Revisiting Hemingway’s homes

This past summer my husband and I visited Michigan for the first time and stayed in a charming little town, Boyne City.

While visiting friends there, we learned that Ernest Hemingway’s family owned a cottage on near-by Walloon Lake. Unlike his home in Key West Florida, the Michigan property is a private home and in recent years was purchased and renovated into a beautiful modern structure which still preserves the spirit of the original home, where Ernest’s mother Grace lived. Here is a link to an article about the new house with photos that show how beautifully the new owner has honored the Hemingway family.

New Home on Walloon Lake

Working with local builders, the new owners “set out to modernize the cottage while making every attempt to take it back visually to the early 20th century, when Grace Hemingway summered here—and her son Ernest would row over from Windemere, the family cottage across Walloon Lake to work on the farm.

For recreation, he’d hike down Sumner Road to the tiny hamlet of Horton Bay where he became friends with the Dilworth family. Hemingway readers will remember the Dilworths from the Nick Adams stories that Hemingway penned in Paris where he and his new wife, Hadley, moved after their wedding in Horton Bay. And after they’d spent their first night as newlyweds in Grace Cottage. ” (from the article by Lissa Edwards)

a marina on Walloon Lake

The discovery was interesting none the less, and we understand why his family enjoyed living in the area. The towns are old and historic, the architecture quaint , the landscaping beautifully tended, and the lakes and boats beckon even land lubbers like us. Here are a few photos from this recent trip, followed by a past post where I explain what I learned from visiting Hemingway’s Key West home.

Hemingway’s study- chaos and creativity

Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his popular novels, including To Have and Have Not, in the study of his Key West Florida home.

The house, on the National Register of Historic Places, has been preserved as it was when he and his wife Pauline lived there and is open to visitors, like myself, when I visited there a couple of years ago.

the study of Ernest Hemingway, with a cat sleeping on the floor

Chaos

This entire house, and especially the narrative of his life (as related to us by our verbose tour guide) is itself a study of a man whose life and career was largely shaped by mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway displayed mood swings and abused drugs and alcohol. Despite numerous psychiatric hospital stays where he was treated with ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, he struggled with chronic depression.

He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head in 1961.

CATWALK

Creativity

While dealing with mental illness and traumatic brain injuries, he continued to write prolifically and successfully, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954 for The Old Man and the Sea.

photos of Ernest Hemingway displayed at his Key West home

He wrote acclaimed novels, several of which became major movies. His personal life was not so successful; three of his four marriages ended in divorce.

Ernest Hemingway’s novels and movies 

(an affiliate link, if you use it, at no additional cost, this blog will earn funding.)

The challenge of mental illness

Mental illness often runs in families. Ernest’s father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, a gynecologist, suffered from manic-depression and died by suicide.  Ernest and his siblings likely inherited it from their father.

2016-06-16 10.05.16

Sadly, it did not end with him. His granddaughter, Margaux Hemingway, a fashion model and actress, dealt with depression, alcoholism, and bulimia.

She died from an apparent intentional drug overdose at age 42.

Her sister Mariel reflected on her family’s troubled history in

Finding My Balance 

Finding My Balance

“A lonely life”

SOLITARYWRITER

Ernest Hemingway could not attend the ceremony to receive his Nobel Prize. He wrote a short speech which was read by John C. Cabot, the Ambassador to Sweden. In that speech he wrote, 

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

HEMINGWAY'S STUDY-CHAOS AND CREATIVITY

Hemingway’s cats

At least 40 to 50 cats live on the grounds of the Hemingway House;  many of them are descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cats. They live peaceful, serene lives, far different from the people who lived there long ago.

What you should know about suicide from the NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

  • Suicide is the tenth most common cause of death in the United States.
  • People may consider suicide when they are hopeless and can’t see any other solution to their problems.
  • Suicide may occur with  serious depression, alcohol or substance abuse, or a major stressful event.
  • People who have the highest risk of suicide are white men.
  • Women  and teens report more suicide attempts.
  • Therapy and medicines can help most people who have suicidal thoughts. Treating mental illnesses and substance abuse can reduce the risk of suicide.
  • If someone talks about suicide, you should take it seriously.
  • Urge them to get help from their doctor or the emergency room, or call the

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

1-800-273-TALK (8255).

It is available 24/7.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Welby says this about managing bipolar disorder(a form of chronic depression).

“A key to managing bipolar disorder is to recognize early relapse warning signs. Medication will minimize, but not eliminate, mood swings for many people coping with bipolar disorder. “

On her blog she offers offers these Keys to Coping with Bipolar Disorder

Understanding mental illness

I hope you will use the following links to resources to help you, your family, or anyone you know who does or may suffer from mental illness. There is help and most importantly, there is hope.

Warning signs of mental illness

“Major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely appear “out of the blue.” Most often family, friends, teachers or individuals themselves begin to recognize small changes or a feeling that “something is not quite right” about their thinking, feelings or behavior before one of these illnesses appears in its full-blown form.”

Technology and the future of mental health treatment

“Excitement about the huge range of opportunities has led to a burst of app development. There are thousands of mental health apps available in iTunes and Android app stores, and the number is growing every year. However, this new technology frontier includes a lot of uncertainty. There is very little industry regulation and very little information on app effectiveness, which can lead consumers to wonder which apps they should trust.” (affiliate link used)

Suicide prevention

“The most important thing to remember about suicidal thoughts is that they are symptoms of a treatable illness associated with fluctuations in the body’s and brain’s chemistry. They are not character flaws or signs of personal weakness, nor are they conditions that will just go away on their own. “

sharing the HEART of health

Thanks for joining me to tour the unique home of Ernest Hemingway, using photos I took myself.

Please consider helping support this blog by using my affiliates. You’ll find links in the side bars, on the home page, and on the resource page.

Thank you for following  and sharing Watercress Words.

always exploring the HEART of health ,  Dr. Aletha 

man and woman with Key West visitor sign
My husband and I upon arriving in Key West, Florida the farthest south city in the U.S.A.

Hemingway’s study- chaos and creativity

This entire house, and especially the narrative of his life (as related to us by our verbose tour guide) is itself a study of a man whose life and career was largely shaped by mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his popular novels, including To Have and Have Not, in the study of his Key West Florida home.

The house, on the National Register of Historic Places, has been preserved as it was when he and his wife Pauline lived there and is open to visitors, like myself, when I visited there a couple of years ago.

the study of Ernest Hemingway, with a cat sleeping on the floor

Chaos

This entire house, and especially the narrative of his life (as related to us by our verbose tour guide) is itself a study of a man whose life and career was largely shaped by mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway displayed mood swings and abused drugs and alcohol. Despite numerous psychiatric hospital stays where he was treated with ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, he struggled with chronic depression.

He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head in 1961.

CATWALK

Creativity

While dealing with mental illness and traumatic brain injuries, he continued to write prolifically and successfully, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954 for The Old Man and the Sea.

photos of Ernest Hemingway displayed at his Key West home

He wrote acclaimed novels, several of which became major movies. His personal life was not so successful; three of his four marriages ended in divorce.

Ernest Hemingway’s novels and movies 

(an affiliate link, if you use it, at no additional cost, this blog will earn funding.)

The challenge of mental illness

Mental illness often runs in families. Ernest’s father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, a gynecologist, suffered from manic-depression and died by suicide.  Ernest and his siblings likely inherited it from their father.

2016-06-16 10.05.16

Sadly, it did not end with him. His granddaughter, Margaux Hemingway, a fashion model and actress, dealt with depression, alcoholism, and bulimia.

She died from an apparent intentional drug overdose at age 42.

Her sister Mariel reflected on her family’s troubled history in

Finding My Balance 

Finding My Balance

 

 

 

“A lonely life”

Ernest Hemingway could not attend the ceremony to receive his Nobel Prize. He wrote a short speech which was read by John C. Cabot, the Ambassador to Sweden. In that speech he wrote, SOLITARYWRITER

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

HEMINGWAY'S STUDY-CHAOS AND CREATIVITY

Hemingway’s cats

At least 40 to 50 cats live on the grounds of the Hemingway House;  many of them are descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cats. They live peaceful, serene lives, far different from the people who lived there long ago.

What you should know about suicide from the NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

  • Suicide is the tenth most common cause of death in the United States.
  • People may consider suicide when they are hopeless and can’t see any other solution to their problems.
  • Suicide may occur with  serious depression, alcohol or substance abuse, or a major stressful event.
  • People who have the highest risk of suicide are white men.
  • Women  and teens report more suicide attempts.
  • Therapy and medicines can help most people who have suicidal thoughts. Treating mental illnesses and substance abuse can reduce the risk of suicide.
  • If someone talks about suicide, you should take it seriously.
  • Urge them to get help from their doctor or the emergency room, or call the

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

1-800-273-TALK (8255).

It is available 24/7.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Welby says this about managing bipolar disorder(a form of chronic depression).

“A key to managing bipolar disorder is to recognize early relapse warning signs. Medication will minimize, but not eliminate, mood swings for many people coping with bipolar disorder. “

On her blog she offers offers these Keys to Coping with Bipolar Disorder

Understanding mental illness

I hope you will use the following links to resources to help you, your family, or anyone you know who does or may suffer from mental illness. There is help and most importantly, there is hope.

Warning signs of mental illness

“Major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely appear “out of the blue.” Most often family, friends, teachers or individuals themselves begin to recognize small changes or a feeling that “something is not quite right” about their thinking, feelings or behavior before one of these illnesses appears in its full-blown form.”

Technology and the future of mental health treatment

“Excitement about the huge range of opportunities has led to a burst of app development. There are thousands of mental health apps available in iTunes and Android app stores, and the number is growing every year. However, this new technology frontier includes a lot of uncertainty. There is very little industry regulation and very little information on app effectiveness, which can lead consumers to wonder which apps they should trust.” (affiliate link used)

Suicide prevention

“The most important thing to remember about suicidal thoughts is that they are symptoms of a treatable illness associated with fluctuations in the body’s and brain’s chemistry. They are not character flaws or signs of personal weakness, nor are they conditions that will just go away on their own. “

Thanks for joining me to tour the unique home of Ernest Hemingway, using photos I took myself.

Please consider helping support this blog by using my affiliates. You’ll find links in the side bars, on the home page, and on the resource page.

Thank you for following  and sharing Watercress Words.

always exploring the HEART of health ,  Dr. Aletha 

man and woman with Key West visitor sign
My husband and I upon arriving in Key West, Florida the farthest south city in the U.S.A.

7 underused medications

Here are 7 medications we should use more often

This week I discuss 7 groups of medications that are underused. ( A previous post discussed 7 that are overused. ) Both of these posts contain a lot of information and several links; you may want to bookmark to review later. (This post also has affiliate links, which when used to make a purchase, help fund this blog. )

I call these drugs underused.  However, I do not mean

  • That you should always take them
  • That you should start using them
  • That your doctor should prescribe them
  • That you should take them even  if your doctor recommends against them
  • That they are good or perfect drugs

We should think more about when, why and how to use these drugs.

By drugs and medications, I consider any substance we put into our bodies to treat or prevent a disease or symptom, whether prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC), synthetic or “natural”. I’m not considering foods nor any substance that is illegal or mostly recreational in this discussion.

I picked classes of drugs that I am familiar with as a family physician, excluding highly specialized medications like cancer chemotherapy, cardiovascular drugs, anti-rheumatics and neurological drugs.

I based my assessment on my experience as well as medical literature and the opinions of other physicians. As always, your best source of information about the right drugs for your conditions is your personal physician.

I easily came up with the list of 7 overused drugs but this list was harder. I tend to be a minimalist in using drugs, both in prescribing them for patients and in using medication myself. But once I started considering the issue, I realized there are helpful meds that can be better utilized.

No smoking sign
Smoking cessation meds are available and effective.

Smoking cessation medications

I suggest  reviewing 7 surprising reasons to be smoke free 

Many people use e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking cigarettes. But other smoking cessation aids are available and effective. There are several types of nicotine replacement products as well as non-nicotine pills which help with the craving for cigarettes. Patients sometimes complain about the cost of these products but if you are already paying for cigarettes, what’s the difference? And you may qualify to get them free through the smoking hot line www.quit.com.

Allergy medication

Many people suffer from seasonal or year round allergy symptoms-sneezing, itching, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes. Once you get the diagnosis confirmed, effective medications available without a prescription  can manage the symptoms.  The key is using them soon enough and consistently enough. Sometimes finding the right ones is trial and error. I see people give up too quickly.

Asthma control medications

In the last post I talked about the overuse of rescue inhalers. Persistent wheezing and shortness of breath indicate uncontrolled asthma that will not be completely controlled by using a rescue inhaler over and over.  You should check with your doctor as to if and  when it is wise to  start or stop an asthma maintenance medication.

The human respiratory system
Respiratory allergies and asthma involve the breathing tract from the nose all the way down to the lungs. (photo complimentary from Pixabay)

Migraine medication

Most people with “sinus headaches” have migraine, a complex disorder that involves more than a headache. While many sufferers get relief with OTC pain relievers, many do not. Opioid pain medication does not work well for migraine but there are other prescription options, mainly the triptan drugs. I find that many patients with migraine have never tried these, or the various preventive drugs available. It’s worth talking to your doctor about these options.

Psychotropic medications

While milder forms of depression and anxiety can be managed without drugs, the more severe forms often require medication to achieve remission. In cases where one’s personal life and work suffer due to a mental illness such as severe depression, mania, panic disorder, PTSD, and alcoholism,  medication may restore control and function. Unfortunately, many of these people quit medication once they feel better, and ultimately relapse.

Anti-viral medications

In my last post I told you we use too many antibiotics, drugs used for bacterial infections. We mistakenly use them for viral infections like colds and bronchitis even though they don’t help. We don’t have anti-viral drugs for colds, but we do have some for other viruses. You may already be familiar with the use of oseltamivir, Tamiflu, used both for prevention and treatment of influenza (flu). 

Here are 6 things you need to know to get through the flu season

Antiviral meds  are available for these infections- 

  • HIV-human immunodeficiency virus
  • HBV, HCV- hepatitis B and hepatitis C 
  • HSV, HZ – herpes simplex virus and herpes zoster (shingles).

For many of these, treatment needs to be started very soon after onset of symptoms, within a few days, for maximum effectiveness.

Supplements

This class made both lists. While there is little evidence that supplements in general are helpful, medical studies suggest some specific ones may be effective.  

Folic Acid, also known as folate a B vitamin (B9) . The USPSTF recommends folate intake for women who may become pregnant. Medical studies suggest that taking folic acid during pregnancy decreases the risk of neural tube defects such as anencephaly-impaired brain formation and spina bifida- spinal cord malformation. All women with childbearing potential should take 400 to 800 micrograms daily. Learn more at this link 

Fish oil lowers blood triglyceride (fats) levels. Triglycerides contribute to heart attack risk but we don’t know if lowering them with fish oil  decreases the risk. It is available as both OTC and prescription versions.

The herb ginkgo biloba improves mental and behavioral function in people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s patients. Results were similar to those for the prescription Alzheimer drugs.

Probiotics, such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces can prevent or limit diarrhea from antibiotics. They should be started within three days of starting  the antibiotics and continued for one week after.

St. John’s  Wort (Hypericum perforatum) shows effectiveness for treating mild to moderate depression.

This information is presented for your information only and should not be considered a recommendation for treatment or prevention of any condition.

Discuss the use of these medications with your personal physician if you think they may be helpful for you. 

Please follow this blog for future discussion of non-drug treatments for several common conditions, including allergies, colds, migraine, insomnia, pain, depression, and anxiety.

10 health blogs you should read- 3 blogs by 3 docs

Today I am continuing my series about health blogs you should read.  We’ll look at 3 blogs by physicians in 3 different specialties  today.

For the complete introduction to this series and for the first 2 blogs, go to this post, otherwise continue reading .

I recommend these health blogs because they

  • offer valid medical information on a variety of topics.
  • offer sound advice without quick fixes.
  • discuss common everyday health concerns
  • discuss the healthcare system, how it works well and how it doesn’t.
  • offer insights on healthy living, both as individuals, families and a society.
  • show you how physicians think , feel and act , both as persons and professionals
  • will educate and challenge you.

These blogs open a window into the medical community.  You may be surprised that physicians have the same concerns about health and medical care as you , and some that you are unaware of. Most importantly, you will find they are on your side; they care about you,their patients,  probably a lot more than you care about them.

These bloggers’ viewpoints often surprise and challenge me; I don’t always agree with them and you may not either.  By recommending them, I don’t endorse their opinions, nor do I benefit financially.  

We’ll explore these 10 over several days so check back often, or subscribe by email to make it easy to keep up.

The accompanying photos are illustrative only, and are not necessarily affiliated with the blogs or bloggers mentioned.

James Marroquinn, M.D.

Dr. Marroquinn writes on health, bioethics and the practice of medicine.

He practices internal medicine in Austin, Texas, is  fellowship-trained/board certified in palliative care and works from time to time at an inpatient hospice facility.

Battleship Texas sign
The last of the battleships to participate in World War I and II, Battleship Texas became the first battleship memorial museum in the U.S. in 1948.

His goals for his self-titled blog are

“to inform people (including myself) about health science, ponder philosophical, political, theological issues associated with medicine, and make sense of my experience as a physician.”

Dr. Marroquinn posts infrequently; his posts are timely, articulate and informative.

Here is a post I especially enjoyed about Boxing and Parkinson’s Disease. He discusses a video about 60 Minutes news correspondent  Leslie Stahl and her husband who has Parkinson’s Disease.

In this post, he offers three reasons why physicians and other health practitioners should recognize and address the spiritual component of their patients’ lives. 

medicine for real– Navigating the healthcare system

is written by  blogger Dr. Shirie Leng, an anesthesiologist, who writes,

“I have worked in health care both as a nurse and as a doctor for 15 years.  The health care industry is just that, an industry.  As such it doesn’t have a whole lot of concern for the “customer”.  I write about the processes, redundancies, red-tape and pure pointlessness of much of medicine, so that you can make decisions and navigate for yourself.”

pre-op area of hospital
I suspect Dr. Leng spends much time in places similar to this.

Besides healthcare, she writes about education, insurance, end-of-life issues, motherhood, and the history of medicine.

Dr. Leng had not posted in awhile because, as she explains it, “nothing health-care related has outraged me recently.  And I definitely write better when agitated about something.”

But she did post  this piece recently, Health Is For Us, Not you , in which she touches on mass shooters, Syrian refugees and ISIS.

freud & fashion

BECAUSE IT’S STYLISH TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, ESPECIALLY HOW WE MAINTAIN OUR OWN.

THE WRITINGS OF A YOUNG, MODERN & NEWLY-GRADUATED PSYCHIATRIST

 

You’ve met Vania Manipod, D.O when I shared her post about New Year’s Resolutions.

In this post, Dr. Manipod gives tips on recognizing and controlling anger

musicians on California beach
Dr. Manipod comes from California , which I found to be an interesting place.
flowers along the Pacific Ocean shore
And beautiful.

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Here are some affiliate links you may find helpful. Thanks for considering.

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Why are we obsessed with OCD?

It seems that everyone is obsessive compulsive these days and sports a tee shirt or posts a social media message to prove it.

We are obsessed with a variety of things most of them generally benign or even good- cooking, reading, sewing, running, dancing, decluttering, work- you name it and there seems to be an obsession for it. But do these make it a disorder?

Probably not. And that is why I’m concerned that people throw around the term OCD, acronym for obsessive-compulsive disorder, minimizing the seriousness of the disorder for the people who do suffer from it.

MRI OF THE BRAIN
an MRI image of the human brain ; there is still much we do not understand about how the brain works and why problems develop (photo from Pixabay)

 

 

Maybe I’m sensitive about this because as a physician I deal with people who have all kinds of disorders which are disabling and disturbing and because I deal with neuropsychiatric disorders in my family.

My late mother suffered from severe dementia for several years; early on the main symptom was poor memory; some people thought it was no big deal, not considering that forgetting important things like where you live has serious consequences.

Many years after a tour of duty in Vietnam, my veteran husband still works on managing  depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

And my grandson is on the autism spectrum, affecting his social and verbal development.

 

disorder causes distress and affects functioning; these conditions as well as OCD fit that criteria.

Obsessive compulsive disorder , OCD, is a distinct neuropsychiatric disorder

with characteristic and diagnostic features. These are

  • Recurrent distressing thoughts such as contamination, aggression, superstition, exactness, doubt

  • Repetitive behaviors or mental rituals such as handwashing, checking, counting, ordering,

 

These behaviors are

  • performed to relieve anxiety

  • consume an unreasonable amount of time, and

  • impair  social interaction and work.

Those affected may feel shame and secrecy.

The exact criteria for a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder are outlined in the recently updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, aka DSM-5.

 

 

OCD can be mistaken for other disorders including

  • ADHD- attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder,
  • anxiety,
  • autism,
  • depression,
  • psychosis
  • Tourette syndrome

(Read information about these and other neuropsychiatric conditions at this link. )

 

 

 

I think some people who claim OCD may  have obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Their behavior emphasizes organization, perfectionism and a sense of control but they are not disabled  by it.

Most people who like things to be neat, orderly, organized and perfect do not have OCD.

 

 

OCD can be difficult to diagnose,because patients  do not seek help, or are too embarrassed to report their symptoms in detail.

But with treatment much of the distress can be eliminated or at least minimized so no one needs to hesitate to seek help.

So, if you think you or someone you love may have OCD, see your physician. Many primary care physicians can and do diagnose and treat this disorder, or will  refer patients to a psychiatrist (M.D.or D.O.) or other mental health professional.

 

 

 

Available treatments include

CBT, cognitive behavior therapy, using exposure to anxiety producing stimuli and  and learning response prevention( not performing the compulsive behaviors),  administered by a trained health care professional in an individual or group format.

Some patients choose medication; Several medications are effective and should be continued for at least 1-2 years, if not indefinitely, as there is a fairly high rate of recurrence.

If either treatment alone lacks effective relief, they can be used together.

Deep brain stimulation is approved by the FDA as a last resort only for severe cases which don’t respond to the approved medications and CBT. So far it has been used in only a few patients.

 

Follow this link to a printable article about OCD from FamilyDoctor.org .

Find more information at this link from the American Psychiatric Association .

 

The Mighty,a website that reports on disability, mental illness and chronic disease, posted a story about OCD; they asked “people with OCD” to share their symptoms. I don’t know whether  these people had professionally diagnosed  OCD, the descriptions shared in this article sound compatible with true disabling obsessions and compulsions.

And please review a previous watercress words post on mental illness.

 

“It’s time to break the stigma of mental illness.”

 

Pastors Rick and Kay Warren are the parents of a young man who suffered from mental illness and committed suicide. They are committed to destigmatizing this illness and helping other families cope.

 

Suicide seems random but is predictable. The majority of people who commit suicide have suffered from mental illness for a long time, and may even have had previous attempts;  unfortunately, acquaintances, friends, even family may not know this.

Here are some facts  about suicide

  • Most suicide victims in the United States are white men.
  • Guns are the most common means of suicide, followed by suffocation and poison.
  • There is often a family history of mental illness and suicide .
  • Major depression is the most common cause of suicide- 90% of victims.
  • Suicide may be triggered by recent or prolonged stress and loss, serious health problems and chronic pain.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who you think may be at risk of suicide. You may save that person’s life. Here are some resources to help you know what to do.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

National Alliance on Mental Health

Desiring God depression articles

Print resources (purchase through these affiliate links may pay a commission to this blog; thank you)

New Light on Depression

51h3gxqaiyl-_sx387_bo1204203200_

Night Falls Fast; Understanding Suicide

41x0n2bccatl-_sx319_bo1204203200_

Finding Your Way after the Suicide of Someone You Love

41ro1r5k-4l-_sx329_bo1204203200_

Loved Back to Life

51t5s2-tl2l-_sx325_bo1204203200_

Why we need to end violence and how to stop it

A review of the medical consequences of interpersonal violence

I read the newspaper article in disbelief, then grief; a family of five, parents and three children, murdered in their home in my community. Even more shocking, the assailants were their other two teen-aged children!

Things like this just don’t happen here, a suburban city that is quiet, peaceful and secure. Statistically, one of the safest cities in our state and even the country. But that doesn’t make us immune- violence can happen anywhere to anybody.

“siblings charged with first-degree murder in stabbings of family members”

I  know. Two of my husband’s relatives were murdered. One of them survived multiple wounds from a vicious assault, only to die from a second attack.  The other one died from an in-home attack, a case that is still open and cold- the killer has never been arrested and brought to justice.

I have served as the doctor at a summer camp for children in foster care . Almost all had suffered physical abuse .

“Mother accepts plea deal, prison time for committing child neglect, abuse “

What is interpersonal violence?

The World Health Organization defines interpersonal violence as

“the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person, group or community that results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”

The major agencies that track statistics on interpersonal violence, call it

  • “a pervasive public health, social and developmental threat.”
  • “a leading cause of death, particularly in children, adolescents and young adults.”

“Reporter, photographer  shot and killed during live report”

Did you know that exposure to violence can

  • Cause immediate physical wounds and
  • Result in long-lasting mental and physical health conditions?

Violence matters because it 

  • Directly affects health care cost and payments
  • Indirectly stunts economic development
  • Increases inequality
  • Erodes human capital

Violence causes physical injuries many of which are fatal or leave permanent disability. Other results include sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unintended pregnancy and pregnancy complications.

“Elderly woman beaten to death by two people she lived with. “

Medical effects of violence

Violence contributes to several chronic medical conditions   although the exact relationship is not  clear.  These include heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease (possibly due to smoking), diabetes, alcohol abuse and obesity.

“Rape charges filed against man accused of attacking pregnant woman “

Mental and emotional effects of violence

Exposure to violence leads to multiple types of mental and behavioral disorders :depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, sleep and eating disorders, substance abuse and suicide attempts. Adults who experienced childhood trauma struggle with stress due to finances, family and jobs. Abused children often  commit crime as adults.

“Teen suspected in violent crime spree arrested”

Our health care system encourages prevention, but tends to focus on the prevention of cancers, heart disease, infectious disease and dementia. But given the far reaching consequences of interpersonal violence,,preventing the resulting health problems is just as important. The  multiple factors that contribute to violence makes that a daunting task.

Violence is   a public health, social and political problem. But physicians, mental health professionals, teachers, and law enforcement deal with the effects in the course of our work every day.

“Deadly violence has become all too common in one neighborhood”

Opportunities for prevention

The article concludes with a summary of “opportunities for prevention.” The emphasis is on starting in childhood to address the factors than can lead to violence and to focus on the family unit and schools.

What can we do to prevent violence ?

  1. Early childhood visitation
  2. Parenting training
  3. School-based social-emotional learning approach
  4. Early childhood education , Head Start as an example
  5. Public policy; for  example , addressing laws related to alcohol sales, since alcohol consumption is associated with violence
  6. Therapeutic approaches , including CBT- cognitive behavioral therapy

“Mothers band together to protect Chicago neighborhood”

See this CBS news report on how simple plywood signs are stopping violence in Chicago

RESOURCES ON VIOLENCE PREVENTION

 

Read a  true story about surviving violence

( this is an affiliate link; at no extra cost to you, this blog may receive a commission if you buy through this link; thanks.)

The Rising -Murder, Heartbreak, and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town 

by Ryan D’Agostino

The Rising by Ryan D'Agostino

The astonishing story of one man’s recovery in the face of traumatic loss—and a powerful meditation on the resilience of the soul
On July 23, 2007, Dr. William Petit suffered an unimaginable horror: Armed strangers broke into his suburban Connecticut home in the middle of the night, bludgeoned him nearly to death, tortured and killed his wife and two daughters, and set their house on fire. He miraculously survived, and yet living through those horrific hours was only the beginning of his ordeal.

Broken and defeated, Bill was forced to confront a question of ultimate consequence: How does a person find the strength to start over and live again after confronting the darkest of nightmares?

In The Rising, acclaimed journalist Ryan D’Agostino takes us into Bill Petit’s world, using unprecedented access to Bill and his family and friends to craft a startling, inspiring portrait of human strength and endurance.

To understand what produces a man capable of surviving the worst, D’Agostino digs deep into Bill’s all-American upbringing, and in the process tells a remarkable story of not just a man’s life, but of a community’s power to shape that life through its embrace of loyalty and self-sacrifice as its most important values. Following Bill through the hardest days—through the desperate times in the aftermath of the attack and the harrowing trials of the two men responsible for it—The Rising offers hope that we can find a way back to ourselves, even when all seems lost.

Today, Bill Petit has remarried. He and his wife have a baby boy. The very existence of this new family defies rational expectation, and yet it confirms our persistent, if often unspoken, belief that we are greater than what befalls us, and that if we know where to look for strength in trying times, we will always find it.

Bill’s story, told as never before in The Rising, is by turns compelling and uplifting, an affirmation of the inexhaustible power of the human spirit.

reprinted from a Goodreads review