Reality check… what we’re up against…

I was upbeat about the new AAS survivor’s blog but we also need to remind ourselves what we’re up against.

Here’s a quote by Robert Gabbhia, Executive Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), a large and influential organisation with massive resources for promoting the medical propaganda about suicide.

“Among the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. most are claiming fewer lives each year but sadly suicide is one of the few that continues to rise. Depression and other diseases of the mind that contribute to suicide are real illnesses, not weaknesses. Not character flaws. People battling these illnesses deserve understanding and treatment afforded people with any other illness.”


Research project looking for suicide survivor stories

An intriguing research project that’s looking for first-person accounts of surviving a suicide attempt – if you read their FAQ you’ll see they will accept stories even if no actual attempt was made (phew!). Stories can only be submitted through this website and are completely anonymous. Once submitted, stories may – or may not – be posted on this website… currently there’s about 25 stories out of what appears to be about 180+ that have been submitted. They also may – or may not – be edited by the researchers before getting posted to the website.

I have mixed feels about this project. On the one hand, I’m excited to see some serious and genuine interest in the first-person accounts of survivors. On the other hand, I’m uncomfortable that you lose all control over your story once you’ve submitted it. But mainly that the subsequent analysis and interpretation of these stories will be done by people with a medical perspective and purpose. We’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with. And hopefully they will make this valuable database of stories available to other researchers for other (non-medical) analysis and interpretation.

But it is another indication that finally, at last, there seems to be some interest emerging among the "experts" for our stories in our own words.

Some websites…

1. Waking Up Alive. –

Although I’m familiar with the book with this title, this organization in New Mexico is new to me. Looking at their website, they sound terrific, including how they model themselves on the Maytree Respite Centre in the UK. Gosh, we sure need more and more respite homes – refuges, sanctuaries – for suicidal people. Unfortunately, they seem to be closed at the moment due to a "hiatus" in the organisation, which sounds rather ominous. I hope they’re back open for business again soon.

2. Midnightdemon7 –

A blog by an attempt survivor that is pretty busy – lots of posts and plenty of comments from 170+ followers. The blogger (can’t see their name anywhere yet) seems pretty keen on the concept of ‘psychache’ and the work of David Jobes, which I also regard highly. I’ve subscribed (become a ‘follower) to receive notifications of updates… worth a visit, I reckon…

3. Attempted Suicide Help –

Created by Juliet Carr, initially to support people who care for a suicide attempt survivor, which is an interesting perspective – i.e. there’s lots for those grieving the death of a loved one to suicide but little or nothing for this trying to give support to attempt survivors. But Juliet soon realised that she could not ignore the survivors themselves. It’s still fairly new, and looks pretty mainstream in many ways, but worth watching, methinks.

The pity is, of course, that these are all in the US. Is this because there’s more happening there, or are they just more entrepreneurial and cyber-savvy than others? I’d love to hear of any other people, organisations or websites of interest, especially non-US ones.

Too much coercion in mental health services | Richard Bentall

A terrific article in the Guardian on the growing use off coercion in the UK. If you’re not already familiar with the author here, Richard Bentall, I recommend his books elsewhere on the website.

Too much coercion in mental health services | Richard Bentall (Maxthon Mobile Browser)

SUICIDOLOGY Your help: The new AAS attempt survivors blog

A breakthrough! Amazing! I’m chuffed!

The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) have started a blog on their website for suicide attempt survivors. This really is a breakthrough, the first of its kind in the world from a mainstream suicide prevention organisation. I take my hat off to Cara Anna, who is the (formidable) driving force behind this initiative, just a little over a year after creating her own blog for survivor voices…

It appears that AAS are maybe beginning to take the survivor voice seriously. If you go to the blog (link below), you’ll see they have other pages on/for survivors, which even includes a link to Suicide Anonymous.

All worth checking out… And, my fellow survivors, you may want to consider writing something for the blog… I will be…

The beginning of a new era? Let’s hope so…

Cheers – David


International Health Data

A really nifty “interactive graph” from the US that compares causes of death with 16 “peer countries”…

Most people are surprised (shocked), as I was, to learn that, according to the WHO, suicides account for about half of all violent deaths globally – i.e. about the same as the combined total of deaths due to homicide and war. This latest data more or less confirms the WHO numbers, though with some variation for individual countries.

Along with cross-country comparisons, of special interest for me was the breakdown of deaths due to “Neuropsychiatric conditions”. We could argue at length about the validity of this data, but it at least gives the mainstream, medical perspective… and also some very peculiar variations between countries (e.g. see deaths due to migraine or insomnia).

As always, some caution is required with data on deaths due to “self-inflicted injuries” – i.e. suicide. For instance, we know that some societies are more likely to record a suicide as an accident due to cultural taboos or to protect insurance claims.

But still interesting data here, I reckon, plus the interactive graph really is nifty.

Study Shows Many Teens at Risk for Suicidal Behavior Despite Mental Health Help | PBS NewsHour | Jan. 9, 2013 | PBS

This study is getting a lot of press in the US (even Fox News picked it up). This link is to a PBS interview with two “experts” who mostly give political non-answers while seemingly scratching their bewildered heads.

The study repeats old news on the high rates of suicidal thinking among young people. What’s new is that many young people are attempting suicide even though they are receiving treatment – i.e. treatment does not appear to be working very well – which seems to bewilder the experts. Especially the rather large number of young people who became suicidal AFTER commencing treatment.

Apparently the study did not look at the different kinds of treatment people may be receiving – i.e. some may work better/worse than others, but we don’t know which.

It’s also worth looking at the online comments that follow the transcript. As usual, I was aching to hear from someone with first-hand experience, and eventually there’s a couple among the comments, which was so refreshing.

NIMH · Emergency Department Suicide Screening Tool Accurately Predicts At Risk Youth

I had a look at this report because I was curious what the four questions were of this suicide screening tool…

Turns out they are:
– current thoughts of being better off dead
– current wish to die
– current suicidal ideation, and
– history of suicide attempt

And that “Positive responses to 1 or more of these 4 questions identified 97% of the youth at risk for suicide”.

Am I being disingenuous thinking that this research is “discovering” the bleeding obvious – i.e. the best way to find out (the best predictor) if someone is suicidal is to… duh! … ask them!

Apparently you can get grants for this sort of research…

Cheers – David