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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Suicide of a world renowned Psychiatrist..

Psychiatrist of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Commits Suicide

Anguished Suicide Note Cites ‘Deluge of Doublethink’ In Driving Kind-Hearted Shrink to Despair

Michael K. Smith 
Legalienation News Bureau

Moshe Yatom, a prominent Israeli psychiatrist who successfully cured the most extreme forms of mental illness throughout a distinguished career, was found dead at his home in Tel Aviv yesterday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. A suicide note at his side explained that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been his patient for the last nine years, had “sucked the life right out of me.”

“I can’t take it anymore,” wrote Yatom. “Robbery is redemption, apartheid is freedom, peace activists are terrorists, murder is self-defense, piracy is legality, Palestinians are Jordanians, annexation is liberation, there’s no end to his contradictions. Freud promised rationality would reign in the instinctual passions, but he never met Bibi Netanyahu. This guy would say Gandhi invented brass knuckles.” 

Psychiatrists are familiar with the human tendency to massage the truth to avoid confronting emotionally troubling material, but Yatom was apparently stunned at what he called the “waterfall of lies” gushing from his most illustrious patient. His personal diary details the steady disintegration of his once invincible personality under the barrage of self-serving rationalizations put forth by Netanyahu.

“I’m completely shocked,” said neighbor Yossi Bechor, whose family regularly vacationed with Yatom’s family. “Moshe was the epitome of the fully-integrated personality and had cured dozens of schizophrenics before beginning work on Bibi. There was no outward indication that his case was any different from the others.”

But it was. Yatom grew increasingly depressed at his complete lack of progress in getting the Prime Minister to acknowledge reality, and he eventually suffered a series of strokes when attempting to grasp Netanyahu’s thinking, which he characterized in one diary entry as “a black hole of self-contradiction.” 
The first of Yatom’s strokes occurred when Netanyahu offered his opinion that the 911 attacks on Washington and New York “were good.” The second followed a session in which Netanyahu insisted that Iran and Nazi Germany were identical. And the third occurred after the Prime Minister declared Iran’s nuclear energy program was a “flying gas chamber,” and that all Jews everywhere “lived permanently in Auschwitz.” Yatom’s efforts to calm Netanyahu’s hysteria were extremely taxing emotionally and routinely ended in failure. “The alibi is always the same with him,” complained another diary entry. “The Jews are on the verge of annihilation at the hands of the racist goyim and the only way to save the day is to carry out one final massacre.” 

Yatom was apparently working on converting his diary into a book about the Netanyahu case. Several chapters of an unfinished manuscript, entitled “Psychotic On Steroids,” were found in his study. The excerpt below offers a rare glimpse at the inner workings of a Prime Minister’s mind, at the same time as it reveals the daunting challenge Yatom faced in seeking to guide it to rationality:

Monday, March 8

“Bibi came by at three for his afternoon session. At four he refused to leave and claimed my house was actually his. Then he locked me in the basement overnight while he lavishly entertained his friends upstairs. When I tried to escape, he called me a terrorist and put me in shackles. I begged for mercy, but he said he could hardly grant it to someone who didn’t even exist.”

-----Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire" and "The Madness of King George," from Common Courage Press. He can be reached at

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Being Busy will not help you forget your woes entirely- says New Yorrk times

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ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore.
When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter.
And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device. So it’s worth noting a study published last month in the journal Science, which shows how far people will go to avoid introspection.
“We had noted how wedded to our devices we all seem to be and that people seem to find any excuse they can to keep busy,” said Timothy Wilson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and lead author of the study. “No one had done a simple study letting people go off on their own and think.”
The results surprised him and have created a stir in the psychology and neuroscience communities. In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes.
Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think. These same people, by the way, had previously said they would pay money to avoid receiving the painful jolt.
It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in the contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.
It could be because human beings, when left alone, tend to dwell on what’s wrong in their lives. We have evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers. What preys on our minds, when we aren’t updating our Facebook page or in spinning class, are the things we haven’t figured out — difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads. Hello rumination. Hello insomnia.
“One explanation why people keep themselves so busy and would rather shock themselves is that they are trying to avoid that kind of negative stuff,” said Ethan Kross, director of the Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “It doesn’t feel good if you’re not intrinsically good at reflecting.”
The comedian Louis C.K. has a riff that’s been watched nearly eight million times on YouTube in which he describes that not-good feeling. “Sometimes when things clear away and you’re not watching anything and you’re in your car and you start going, oh no, here it comes, that I’m alone, and it starts to visit on you, just this sadness,” he said. “And that’s why we text and drive. People are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.”
But you can’t solve or let go of problems if you don’t allow yourself time to think about them. It’s an imperative ignored by our culture, which values doing more than thinking and believes answers are in the palm of your hand rather than in your own head.
“It’s like we’re all in this addicted family where all this busyness seems normal when it’s really harmful,” said Stephanie Brown, a psychologist in Silicon Valley and the author of “Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster — and Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down.” “There’s this widespread belief that thinking and feeling will only slow you down and get in your way, but it’s the opposite.”
Suppressing negative feelings only gives them more power, she said, leading to intrusive thoughts, which makes people get even busier to keep them at bay. The constant cognitive strain of evading emotions underlies a range of psychological troubles such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression and panic attacks, not to mention a range of addictions. It is also associated with various somatic problems like eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, inflammation, impaired immunity and headaches.
Studies further suggest that not giving yourself time to reflect impairs your ability to empathize with others. “The more in touch with my own feelings and experiences, the richer and more accurate are my guesses of what passes through another person’s mind,” said Giancarlo Dimaggio, a psychiatrist with the Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy in Rome, who studies the interplay of self-reflection and empathy. “Feeling what you feel is an ability that atrophies if you don’t use it.”
Researchers have also found that an idle mind is a crucible of creativity. A number of studies have shown that people tend to come up with more novel uses for objects if they are first given an easy task that allows their minds to wander, rather than a more demanding one.
“Idle mental processing encourages creativity and solutions because imagining your problem when you aren’t in it is not the same as reality,” said Jonathan Smallwood, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of York, in England. “Using your imagination means you are in fact rethinking the problem in a novel way.”
Perhaps that’s why Google offers its employees courses called “Search Inside Yourself” and “Neural Self-Hacking,” which include instruction on mindfulness meditation, where the goal is to recognize and accept inner thoughts and feelings rather than ignore or repress them. It’s in the company’s interest because it frees up employees’ otherwise embattled brain space to intuit end users’ desires and create products to satisfy them.
“I have a lot of people who come in and want to learn meditation to shut out thoughts that come up in those quiet moments,” said Sarah Griesemer, a psychologist in Austin, Tex., who incorporates mindfulness meditation into her practice. “But allowing and tolerating the drifting in of thoughts is part of the process.” Her patients, mostly hard-charging professionals, report being more productive at work and more energetic and engaged parents.
To get rid of the emotional static, experts advise not using first-person pronouns when thinking about troubling events in your life. Instead, use third-person pronouns or your own name when thinking about yourself. “If a friend comes to you with a problem it’s easy to coach them through it, but if the problem is happening to us we have real difficulty, in part because we have all these egocentric biases making it hard to reason rationally,” said Dr. Kross of Michigan. “The data clearly shows that you can use language to almost trick yourself into thinking your problems are happening to someone else.”
Hard as they sometimes are, negative feelings are a part of everyone’s life, arguably more so if you are crazy busy. But it’s those same deep and troubling feelings, and how you deal with them, that make you the person you are. While busyness may stanch welling sadness, it may also limit your ability to be overcome with joy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Teenage suicides: Warning signs and how to deal with it- Article

Teenage suicides: Warning signs and how to deal with it

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January 22, 2010 16:40 IST
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Counsellors speak out about the recent spate of student suicides in the city, tell you how to identify warning signs and how to deal with depression. Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
Priya Dutta's voice has a soothing lilt to it. The 24-year-old has answered the phone on the first ring and hears you out patiently before speaking out herself.
When she speaks, she doesn't sound didactic, nor does she tell you what you should do. Instead she lets her callers come to their conclusions. It's what she's been trained for.
Dutta is a tele-psychologist working with the new suicide prevention helpline in Mumbai (022-25706000). The line, which has been functional for the last five-odd months, has come into the limelight after the city's municipal corporation tied up with it and the ever-hungry mass media lapped up the story of this unique helpline that reaches out to patients in the middle of the night, literally!
The helpline has been receiving over 70 calls each day. If experts are to be believed, the number is expected to rise as the exam dates draw closer. From January right up to March each year, helplines such as the one Dutta works for get crazy busy. The numbers drop for a month or so before the graduation exams begin from April and last up to May. This is also the time when most of the exam results are declared across Maharashtra.
When we ask Dutta about the kind of stress that kids may be facing, she has nothing new to offer. 'Parental pressure', 'peer pressure', 'personal ambitions', 'stiff competition' are phrases we've all heard of and things that we as children perhaps faced too.
Ironically, these are the very issues that are troubling today's young children and teens. Three more students committed suicide on Monday, taking the toll to over 27 in less than a month.
Dutta is among the 400-odd psychologists in the city who are perplexed with the issue. With exams approaching this is perhaps the 'peak season'. But never before have so many young students decided to end their lives in an almost domino effect.
Dr Arun John, the Executive Vice President of Vandrevala Foundation and Dutta's boss, has been pleading with newspaper editors to avoid running suicide-related stories on their front pages. "This is a copycat effect," he says, "Children often perceive these kids as their heroes and want to emulate them."
John tells us that his helpline had been equipped to handle 40 calls and has the infrastructure to take about 100 calls each day. From the time it took off in August 2009, the numbers are steadily increasing.
The key, as most psychologists would agree, is to identify the signs. John says that a suicidal person has just a tenth of a second to tide over that feeling of utter dismay before s/he takes the final step. He adds that it is also possible to identify early signs.
How to identify early signs and deal with them
According to John, one of the signs of suicidal persons includes withdrawal. This, he says is most common and must be identified as quickly as possible.
"The teen years are a difficult time for children and they need to be counselled about the changes happening in their bodies. If your friend or child has suddenly withdrawn into a shell, one must try and reach out to him/her."
He adds that while the basic issues that teens and young students face haven't changed much, there is much more cutthroat competition. "There is increased pressure from parents and there is increased pressure from the peer group. No one wants to be left behind. Kids these days desperately want to be in the top five of everything. It isn't possible. When personal ambitions are not fulfilled, things can go drastically wrong."
Sustained bouts of depression are also classic signs. Dutta says that these include depressive talks about loss of interest in the world and sporadic mentions of death.
She adds, "You also have to pay attention to what they say. If someone says, 'I won't see you tomorrow,' chances are that s/he is contemplating suicide. In such cases, you have to talk to the person and find out what is bothering him/her. If you can foresee it but don't know how to handle it, get someone to talk to them"
Dutta continues, "Check the shopping list. If it includes unusual objects like a rope or rat poison or pills and they are unable to justify why they have bought it, you have a red flag right there." Lending a patient ear is perhaps the first in a long list of solutions. Suicide helplines are there for a reason. Get them to talk to your friend/child or get someone your child is comfortable with to have a word with him/her.
Parents who lost their 19-year-old daughter a few years ago but prefer not to be named told us that she had been browsing various Internet websites to find out ways to kill herself. She took the drastic step when they were out one day. They discovered her Internet browsing history much after she died. They say the girl showed absolutely no signs of depression or panic and had hardly anticipated this from her. Ironically, she was an undergraduate student of psychology. While policing your child's Internet history might not be advisable, a random check might give you an insight into what is going on in his/her mind.
According to John, however, one of the best tell-tale signs of a person wanting to commit suicide is when s/he starts giving away his/her things. He points out that no one wants baggage and killing oneself is perhaps the only way they can see themselves getting rid of the pressures and problems. "In such situations, many of them prefer giving off their belongings. If someone is doing that simply out of the blue, it means there is something brewing inside his/her head."
Psychologists such as Dr Sadiya Raval believe that these are just some of the most recognisable signs and it is important to be tuned in to the person next to you to know what might be going on in his/her head. She says that while the person's friends and family can do quite a bit to counsel and save the day, it is important that the person take control of his/her life.
How to deal with depression and stress
Raval believes that as a society we have created stereotypes of successful people and we invariably are chasing that elusive ideal, or are pushing our children to chase it instead. Very often this leads to either or both of the following things -- the child ends up being an underachiever or s/he loses her true calling. In either case, the child will not grow up to be a happy individual.
Raval says that it is pertinent for one to understand one's limitations. "If you are not cut out for engineering or medicine," she says, "it doesn't make sense to study it."
The practicing psychologist shares an instance of a young girl who moved from a small town to Mumbai. "Back there she was at the top of her class, excelling in everything. She was someone who teachers encouraged other kids to emulate. When she moved to Mumbai, she was in a school where there were many achievers like her. Suddenly she found herself lost amidst the bright kids in her class and went into a depression."
Communicating is a two-way process. It is as important for children and young adults to reach out to the people around them, as it is for those people to understand their needs.Johnson Thomas, Director of Aasra, a suicide-prevention helpline says that many parents seem to compensate for the lack of emotional support by giving material gifts. "Children and teenagers need emotional support even if they might not show it. Be there for them, talk to them and understand what they really want," he says.
John feels that thinking positive holds the key. It is something his tele-psychologists practice too. When they get a call from someone who wants to end his/her life they try giving what they call 'positive self talk'. "Besides thinking positive it is important to keep oneself busy. Very often, not having anything to do puts you into a deeper depression," he says. "Watch television, go for a walk or engage yourself in an activity that will keep you engaged."
Dutta adds, "The other thing we tell young callers is to stop worrying about the outcomeof any exam. Very often we get calls from kids who have forgotten their formulae and have a big exam the next morning. We tell them to just take it easy because last minute cramming is of little or no help. When you don't panic and start writing, things usually come to you."
John also says that good sleep is the key to good mental health. "We advise young students to sleep adequately and eat well. A good balance of work and rest is very important. Do yoga, practice meditation."
Even as Rawal agrees with John and Dutta, she is somewhat sceptical of how much a young student actually puts into practice. "How many students practice yoga?" she questions. "At the end of the day the person must be able to believe in oneself and have a support system -- a group of people s/he can turn to in times of distress."
When we ask Raval if she believes that suicide is an escapist's way out, she replies in the positive. "Many of us want to escape from any uncomfortable situation. One must understand that there is always a way out of any mess and that one always has a choice of fighting back. It finally boils down to that," she says. "You need to be independent and if you are a parent, learn to let go and let your child stand on his/her feet. Give your children freedom and let them take responsibility so they can affect change in themselves."
Abhishek Mande

Suicide stats updates

India saw 1,35,445 suicides last year -the Hindu

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Scrutiny reveals 242 men and 129 women commit suicide every day

As many as 1,35,445 people committed suicide in the country last year. Statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that excluding West Bengal, 79,773 men and 40,715 women had taken the extreme step. West Bengal, where 14,957 suicides were reported, did not provide classification statistics to the NCRB.
The rate of suicide last year stands at 11.2 cases for a population of I lakh. As per rounded off figures provided by the NCRB, on an average, 15 suicides an hour or 371 suicides a day had taken place. When scrutinised further, it reveals 242 male and 129 female suicides a day.
Tamil Nadu tops the list with 16,927 suicides, followed by Maharashtra with 16,112 suicides, West Bengal 3rd and Andhra Pradesh following it with 14,328 suicides. The 28 States together accounted for 1,32,667 cases and the seven Union Territories together for 2,778 suicides. In the administrative division of Lakshadweep, only one person committed suicide. In Delhi UT, it was 1,899. Among the cities of the country, Chennai topped with 2,183 cases.
The rate of suicide at the administrative division of Puducherry was the highest in the country, 36.8 for every 1 lakh persons. With a population close to 15 lakh as per estimated mid-year population, 541 persons committed suicide in Puducherry in 2012. Sikkim follows with a rate of 29.1 per cent and Tamil Nadu 3rd with a rate of 24.9 closely followed by Kerala with 24.3. The national average stands at 11.2.
Family problems accounted for 84 suicides a day on an average. The NCRB figures show that social and economic causes have led most of the men to commit suicides whereas emotional and personal causes have mainly driven women to end their lives. The percentage of suicides by married men was 71.6% and married women 67.9%.
One suicide out of every six suicides was committed by a housewife. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu plus Maharashtra have together accounted for 50.6% of the suicides reported in the country. The highest number of suicide pacts was reported from Rajasthan, 74, followed by Andhra Pradesh (18), Kerala (12), and Gujarat (3), out of 109 such cases reported.
Thirty-seven per cent of the victims took the extreme step by hanging themselves, 29.1 per cent by consuming poison and 8.4 per cent by self-immolation. Last year, 50,062 persons hanged themselves in the country and the majority were men at 34,631. The highest number of such cases was reported from Maharashtra, 7,055 followed by Kerala with 5,629 cases and Tamil Nadu 3rd with 5393 cases.
Nineteen thousand four hundred and forty five persons committed suicide by consuming poison and 12,286 of them were men. Tamil Nadu topped the list with 3,459 cases, followed by Karnataka with 3,173 cases. The number of self-immolation cases was 11,438, the majority being women — 7,326. In this category too, Tamil Nadu topped with 2,349 cases and 1,481 of them were women. Maharashtra followed with 1,674 such cases.
From among the cities, the highest number of self immolation cases was reported from Kanpur (285), followed by Chennai (282). By jumping in front of speeding vehicles, especially trains, 4,259 persons committed suicide and the majority of them were men (3,554). Andhra Pradesh topped this list with 1,101 cases.
As per NCRB statistics, 1,35,585 persons committed suicide in the country in 2011. NCRB statistics from 2002 shows that the annual suicide cases in the country always stood above the 1 lakh mark and the highest number of cases was in 2011. In 2002, it was 1,10,417 cases.

Farm suicide trends in 2012 remain dismal

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Farm suicides rose sharply by almost 450 in Maharashtra in 2012 to touch 3,786, the latest National Crime Records Bureau data show. (The State saw 3,337 suicides in 2011). That is the worst annual increase in seven years. It also brings Maharashtra’s total tally since the NCRB began recording farm data in 1995 to a staggering 57,604 farmers’ suicides.
Andhra Pradesh also saw an upward surge. It logged 2,572 farm suicides in 2012. That is 366 higher than the previous year’s figure of 2,206. Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh reported declines of 225 and 154 respectively.
The last of the ‘Big 5’ States that account for over two-thirds of all farm suicides, Chhattisgarh, continued to declare a near zero figure. In 2012, it claimed it had just four. Chhattisgarh’s three-year average prior to its zero-declaration approach was 1,567. Indeed, the State’s own data, prior to that tactic, show it suffered 18,375 farm suicides between 2001-10.
Other States seem inspired by Chhattisgarh’s methods. West Bengal sent in no data at all on farm suicides (or some other categories, too) in 2012. But its three-year average for 2009-2011 was 951.
Chhattisgarh’s figure of ‘4’ and Bengal’s non-filing of data stand out in the all-India total of 13,754 farm suicides in 2012. If three-year averages for both States are included, then the national total would be 16,272. That would be the highest farm suicides figure in three years.
Even accepting the truncated numbers, the Big 5 accounted for over 68.4 per cent of all farm suicides in the country in 2012. That is the highest ever since the recording of such data began.
Among other major States, Kerala saw 1,081 such farm deaths, a steep increase of 251 over its 2011 number of 830. Uttar Pradesh saw 745 farm suicides — up by 100 over its 2011 figure. Tamil Nadu reported a decline of 124 to log 499. That’s down from 623 the previous year.
The NCRB figures across 18 years for which data exist show that at least 2,84,694 Indian farmers have taken their lives since 1995. (That is, accepting the non-figures of Chhattisgarh and West Bengal). Divide that 18 years into two halves and the trend is dismal. India saw 1,38,321 farm suicides between 1995 and 2003 at an annual average of 15,369.
For 2004-12, the number is 1,46,373, at a much higher annual average of 16,264. The figures in the second half occurred against a steep decline in the numbers of farmers in India and are hence even worse than they appear. (See The HinduFarmers’ suicide rates soar above the rest)
In short, there is no serious decline or reversal of the major trends in farm suicides in the country. ‘Zero’ declarations, though, are likely to grow by the year as more States feel the need to massage their dismal data or simply not file it.
(The copy has been corrected to show Tamil Nadu's declining figures as 124, not 123 and to correct the typo for Kerala's 2011 figure which should correctly read as 830 and not 1,830).
Keywords: Farmers suicidefarm suicidesNational Crime Records BureauNC

Suicide by elderly on the rise: NCRB

BHUBANESWAR: Financial dependence, abuse, neglect by children and illness allegedly forced 500 senior citizens to commit suicide in 2013, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on Odisha. It was 351 in 2012.

"The NCRB findings are indeed disturbing. We have come across cases in which elderly people have committed suicide because of ill-treatment by children and other family members. Financial crunch and illness also forced them to take the extreme step," said president of All Odisha Federation of Senior Citizens' Association Krupasindhu Sahoo.

The NCRB report is equally worrisome with regard to youths. A large number of people in 0-29 age group ended their lives due to unemployment, examination failure, failed love affairs and dowry disputes. Social and economic causes led most men to commit suicide while it was emotional and personal reasons in case of women.

Last year, altogether 1,962 people in the age group of 0-29 committed suicide, while it was 1,983 in 2012. A total of 87 students, 49 male and 38 female, ended their lives for flunking examinations, the NCRB data said. Most of them were is Class X and Plus II.

Failure in love led to 260 suicides (118 male and 142 female) in Odisha. Of the total 5,252 suicide cases reported last year, 3,272 were men. Among them, 2165 were married, the report added.