Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, cope healthily with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others.

I have been learning a lot about CBT – DBT is an interesting take on it as well.

Sometimes, You Won’t Feel Better Tomorrow

From Slate.com

We’ve gotten too used to discussing suicide as a fleeting, temporary side effect of mental illness. We might better serve people in need if we could acknowledge the messier reality.

“Suicide,” goes the popular expression, “is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” The provenance is murky, but the internet attributes the saying to 1980s media personality Phil Donahue. (I was going to write “of all people” but there’s no particular reason that something so profound cannot find its origins in the mouth of a schleppy-yet-endearing daytime talk show host from Ohio.)

In any event, it’s a clever saying, and also one not altogether wrong. I can see why it’s had such viral appeal. Oftentimes a myopic focus on the present, accompanied by a flash flood of negative emotions, gas-pedals that fleeting impulse. Yet if we can survive that terrible moment, we may feel shockingly more composed just a day later.

This tends to be the prevailing narrative around suicide and suicidality—a message cloaked in a constant admonishment to “just reach out for help” if you are feeling this way, and someone will try to see you through to the other side. The problem with this, though, is the obvious reality that some problems really are permanent, thank you very much. We may, with the right therapy or psychopharmacological help, change our perspective of such problems so that they don’t cause us so much ongoing distress. But not all problems fade with time; some actually do get worse. It should not be irrational to acknowledge this existential fact, and yet it remains stubbornly difficult to talk about.

Read more here…

New free online mental health support in Ontario

From CTV News

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, there are two new mental health support services available to people in Ontario.

The goal is to improve mental wellness and get people who are experiencing issues of low mood, anxiety and stress access to help quickly.

One of the new tools is called Big White Wall, which available online for people over the age of 16, who are experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

“Sometimes that can be a very lonely, scary time for them. And if we provide them with some of that support early on, to help some of that mild anxiety, depression, it can help those issues from becoming bigger.” said Stephanie Paquette, the mental health and addictions lead for North East LHIN.

People can self-refer; it’s anonymous and available around the clock.

“A lot of students are really attached to their technology, and we appreciate that, and so I often encourage students to use apps or use technology, because it’s readily available wherever they are. They can use it at night, they can use it on the weekend.” said Roni Sue Clement, Cambrian College student support advisor.

The other tool is called BounceBack, a free skill building program including telephone coaching and online videos for adults and youth ages 15 and up.

“Mental health can have significant wait lists. This offers another alternative tool to people in Ontario to access the services when it’s right for them.” said Sue Tasse, Canadian Mental Health Association.

“At Cambrian, it’s our objective to help students succeed academically, but in order to do that more supports are needed to help them on their academic journey.” said Alison De Lusia, of Cambrian College.

Read more here…

Important Advice for Seniors Trying to Recover Their Resilience and Joy

Growing older can be a struggle in many ways. Your body might not function the same way it used to, your income might be limited, and you just might not feel like your so-called “golden years” are so great. You might even feel depressed, anxious, or suffer from a mental health concern you don’t know how to manage. Thankfully, there are simple measures you can take to help you revive your senior years and recover your joy.

You Aren’t Alone 

Does it feel like you’re stressed out, worn out, weary, or just can’t find happiness? Many people have mental wellness concerns, and just because you make it to your senior years doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps in the road. In fact, studies cited by US News indicate that up to 20 percent of older adults struggle with mental health. Diagnosis can be challenging since many seniors take medications that can cause or imitate symptoms of issues such as depression.

Recognizing Trouble

Issues such as depression can be an elusive concern for seniors since so many other troubles can look similar to depression. For instance, many people attribute a loss of interest in activities, inability to sleep, reduced appetite, and insomnia with the aging process, but those problems can relate to depression. Seniors can feel moody, confused, or experience memory loss due to depression as well, and oftentimes others might think it’s “just old age.” There are also medications for certain chronic conditions that could contribute to those concerns, so doctors and family members might overlook the signs you are feeling depressed.

Taking Action 

One simple way to combat mental wellness concerns is to declutter your home. Clutter appears to be linked to depression, anxiety, and stress, and tidying up can make you feel better about yourself and your home. If it’s too overwhelming or you don’t have time to undertake the endeavour yourself, consider investing in having a professional do it on your behalf. Most homeowners spend between $100 and $200 for thorough routine house cleanings. Another suggestion is to engage in some healthful activities, such as getting involved with a group that shares your interests. You can join a book club, play cards or dominoes, or volunteer at a local charity.  Ensure you’re eating a nutritious diet, and spend some time outdoors every day.

Managing Trauma

Did something traumatic occur in your life, and you’re trying to manage in spite of it? You might feel like you can “get over it,” especially since you already have many experiences to draw from. However, according to some studies, many seniors struggle with PTSD, and it can stem from an old stress newly surfacing, or from a new traumatic incident. Symptoms include things like insomnia, moodiness, and social withdrawal. There are many methods for managing PTSD symptoms, such as through meditation, exercise, and aromatherapy. Psychiatric Times notes that seniors often worry about what others might think if they seek treatment for their symptoms of mental health concerns such as PTSD, but it’s vital to get help if you need it, and nobody needs to know except you and your counselor or doctor.

Connecting with Help

Many people need help at some point in life, and it’s no shame to reach out when you need assistance. In fact, some research reflects that seniors are at the biggest risk for suicide. If you are using medications beyond prescribed dosages to manage pain, thinking about hurting yourself, experiencing lethargy, or just don’t feel good, you don’t need to suffer. You can talk with your physician, or there are several free, confidential hotlines you can call for assistance.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-4357
  • National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms you’re experiencing. If you are feeling down, edgy, worn or weary, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can rediscover your joy and resilience, just reach out for help — and don’t feel ashamed to do so.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

There have been more military suicides since 2003 than the number of troops killed in Iraq.

From theS San Antonio Express News
Grim toll of military suicides reaches a new milestone

The mounting toll of military suicides since 2003 — an intractable problem highlighted again Friday with a murder-suicide at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland — has surpassed the number of troops killed in Iraq.

The latest Pentagon statistics on suicides in all service branches, combined with previously-released data compiled by the San Antonio Express-News, brought the total to 4,839 for the years 2003 through 2015. In the same period, 4,496 American were lost serving in Iraq.

The shooter at Lackland’s Medina Annex, identified as Technical Sgt. Steven D. Bellino, a 342nd Training Squadron student, killed the unit’s commander, Lt. Col. William “Bill” Schroeder, after a brief struggle that allowed a senior non-commissioned officer to escape, according to one account. Bellino was being escorted to a disciplinary hearing early Friday and was armed with two Glock pistols, sources said. The Air Force has not described a motive.

Years of research have yielded a good understanding of suicide risk factors, the Defense Suicide Prevention Office and other experts say.

But the numbers remain stubbornly high — defying myriad programs, a $50 million research effort called the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers, or STARRs, and creation of a Pentagon office in 2012 to deal with the issue.

Last year’s toll of 475 suicides is the highest since 2012. The Army, Air Force and Marine Corps saw increases in self-inflicted deaths in 2015, while the Navy reported a drop-off.

Read more here…

Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide

From Tim.Blog

In this post, I’m going to talk about suicide, and why I’m still on this planet.

These are stories I’ve kept secret from my family, girlfriends, and closest friends for years. Recently, however, I had an experience that shook me — woke me up — and I decided that it was time to share it all.

So, despite the shame I might feel, the fear that is making my palms sweat as I type this, allow me to get started.

Here we go…


“Could you please sign this for my brother? It would mean a lot to him.”

He was a kind fan. There were perhaps a dozen people around me asking questions, and he had politely waited his turn. The ask: A simple signature.

It was Friday night, around 7pm, and a live recording of the TWiST podcast had just ended. There was electricity in the air. Jason Calacanis, the host and interviewer, sure knows how to put on a show. He’d hyped up the crowd and kept things rolling for more than 2 hours on stage, asking me every imaginable question. The venue–Pivotal Labs’ offices in downtown SF–had been packed to capacity. Now, more than 200 people were milling about, drinking wine, or heading off for their weekends.

A handful of attendees gathered near the mics for pics and book inscriptions.

“Anything in particular you’d like me to say to him? To your brother?” I asked this one gent, who was immaculately dressed in a suit. His name was Silas.

He froze for few seconds but kept eye contact. I saw his eyes flutter. There was something unusual that I couldn’t put a finger on.

I decided to take the pressure off: “I’m sure I can come up with something. Are you cool with that?” Silas nodded.

I wrote a few lines, added a smiley face, signed the book he’d brought, and handed it back. He thanked me and backed out of the crowd. I waived and returned to chatting with the others.

Roughly 30 minutes later, I had to run. My girlfriend had just landed at SFO and I needed to meet her for dinner. I started walking towards the elevators.

“Excuse me, Tim?” It was Silas. He’d been waiting for me. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure,” I said, “but walk with me.”

We meandered around tables and desks to the relative privacy of the elevator vestibule, and I hit the Down button. As soon as Silas started his story, I forgot about the elevator.

He apologized for freezing earlier, for not having an answer. His younger brother–the one I signed the book for–had recently committed suicide. He was 22.

“He looked up to you,” Silas explained, “He loved listening to you and Joe Rogan. I wanted to get your signature for him. I’m going to put this in his room.” He gestured to the book. I could see tears welling up in his eyes, and I felt my own doing the same. He continued.

“People listen to you. Have you ever thought about talking about these things? About suicide or depression? You might be able to save someone.” Now, it was my turn to stare at him blankly. I didn’t know what to say.

I also didn’t have an excuse. Unbeknownst to him, I had every reason to talk about suicide. I’d only skimmed the surface with a few short posts about depression.

Some of my closest high school friends killed themselves.
Some of my closest college friends killed themselves.
I almost killed myself.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” I said to Silas. I wondered if he’d waited more than three hours just to tell me this. I suspected he had. Good for him. He had bigger balls than I. Certainly, I’d failed his brother by being such a coward in my writing. How many othershad I failed? These questions swam in my mind.

“I will write about this” I said to Silas, awkwardly patting his shoulder. I was thrown off. “I promise.”

And with that, I got into the elevator.

Read more here…

Construction workers lead in U.S. suicide rates, CDC finds

From NBC News

The lowest suicide rates are among educators and librarians, the CDC found.

By Maggie Fox

Male construction workers have the highest rate of suicide in the U.S., while teachers and librarians have the lowest, according to new federal data.

Suicides are rising among the whole population, and a breakdown by occupation shows construction workers and miners headed the list, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

“In 2012 and 2015, suicide rates were highest among males in the construction and extraction occupational group,” the CDC said in a statement.

But other industries are seeing increasing growth in suicide rates, the CDC found.

“From 2012 to 2015, suicide rates increased most for males in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (47 percent) and for females in food preparation and serving related occupations (54 percent),” the CDC said.

Read more here…


The Best Way To Save People From Suicide

“What if this is what we should be doing? What if it’s that simple?”

It was still dark outside when Amanda woke up to the sound of her alarm, got out of bed and decided to kill herself. She wasn’t going to do it then, not at 5:30 in the morning on a Friday. She told herself she would do it sometime after work.

Amanda showered. She put on khakis and a sweater. She fed Abby, her little house cat. Before walking out the door, she sent her therapist an email. “Not a good night last night, had a disturbing dream,” she wrote. “Got to try and get through the day, hope I can shift my mind enough to focus. Only plan tonight is to come home and take a nap.”

Amanda was a 29-year-old nurse, pale and thin—a quiet rule-follower. She had thought about taking a sick day, but she didn’t want to upset her co-workers or draw attention to herself. As usual, she arrived at the office earlier than just about everyone else, needing the extra time to get comfortable. She had taken a pay cut to join this clinic outside Seattle, in part because she wanted to treat low-income mothers and pregnant women. Some of her patients were in recovery, others were homeless, several had fled physically abusive men. She was inspired by their resilience and felt only slightly jealous of the ones who had found antidepressants that worked. That day, September 28, 2007, was her first shift seeing patients without a supervisor watching over her.

Read more here…


Helping in memory of her son, Patrick, who died by suicide

From The Gazette

This much Martine Brault knows: she will never see her first-born son again.

Patrick Chouinard died in a fiery crash on Sept. 6, 2017, at about 5:50 a.m. He was 20. Brault believes that when he drove his car at high speed into a concrete viaduct wall on Quebec City’s Autoroute Duplessis, he did so intentionally. That his death was a suicide. The coroner needed dental records to confirm his identity.

Only after Patrick’s death did his mother learn that he most probably suffered from depression. He’d been somewhat irritable and angry of late. Mostly, though, he was a happy-go-lucky guy who loved having fun with his friends and whose passion was cars.

“People with depression are really good at putting on a face and saying everything is OK,” said Brault, a Quebec City veterinarian. “But when I spoke to his friends after his death, I learned that he had confided in them that everything wasn’t so OK.”

She would learn that Patrick often spent the night driving around in his car, grey with gold mag wheels. “He must have been the only one in Quebec with those wheels,” she said. That sometimes he had dark thoughts: He told one friend that his car would be his coffin. Two nights before his death, he spent the night sitting on train tracks on a railway overpass 400 feet in the air.

Friends said there were phrases he’d use:

Things aren’t clear in my head.

I am confused.

I am down.

I am anxious.

Read more here…

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…


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