Monthly Archives: March 2014

Stopping suicide, by Nora McAdams

Please click on the infographic below, entitled Stopping Suicide

Compiled by Nora McAdams

A notice to my readers:  From now on, I will no longer be blogging every day but will post three blogs per week on the following days; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.



Many suicides might be prevented


treesMore than three quarters of people who died by suicide visited a healthcare provider the year before their death, yet fewer than half received a mental health diagnosis, researchers reported February 25, in the online Journal of General Internal medicine.

‘Many suicides might be prevented if more primary care doctors and specialists receive and use training to identify and treat patients most at risk,’ said Brian K. Ahmedani, PhD, assistant scientist in the center for Health Policy and Health Services Research at the Henry Ford Health Systems, Detroit.

Dr. Ahmedani and his colleagus evaluated the medical records of 5,894 people who had health insurance and died by suicide in eight states btween 2000 and 2010. 83% visited a health care center in the year before they took their lives. However, only 45% were identified as having a mental health condition.

When researchers looked solely at suicide victims who sought healthcare in the four weeks before their death, they found that a mental health diagnosis was made in only 24% of these cases.

Journalists, movie directors and tv producers, please stop perpetuating that awful stigma

As various family members spoke at the support group about their experiences of living with a mental illness, I discovered that we had all been through similar experiences with professionals both in the hospital and out. At last, I had found a place where I could talk to someone who understood what I was feeling; people who really understood because they had been there. I think that the seed to start a self-help support group were sown then. I heard about people who had managed to come to terms with their loved ones’ illness and about others who blundered along, exhausted and afraid, waiting for miracles, always on the verge of tears or a depression. My late husband was one of the four or five men present.

‘Where are your husbands he asked? The marriage vows in sickness and in health mean that one must be there to support one’s wife, but also any children the couple might have, whether they are ill or not.’

Yes, husbands need to share the burden. Each of us mourned a young person whose life had changed drastically. Shock, loss, grief, fear, confusion ambivalence, guilt, helplessness, despair and sadness were common reactions.

‘I can’t handle the stigma and discrimination,’ I wailed. ‘You all know that mental illness attracts less empathy and far more discrimination than other illnesses.’ I had come to hate the words crazy, schizo, nuts, wacko and demented, the terms that only served to keep the stigma going.

I knew that the act of reducing stigma required widespread community education as well as the willingness to challenge others when discrimination occurred in my presence. I knew that journalists needed access to accurate up to date information to ensure that their reporting would not unintentionally reinforce negative stereotypes. But, journalists all over the world, use terms that serve to perpetuate the awful stigma associated with mental illness.

To follow this advice or NOT to follow it – THAT is another question

To follow the advice or NOT to follow it, now THAT is the question.

question mark

How could I avoid regretting all my hopes and dreams which had become so unrealistic?’ was the question I asked over and  over again at the support group for parents of mentally ill children that I was attending; and here is some of the advice given me. All I had to do was to decide whether to follow it or not.

‘Don’t wait for your child to fulfill your former expectations. Alter them. Learn to forge new dreams,’ someone told me.

I learned one of life’s hardest lessons. It was not what happened to me that counted, but what I did about it.

The social worker running the group told us to get rid of any guilt that we might have felt because nobody could cause a mental illness no matter what they did. Nobody could cause schizophrenia. I kept repeating;  

N O B O D Y  C O U L D  C A U S E  S C H I Z O P H R E N I A

No matter how hard anyone tried, nobody could cause schizophrenia.

Nobody could cause schizophrenia.

‘Take one day at a time,’ was one of the most helpful of all the tips given so freely.







At last I found a place where I could talk to people who understood what I was saying and feeling. It surprised me to hear that some parents had come to terms with the illnesses of their loved ones. Others blundered along exhausted and afraid, waiting for miracles, always on the verge of tears or a depression.

My husband was one of four men present. ‘Where are your husbands?’ he asked the assembled group. And this is what we heard.

‘My husband cannot cope with schizophrenia,’ a defeated-looking woman said. ‘He works nights.’

‘My husband goes to his parents’ house after work every day,’ said another.

‘My husband has a girlfriend,’ a said woman said, crying softly. ‘He can’t bear coming home to mental illness day after day.’

We heard about other husbands who had fled, blaming the termination of their marriages on the tension generated by mental illness in the family.

Each of us mourned a young person whose life had changed drastically. Shock, loss, grief, fear, confusion, ambivalence, guilt, helplessness, despair and sadness were common reactions. I learned from that group that my problems in coping with my feelings came from doing so without the added comfort of extended family and close friends. Maybe I had failed to let them in when they had tried to break through the barrier I had constructed around myself.