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Warning Signs and Suicide Hot Lines Won't Fix This

A psychiatrist remembered his first days on his ER rotation. He dealt with a woman who had tried to kill herself. She was homeless, had been taking meth so she wouldn't sleep ever since she had been raped on the street. The supervisor asked what the young doc intended to do. "Prescribe antidepressants?"

They both knew how stupid that sounded.

In the 80s and 90s, they thought they had this suicide thing figured out. As the number of prescriptions for Prozac rose, the suicide rate was falling. It was widely claimed by people who flunked logic that this was epidemiological evidence that Prozac prevented suicide. Just get more people into treatment. This kind of error is common enough to have its own name: post hoc ergo propter hoc. Or maybe there was some economic incentive behind that sloppy thinking...

For a hundred years, suicide rates and unemployment rates rose and fell in tandem. The top chart is the unemployment rate 1927-2006. The bottom is the suicide rate in the …

Passive Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Anna Borges speaks truth about suicidal ideation. In the midst of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, with its lists of warning signs and gearing us up for the crisis, Anna brings to light the sometimes everyday-ness of suicidal ideation.

I am not always very attached to being alive, she wrote in at article for The Outline, an online magazine. It's not about being in crisis, not about having a "plan," not about needing an intervention. It's more like an indifference to life that sometimes surges into something more serious and then falls back. Like the waves of an ocean.



At 27, I’ve settled into a comfortable coexistence with my suicidality. We’ve made peace, or at least a temporary accord negotiated by therapy and medication. It’s still hard sometimes, but not as hard as you might think. What makes it harder is being unable to talk about it freely: the weightiness of the confession, the impossibility of explaining that it both is and isn’t as serious as it sounds. I d…

The Blues Aren’t Blue For Me - For Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

For Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, guest Margalea Warner tells a story of healing after an attempt and what happened #AfterIDidntKillMyself.
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When I emerged from the gray cloud of near death, the color I woke to was blue. It was an artificial blue, kin to a chlorinated pool water or blue Jell-o or Smurfs. It was a long tube with ridges that seemed to be coming from my face. I couldn't use my mind well enough to know it was a respirator tube. I stared at this blue with bewildered wonder. 

I did not remember what caused the gray. I did not remember walking away from my job at ten in the morning without asking for time off. I did not remember going through my closet and throwing all my clothing in the dumpster until I had very little left to wear.

From deep inside my mind I did remember a room of flickering shadows where I was on trial for witchcraft or for being a bad daughter. I rememberedthe voices saying that I must be executed. I had to be my own executi…

Flip the Script on Suicide Prevention Week

National Suicide Prevention Week starts next week (September 8-14) and I am trying to gear up for it. I can’t remember which I am supposed to watch for, the risk factors or the warning signs. I guess somebody will tell me again.
Not to be snarky – I do appreciate this annual effort to get people to pay attention. You’d think so, given my personal stake in preventing suicide, as in, my own. But I have to confess, these campaigns leave me feeling a bit disconnected from myself. How ironic is that?
I figured it out. The problem is that I pay any attention at all to suicide prevention campaigns. But they are not addressed to me. They are addressed to professionals, friends, and loved ones. They are about me and others who are at risk.
But here’s the thing. Professionals, friends, and loved ones are bit players in the suicide prevention business. The ones who do the heavy lifting are the ones in danger ourselves. So we read the literature, always looking for another trick to try, only to disc…

Bipolar, Not So Much - A Review

Recurrent depression, treatment-resistant depression, depression with mixed features, cyclothymic disorder -- if your file at the doctor's office is coded for any of these, my heart goes out to you. Chances are you have taken a number of turns around the antidepressant not-so-merry-go-round. I call it "The Chemistry Experiment," and you are the test tube.


Chris Aiken and James Phelps have written the book for you. Bipolar, Not So Much: Understanding Your Mood Swings and Depression introduces the reader to the Bipolar Spectrum. No, they are not talking about the movie version of bipolar, throwing furniture out the window, driving the car into the river... They mean the vast ground between that and your basic depression. They mean depression - with something more.

The authors use a conversational style, speaking directly to the reader and skipping the jargon. They begin by explaining the spectrum. They don't ask the question the way the DSM frames it, Does this person ha…

The Five Stages of Climate Change - Another View

God just tweeted this.

How did I overlook #5 for last week's post?


God @TheTweetOfGod · 18h THE FIVE STAGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE 1. Denial 2. Guilt 3. Depression 4. Acceptance 5. Drowning

Stages of Grief and Climate Change

In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler Ross published On Death and Dying. It described the grief process of dying patients and how family and medical personnel could help them toward a good death.

You probably know what came to be called the stages: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance. They were never intended to describe a straight line process, more like a series of way stations to be visited on the way. They came from her work with people who were dying, and were part of the foundation of the Hospice movement, to take dying back out of the hospital where the focus is on preventing death, and put it on a more humane basis. We all die. Let's do it without the violence of extreme measures.

Kubler Ross has been on my mind lately, as it becomes clear that the planet is dying. We all are dying. But so are the polar bears, as a species, the black rhinos, the bees... And when Monsanto kills off what remains of the bees... We are facing the sixth mass extinction of the planet. Unlike the …