Mental health experts say it’s time to stop saying ‘committed suicide.’ Here’s why

From the Calgary Journal

David Kirby says people need to talk about suicide and share stories by writing them down. But the clinical services manager at Distress Centre Calgary says getting the language right is crucial. Professional writers, he says, must pay attention to the type of language used when describing the act.

“We know that suicide is extremely fraught with taboo and stigma. Any language that we use is going to be so conditioned, seemingly neutral, that we forget that it’s constructed habitually,” Kirby says.

“I think our language needs to be as compassionate as possible to serve as furthering an increasing dialogue around suicide.”

Kirby says many people see no problem with saying, “committed suicide.” However, he says “committed” is a loaded term, associated with criminal acts. Oxford dictionary defines “commit” as carrying out or perpetrating “a mistake, crime, or immoral act.” Instead, Kirby advocates for the phrase “died by suicide.”

The media’s role

The Mindset manual put together by André Picard of The Globe & Mail, Karen Pauls of CBC News and Michael Kirby of Partners for Mental Health, supports Kirby’s position. It specifically asks journalists to use more direct language, such as “took his own life,” “died by suicide” or “killed herself.” The manual implores journalists to “be aware of the damage that can be done by reinforcement of stereotypes and strive to minimize it” through persistent investigation.

Read more here…


What do you do when you are already in therapy and on medication but you remain depressed?

We are active on QUORA – a forum where people ask questions looking for answers from experts in any given field. This question seemed particularly poignant to us today.

What do you do when you are already in therapy and on medication but you remain depressed?

The good news? You’re normal – it is very common for it to take a while to find the right medical mix as well as to find the right therapeutic mix.

The bad news? Well – your work is not done. I say “bad news” but really, it’s not that bad if you can keep it in your head that you *are* working toward a solution and that if you keep working, you will find it.

Meditation helped me most of all. As a supplement to both psychotherapy and medication in the beginning. Be careful with meds – some few people do need to stay on them for a long time, but very often, they should be considered a short term boost to get yourself into a place where you are capable of doing the other work you need to do.

That work? Getting to the root issues. And finding ways to get past those issues. To be OK again. To find ways to get yourself OK before things get worse.

Asking this question was smart – you are obviously in tune with yourself, and still asking questions. BE HAPPY ABOUT THAT – it means you’re on the right track.


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Being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure

…  here are 12 science-backed reasons to spend more time outdoors

From Business Insider

  • Spending time in forests, hiking in mountains, and just being outside can lead to significant health benefits.
  • Studies have shown that walking in the woods can improve blood pressure, boost mental health, and decrease cancer risk.
  • So go spend some time “forest-bathing” to improve your health.

Many people spend workdays indoors under fluorescent lights and in front of computers, then return home to bask in the glow of television screens.

But research suggests it’s important to make time to get outdoors as well, since doing so is beneficial — maybe essential — for human health. Psychologists and health researchers are finding more and more science-backed reasons we should go outside and enjoy the natural world.

In her book, “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative,” journalist Florence Williams writes that she started investigating the health benefits of nature after moving from the mountainous terrain of Boulder, Colorado, to what she describes as “the anti-Arcadia that is the nation’s capital”: Washington, DC.

“I felt disoriented, overwhelmed, depressed,” she wrote. “My mind had trouble focusing. I couldn’t finish thoughts. I couldn’t make decisions and I wasn’t keen to get out of bed.”

Read more here…

The Simple Habit That Can Help You Fight Depression

From MSN

When someone has clinical depression, it’s important they see a doctor or a mental-health professional who can evaluate them properly and provide effective options for treatment. But there’s also something known in the psychology world as subthreshold depression—a condition in which people exhibit some symptoms of depression, but not enough for a clinical diagnosis.

It’s estimated that between 10% and 24% of the population has subthreshold depression (sometimes referred to as mild depression) at some point in their lives. And for those people, a new study suggests, practicing mindfulness meditation may help improve their mood and reduce their risk of developing full-blown depression. The study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, highlights yet another reason why meditation may be good for both physical and mental health.

The study included 231 Chinese adults with subthreshold depression, meaning they scored between five and nine out of a total of 27 points on a standard depression scale. Half received mindfulness training two hours a week for eight weeks, while the other half received no special treatment but continued to receive their usual medical care.

During the mindfulness training, participants were instructed on setting short- and long-term goals; monitoring their activity and mood; planning out their activities; body scanning; and both sitting and walking meditations. They were also provided a CD of audio recordings for guided meditations and were asked to practice at home at least six days a week.

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His College Knew of His Despair. His Parents Didn’t, Until It Was Too Late.

From the New York Times.

In the days after her son Graham hanged himself in his dormitory room at Hamilton College, Gina Burton went about settling his affairs in a blur of efficiency, her grief tinged with a nagging sense that something did not add up.

She fielded requests and sympathy notes from the college, promising the dean of students a copy of his obituary “so you can see how special Hamilton was to him.” This was why his suicide “makes no sense,” she added in a puzzled aside. The next day, Ms. Burton accepted condolences from the college president, and assured him “how right a choice Hamilton was” for her son.

But two weeks later, she read her son’s journal and everything changed. Mr. Burton, a sophomore, wrote that he was flunking three of his four classes and called himself a “failure with no life prospects.” He had struggled to sleep, missed classes, turned in assignments late. The college had known of his difficulty, he wrote, but had been slow to offer help and understanding.

“Would you care to shed some light on this?” Ms. Burton asked in an angry email sent at 2:53 a.m. to the academic dean, with copies to the president and the dean of students. “If this is what drove Graham, I don’t think I’ll be able to cope.”

Read more here…

May Sarton on the Cure for Despair and Solitude as the Seedbed of Self-Discovery

From Brain Pickings

“Sometimes one has simply to endure a period of depression for what it may hold of illumination if one can live through it, attentive to what it exposes or demands.”

“A great deal of poetic work has arisen from various despairs,” wrote Lou Andreas-Salomé, the first woman psychoanalyst, in a consolatory letter to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke as he was wrestling with depression, nearly a century before psychologists came to study the nonlinear relationship between creativity and mental illness. A generation later, with an eye to what made Goethe a genius, Humphrey Trevelyan argued that great artists must have the courage to despair, that they “must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted. This divine discontent, this disequilibrium, this state of inner tension is the source of artistic energy.”

Few artists have articulated the dance between this “divine discontent” and creative fulfillment more memorably than the poet, novelist, essayist, and diarist May Sarton(May 3, 1912–July 16, 1995). In her Journal of a Solitude (public library), Sarton records and reflects on her interior life in the course of one year, her sixtieth, with remarkable candor and courage. Out of these twelve private months arises the eternity of the human experience with its varied universal capacities for astonishment and sorrow, hollowing despair and creative vitality.

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Mariah Carey reveals bipolar disorder

From CTV News

Pop superstar Mariah Carey has revealed that she suffers from bipolar disorder and has entered treatment.

The singer, whose sweeping five-octave vocal range helped make her one of the most successful artists of the 1990s, said she decided to go public to help remove stigma over the mental illness.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she told People in the celebrity magazine’s latest cover story.

Carey said she has Bipolar II disorder, which is characterized by less severe episodes than Bipolar I.

Around 2.8 per cent of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder in a given year, according to the federal National Institute of Mental Health.

Read more here…

Families of mentally ill need help, too, say advocates urging more funding

From The Montreal Gazette

Support groups for those who take care of a mentally ill family member are urging Health Minister Gaétan Barrette to boost financial support to their organizations to meet the rising demand for their services.

Although the Quebec health network provides psychological services to those afflicted with mental illness, there is no formal support system for families. That’s where non-profit community organizations step into the breach, but government subsidies haven’t kept pace with the growing needs, says the director-general of a coalition of support groups.

“The demand for our services is enormous,” said René Cloutier of the Réseau avant de craquer, which represents 39 community organizations across the province.

The Réseau reported a 22-per-cent increase in the number of requests by family members in need of counselling and respite services since last year. Cloutier attributed the increase, in part, to the fact that clinical teams in hospitals are referring more and more family members to community organizations.

Research has shown that one in five people will suffer from a mental illness during their lifetime. And it’s not just the individual with a mental illness who is affected — in eight out of 10 cases, family members and friends are tormented, too.

Read more here…

A good time to think about stereotypes

There is no reason to believe people who live with mental illness are innately more creative than non-mentally ill people, or more violent.

In recent years, this and other mental health awareness campaigns have put a spotlight on the prejudices and false associations that surround mental illness.

Sometimes, the stereotypes don’t seem all that harmful. An image that often comes to mind is of a musician, a poet or painter holed up in an attic somewhere, creating masterpieces while suffering from feverish delusions. It’s a scene we’ve seen countless times in movies.

We all know the stories; Edgar Allan Poe, Ludwig van Beethoven and Vincent van Gogh are but a few luminaries who appear to have suffered from mental illnesses.

In reality though, there is no proof that people who live with mental illness are innately more creative than non-mentally ill people. Creativity is not some sort of mystical gift that comes coupled with a curse. Creative expression — the writings of Poe, the music of Beethoven, the paintings of van Gogh — is the product of hard work.

While a disproportionate number of artists do suffer from mental illness, researchers have theorized that this is because people who have mental illnesses use artistic expression as a coping mechanism.

David Goldbloom, a Canadian psychiatrist who has investigated the link between mental illness and creativity, has pointed out that mental illness actually hampers creativity. When artists are sick, they either can’t create, or the work they do is of poor quality compared to the work they do when they are well.

Certainly, the myth of the mad artist is at least a positive stereotype and far better than the other stereotype associated with mental illness — that of the dangerous, violent, unpredictable criminal.

Of course there is no truth to this idea, either.

Research has shown that a person’s propensity for violence correlates with socio-economic status, gender and life history, not his or her mental health.

However when a violent crime hits the news, we are quick to blame mental illness, which many of us see as the byproduct of faulty wiring. But mental illness is not an entirely biological phenomenon. It is partially the product of social environments.

One of the problems with stereotypes, positive or negative, is that they lead us into making irrational arguments. Just look at the way in which many people have been talking about U.S. President Donald Trump. It has been suggested that Trump’s “unpredictability” is evidence he is mentally ill and therefore unfit for office. A Google search for “Donald Trump unpredictability mental illness” yields 714,000 results.

Regardless of one’s opinion of Trump’s fitness for office, “unpredictability” is not a symptom of any mental illness, or an accurate description of a person suffering from any mental illness. It’s a completely invented facet of a stereotype.

Read more here…