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Archives for August 2011

Obama to send condolences for combat-zone suicides


President Obama, saying men and women in the military who kill themselves in combat zones "didn't die because they were weak," reversed a long-standing policy Wednesday and said he would now send condolence letters to their families.
Obama acted after a yearlong campaign by veterans groups and politicians including Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to recognize the toll that the stress of war takes on those who fight.
In doing so, the president repealed a policy born of religious and societal condemnation against suicide - particularly in the military, where strength is revered and weakness is seen as endangering one's fellow warriors.
"This issue is emotional, painful and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely," Obama said in a statement announcing his change. "They didn't die because they were weak. And the fact that they didn't get the help they needed must change."
The number of suicides among people serving in the armed forces has jumped more than 25 percent since 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The military averages one suicide every 36 hours, and last year alone 454 service members killed themselves in combat zones.
The 150,000 soldiers, sailors, Air Force personnel and Marines stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq are particularly vulnerable considering the high rate of redeployments and financial and family troubles associated with long periods spent away from home, counselors say.
Obama's decision "will honor the sacrifice of our nation's servicemen and -women and their families and do a great deal to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health treatment that prevents so many from seeking the care they need," Boxer said.
Kim Ruocco, whose husband hanged himself in California six years ago between deployments with the Marines, praised the move - but said it needs to go further.
"This policy change is very important for families of those who took their lives, because it sends a message that they mattered," said Ruocco, 48. "But we want the president to send letters to everyone who died in service of their country, because there are so many who didn't die in combat zones.
"Condolence letters let the families know that the country respects their sacrifice and sympathizes with their loss," Ruocco said. "That's all we're asking for."
Obama's change does not affect the government's policy of withholding condolence letters in the cases of those who kill themselves or die in accidents away from combat zones, or who die after they leave the service. The veterans department estimates 5,000 veterans annually commit suicide.
The VA in San Francisco has boosted its mental health staff by a third in the past two years as part of an effort to "amp up our suicide prevention efforts," said Judi Cheary, local spokeswoman for the department.
Ruocco's husband, 40-year-old Marine Maj. John Ruocco, was in the Corps for 15 years and had just come back from duty in Iraq when he killed himself in a hotel in Carlsbad (San Diego County). He flew 75 missions in Iraq, piloting AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and earning an Air Medal, but after coming home and getting ready at California's Camp Pendleton to go back, he was stricken with post-traumatic-stress-induced depression.
"We talked a lot about getting help, and the last time we talked he said he would," Ruocco said. "But he thought he was letting everyone down, displaying weakness."
Today, Ruocco lives in Massachusetts and is director of suicide outreach for the national Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors for military families. Her program has 2,000 members, 151 in California.
She gave a presentation on military suicides in San Francisco last year, and since then, "the need has only gotten bigger," she said.
"There is not a single state in the country that doesn't have people affected by suicide in the military," Ruocco said. "The more we talk about it, the more we can prevent it."
E-mail Kevin Fagan at kfagan@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page A - 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle


Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/06/MNE01K7B0I.DTL#ixzz1UCrLxyF4

Obama to send condolences for combat-zone suicides


President Obama, saying men and women in the military who kill themselves in combat zones "didn't die because they were weak," reversed a long-standing policy Wednesday and said he would now send condolence letters to their families.
Obama acted after a yearlong campaign by veterans groups and politicians including Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to recognize the toll that the stress of war takes on those who fight.
In doing so, the president repealed a policy born of religious and societal condemnation against suicide - particularly in the military, where strength is revered and weakness is seen as endangering one's fellow warriors.
"This issue is emotional, painful and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely," Obama said in a statement announcing his change. "They didn't die because they were weak. And the fact that they didn't get the help they needed must change."
The number of suicides among people serving in the armed forces has jumped more than 25 percent since 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The military averages one suicide every 36 hours, and last year alone 454 service members killed themselves in combat zones.
The 150,000 soldiers, sailors, Air Force personnel and Marines stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq are particularly vulnerable considering the high rate of redeployments and financial and family troubles associated with long periods spent away from home, counselors say.
Obama's decision "will honor the sacrifice of our nation's servicemen and -women and their families and do a great deal to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health treatment that prevents so many from seeking the care they need," Boxer said.
Kim Ruocco, whose husband hanged himself in California six years ago between deployments with the Marines, praised the move - but said it needs to go further.
"This policy change is very important for families of those who took their lives, because it sends a message that they mattered," said Ruocco, 48. "But we want the president to send letters to everyone who died in service of their country, because there are so many who didn't die in combat zones.
"Condolence letters let the families know that the country respects their sacrifice and sympathizes with their loss," Ruocco said. "That's all we're asking for."
Obama's change does not affect the government's policy of withholding condolence letters in the cases of those who kill themselves or die in accidents away from combat zones, or who die after they leave the service. The veterans department estimates 5,000 veterans annually commit suicide.
The VA in San Francisco has boosted its mental health staff by a third in the past two years as part of an effort to "amp up our suicide prevention efforts," said Judi Cheary, local spokeswoman for the department.
Ruocco's husband, 40-year-old Marine Maj. John Ruocco, was in the Corps for 15 years and had just come back from duty in Iraq when he killed himself in a hotel in Carlsbad (San Diego County). He flew 75 missions in Iraq, piloting AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and earning an Air Medal, but after coming home and getting ready at California's Camp Pendleton to go back, he was stricken with post-traumatic-stress-induced depression.
"We talked a lot about getting help, and the last time we talked he said he would," Ruocco said. "But he thought he was letting everyone down, displaying weakness."
Today, Ruocco lives in Massachusetts and is director of suicide outreach for the national Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors for military families. Her program has 2,000 members, 151 in California.
She gave a presentation on military suicides in San Francisco last year, and since then, "the need has only gotten bigger," she said.
"There is not a single state in the country that doesn't have people affected by suicide in the military," Ruocco said. "The more we talk about it, the more we can prevent it."
E-mail Kevin Fagan at kfagan@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page A - 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle


Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/06/MNE01K7B0I.DTL#ixzz1UCrLxyF4

Tribal Teens Fight Suicide Through Positive Social Networking

Almost one in four Native American youths has attempted suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A new initiative is in the works to combat those grim statistics through positive social networking.

Brandon Trejo, 17, who lives on a reservation in eastern Washington state, knows a face behind that statistic.

"One of my friends, he tried overdosing on a bunch of pills," Trejo says. "It didn't work. He ended up going to the hospital and getting his stomach pumped."

Trejo was shocked and still doesn't understand his friend's actions.

Oregon tribal member Sarah Hull has felt the same shock, not just once, but multiple times. The 16-year-old goes to a school off the reservation.

"I know from personal experience living in a Native American community and being around people, depression is really common," she says, "because for a lot of people it's hard to find your way to your culture or find your way to a certain passion when you don't who you are and you're confused."

Audio engineer Brad Kaminski records a song by Sarah Hull.
VOA - T. Banse
Audio engineer Brad Kaminski records a song by Sarah Hull.

Hull has found her way to a passion - music. She records in a makeshift recording studio set up at a tribal health workshop.Hull lays awake at night trying to find the right words for a song on the unusual theme of suicide prevention.








Read more: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Tribal-Teens-Fight-Suicide-Through-Positive-Social-Networking--126576073.html

Tribal Teens Fight Suicide Through Positive Social Networking

Almost one in four Native American youths has attempted suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A new initiative is in the works to combat those grim statistics through positive social networking.

Brandon Trejo, 17, who lives on a reservation in eastern Washington state, knows a face behind that statistic.

"One of my friends, he tried overdosing on a bunch of pills," Trejo says. "It didn't work. He ended up going to the hospital and getting his stomach pumped."

Trejo was shocked and still doesn't understand his friend's actions.

Oregon tribal member Sarah Hull has felt the same shock, not just once, but multiple times. The 16-year-old goes to a school off the reservation.

"I know from personal experience living in a Native American community and being around people, depression is really common," she says, "because for a lot of people it's hard to find your way to your culture or find your way to a certain passion when you don't who you are and you're confused."

Audio engineer Brad Kaminski records a song by Sarah Hull.
VOA - T. Banse
Audio engineer Brad Kaminski records a song by Sarah Hull.

Hull has found her way to a passion - music. She records in a makeshift recording studio set up at a tribal health workshop.Hull lays awake at night trying to find the right words for a song on the unusual theme of suicide prevention.








Read more: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Tribal-Teens-Fight-Suicide-Through-Positive-Social-Networking--126576073.html

San Francisco Suicide Prevention 2011-08-04 01:03:00

As reported by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center “Weekly Spark,” a new British study involving family physicians and patients with signs of depression affirmed that asking depressed patients whether they are thinking about suicide did not in fact lead to increased feelings that suicide should be an option. “People who were asked about suicidal thoughts at the first medical interview were no more likely to think about this topic during the following week than those who were asked general questions about health and lifestyle,” said lead study author Mike Crawford of Imperial College, London, United Kingdom. As a result, said Crawford, clinicians should feel comfortable asking people who are depressed if they have thought about suicide, “as long as these questions are asked in a sensitive manner.” Commenting on the study, suicide researcher Yeates Conwell said “It is important for family doctors to know that the best evidence, in this case a randomized trial, shows that asking these questions does not cause problems. Rather, doing so brings to light issues for which we have available interventions and helps us reduce suicide-related morbidity and mortality.”

San Francisco Suicide Prevention 2011-08-04 01:03:00

New York : Architects unveil bridge barrier ideas , Ithaca Journal , Mar. 2, 2011
Cornell University and the city of Ithaca are working together to select a design for suicide prevention bridge barriers at seven bridges located on or near the Cornell campus. Following three suicides that took place on the campus in spring 2010, the university consulted with suicide prevention experts, who recommended that Cornell install the barriers. The designs include nets and fences, and are meant to both provide security and maintain “vista, view, transparency, and openness,” according to Cornell architect Gilbert Delgado. At present, temporary black fences are in place at the bridges. Cornell and Ithaca are soliciting comments on the various options from the public.

San Francisco Suicide Prevention 2011-08-04 01:02:00


Annenberg Public Policy Center
Many newspapers continue to perpetuate the myth that suicides increase during the holiday season, according to an analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC). The APPC study found that during last year’s holiday season (2009-2010), nearly half of news articles that made a direct connection between suicide and the holiday season supported the myth. The proportion of articles that reinforce the myth has decreased since the APPC began running its yearly analysis in 2000, but progress has slowed during recent years. “It is unfortunate that the holiday-suicide myth persists in the press,” said APPC researcher Dan Romer. “Aside from misinforming the public, this sort of reporting misses an opportunity to shed light on the more likely causes of suicide.” U.S. government statistics show that the suicide rate is lowest in December, and peaks in spring and fall.

San Francisco Suicide Prevention 2011-08-04 01:02:00

A new report on CNN issued by the Department of Defense documents a “large, widespread, and growing mental health problem among U.S. military members.” The report lists mental health problems as the most frequent cause of hospitalization for men in the U.S. military, and the second most frequent cause for military women (after conditions related to pregnancy). Among the most common mental health issues experienced by military personnel are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, and substance dependence. According to the report, the increase in reported mental health issues reflects the psychological toll of Mideast wars; increased mental health outreach and screening by the military; and military efforts to reduce stigma about mental health treatment.

San Francisco Suicide Prevention 2011-08-04 01:02:00

A new study from researchers at Idaho State University and the University of Michigan indicates that there is a correlation between sleep problems and suicidal thinking in teens, according to a Reuters story quoted by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. Idaho State researcher Maria Wong feels this could help parents and other adults identify suicide risk in young people, stating, “It’s easier for them to answer questions like, ‘Did you sleep well last night?’ and get into why they are not sleeping well and how they are feeling lately.” The researchers found that 60 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 who engaged in suicidal behavior had experienced trouble sleeping at ages 12 to 14. Forty-seven percent of teens who had thought about suicide (but had not harmed themselves) had experienced trouble sleeping at 12 to 14. In comparison, only 26 percent of teens with no suicidal behavior or thoughts had experienced trouble sleeping when they were younger. The study is consistent with earlier research showing a correlation between sleep problems and suicidal thoughts and behavior among adults. It should be noted that the research did not demonstrate that sleep disorders cause suicidality, or that suicidal thoughts or behaviors cause sleep problems.

San Francisco Suicide Prevention 2011-08-04 01:01:00

Just-released data from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that 20 percent of U.S. adults said they had experienced mental illness in the year preceding the survey. More than eight million people said they had had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, 2.2 million had made a suicide plan, and one million had attempted suicide. Women were more likely than men to report mental illness, and young adults were the most likely of all age groups to say they had experienced mental illness in the past year.http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2010/11/18/mental-illness-hit-1-in-5--us-adults-in-past-year