Tag Archives: World Health Organization

Suicide Awareness: 40 seconds of action

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Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and in the United States this is National Suicide Awareness Month.

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Mental disorders and substance abuse are often major risk factors, especially in combination with one another.

While some suicide attempts are impulsive, a response to major stressors in life, other attempts are well-planned, frequently as a result of depression, with sometimes dramatic staging involved.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated the annual suicide rate as 10.6 per 100,000 people worldwide as of 2016 numbers. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with approximately 123 Americans committing suicide daily.

Look at your watch, your device, your nearest clock. In the next 12 minutes, someone in the USA will commit suicide. That is the average. It takes the lives of nearly 45,000 Americans each year.

This year, the WHO has launched a “40 seconds of action” campaign in order to both raise awareness of the scale of suicide across the globe and to highlight the role each of us can play in order to help prevent it.

That 40 seconds figure was arrived at due to the fact that someone around the world loses their life to suicide an average of every 40 seconds.

While suicidal thoughts affect individuals of every age, race and sex, it is the second-highest cause of death in the world for young people aged 15-24. The CDC estimates that 20-25% of Americans age 18+ are affected by depression in any given year.

Depression and suicide also do not care about your or your family’s celebrity status. A decade after her 18-year-old son, Michael Blosil, committed suicide by jumping from the balcony of his eighth-floor Los Angeles apartment, Marie Osmond still struggles with the loss.

You know, I don’t think you’re ever through it,Osmond said during a recent interview on CBS Sunday Morning.

I think God gives you respites. And then all of the sudden it will hit you like the day it did. The ripple effect is so huge, what you leave behind.

We often think of police officers as some of the strongest among us. On an almost daily basis, officers experience the worst that can happen to people. Victims of crime and accidents, even direct threats or attacks on themselves. You need to be strong to handle that day-in, day-out mental, emotional and physical grind.

But as I learned both in nearly thirty years of my own law enforcement experience and specifically in teaching a course on law enforcement suicide for a couple of years as a Sergeant with the Philadelphia Police Department’s Training Bureau, police officers are far from immune.

Between 2003-2013, there were 17 Philadelphia officers who committed suicide. The numbers fluctuate each year, but continue to show that, on average, one or two Philly cops kill themselves each year. PTSD is a primary factor in the vast majority, perhaps in all, of these losses.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has estimated that twice as many law enforcement officers take their own lives each year as die in duty-related assaults or traffic accidents. For each successful suicide by a police officer, there are up to 25 attempts, according to an IACP report on the topic.

Here are some of the suggestions the WHO makes for all of us to consider as part of their “40 seconds” program:

Are you struggling yourself with thoughts of suicide? Take just 40 seconds to “kickstart a conversation” with someone you love and/or trust. Tell them about how you are feeling and what you are considering.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, take 40 seconds to start a conversation with them. Don’t text. Don’t send an IM or slide into their DM’s. Don’t drop them an email.

Call them. Listen to their voice. Let them hear your voice, the genuine love, compassion, and concern you have for them. In the first 40 seconds of the phone call, directly let them know you were thinking of them, and ask them how they are doing. Then…listen.

The WHO also recommends that those working in media take the time to highlight the “every 40 seconds” statistic, and point those who may be struggling to resources that can help. I will include many good ones at the end of this piece.

If you work in the arts, or have a platform for communicating (such as me with this website), take the time to communicate the “40 seconds” statistics and message.

You can at least take 40 seconds to put together an email directed at your local, state and national political leaders, imploring them to prioritize mental health and suicide awareness and prevention resources.

If you know someone, or are someone, who has made a prior suicide attempt, you should be aware that it is a major risk factor for a future suicide. Be sure to stay in touch with loved ones, and to reach out. Seek help. Be help.

All of us can at least do our small part to improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a legitimate health problem, both here in America and around the world. For instance, share a “meme” or other graphic found on the internet in your social media feed today.

We can all improve our own knowledge on the topic, help reduce the stigma associated with suicide attempts, and perhaps most importantly to let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

The WHO considers that suicides are preventable. It just takes people who care. Care enough about yourself to reach out. Care enough about struggling loved ones to get and stay involved in their lives.

With as little as 40 seconds of action from all of us, we can begin to lower those averages. We can begin to make a real difference. We can begin to help save lives, perhaps our own, perhaps those of a loved one. Just 40 seconds.

RESOURCES

Are your kids – or even you – becoming a screen addict?

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Are you, or is someone you care about, an addict?

 
I’m not talking here about an addiction to some substance. Illicit drugs, prescription pain killers, alcohol.
 
I’m talking about something that many people in 21st century America, certainly among the younger generations, take part in as a daily activity – video gaming.
 
Jacob Passey with the New York Post has reported that at some point later this year the World Health Organization will come out with their 11th update to the International Classification of Diseases.
 
The ICD is a well-respected and referenced guidebook which describes a variety of diseases. It further notes causes, symptoms, and ramifications.
 
The Post reports that an early draft includes “Gaming Disorder”, essentially an addiction to video gaming. The disorder includes a behavior pattern which “is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
 
In a look into the possibility of gaming addictions back in 2016, CNN interviewed Iowa State University psychologist Douglas Gentile. He stated: The first study I began in 1999, to basically try to show video game addiction isn’t a real thing, and it turns out I was wrong!
 
Gentile went on to further describe the results of his research as follows:
Even though different researchers across the world may define the problem somewhat differently, or ask different questions in different countries with differently aged kids, we find almost the same results across the world. The estimates perhaps vary somewhat, but they all seem to come out somewhere between about 4 and 10 percent: that’s the amount of gamers I would classify as addicted.
 
The Post column stated that the American Psychiatric Association had considered the disorder for DSM-5, which was released five years ago. 
 
However, that latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders did not include anything in regards to an Internet or gaming disorder, stating that more research was needed before formal inclusion.
 
It’s not just kids who are developing potentially harmful habits where the modern information, communication, and entertainment tech is concerned. A piece for MarketWatch by Quentin Fottrell in December 2016 stated that “parents with tweens and teens (children aged eight to 18 years) spend over nine hours with screen media each day.
 
That may sound like a lot of hours. Surely you don’t spend that amount of time in front of a screen? But consider your usage. 

Many spend time at work in front of a computer screen. Then add in time spent watching television. Factor in social networking on a laptop, home PC, and your phone. And there are parents also involved in video gaming. It all adds up.
 
Parents need to be concerned about the amount of time that their children spend watching television, on their phones with social media and other activities, and engaged with Internet gaming. Get them involved in activities outside the home, where they actually must learn to interact in person with peers and adults.

Of course, being a good example yourself goes a long way towards getting kids to buy in to your parenting. Make sure that you are spending time with other adults outside the home. And perhaps more importantly, that you are spending time with your family in both indoor and outdoor non-screen activities.
 
I’m not trying to tell anyone to unplug and give up gaming, or social media, or watching television. It was the ancient Roman playwright known as Terence who first wrote “moderation in all things.” Some 2,000 years later, that saying applies well once again to the amount of time we spend in front of a screen.

AIDS: Serious problem requiring serious solution

In July of 2008, the World Health Organization in conjunction with the United Nations released a report which stated that approximately 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS.

With a world population of over 6 billion people, that means the percentage of human beings with this illness is about .0055 of the total world population.

In other words, while we may be talking about a lot of people, we are not talking about a significant number. Better than 99% of the people on earth do not have this illness, and there is a reason for that.

The reason is that it is spread in its greatest numbers by far through irresponsible sexual practices, and the greatest number of those by far in the advanced world come through homosexual practices.

By far the highest numbers of AIDS cases in the world can be seen in sub-Saharan Africa, that area of Africa below the Sahara desert, where approximately 2/3 of all the cases on earth can be found. It is highly likely that this area of the world is where the AIDS virus first found its way into the human population.

There are serious problems in this part of the world largely attributable to poverty and a lack of education, which themselves are perpetuated by the autocratic and despotic governments.

At the individual and familial level the results are involving shortcomings in personal hygiene and the overall lack of cleanliness, combined with the social problems of acceptance of multiple sexual partners at any one time.

In short, AIDS came out of Africa and remains at its strongest there, and around the rest of the world it has spread largely due to irresponsible and deviant sexual practices. Anyone who tells you anything else is simply perpetrating a fraud on you.

Is it possible to get the AIDS virus from a bad blood transfusion or some freak exchange of bodily fluids? Sure, but that possibility is extremely low so as to not be nothing more than a smoke-screen when discussing the best ways to attack the spread of AIDS and to begin putting it into reverse.

This past week, Pope Benedict visited the African continent in a tremendously successful mission to his flock. Catholicism and an acceptance of Jesus Christ in general is growing on the Dark Continent, and the Pope went to personally deliver Christ’s message of love to these people knowing that Christianity can inspire hope there as it has the world over.

On the flight to Africa, the Pope was asked about the AIDS problem and specifically the Church’s position that condoms are not the answer. There are many around the world who scoff at this assertion, and who truly believe that condoms save lives. These people either do not understand the position of the Church on this matter, or do not care.

The Pope reiterated his position on the flight, saying that distributing condoms was “not the answer to the problem of AIDS“, and that instead the best strategy is the Church’s efforts to promote “sexual responsibility through abstinence and monogamy.” Kudos to the Holy Father for so succinctly expressing simple, basic truth.

The usual array of European nations and homosexual groups fired back at the Pope, but the truth is that the world needs to follow this simple, straightforward, moral message. A message that will, if followed, in fact work as a realistic solution.

Let’s try on this hypothetical, just for arguments sake. Every homosexual male on earth stops having sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex. Every human being on earth who is diagnosed with the AIDS virus stops having sex completely.

Finally, every human being on earth decides to commit to a normal, healthy, monogamist relationship for child-bearing and family-building purposes, if in fact they decide to have any sexual relationship at all.

Now pardon me if I haven’t run the numbers through the WHO computers, or past some expert from the U.N., or especially past the gay leadership, but my bet is that AIDS cases would eventually plummet to the point where the illness was almost a non-factor.

The simple fact is that the Pope is correct. The answer to AIDS is not in keeping people perpetuating the same old practices that helped spread the illness to begin with, but in educating them in the direction that God has set for them to a higher calling.

Far too many of us who are not involved in an AIDS-related lifestyle fall into habits or even just the occasional incident that is immoral. If we all simply would allow ourselves to understand the beauty of the true meaning of sex, its true importance, its sacred role in our lives, then not only would the world be a better place, but it would be a more AIDS-free place.

Sex was meant by God to take place in a loving and committed relationship between married persons for the purposes of procreating and sustaining a loving familial relationship between the couple. That is a lesson that it has taken me personally a long time and a few hard times to learn. But it is one that the entire world needs to learn in order to truly overcome the AIDS virus.

Someone once said that serious problems require serious solutions. The band aid of a condom is no solution at all. Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church’s message of abstinence and monogamy is just that serious solution that is needed.

American Health System Not the Real Sicko

In the summer of 2007, ultra-liberal propagandist Michael Moore released his documentary film titled ‘Sicko’, which was intended to compare the U.S. health care system to other nations and to tell HMO horror stories. Moore’s basic premise was that the American system was somehow broken, and that it just could not compare with the health care received in places such as communist Cuba. What Moore and his fellow liberal idealogues would have you believe is that if only the United States would adopt a national health care system such as the one implemented in Canada, and would guarantee everyone free health care, all would be well with the world. So many more regular folks would be healthy and whole, not just the wealthy patrons of the current health care model. Of course Moore weighs down his films with so many outright lies and distortions of truth that the majority of thinking Americans have come to recognize them for the far left, neo-socialism smear pieces that they are in actuality, and have stayed away from the theatres in droves. As Cato Institute medical expert Dr. Michael D. Tanner reports in the article “The Doctor Is In” from the July 2008 issue of Townhall magazine: “Moore cites a 2000 World Health Organization study that ranks the U.S. health care system as 37th in the world.” Tanner goes on to explain that the W.H.O. measured highly subjective items such as ‘fairness’, ‘not having a sufficiently progressive tax system’, ‘tobacco control’, ‘not providing all citizens health insurance’, and not enough ‘social welfare’ programs. Bottom line, the W.H.O. takes a political position, not a medical one, in ranking the U.S. so low, playing right into Moore’s socialist visions. When the W.H.O. does finally talk of the actual medical care here in the U.S., they rank us at the top for the truly important areas of ‘provider choice’, ‘dignity’, ‘autonomy’, ‘confidentiality’, and perhaps most importantly ‘timely care’. You see, American health care is actually so good that large numbers of foreigners come here every year for their treatments, drugs, and surgeries. Want a perfect example? Belinda Stronach, a member of the Canadian Parliament, developed breast cancer and, as Tanner reported: “abandoned her country’s national health care system“, instead seeking treatment at a California hospital. Stronach could have received her treatment right there in Canada, but would have had to go through the red tape, referals, and waiting lists that the rest of her countrymen have to endure. But she didn’t have time to wait, since over 800,000 Canadians are currently on waiting lists for various procedures, suffering what their highest court calls ‘chronic pain’ which many will endure until they die while still waiting their place on the lists to be reached. In his film, Moore further makes a point that Cuban babies have low infant mortality rates when compared with American babies, and yet fails to point out that Cuba has one of the world’s highest abortion rates, meaning that many babies with potential health problems are never brought to term in the first place. And here in the U.S. our technology is so far advanced that low birth-weight babies who are automatically dead in Cuba can be born alive here. Some will make it, some will not, and those that do not contribute mightily to our infant mortality rate. As I said, in Cuba none of these types of babies would make it home alive. Whether it be cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, or even AIDS, patients of any disease, illness, or condition have a far better chance at survival and cure when treated at American health facilities under the current U.S. health care system. As long as our system continues to be free of national restrictions and buerocratic red tape, this will continue to be the case. Do we have problems? Sure, but a deficit in the quality of care here is not one of them. We need to figure out a way to keep prescription drugs at the lowest possible prices. But the way to reach that goal is not to restrict or regulate drug companies, but instead ensure they have incentives to lower those prices and keep them affordable. How we balance the need for greater care for some of our citizens against the need to maintain the availablity of the best health care in the world is one question. How we balance the desire to see our poorest citizens receive basic health care against the need to keep the incentives high for our best medical facilities to research and develop the best treatments into the future is another question. There are many questions. But the answer is not to scrap the system that we have in favor of some ‘national’ or ‘universal’ health care system. None of us need that nightmare of long lines, long waits, long periods of pain, and shorter lives.