Tag Archives: suicide

“What Is Bipolar Disorder? As lived by MB at Living as a Bipolar Mom” from “My Daily Jenn-ism”

23 Mar

http://mydailyjenn-ism.blogspot.com/2013/03/what-is-bipolar-disorder-as-lived-by-mb.html#comment-form

The next time someone asks you what bipolar disorder is or why you can’t just shake off your moods, make them read this. It sums it up nicely.

(Yeah, I know, I’m posting a link to a guest blogger on someone else’s blog. Welcome to the wubulous World Wide Web.)

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New Study Finds High Rate of Bipolar Disorder in Postpartum Depression

19 Mar
from NAMI’s website; by Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations:

The largest study to date of postpartum depression has found that one in seven women experience symptoms of depression after childbirth.

Published in JAMA Psychiatry by theAmerican MedicalAssociation, the basic finding is consistent with past prevalence estimates however, the study’s follow-up evaluations of women at risk revealed especially serious symptoms.

Approximately 20 percent of the mothers with depressive symptoms were experiencing suicidal thoughts. Among those who were followed for a full year, 22 percent experienced severe depression.

In the study, 10,000 mothers who gave birth at a Pittsburgh hospital were contacted by telephone and screened six to eight months later for symptoms of depression. Fourteen percent were identified as being at risk. Approximately 60 percent of the at-risk group received follow-up home visits. Another 11 percent completed diagnostic interviews by telephone

Forty percent of the women’ symptoms began postpartum. Thirty-three percent were assessed as having begun during pregnancy and 27 percent beforehand. Follow-up evaluations most often resulted in a diagnosis of depression with a co-occurring anxiety disorder.

“A striking 22.6 percent had bipolar disorder,” the study warned.

The study calls for all pregnant women and new mothers to be screened for depression, beyond what current medical practice requires. It also emphasizes the need for “strategies to differentiate women with bipolar from unipolar disorders.”

http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?Section=Top_Story&template=%2FContentManagement%2FContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=152153&lstid=809

Policing the Mentally Ill, Part 2

7 Mar

On March 4th, the Portland Police killed a veteran with PTSD. It was the second fatal shooting by the police this year. His name was Santiago Cisneros. He was thirty-two years old and had served in Iraq from 2002 to 2005.  In an interview with a Seattle TV station in 2009, Santiago said, “I fought a war over there in Iraq. I didn’t know I was going to have to fight a war back here in the United States within myself” and “it took awhile to realize I was dealing with PTSD because I didn’t know what post-traumatic stress disorder was.” I don’t know what precipitated his confrontation with the police. All the Oregonian reported was that he shot at the officers first, and they returned fire. He’d been speaking to his mother on his cellphone directly before the police arrived. She was still on the line when the shooting started.

http://www.kgw.com/news/local/Armed-man-killed-by-Portland-police-was-Iraq-vet-195543251.html

The first man killed by the Portland PD this year was named Merle Hatch. His mother said he had a terrible drug habit and that neither she nor his father had seen in him in more than ten years. The police shot him a few weeks ago in the parking lot of the hospital where I attend my bipolar recovery group meetings.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/02/federal_fugitive_merle_hatch_h.html

I was at the hospital roughly two hours before Merle died. I stood in that parking lot chatting with fellow members of the recovery group as we wandered out to our cars. It’s a strange and sobering juxtaposition.

In both cases, the police had no other option. Merle threatened to shoot them with what turned out to be a black phone receiver. He taunted them and told them he was going to kill them. The term for it is “suicide by cop.” Santiago started shooting when he saw the police. It’s possible that he also chose that route.

The parallels between Santiago’s mother and Jay Swift’s mother are heartbreaking. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that woman is feeling. I don’t want to imagine how many parents can empathize with her suffering. BTW, here’s an account of the shooting Jay’s mother posted in response to the media coverage of her son’s death:

http://samanthabeaudette.com/jasonswift/

In a previous post about this subject, I called out the police for their use of excessive force and tendency to shoot first and ask questions later when they respond to a call involving a person with mental health issues. It’s a serious problem and it’s the responsibility of law enforcement to address it. But I cannot deny the fact that this wouldn’t be happening nearly as often if there were adequate resources and treatment for people who have mental illness, particularly when those people are in crisis.

For a good overview of the problem, check out this article from the Charlotte Observer:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/03/09/3904455/when-a-mental-health-emergency.html

I wish I could drum up some optimism about this, but quite frankly I can’t. Cut after cut has been made to programs that would avert these kinds of tragedies. Our economy might be in for another recession and the sequester is set to decimate these programs even more. I do know that I see the imperative now more than ever to become an advocate and an activist. We are facing a spike in fear and stigma because of last year’s mass shooting in Newtown CT and the fear-mongering groups like the NRA engage in because they want people to blame us instead of guns. Resources for treatment and management grow scarcer with each financial crisis, and given the current state of our federal government I’m not holding my breath for things to improve on that front any time soon.

But we do have advocacy groups, and the Internet grants us access to information and means to mobilize. We must educate ourselves and others. We must make our voices heard in our communities and seats of government. And we must do it now, not only for ourselves but for our family members who also suffer from mental illness and the loved ones whose lives are ruined because a person they love can’t get the help they need. We must do it for the people with mental illness and the police who die when this broken system of ours engenders yet another avoidable crisis. This is literally a life-or-death issue.

Calling the Angel of Death

22 Feb

When on the precipice of suicide, do we really want to die?

In season two of the television show American Horror Story, the Angel of Death, played by Francis Conroy, appears to characters when they wish for death. The Angel is portrayed as the embodiment of compassionate detachment: benevolent, serene, nonjudgmental. She asks the ones who “called” her if they are finally ready. If they are, her wings unfurl, she gently kisses them, and they die. If they choose to live, she vanishes.

angelofdeath

In one poignant scene, the distressed character Sister Jude, played by Jessica Lange, has a conversation with the Angel in which they recount the numerous occasions Jude has summoned her. The Angel says that Jude’s call sounded different this time and asks if she is finally ready to abdicate all of her pain and suffering through death. Jude ruefully responds, “Never trust a drunk” and the two part ways until she dies of natural causes at the end of the season.

langeconroy

Television critic Ron Hogan has pointed out that this is a metaphor for suicidal ideation. When facing the Angel, the majority of the characters decide to live, even though their lives are sheer hell. This is true for many of us who have contemplated the act. We don’t want to die, necessarily; we just don’t want to suffer anymore. When confronted by death, many would-be suicides find themselves flooded with a frantic will to live. If they are on the verge of doing themselves in, they will back away. If they’ve already taken action, they will struggle to hold on to their lives.

I find comfort in that.

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Which Reminds Me of My Childhood: Postpartum Depression in “Eraserhead”

6 Feb

I just watched the David Lynch film Eraserhead for the first time in over ten years. This latest viewing made me think of my own family, specifically the severe postpartum depression my mother suffered after my younger sister was born.

Eraserhead is possibly David Lynch’s least watchable film. If you aren’t accustomed to viewing postmodern art house cinema, it can be a painful experience. But if you commit to it, and you’re familiar with psychological trauma, it may resonate with you. If you have any experience with postpartum depression, it will definitely strike a chord.

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