Strange spike in US suicide stats

Just for comparison, the latest public provisional stats that I could find for NZ are 11 per 100,000 (2013)

A new report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that the suicide rate in the US has surged to its highest level in three decades.

In 2014, 13 people out of every 100,000 took their own lives, compared with 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999.

According to the report, the number of suicides in the US has been on the rise since 1999 for everyone between the ages of 10 and 74 but the increase was particularly pronounced among the country’s white middle-aged population.

The report showed that the overall suicide rate in the country rose by 24 per cent from 1999 to 2014.

The suicide rate for white middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the same period and it rose by 43 percent for white men in that age range. Read more »


Mike King sabotaged?

www.nzonair.govt.nz1200 × 720Search The Nutters Club is a weekly nationwide radio show on Newstalk ZB hosted by entertainer Mike King. It is helping lead an important national conversation on ...

www.nzonair.govt.nz1200 × 720Search

After reading something on The Nutters Club Facebook page yesterday I felt compelled to share the story. I met Mike King, whom Cameron knows well, when he and Cameron were on a panel together on Maori TV. He is a genuine bloke who cares passionately about helping people with depression. Since I have experienced depression up close and personal myself, I have a lot of time for Mike and The Nutters Club.

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We need to talk about suicide

Suicide seems to be the last taboo. Journalists are still not allowed to report honestly about it. When someone kills themselves weasel words have to be used to avoid using the taboo word.

There are two schools of thought about suicide. One school of thought that seems to be prevalent in New Zealand society, is that to talk about suicide or report accurately on suicide can cause people to kill themselves. This school of thought sees open discussion of suicide as a risky move and one that can do more harm than good. I suspect that this may be what motivated a principal to prevent a student from presenting a speech about suicide here in New Zealand.

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Photo Of The Day

Fritz and Doris Von Erich (front) with their sons, Left to right: Kerry, Chris, and Kevin.

Fritz and Doris Von Erich (front) with their sons, Left to right: Kerry, Chris, and Kevin.

The Tragedy of the Von Erich Brothers

Kevin Von Erich on being the last of his brothers left alive..

“My brothers and I lived real dangerously.

We were a really reckless group always showing off for each other – like walking on bridges in Japan and taking every chance we could. We were just young kids. I’m really surprised that I survived…

We used to have this thing called the ‘chance of the day’, where every day we’d take a chance on our lives. Dave was always too smart for that, so he’d just watch. We’d jump on wild bulls’ backs, jump on trains going fast. We’d get on a roof of a car at highway speed. You start thinking nothing can get you and you’re indestructible. That’s part of being in sports. We were blessed with good bodies and good balance. We felt like we could do anything and nothing would hurt us.

My father was not a real brutal man like they try to play him out to be in some of those gossip rags. I was there. I remember back when my dad was a bad guy in wrestling…my brothers and I would go to school and the bigger kids would watch wrestling on Saturday night and get even on Monday. We fought together and the family who fights together would not only get good at fighting, it gets really close.

I don’t remember my parents being really super strict or abusive in any way at all. I remember a real happy childhood full of running in the Texas sun, just us and nature. We didn’t even wear clothes until we went to school. We were so far out in the country. We didn’t even have any school chums.

Mike was into painkillers. All the brothers had painkillers prescribed by doctors. Kerry was the only one who got into illegal drugs [that weren’t prescribed.]

The best way to handle pain is to grit your teeth and put ice on it. If you take one pill, next time it’ll be two of them and the next it’s going to be three. It’s just a crack in the door. It’s just the crack in the door that gets wider and wider…

Kerry figured he didn’t have anything to live for. He was rootless. He had no home. Seeing me with my family made his pain greater. It reminded him of what he was missing. It was such a sad, tragic thing. He had his two beautiful daughters and a wife he loved, but then he’d come home and all his stuff would be moved out. She’d move all his stuff out. Kerry was no saint [but] they both treated each other kind of rough. He had pretty much come to an understanding the day he killed himself. He just left having lunch with Kathy, his wife. Kerry was going to jail and he was afraid of never seeing his girls again.

He said, ‘Kevin, I’m about to kill myself…’

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Photo Of The Day

Sandra Bridewell and Alan Rehrig, her third husband.

Sandra Bridewell and Alan Rehrig, her third husband.

The Black Widow

Sandra Bridewell was on her way up in Dallas society. She was beautiful, alluring, rich. But her husbands kept dying. So did one of her best friends. Her first husband’s death was ruled a suicide, though there were those who raised questions about that finding. Her second husband died of cancer, but Bridewell didn’t appear terribly attentive to his needs in his final weeks.

Her third husband was found shot to death in his vehicle in Oklahoma not long after he was supposed to have met with Bridewell (at that point, they were estranged.) And then there’s the case of her friend Betsy, the wife of the cancer doctor who treated Bridewell’s second husband. Betsy was found dead of a gunshot wound in her car in a Love Field parking lot. That too was ruled a suicide, though the circumstances were suspicious.

In a spacious apartment near the San Francisco Yacht Club, over-looking the bay, there lives a pretty woman who mostly stays to herself. She is 43 years old but looks younger. Always dressed immaculately, she carries herself in that calm, refined way of those who have known the comforts of money for a long time. Whenever she goes to the shops down the hill, her magnificent dark eyes lock onto the gaze of those she meets, and her smile is so natural that it can make men, even at a first meeting, feel oddly enchanted.

But here in Belvedere, a quiet shoreside village in posh Marin County, the woman keeps her distance. She comes to pick up her mail at a private mail box, and occasionally she eats lunch at one of the little restaurants that face the water. In the afternoon, she picks up her children at their school. Few of her neighbours have even met her. “She had this beautiful voice,” recalls long-time resident Silvia Davidson, who briefly leased a home to the new woman, “and she looked beautiful. But — how do I say this? She was like a mystery. She would say very little about herself.”

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Photo Of The Day

Photo via Gray’s Harbor County Sheriff’s Office. In a small black trashcan under the nightstand was the previous morning’s Daily World a local newspaper that served Gray’s Harbour and an empty plastic Pepsi cup. Next to it, a crumpled piece of thick white paper, no bigger than six inches wide, that read “SUICIDE” in block capitals.

Photo via Gray’s Harbour County Sheriff’s Office. In a small black trashcan under the nightstand was the previous morning’s Daily World a local newspaper that served Gray’s Harbour and an empty plastic Pepsi cup. Next to it, a crumpled piece of thick white paper, no bigger than six inches wide, that read “SUICIDE” in block capitals.

The Strange Case of the Man With No Name

In life, he was evasive and strange. In death, he became a 9/11 terrorist, a ghostly apparition and an internet superstar.

On Friday, September 14, 2001, Lyle Stevik arrived at an average motel in a sleepy, nondescript town close to Washington’s Pacific coastline. It was a typical September day: 52 degrees and drizzly. “Welcome. Surf’s Up. Life Is Good,” read the shabby sign outside the entrance to the Lake Quinault Inn, a cheerfully optimistic motto for such an ordinary place.

Stevik, who appeared to be in his twenties, did what countless guests had done before. He grabbed a pen and scribbled his details on the hotel’s registration slip:

Name: Lyle Stevik

Address: 1019 S. Progress Ave.

State: ID … Meridian

Nothing about this was exceptional, especially given the context. Three days earlier and 3,000 miles away, three planes smashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, killing 2,996 people, injuring 6,000 and setting off a national security crisis. 9/11 made the history books; in the isolated town of Amanda Park, 9/14 was seriously dull.

In 2001, Lake Quinault Inn was still a family affair: Barbara — affectionately known as Aunt Barb — on front desk duty, was clerk-come-manager; her nephew, Gabe, owned the motel and adjacent store. The Inn, built in the 1960s, with six rooms in the main building and two in an annex, had slid into disrepair. But to the few travelers to stay in this picturesque patch of the Olympic Peninsula, it didn’t matter. The rooms were decent enough, and, at less than $50 per night, they were the cheapest in town.

Aunt Barb gave Lyle the key to room eight in the motel’s annex, and he paid in cash. Behind it, Olympic Mobile RV Park, was a miniature metropolis of trailers, broken cars, and spare tires. Inside, furnishings included a double bed, a dusty carpet, nicotine-stained vinyl curtains, and a glass dressing table — a steal for $43.87.

Lyle returned to the front desk just 60 minutes later — flushed, agitated, disturbed. Apparently, the trailer park was too noisy. He wanted to switch rooms. Even though she had just met him, this second encounter was far more memorable. Lyle avoided eye contact; he was acting weird; he gave Aunt Barb the creeps.

She handed him the key to room five, smack-dab in the middle of the main building, overlooking a tiny car lot. It was just like room eight — the carpet dusty, the curtains stained — but Lyle liked room five. He slept there that night. And the night after.

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Photo Of The Day

J. M. Barrie, the boys' foster father.

J. M. Barrie, the boys’ foster father.

The Lost Ones

The Real Boys of Neverland

Few works of literature have idealized childhood so profoundly as Peter Pan. But the Llewelyn Davies brothers who inspired J.M. Barrie to create the world of Neverland would grow up to become “Lost Boys” of a more tragic sort, beset by misfortune and unhappiness.

J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was born on the 9th of May, 1860, in the family home at Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland. His father, David, was a weaver. His mother, Margaret Ogilvy, was later the subject of one of her son’s books.

When Barrie was six, his brother David died very unexpectedly. The shock of the loss so affected Barrie’s mother that, for the remainder of her life, she never got over his death.

Sometimes Jamie would wear his brother’s clothes and, on entering his mother’s darkened bedroom, would pretend to be the lost son. Later, when Barrie became a writer, the theme of death, and the concept of ghosts, would populate his stories.

In the summer of 1901, the four small Llewelyn Davies brothers—George, John, Peter and Michael—hadn’t any idea of what they were getting themselves into. Darting around Black Lake, in the Surrey region of England, they were playing at castaways, taking turns at walking the plank, substituting wooden dowels for swords. Their idyll was not just a theory. The country around them was still one in which children as young as nine worked in factories, but the Llewelyn boys were protected by their reverie.

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The perils of anti-depressants: Increased suicide risk


It is no secret that I have suffered, and still do suffer, from major depressive illnesses. Many people do and they either hide it, talk about it or plaster over the cracks.

You usually don’t realise someone you love is suffering from depression until they tip over somehow.

The problem is the medical fraternity almost always prescribe medications in various forms. I know, I’ve been on most of them, sometimes in a chemical cocktail. The very worst time of my life was when I was on anti-depressants.

Now there is another worry…it appears they increase the risk of suicide.

Antidepressants can raise the risk of suicide, the biggest ever review of its kind has found, as pharmaceutical companies were accused of failing to report side effects and even deaths linked to the drugs.

The review of 70 trials of the most common antidepressants, involving more than 18,000 people, found they doubled the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviour in under-18s.

Although a similarly stark link was not seen in adults, the authors said misreporting of trial data could have led to a “serious underestimation of the harms”.   Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Christine Chubbuck.

Christine Chubbuck.


Even if a person might look all right in the outside, we might never know what they may be dealing with on the inside.

29-year-old Christine Chubbuck didn’t leave behind a note. Instead, she staged a grand and memorable performance. Looking healthy, well-groomed, and in good spirits the morning of July 15, 1974, the newswoman geared up for a special presentation. “She was in a much better than normal mood. To this day, her enthusiasm puzzles me,” news director Gordan Galbraith said of her demeanor that morning.

Christine asked to change things up a bit for that morning’s broadcast of Sarasota, FL’s WXLT-TV’s Suncoast Digest. She wanted to start the normally unscripted talk show with some news reports, and spent the few minutes before air-time typing up what she was going to say on-air.

She started off with some standard news item, but when it came time to roll footage of a local shoot-out from the night before, a shot she specifically requested, the film stalled. The person operating the camera panicked a bit, but this was all a part of Christine’s plan. She looked into the camera with a determined eye.

“In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living colour, you are going to see another first — attempted suicide,” she read, inflicting a little sarcasm into her tone.

Then she pulled a gun out of a bag of puppets she had at her feet and shot herself on live television.

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If she wanted to die, she was pretty bad at it

Suicide is a tough topic to discuss, but I get really, really annoyed with people who pimp out their tales of woe about how they survived suicide.

They snake across her body from her forehead to her shins. Like an intricate web of anguish, her body is a map of two decades of institutionalisation.

But it is not just the small knocks and marks of a life well-lived. Gemma, 30, who did not want her last name used, bears the scars of almost two decades of mental illness, self harm and suicide attempts. The words ‘help’ and ‘lost’ are now permanently branded across her knuckles, forever a daily reminder of her darkest moments and a haphazard tattoo job with needles and acrylic paint.

But after almost two decades of trying her damnedest to die, she is ready to try living again.

For a girl from a middle-class family from Timaru, Gemma never thought living alone in a council flat with little outside contact is where she would end up. Her criminal history reads like a novel, with her most recent estimate at number of arrests at about 300 – most for suicide prevention. Self harm was once a daily ritual, and serious attempts at ending her life number about 30.

By all accounts, she should be dead.

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