Suicide Has Become an Epidemic

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When Thomas Joiner was 25 years old, his father—whose name was also Thomas Joiner and who could do anything—disappeared from the family’s home. At the time, Joiner was a graduate student at the University of Texas, studying clinical psychology. His focus was depression, and it was obvious to him that his father was depressed. Six weeks earlier, on a family trip to the Georgia coast, the gregarious 56-year-old—the kind of guy who was forever talking and laughing and bending people his way—was sullen and withdrawn, spending days in bed, not sick or hungover, not really sleeping.

Joiner knew enough not to worry. He knew that the desire for death—the easy way out, the only relief—was a symptom of depression, and although at least 2 percent of those diagnosed make suicide their final chart line, his father didn’t match the suicidal types he had learned about in school. He wasn’t weak or impulsive. He wasn’t a brittle person with bad genes and big problems. Suicide was understood to be for losers, basically, the exact opposite of men like Thomas Joiner Sr.—a successful businessman, a former Marine, tough even by Southern standards.

But Dad had left an unmade bed in a spare room, and an empty spot where his van usually went. By nightfall he hadn’t been heard from, and the following morning Joiner’s mother called him at school. The police had found the van. It was parked in an office lot about a mile from the house, the engine cold. Inside, in the back, the police found Joiner’s father dead, covered in blood. He had been stabbed through the heart.

The investigators found slash marks on his father’s wrists and a note on a yellow sticky pad by the driver’s seat. “Is this the answer?” it read, in his father’s shaky scrawl. They ruled it a suicide, death by “puncture wound,” an impossibly grisly way to go, which made it all the more difficult for Joiner to understand. This didn’t seem like the easy way out.

Back home for the funeral, Joiner’s pain and confusion were compounded by ancient taboos. For centuries suicide was considered an act against God, a violation of law, and a stain on the community. He overheard one relative advise another to call it a heart attack. His girlfriend fretted about his tainted DNA. Even some of his peers and professors—highly trained, doctoral-level clinicians—failed to offer a simple “my condolences.” It was as though the Joiner family had failed dear old Dad, killed him somehow, just as surely as if they had stabbed him themselves. To Joiner, however, the only real failing was from his field, which clearly had a shaky understanding of suicide.

The entire article is a big read, but definately worth it! Check it out here on Newsweek

 

 

Can I Use My Phone During a Funeral?

A recent study by Co-operative Funeralcare in the UK under 2,000 people over 18 who had attended a funeral, found that funerals considered to be the most inappropriate function where a mobile phone may be used. Second and third were weddings and while driving. However one in six people actually do use their phone during a funeral anyway. Apparently even the Duchess of York was caught texting while attending Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

 The study also showed that 40 percent of the respondents would not turn off their phone, albeit that a third of that sets their phone to silent. Most however claim they have left their phone on inadvertently, much like people forget to switch off while on a plane. One in six people also said they had seen people (frantically and embarrassed) trying to switch off their phone once it rang.

 In a different study, under funeral directors, it became apparent that one in five funerals gets interrupted by a mobile phone ringing. One ironic anecdote said the ringtone was “If You Are Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands”.David Collingwood, operations director of Co-operative Funeralcare, said the use of mobiles had “become commonplace at events which would have been considered unthinkable only a few years ago. We are witnessing a cultural shift in society’s stance on funeral etiquette “.

 

It seems like we have double standards when it comes to using our phones at seemingly inappropriate moments and functions.

Source: The Guardian

Don’t Let Popularity Set Your Standard

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We are in the midst of a “narcissism epidemic,” concluded psychologists Jean M. Twnege and W. Keith Campbell in their 2009 book. One study they describe showed that among a group of 37,000 college students, narcissistic personality traits rose just as quickly as obesity from the 1980s to the present. Fortunately for narcissists, the continued explosion of social networking has provided them with productivity tools to continually expand their reach — the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, and occasionally Google Plus.

”Those who had high scores on grandiose exhibitionism tended to amass more friends on Facebook.”

Evidence for the rise in narcissism continues to come up in research and news. A study by psychologist Dr. Nathan DeWall and his team found “a statistically significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music” since the 1980s. Shawn Bergman, an assistant professor of organizational psychology at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina notes that “narcissism levels among millennials are higher than previous generations.”

Researchers at Western Illinois University measured two socially disruptive aspects of narcissistic personalities — grandiose exhibitionism and entitlement/exploitativeness. Those who had high scores on grandiose exhibitionism tended to amass more friends on Facebook. Buffardi and Campbell found a high correlation between Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) scores and Facebook activity. Researchers were able to identify those with high NPI scores by studying their Facebook pages.

Elias Aboujaoude, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford, notes that our ability tailor the Internet experience to our every need is making us more narcissistic. He observes, “This shift from e- to i- in prefixing Internet URLs and naming electronic gadgets and apps parallels the rise of the self-absorbed online Narcissus.” He goes on to state that, “As we get accustomed to having even our most minor needs … accommodated to this degree, we are growing more needy and more entitled. In other words, more narcissistic.”

 

Read the entire article on The Atlantic

A Case for Pessimism

Optimism can be healthy. But assuming the worst is over also means you won’t be prepared.

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In 2006, a tornado struck the town of Parkersburg, Iowa. The devastation wreaked by the category F2 twister was sizable: The 150 mph winds left a path of destruction four and a half miles long and a third of a mile across. Businesses in the small city suffered $10 million in damages; private residences and the state college, tens of millions. The residents of Parkersburg were resilient: they rebuilt and moved on. In the process, however, they lost the ability to accurately assess their risk of experiencing another disaster. They were optimistic to a fault.

A few weeks back, Emily Esfahani Smith made a convincing case for the health benefits of optimism. More specifically, she reviewed recent research on resilience — the ability to overcome trauma or tragedy. According to Smith, having a positive outlook is the most powerful predictor of resilience; optimism, thus, actively creates positive outcomes. She explains:

 

When your mind starts soaring, you notice more and more positive things. This unleashes an upward spiral of positive emotions that opens people up to new ways of thinking and seeing the world — to new ways forward. This is yet another reason why positive people are resilient. They see opportunities that negative people don’t. Negativity, for adaptive reasons, puts you in defense mode, narrows your field of vision, and shuts you off to new possibilities since they’re seen as risks.

 

I’m an optimist and would never argue against the importance of being able to move on and thrive after negative life events. But for the sake of balance it’s worth taking one thing into consideration: While these open-minded individuals are looking ever-forward toward the horizon, that might mean failing to see — and thus failing to prepare for — the possibility of stumbling blocks still to come.

Read the entire article on the Atlantic