Categories
Mental Health Suicide

Suicide is Preventable When You Know the Signs

Suicide is a major, yet preventable mental health problem. According to the National InstituteLantern of Mental Health, “In 2007, suicide was the thirst leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24. Suicide accounted for 4140 deaths (12%) of the total 34,598 suicide deaths in 2007. ”

  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old Americans. (CDC)
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide. (CDC, AAS)
  • There are three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. (CDC, AAS)

Though these numbers seem daunting, they are not a complete reflection on the youth of today or the way they manage or respond to stress or difficulty. These numbers do, however, indicate a significant problem that we need to be aware of so that we can act accordingly to prevent it.

 

Suicidal behavior is never a normal response to stress.

 

Some of the risk factors for suicide include:

  • Depression or other mental disorders
  • Substance abuse (often in combination with mental illness)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Prior suicide attempt
  • History of physical or sexual abuse within the family system
  • Firearms in the home
  • Incarceration
  • Exposure to suicidal behavior of others

Other things to watch for in yourself or your loved ones include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, depressed mood, excessive guilt, low self-esteem
  • A loss of interest in family or social activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns (too much or too little)
  • Persistent anger, rage, need for revenge
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Problems at school: socially and academically
  • Feeling listless or irritable
  • Regular or frequent crying
  • Not taking care of yourself (not bathing regularly, etc)
  • Reckless and/or impulsive behaviors
  • Frequent headaches, stomachaches

Warning signs that someone may be thinking of committing suicide:

  • Always talking about or thinking about death
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Clinical depression — deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating — that seems to get worse
  • Loss of interest in things you or your loved one once cared about
  • Comments about being worthless, hopeless, helpless
  • Putting affairs in order, like changing or creating a will all of a sudden, or seeming to “tie up lose ends”
  • Comments like, “It would be better if I wasn’t here,” or “I want out.”
  • A sudden, and unexpected shift from deep sadness to being calm and happy.
  • Talking about suicide
  • Saying their goodbyes

 

It’s not uncommon for someone who is suicidal to have attempted suicide before. Recognizing some of these warning signs is the first step to helping someone you love or helping yourself. Asking for help is a sign of great courage and strength. It shows deep character and a fierce sense of survival. It is in the act of reaching our hands out that we open ourselves up to attaining help.

 

Categories
Addiction Prevention Synthetic Drugs

In the News: Synthetic Marijuana aka Crazy Clown

Crazy Clown (Photo credit: yewenyi)

Synthetic Marijuana is back in the news, this time under the names “Crazy Clown” or “Herbal Madness Incense.” Eight teens and young adults were sent to the hospital in Georgia this weekend because of the effects of this drug. The CDC is investigating this latest designer drug incarnation and has issued a warning. The use of synthetic marijuana is incredibly dangerous and presents a growing public health concern. According to the CDC:

Sixteen cases of synthetic cannabinoid-related acute kidney injury occurred in six states in 2012. Synthetic cannabinoids, which are sold in smoke shops and convenience stores under names like ‘synthetic marijuana,’ ‘Spice,’ ‘K2,’ or ‘herbal incense,’ are designer drugs dissolved in solvent, applied to plant material, and smoked. These psychoactive drugs can have a significant effect on mood or behavior, but also carry the risk of unpredictable toxicity. The growing use of synthetic cannabinoid products is an emerging public health concern. The sixteen cases reported in this study developed kidney damage after smoking synthetic cannabinoid products. In seven of the cases, analyses of the products or blood or urine samples found a unique cannabinoid called XLR-11. These products are often sold as incense and labeled “Not for Human Consumption.” Despite the labeling, individuals use the products as an alternative to marijuana use.  There is a risk that some cannabinoid compounds may be toxic and the health effects may not be easily predictable because of what is still unknown about the products. However, it is important that clinicians, scientists, public health officials, and law enforcement are alerted about the emerging adverse health effects from synthetic drug use.”

Symptoms from the use of this latest version of synthetic marijuana include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth
  • Weakness
  • Cardiac Problems
  • Paralysis

We’ve written about Spice, K2, Cloud Nine, bath salts, and all other incarnations of these designer drugs before. They are enticing, especially to teens and young adults looking for a cheap, quick high.  Because these drugs are easily obtained at liquor stores and convenience marts, their often innocuous packaging makes them seem harmless or just “fun.”

 

For now, the active ingredient is unknown, but we know that it is highly dangerous. One of the most troublesome issues regarding synthetic marijuana is the ever-changing ingredients: As soon as one ingredient is banned, it morphs into something new, creating a maelstrom of issues for law enforcement, medical professionals, and the CDC. Usually new synthetic marijuana is discovered because of an increase in ER visits. This stuff is lethal. What looks like a cheap, easy high is more often a fast-track ride to the hospital. It’s not worth it.

 

Categories
Adolescence Communication Prevention Safety

Teens: For Your Safety, Don’t Text and Drive

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Don’t text and drive!” Your parents say it, your teachers say it, the billboards say it, and even some of your friends say it. But you still do it. I’d ask why, but there’s really no logical explanation for it. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t occasionally participate in texting and driving, even though I know it’s dangerous. It’s not a good idea—for any of us. Nothing is so important it can’t wait until you can pull over or until you reach your destination. The fines alone for texting and driving should be enough of a deterrent, right?!

U.S. government research shows “more teen drivers are buckling up and not driving drunk than in years past,” but texting and driving is “posing a new threat.” In fact, according to a research team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “One in three high school students said they had texted or emailed while driving during the past month.” While the decline in drunk driving incidents and the increase in buckle-ups is wonderful news, the texting issue is a deadly problem.

Texting is the primary means of communication for teens: Teens typically send upwards of 100 texts a day. I’ve seen teenagers text each other in the same room! It’s clear that there’s a whole world of communication happening via technology, some good, and in the case of texting and driving, some deadly.  According to Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center in Washington, “A lot of teens say ‘Well, if the car’s not moving and I’m at a stoplight or I’m stuck in traffic, that’s OK.'” Lenhart goes on to say, “Other teens acknowledge they know it’s not safe, but think it is safer if they hold the phone up so they can see the road and text at the same time.” Neither one of these practices is safe.

It’s hopeful that this current generation of teens is exhibiting safer driving behaviors. There are less incidents of drunk driving (from 17% in 1997 to 8% in 2011) and a 44% drop in car crashes amongst teens. This says a lot about kids making healthier choices. I’m hoping to see a positive shift in the choice to text and drive. This is a fad that really needs a short shelf-life.