Learning the dos and don’ts of talking about suicide prevents others
Thank you for your recent articles [on suicide], “Rotterdam parents seek to bring bullying to light” [Oct. 31 Gazette] and “100 at somber gathering vow to be Jack’s voice” [Nov. 1 Gazette].
Suicide is a public health problem, claiming more than 38,000 lives in 2010. This issue must be addressed by the media.
Could these articles also have had the unintended consequence of contributing to further suicide attempts by publicizing a specific suicide method? Studies show that certain ways of reporting about suicide, like including explicit details of suicide methods, can lead to what is known as suicide contagion or copycats.
Finding a safe balance between informative reporting and inadvertently contributing to contagion is an issue concerning newsrooms and journalists across the country. This is why the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), along with other organizations and journalists, developed recommendations for reporting on suicide which are available at www.afsp.org/media.
To help prevent suicide, we need to better understand the risk factors and warning signs. Research shows that 90 percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness at the time of their death. Early identification and effective treatment are important if we are to reduce risk. When a person is in suicidal crisis, warning signs may go unnoticed if we do not know what to look for, such as changes in behavior, a notable increase in risky behaviors; feelings of hopelessness; and expressions of suicidal thoughts or a suicide plan.
Finally, we must become aware of the helping resources that are available in our community. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK or 8255) is available 24/7 and can help assess risk and make referrals to local resources.
In response to a suicide loss, members of a community need opportunities to heal. On Nov. 18, “An Evening of Dialogue” is being offered from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the South Schenectady Firehouse.
Learning the warning signs, risk factors and identification of local resources will all be addressed. I hope we can work together to continue to bring more awareness to suicide in as safe a way as possible.
The writer is chapter president of the Capital Region AFSP.
Environmental factors alter health care debate
The debate over health care should include environmental factors that have potential to cause medical problems.
For example, many observers see a risk of adverse impacts in artificial clouds above us that are being routinely created by aircraft. Normal condensation trails behind airplanes evaporate and disappear within minutes. On most clear days, though, anyone can watch as some planes leave persistent “contrails” that stay airborne for hours. The result is unusual lines and patterns in the sky, which then expand to look like cloud cover.
According to the group Geoengineering Watch, such contrails contain aerosols and metallic particles that are being dispersed on a mass scale. A primary objective, the group reports, is to cool Earth’s atmosphere by blocking sunlight — even though sunlight provides vitamin D that is essential to the human immune system.
Many observers describe this apparent aerial campaign as “chemtrails.” Others call it “solar radiation management” or “geoengineering.” They all raise valid questions that deserve immediate answers.
Which officials would approve such flights without any public oversight? How would plane contrails containing aerosols and metals — dispersed above communities nationwide — ultimately impact nature and human health?
Christie’s weight should be off-limits for cartoonist
Re the Nov. 13 political cartoon [depicting] an overweight New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie being interviewed by a slim female journalist: She is asking the governor if he considered running, and when he replied he wanted to focus on being governor, her response was “who said anything about the presidential election?” She is clearly referring to his weight.
This does not offend me as an overweight person because I am not. It annoys and offends me because this is not the example we should be portraying to our children. When a “professional” submits and has published this kind of cartoon, it sends a message that it is OK to make disparaging remarks to and about other people not just in private but also publicly.
Bullying is a hot topic today, and all this does is show that these remarks are no big deal. Very disappointed in the cartoonist and Gazette for printing it.
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