Enter Depression, Exit…

Count me as one of those who has to turn off the radio or television when news and commentary and sorrow about Robin Williams’ suicide begins.  Way too close an encounter for me, like the shadow of a shark to a snorkling diver.  I use the time to review the rules: don’t swim in certain waters, only go in with friends, and only when I’m rested, feeling buoyant.  When a shadow appears, talk to myself: talk to others.  Swim away as away from a rip-tide, across the current not straight back in. Panic doesn’t help; irony sometimes does — there you are again, swimming from shadows! Solid land is back there somewhere; I know, I’m mostly on it.  There are more.  Here’s a good article in the Guardian’s Science section.

Depression, the clinical condition, could really use a different name. At present, the word “depressed” can be applied to both people who are a bit miserable and those with a genuine debilitating mood disorder. Ergo, it seems people are often very quick to dismiss depression as a minor, trivial concern. After all, everyone gets depressed now and again, don’t they? Don’t know why these people are complaining so much.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; dismissing the concerns of a genuine depression sufferer on the grounds that you’ve been miserable and got over it is like dismissing the issues faced by someone who’s had to have their arm amputated because you once had a paper cut and it didn’t bother you. Depression is a genuine debilitating condition, and being in “a bit of a funk” isn’t. The fact that mental illness doesn’t receive the same sympathy/acknowledgement as physical illness is often referenced, and it’s a valid point. If you haven’t had it, you don’t have the right to dismiss those who have/do. You may disagree, and that’s your prerogative, but there are decades’ worth of evidence saying you’re wrong.

Guardian: Burnett

VA study: 22 vets commit suicide every day

There are a couple of ways of measuring the suicide rate in a group of people: one is suicides per day, the other is suicides in 100,000 per year.

The newest findings for US military veterans suicides is up from 18 per day to 22 per day in the last year or so, in the 34 states reporting.

Researchers found that the average age of a veteran who commits suicide is about 60. Analysts concluded that Vietnam and female veterans need particular focus.They also determined that a very intense period of risk for suicide is the first four weeks after someone leaves the military, and that this period requires strong monitoring and case management.

The analysis found that the actual number of estimated suicides per day among veterans has remained relatively stable, ranging from 20 per day in 2000 to 18 per day in 2007 and 22 per day in 2009 and 2010, the latest estimates available, according to a report on the study released Friday. The rate of suicide among veterans who use VA health care services has remained steady in recent years, at about 36 per 100,000

Of course, however bad it is that 22 commit suicide per day it doesn’t mean much until looked at against the background rate in non-veterans.  This is typically stated in the #/100,000/year form.  The latest findings, world wide, show the rate in the United States is at about 12.5/100,000  Presumably, that includes the veterans, so if their deaths were taken out, the non-veteran rate would be somewhat lower.

12.x vs 36 would put the veterans rate in the very terrible range.

Almost as terrible as the rate for all citizens in Korea or Lithuania

It is interesting that the rates being reported are higher among older, Vietnam vets.  No discussion of how that parses out to age on the one hand — and so we should expect a similar result as Iraq and Afghanistan vets age– or to the war itself.  Did the Vietnam war have a more ‘suicidal’ effect on those vets than might be expected for more recent vets.

Also interesting that the report says over half the deaths are by drug over dose or poisoning.  I wouldn’t have expected that.  What is the death by self-inflicted gun shot, or death by cop?

Don’t know.  Work is needed