Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a blog that had some interesting comments about suicide. I thought I’d post one such thought provoking paragraph:

In our average lives we say “I could never take my own life”. We say this from a safe place, able to deal with lifes ups and downs. THIS CAN AND DOES CHANGE. If we lack or lose the ability to handle our emotions, negativity and frustration step in. we start moving towards the spectrum of suicidal thought. we feel we are not coping and life becomes a struggle. The constant struggle seems endless. our needs are not met and we slowly slide into wishing it was all over.

In another place the author of the blog uses a great word (neologism) that fits suicidal thoughts (and other mental health issues) very well: psychache. (I warned them that I was going to use their word)

These are things we need to consider in working to prevent suicide, in working to get folks help that they need, and in understanding the problems that swirl around suicide and mental health. We must not only work to prevent suicide, but work to help them deal with their psychache.

Friday, October 24, 2008

and the elderly selling gravesites for cash...

I thought the last post a bit strange and unsettling, then I saw this one (click through the ad in the link):

For some, a tough economy means hocking their possessions to raise cash. And not just furniture or jewelry. In lean times, even a person's final resting place is for sale.
Activity in the secondary market for burial plots has spiked in recent weeks, according to Bob Ward, who runs the Final Arrangements Network, an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of cemetery space. Most of those looking to sell: fixed-income seniors in their 60s and 70s.

New barometers of financial woes?

The dead evicted

(These are busy times, sorry for the inconsistent posting.)

I came across this article and it struck me for several reasons, so I thought I’d share:

The bodies of five people and cremains for 22 others are on their way to a county medical examiner's office after the funeral home sending them to their place of rest was foreclosed on Friday morning.

Who knew there was a risk of eviction after death?

And then the interesting name of the funeral home (and crematory?):

House of Burns Memorial Chapel

Apparently funeral home staff declined to comment for the article:

"You don't want to let nobody know nothing — you just want gossip," the woman said, adding "have a blessed day" before hanging up.

I don’t bring this up to gossip. Can you imagine such an occurrence? The irony of no rest even for the dead, "have a blessed day" indeed. (I will close saying that they do seem to be handling this unfortunate situation well)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Increasing Suicide Rate

After a decade-long decrease, U.S. suicide rates have started to rise, largely because of an increase in suicides among middle-aged white men and women

A new study out of Johns Hopkins demonstrates increasing suicide rates 1999 through 2005. It also seems to show that those in middle age are more at risk than previously thought. Historically, those at greatest risk were youth/young adults and seniors, but nationwide that age dipole is changing. For many years here in Lake County the ages have been more evenly spread, as has the geographic distribution over the county.

Just as the article wonders (linked here), it has certainly crossed my mind that the present economic “downturn” is likely to affect these demographics. It is early yet, but economics and other problems have always compounded the effects of depression to contribute to the risk of suicide.

"The key is getting people into treatment and getting people to use the resources that are available to them."

[Just a note: we will be sponsoring a site for a local broadcast of the annual American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) National Survivors of Suicide Day event (Nov. 22, noon, Mundelein Fire Dept., 100 Midlothian Rd). Last year when we held the event it was a very interesting shared experience for all of the attendees and included an insightful local discussion.]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Went to a Party Mom "

I got this today in an email forwarded as a promotional for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers). Check them out; help them out if you can.

I have heard this read at pre-prom events several times. I can’t hear it or read it without getting choked up:

Went to a Party Mom

I went to a party,
And remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mom,
so I had a sprite instead.

I felt proud of myself,
The way you said I would,
that I didn't drink and drive,
though some friends said I should.

I made a healthy choice,
And your advice to me was right.
The party finally ended,
and the kids drove out of sight.

I got into my car,
Sure to get home in one piece.
I never knew what was coming, Mom,
something I expected least.

Now I'm lying o n the pavement,
And I hear the policeman say,
the kid that caused this wreck was drunk, Mom, his voice seems far away.

My own blood's all around me,
As I try hard not to cry.
I can hear the paramedic say,
this girl is going to die.

I'm sure the guy had no idea,
While he was flying high.
Because he chose to drink and drive,
now I would have to die.

So why do people do it, Mom
Knowing that it ruins lives?
And now the pain is cutting me,
like a hundred stabbing knives.

Tell sister not to be afraid, Mom
Tell daddy to be brave.
And when I go to heaven,
put ' Mommy's Girl' on my grave.

Someone should have taught him,
That it's wrong to drink and drive.
Maybe if his parents had,
I'd still be alive.

My breath is getting shorter,
Mom I'm getting really scared
These are my final moments,
and I'm so unprepared.

I wish that you could hold me Mom,
As I lie here and die.
I wish that I could say, 'I love you, Mom!'
So I love you and good-bye.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ceiling fan may help prevent SUID/SIDS

We would all think it great to come up with another “simple” intervention to further lower the risk of SIDS (better termed SUID: Sudden Unexplained Infant Death). A recent study may have come up with such an intervention. The study showed that circulating the air in the infant’s bedroom with a ceiling fan (but not just having a window open) lowered the risk of SIDS death

So remember (and tell all new parents): “Back to Sleep”; firm mattress; minimal, non-downy blankets; no bumper pads, pillows or soft toys; keep them cool at night; and (apparently) install a ceiling fan.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Underage drinking is not OK

I was part of a panel today talking about underage drinking, presented to a group of parents. We discussed its effects and its prevention, my portion was the effects of alcohol on the adolescent brain.

I led with a comment about an incident written about in the Chicago Tribune today. A limousine driver reported underage drinking among some teens he was driving for homecoming. He turned down a payoff attempt and did the right thing. My feeling is that he should get an award:
Limousine driver Leonel Cesar says he was just doing his job when he called police to report that a group of Highland Park teenagers tried to smuggle booze into his "party bus" on homecoming night

Later in the article was a comment about the “Safe Rides” program:
Similar debate surrounds the Safe Rides program in New Trier Township, which allows student volunteers to pick up their intoxicated peers from parties, no questions asked.

I will only contribute to the “debate” by relating a recent death here in Lake County (I did write about it shortly after it happened). I closed my part of the panel with a mention of the incident, as well. A young man (18 years old) was driven home after a party involving at least one “drinking game”. The young man later died of an alcohol overdose, his ride, while not part of the “Safe Ride” program, certainly did not have a safe outcome.

Underage drinking is not OK.

Don’t take chances. Make good choices.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Remains to Hungary

Nice to report:

A young lady whose skeletalized remains were found May 12, 2007 is on her way to Hungary to be buried by her father. While it is quite likely she died of a drug overdose (drugs were found in the clothing she had on) we can really only conjecture because of the condition of her remains.

While it took a while to make all of the arrangements, we are finally able to reunite at least this part of the family (even in death)as her father wished.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fake crack

Whoa, a whole week without a post. Either I am slipping or I was as busy as I seemed.

Anyway, I came across an interesting article today checking out online "coroner news" (after participating in a panel on underage drinking information and prevention).

In Cincinnati they are apparently seeing an upsurge in “fake crack”. Now that is not something we have seen here (we have seen both fentanyl and diphenylamine masquerading as heroin, but not fake crack), but I thought it was interesting. We will certainly keep an eye out for it now, although it doesn’t seem very likely that users of fake crack will end up in our office:
Owens said that in recent days, up to 60 percent of the drugs sent to his office for testing on a given day turned out to be fake, usually made of high concentrations of vitamin B3.