Some days are unexplainable, when you have harmony with the Earth, racking your mind as to why — and knowing your crash awaits. It's lonely as hell.

I don't dismiss hope for a personal cure; I just want to share the unreal depth that embraces these sad souls who have survived countless years of secrets.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for possibly creating an awareness that yes, this can happen to someone as magnificent as you.

For now, much-needed attention is being paid to this issue. But if past tragedies are a guide, the discussion will probably fade over time until it is barely audible, only to be amplified by the next shock.

Cynthia Ingersoll, Sultan, Wash.

..

In 2009, there were about 36,500 suicides in the U.S. and "only" 16,500 homicides. Yet we hear about the murders but not so much about the suicides (until someone like Williams dies).

Likewise, we seldom see any headlines about depression, but depression affects nearly 15 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the population age 18 and older, in a given year. People who think depression is a choice are wrong (and often judgmental). Depression is no more a choice than baldness. However, I can get a hair transplant, but I can't get a brain transplant.

And then there's addiction. Let's just start by saying that the abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs costs more than $600 billion annually due to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare. But again, we seldom hear about addiction unless someone is glamorized.

When will we be proactive and create some preventive measures? This is all treatable and preventable.

Ken Donaldson (Addictions and mental health counselor ), Seminole, Fla.

..

There is a precedent, of course, for Williams' suicide: Comedian and actor Freddie Prinze, who starred in the hit TV series "Chico and the Man," killed himself in 1977 at the age of 22.

Comedy, depression and substance abuse have an attraction to one another. My father was a comedy writer who used vodka and a barbiturate to get through his days. Thankfully, he didn't commit suicide.

Williams' death is surely a tragedy, but it did not come as a shock to me. I hope it shames our culture into taking depression seriously.

Wendy Werris, Los Angeles, CA

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot - on ice, please, and lots of ice

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BabyIceORIG
Vertical dunking on the rocks? Genius.

The trend moving to all corners of the country (and overseas), of getting dunked and with a very large bucket of ice water (hope they at least add a lime wedge) is full-blown viral.

Even Grandma Ethel Kennedy  took it like a sailor. AND she also challenged President Obama.

Still giving back, Dame Ethel.

pippin

The viral trend has drawn celebrities, athletes, and politicians, including the Kennedys, to participate in the #IceBucketChallenge. And they spared no one — after thirty or so members of the Kennedy family poured freezing water over their heads, they nominated "Grandma Ethel," one of the eldest in the family, to follow suit. She did — but not before she named President Obama to be next.

Next, QEII? Bet she'd still have her ubiquitous purse. Doncha' sometimes wildly wonderwhat the Queen has in her trademark hand bag? 

Morning Schmoe got frisky for a few moments on messnbc.

rachel-maddow-msnbc-ice-water

GO Maddow!

Then the Roundtable of The Morning Ick:

Gaah!

 

For the record, ALS is Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It’s a disease of the nerve cells in both the brain and the spinal chord that control voluntary muscle movement. Over time, it weakens your muscles and your ability to voluntarily control your muscles, killing you. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Here is the website to donate to the ALS Association: ALSA.org. And here is another website, made by the family of Peter Frates who was recently diagnosed with ALS; they are heavy proponents of “striking out ALS” and the ice bucket challenge: www.petefrates.com.

gunscar2

Here's the history, ably summarized by The Verge.

WHAT'S GOING ON?
Everyone you've seen is participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge involves daring a person to dump a bucket of ice water over their head within the next 24 hours, or else donate money — usually $100 — toward fighting ALS. Even if a person completes the challenge, they're more than welcome to donate money too.

Once a person completes the challenge, they're also supposed to dare several other people — usually three — to participate, which is why the challenge has been growing and growing.

 

Photo courtesy of

 

This Hawaiian footage of flash-mob dumps/observers, below, is priceless.

Jimmy Fallon outdid himself - video below.

Now that's funny right there, no matter how you judge the cause.

 

bucket

colbertonfox

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BREAKING President Obama Speaks Live(!) of Ferguson and Iraq

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courge
President Obama has had a horrid week, and cut his vacation short to deal with the a wild Wild West Show in Missouiri, and a new 'objective' in Iraq.

over6

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
AN UPDATE ON THE PRESIDENT'S PRESS CONFERENCE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:

Obama expresses concern over Missouri violence, says U.S. broke Iraqi militants' mountain siege

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From All In with Chris Hayes, he put together some fine perspective of the possible War o' 2014. Apparently the Uncompassionate Conservatives aren't done hammering immigrants in proper battle form.

http:FamilyGuyORIG_2_

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Missouri Is Burning and Ferguson Police Are Hatin' on Protesters

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john-boehner-crying-nero-fiddling-rome-burning-republicans-gop-politics-meme
Ferguson, to the long-distant, appears more like a revolt led in Missouri by xenophobic, gun fondling and Open Carry nonsense.

Last night, two fine reporters were arrested (after being brutalized) along with as many paddy wagons as they could find to fill.

From Josè Diaz-Balart at messnbc:

And from today.

beck
From The Huffington Post.

One print passage I read was too meaningful to hoard. From Ryan Grim. Via Lucian.

One of our reporters, Ryan Reilly, was arrested this evening in Ferguson, Mo., along with a Washington Post reporter, because that's the kind of thing that happens now, apparently. He is there covering the protests in response to the killing of Michael Brown. Below is a statement we put out condemning the arrest, and here's our report on it. Meanwhile, both of our reporters there are now stranded at the police station, a long way from their rental car. If anybody on this list lives in the St. Louis area and feels like giving them a lift, shoot me a note.

Image by Clay Bennett

Image by Clay Bennett

We are relieved Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery are safe, but we are disturbed by their arrest and assault.

Ryan was working on his laptop in a McDonald's near the protests in Ferguson, MO, when police barged in, armed with high-powered weapons, and began clearing the restaurant. Ryan photographed the intrusion, and police demanded his ID in response. Ryan, as is his right, declined to provide it. He proceeded to pack up his belongings, but was subsequently arrested for not packing up fast enough. Both Ryan and Wesley were assaulted.

police3
Coverage excerpts by MadameNoire.com:

police-brutality_o_2244271

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The aftermath #RIPRobinWilliams

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lonely aftermath

As you know, I am deeply affected and saddened by the death of someone who was a major influence in my life, my old improv buddy, Robin Williams. The aftermath is hitting us hard, as it should.

Please skip the next paragraph if you do not want the horribly unpleasant details of his death.

As I write this, MSNBC is airing a press conference with those details. He apparently hung himself with a belt, and there were superficial cuts on his wrist. There was a pocket knife found nearby, but they can't confirm anything else until further tests are completed. He was clothed. His assistant found him, rigor mortis had already set in. Further information will be released in a few weeks, once toxicology tests and other pertinent information come back, including whether or not there was a note.

I'm beyond heartsick. This can't have happened, but it did. It shouldn't have happened, but it did. Robin Williams was larger than life, but ironically and tragically, life became too big for Robin to handle.

Today on TV, I heard a report by a mental health expert. She told us how important it is for anyone suffering from depression and/or addiction to continue treatment, despite feeling resilient (or reluctant), and that it might not be necessary. Experts keep reminding us to keep seeking help, to be vigilant, to reach out and care for our loved ones. Keep going to rehab, keep going to therapy, they say. And they're right. The news media are saturated with reporting about Robin's life and chronic mental health issues.

Today on TV, I heard a report about the sadness, anger, protests, and retaliation in response to the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer. The news media are awash in stories about yet another shooting of another young, unarmed African American.

Today on TV, I heard a report about people starving to death on a scalding hot mountaintop in Iraq at the hands of the terrorist group ISIS. The news media has been all over this horrific story.

The news media swarm and hyper-focus on huge, painful stories like these, and we all listen and discuss and cry and scream and care immensely.

And then we stop.

We don't stop caring, but we stop being pro-active, because the next Big Story comes along and that wave of emotion or controversy or fear or sadness or tragedy or outrage or terror or death or civil unrest or trauma or injustice comes along and diverts our attention... again.

This country is dysfunctional and needs extended rehab. This country needs to pay attention. We need sustained treatment as a nation, not spot checks. We need to continue to listen, care, and respond, to seek help, to be vigilant, to reach out, to get well. We need to lengthen our attention spans and accept the therapy that will help heal us.

We must listen to and heed the advice we're getting from experts. Hanging ourselves is not an option.

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"I was a person": Time to reform our broken mental health system.

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Flan post I was a person mental health post

Please take a minute to read this very heartfelt, very important post written by one of our longtime readers. Our mental health system is indeed broken. Ilene is doing everything she can to help rectify that:

Bipartisan Support is Needed to Pass Important Reforms to our Broken Mental Health System

Many people are crying out for stronger gun laws to address the increasing gun violence. The shooting of former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, by a man in a state of psychosis, is often mentioned as a reason for these reforms. I urge those who support stronger gun laws to also support important reforms to our extremely dysfunctional mental healthcare system.

This is not an either/or situation. We need stronger gun control laws and a complete overhaul of our broken mental healthcare system, but I fear this is becoming a partisan issue. I am a flaming liberal, and I support the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR3717) which is sponsored by – gasp – a Republican.

HR3717, sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy, contains a very comprehensive set of long needed reforms. The competing bill, the Strengthening Mental Health in our Communities Act (HR 4574), is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, who was shot alongside of Giffords. There are some overlaps, but HR4574 lacks several essential reforms contained in HR3717.

The Barber bill doesn’t reform the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which thwarts the efforts of family members to help their loved ones with serious mental illness and who lack insight (Anosognosia). It also doesn’t include the need for a nationwide set of Assisted Outpatient Treatment laws, which would help people with serious mental illness, who have cycled in and out of the ER and jails, get into much needed, sustained, outpatient treatment.

Finally, it fails to address the Medicaid Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD) Exclusion, a discriminatory law which bans federal funds to IMDs, which provide the majority of services to people with a mental illness or drug addiction. This includes hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and group housing that provide on-site services and supervision. The Murphy bill includes these needed reforms.

Many people share the misconception that everyone can seek help on their own, manage their own treatment, and live on their own with occasional support. This is unfortunately not possible for a minority (about 25%) of people with serious mental illness. My twin brother Paul had schizophrenia, was treatment resistant, had significant cognitive impairments, and was in that minority.

Paul was treated like a fully functioning adult when released from the state hospital, which led to a roller coaster ride to hell and back and his early death. The “Pauls of today” will continue to become incarcerated, homeless, and die young, and their families will continue to suffer, without the essential reforms in Rep. Murphy’s bill.

Mental Health advocacy groups are calling for efforts to resolve the differences between the two bills, and to create a version which can pass the U.S. House of Representatives. Without true bipartisan support, we could lose those essential reforms contained in the Murphy bill. Please do not let that happen.

Ilene Flannery Wells

Paul's Legacy Project www.paulslegacyproject.org

To learn more about Paul, please read the book about his life; Shot In The Head, a sister’s memoir, a brother’s struggle, by our sister Katherine Flannery Dering. www.shotintheheadbook.com

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Mass murder 101 #NotOneMore

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guns not one more Richard Martinez mass murder

This thoughtful commentary about gun violence, mass murder, and possible reasons for the uptick in gun massacres comes to us by way of an email exchange I had with my dear friend and mentor, the source of our Cliff Notes series, Cliff Schecter:

I came to my work on guns from studying Criminology in college. I was almost a Crim major. I had no agenda, no hatred for guns (still don't). Hell, for my 40th Birthday my wife surprised me with, among other things, the NRA medals I still had from my days spending summers in New Hampshire doing competitive shooting at a camp.

The fact is what I learned in Criminology made it quite obvious that while there were a number of factors here--but guns were the main culprit. As Michael Moore pointed out we all play these video games, we all watch violent movies. We all have mental illness. [A friend] brought up the virality of certain behavior. I think there is something to that. We are unique, among high income nations, in our willingness to allow hate speech to be broadcast far and wide all day every day on talk radio and Fox, filled with half truths and outright lies, without anyone having equal time to respond. So I have no doubt that these are factors. Look, Richard Poplawski-- the guy who shot and killed three police officers in Pittsburgh-- did it because he thought they were sent by President Obama to "take my guns away."

Ditto the shooter who was headed to the Tides Foundation because Glenn Beck said they were evil and anti-capitalist, etc. He got into a shootout with cops on the freeway. Even when it is not political, it is sociological, and Fox and hate talk play into the worst fears of economically downscale white males.

But again, even with that, there are guns.

What has changed since the 1980s? Most people don't' know this, but concealed carry largely didn't exist before the 1980s. It was only in a handful of states. The NRA's' big project was to normalize the carrying of guns so they could sell more of them. And they have been very successful.

Also, military weaponry--like assault weapons--were not available to most pre-1980s. So, add in the availability of more lethal weaponry and the ability to carry outside your house without anyone blinking an eye, add in President Reagan destroying mental health services with cuts--which has been destroyed many more times since then by more cuts-- and add in that unhinged person, with no institution to go to sitting at home watching Sean Hannity saying Cliven Bundy is a hero. We should stand up to the government! The tyrants! etc. etc.

There are other factors, but to me it is:

1) Gun availability

2) Untreated mental health issues

3) Making hate and fear viral via Fox/Rush, etc.

You combine those 3, with other nations similar to us not possessing any of them on the scale we do, and that gets us there...

Put it all together, you have today's climate.

Thank you, Cliff. Now here's a little Twitter snark to wrap things up:

gun bingoLink

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