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Ending the Stigma of Suicide
Kay Redfield Jamison is a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she also do-directs the Mood Center. Once a manic depressive herself, she is now a prominent expert on mental health, suicide, and creativity.
Her books include Touched With Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament; An Unquiet Mind; Exuberance: A Passion For Life; and Nothing Was The Same.
Question: What’s the most common misconception about suicide?
Kay Redfield Jamison: I think people don't understand how intimately tied suicide is to mental illness, particularly to depressive illness and bipolar illness. I think that there is a tendency to see suicide as a reaction to a bad event in ones life and you read the papers and you see that somebody had a financial reversal or broke up with somebody or didn't get into graduate school or whatever it is, and that is presented as the explanation and nowhere it is mentioned what shows up on the psychological autopsy is a person who had depression from the time he or she was 13, they used alcohol, they were impulsive. All the things that we know go in to suicide.
Question: Why is suicide so prevalent among college-aged students?
Kay Redfield Jamison: Well, it's partly prevalent because there are relatively few things that kill people that are that young other than car accidents and suicide. It's also—there is a very interesting relationship between age and suicide and bipolar illness, for example, that under the age of 30 you're just much more likely to kill yourself. A lot of people with bipolar illness who were over the age of 30 unfortunately killed themselves as well, but you're much more likely—and some of it is the protuberance itself may be a little bit more variant. People are more impulsive and they get slightly less impulsive as they get older and the impulsiveness interacting with the depression is particularly devastating and lethal, potentially lethal. But it's also the case that these often kids who haven't been accurately diagnosed, haven't been medicated properly, aren't in psychotherapy, so they—or if they are, they've stopped taken their medication because medication non-compliance is more likely to occur earlier on in the illness.
So you have all these terrible things that conspire against young people.
Question: Are there policy changes that might help people to cope with suicide?
Kay Redfield Jamison: Well, I think that—I mean, until recently, of course, there was no parody, there was no pretense of insurance coverage or treatment. So in a way you could get up and you can talk until the cows come home and you say, "These are the symptoms of depression. Get a second opinion. Do all the things you know that are..." But if people can't afford it, it's meaningless at some fundamental level and I think actually the current administration is very dedicated to doing something about coverage of mental illness and I think they are also very aware of how costly it is to society at a human level and at an economic level. I think they are very intelligent about that. I think Internists and GPs are much more aware of the relationship between depression and cardiovascular disease, for example. So depression is being taken much, much more seriously than it was. For a long period of time, psychiatry as a field didn't have much credibility and a lot of that was brought on my psychiatry. Now, there is so much more science, there is so much more credibility to our understanding of the brain and treatments.
So, I think things are changing. At the college level, a lot of the same things. A lot of kids don't have the insurance or the insurance runs out very quickly, they don't have enough sessions. I spent a lot of time talking to college administrators and students about this and it is very frustrating, or they are sent on medical leaves which really means in many instances don't come back until you've proven that you're well. It's a real catch-22. So it's a devastating time and I think that people just need to be more informed. It's a treatable illness. You have no excuse for not getting treated and you have no excuse for not putting your wing out and showing compassion and understanding.
Recorded On: September 30, 2009
The classic understanding of suicide casts it as reactionary measure against a particular event or outcome, but Kay Redfield Jamison argues that it is typically the result of the prolonged pain that comes with mental illness.
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>