It's been six years since comic legend Robin Williams died. Robin's Wish is a new documentary that looks at his final days and the degenerative disease (Lewy Body Dementia) that is attributed to him ending his own life on August 11, 2014.
An intimate portrait of Robin Williams and his invulnerable spirit, Robin's Wish is the story of what really happened to one of the greatest entertainers of all time - and what his mind was fighting.
screengrab via Robin's Wish/YouTube
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Robin's Wish explores beloved comedian Robin Williams' final days as he struggled with the devastating effects of Lewy Body Dementia. Read the rest
From the Denver Post:
Colorado recorded a 40% decrease in suicides in March and April as social-distancing policies aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus kept residents home, according to provisional death-certificate data from the state health department.
The data helps paint a complex picture of the mental and emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. While suicides are down from 2019 levels, Colorado Crisis Services saw an almost 48% increase calls in March and April compared to last year, with most callers seeking help for anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.
Donald Trump (and all of his parrot pundits, by extension) have shamelessly exploited the threat of increased suicides as a reason to "re-open the economy" sooner. This rang hollow before, as it was an excuse often given by people who had never seemed overly concerned about suicide, addiction, or mental health beyond the generic self-serving platitudes that virtue-signal their bare-minimum humanity. Now, it seems like an even more disgusting excuse to profit on the back of human lives.
The Denver Post article does quote from a few experts, who share their possible theories on why this might be happening. Anxieties are, of course, running high, as evidenced by the jump in calls to crisis hotlines. But some people think that this unprecedented crisis may actually be helping to create a sense of community; seeing so many other people so visibly struggling might put things into perspective for some people. Another theory is that people at risk for suicide might be too overwhelmed by the adrenaline of day-to-day survival — figuring out the logistics of simply things like groceries — that it might be temporarily suppressing their emotional pain. Read the rest
Ken "Popehat" White (previously) has expanded on his excellent Twitter thread about Jeffrey Epstein's suicide in jail, and just how (shamefully) normal it is for prisoners to die in custody due to indifference, overwork, malfeasance and sadism on the part of prison authorities.
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Back in 2015, the great state of Texas passed The Compassionate Use Act, making the use of cannabis for medical purposes totally cool... in a small number of instances. Only those with epilepsy are allowed to use the plant's properties to ease their symptoms and the cannabis that they're allowed to use must contain minuscule amounts of THC. This left Texans who'd like to turn to cannabis to help ease their way out of opioid use or deal with chronic pain, to saddle up and move to a less restrictive state or risk being arrested. Recently, the state's lawmakers looked to reforming the restrictive act, Once again, too small a group of folks wound up being told that they're cool to roll with a bit of cannabis in their lives. One of the biggest groups excluded: individuals suffering from PTSD.
From The Texas Observer:
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Activists say opposition to cannabis reform is partially based on fearmongering over alleged dangers of marijuana by Republicans and law enforcement officials, a powerful group at the Lege. False claims and junk science often go unchallenged in a vacuum created by the lack of research into cannabis. (Marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug is a significant barrier to studying the plant’s uses.) For three sessions, the Rural Sheriffs Association of Texas has peddled its report that falsely claims pot lowers IQ scores, is addictive and increases criminality. In March, Plano Police Sergeant Terence Holway told lawmakers in a committee hearing that “all drug addicts … started with marijuana.”
Just days after the suicides of two Parkland school shooting survivors, the father of a six-year-old girl who was killed during the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut has apparently taken his own life. Read the rest
According to reports from gullible parents' organizations, police departments, and media outlets, Kids on the Internet are spreading memes featuring an image of "Momo" (actually a sculpture called "Mother Bird" created by Keisuke Aisawa for the Japanese SFX studio Link Factory) that includes explicit self-harm and suicide instructions (the "challenge" in "Momo challenge" is allegedly to get kids to hurt or kill themselves).
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Molly Russell, 14, took her life in November 2017.
While mass-shootings are the most visible and spectacular consequence of America's love affair with guns, the person most likely to shoot you is you (either accidentally or deliberately), with a loved one or a friend (again, either accidentally or deliberately) close behind.
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Have you ever wondered if someone died in your house, or worse?
Enter DiedInHouse.com. A simple $11.99 search through them will tell you everything you (probably don't) want to know.
A query on this website will uncover if a specific address is "stigmatized," meaning that it's got issues beyond its physical condition. Sellers are generally not under legal obligation to share if something horrible -- like a murder, suicide, or, say, a meth lab -- has happened on a property. And they certainly aren't required to disclose "paranormal" activity.
Software engineer Roy Condrey founded the site in 2013 after getting a strange text.
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The website’s creation begins like a ghost story. ...Condrey received a text message in the middle of the night from one of his tenants that read: “Did you know that your house is haunted?” Condrey went down a cyber rabbit hole seeking, but not finding, an easy way to determine if his property had indeed seen a gruesome crime or fatality.
“I went online to find a ‘Carfax’ of sorts for deaths in homes and I didn’t find anything, but I did find pages and pages of people asking if there’s a way to find out if their house is haunted,” says Condrey, who rents out several properties. He later learned through his data collection that, in fact, at least 4.5 million homes nationwide have had documented deaths take place on the premises. The number of homeowners that know about the history of their home, however, is unknown.
I’ve always felt the urge to leave. Any place. No matter how beautiful. I want to go. When I was 18 and finished with high school, I attended my graduation ceremony, for the sake of my family, but I skipped my prom – Canada’s east coast was calling. I’d never been there before. I didn’t know what I’d find. But I was going. I made a life for myself out there, with university, work and music. I traveled up and down the coast. Cape Breton feels like a second home to me. I love the people of Maine. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have a place in my heart.
But eventually, I left the east. Rage, the self-entitlement that sometimes comes from surviving a shitty childhood and a need for control left me very much out of control. I destroyed a fine long-term relationship looking for who I was. I burned bridges. I did terrible things to myself and others. It was time to move on. My travels took me back home to Ontario. My father was dying. I loved and hated him for who he was and what he had done to our family. Coming home was a terror.
Uneasily settled back into my hometown, I fought to push the dogs of my recent past down into the cellar of my soul where their bark did not seem so loud. I’d gone to university for journalism, but felt too shattered by life to write. I took on a job I despised and worked it for years. Read the rest
Lauri Love is a British man on the autism spectrum who also has depression and severe eczema, who was facing extradition to America on charges of hacking US military and private agencies.
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YouTuber Logan Paul filmed himself in a fluffy barnstormer hat looking for suicide victims in a Japanese forest and finding one to show to his 16 million viewers. He also pranced around the country making dumb and offensive jokes.
The outrage was such that YouTube booted him from the site's celebrity-tier ad platform, forcing him to issue a soft-focus apology and self-care PSA in which he is seen to have learned and paid for his lesson about why you don't pose in silly hats with suicide victims.
But the apology tour is showing cracks, with new excuses shining through: “the idea was to shock and show the harsh realities of suicide and get people talking about something that I don’t think people are talking about much.”
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Logan Paul is continuing his apology tour following the widely criticized video of a dead body he posted on YouTube at the end of 2016. In an interview with Good Morning America today, the 22-year-old vlogger says that he posted Aokigahara forest video with a specific goal: “The idea was to shock and show the harsh realities of suicide and get people talking about something that I don’t think people are talking about much.”
Paul’s video, which he removed from YouTube after swift backlash, featured the vlogger heading into the forest with friends to do another “fun vlog,” he says. They planned to camp for the night and “make an entertaining piece of content in a forest.” Shortly after they entered the forest, he says, roughly 100 feet away from the parking lot, the group encountered the body of a man who appeared to have recently hung himself.
South Korea has one of the world's highest suicide rates -- it has steadily mounted since 2000, rising to 25.6 per 100,000.
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Dutch doctor Philip Nitschke of Exit International has created the Sarco, a controversial "suicide machine" that allows people an easy exit.
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The Sarco is a technological marvel, resembling some kind of futuristic sleeping chamber, that aids in voluntary assisted dying. Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, whom Newsweek identifies as the "Elon Musk of assisted suicide,” unveiled the new apparatus earlier this week, just days after lawmakers in the state of Victoria voted to legalize euthanasia. The device simplifies what Nitschke dubs “rational suicides,” ensuring that the process is painless and easy—an optimal way to go.
...The machine includes a base topped by a translucent chamber perfectly proportioned to comfortably fit a human which. After settling in the pod, the user will push a button and the chamber will start to “fill up with liquid nitrogen to bring the oxygen level down to about 5 percent.” Around the minute mark, the user will become unconscious, experiencing almost no pain, according to the Newsweek report. (The doctor describes the changes as akin to “an airplane cabin depressurizing.”) After death comes, which is fairly swift, the chamber can be used as a coffin. The base, just fyi, is reusable.
...the Sarco “was designed so that it can be 3D printed and assembled in any location” and that blueprints “will be free, made open-source, and placed on the Internet.” While accessibility is a major selling point, there is one hurdle would-be users will need to clear: a “mental questionnaire” that’s available online.
In a small-scale study, researchers have shown that algorithms can analyze brain scans to determine whether an individual has suicidal thoughts. During the study, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University scientists mentioned words like "death," "trouble," and "carefree" to individuals undergoing fMRI scans of their brains. Apparently those kinds of words spur different brain activity in people who have suicidal thoughts compared to those who don't. The hope is that a better understanding of brain function in suicidal people could lead to better tests to assess risk of suicide and improved psychotherapy. From IEEE Spectrum:
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For the study, the researchers recruited 34 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30—half of them at risk, and the other half not at risk, of suicide. They showed the participants a series of words related to positive and negative facets of life, or words related to suicide, and asked them to think about those words.
Then the researchers recorded, with fMRI, the cerebral blood flow in the volunteers as they thought about those words, and fed the data to the algorithms, indicating which volunteers were at risk of suicide and which weren’t. The algorithms then learned what the neural signatures in the brain of a suicidal person tend to look like.
Then they tested the algorithms by giving them new neural signatures to see how well they could predict, based on learning from other subjects, whether someone was suicidal or not. The classifier did it with 91% accuracy. Separately, the classifier was able to identify, with 94% accuracy, which volunteers had actually made an attempt at suicide, versus having only thought about it.
Ketamine is a short-acting dissociative anesthetic commonly used on animals and sometimes people. Of course it's also beloved by many psychonauts for its unusual dreamlike or "out of body" psychedelic effects. While Ketamine has been shown for years to help treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder in adults, researchers at Yale School of Medicine now report that it has great promise as a fast-acting intervention for children in crisis. From Scientific American:
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It was less dramatic to watch than I expected, but the kids were definitely high. There was a lot of giggling involved, and they often said that they felt like time was changing and that their bodies felt ‘funny’ and sometimes numb. Nicole, (a suicidal 14-year-old,) admitted, “I’m not gonna lie. I like the feeling of it.”
Perhaps more dramatic than the trips themselves, which happened in a carefully controlled procedure room with a psychiatrist and anesthesiologist ready to intervene if needed, were the interviews that came after. I could see the weight of depression lifted from these patients within hours. Adolescents who were previously ready to end their own lives became bright and hopeful. Psychiatry has never seen a drug intervention so powerful and fast acting. While most anti-depressants take weeks to work and offer modest improvement, ketamine offers dramatic improvement in less than a day...
Dr. Michael Bloch, Yale child psychiatrist and principal investigator of several controlled trials for ketamine for adolescents, points out that the drug is only used for select patients who have severe mental health problems that have not responded to other medications.