Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Welcome to Spotlight

Each month, the Mad in America Editors will choose a special topic to focus on and will provide a range of blogs, personal stories, articles and media that discuss the matter at hand. We hope that you find this in-depth, single-issue reporting informative and if you would like to suggest a special topic for us to consider, please email us.

MIA Survey: Ex-patients Tell of Force, Trauma and Sexual Abuse in America’s Mental Hospitals

In a MIA survey of people who had been patients in mental hospitals, nearly 500 respondents told of an experience that was often traumatic, and frequently characterized by a violation of their legal rights, forced treatment with drugs, and physical or sexual abuse. Only 17% said they were “satisfied” with the “quality of the psychiatric treatment” they received.

Personal Stories

I Want Change

Only two hours after we got home, Dan fearlessly told me of the suicide plan that he'd devised while in the hospital. He had all that time to think about it while nobody was listening. He'd lost his dignity, his identity and his place in society. He had lost the will to live.

In Memoriam: Matt Stevenson

MIA blogger Matt Stevenson, who was best known to the MIA community for his frequent—and insightful—comments on MIA posts, died last Thursday. He took his own life, at age 32. His last message was this: Don't let a psychiatric diagnosis rob you of your hope.

Admission: A Story of Solidarity and Survival

I survived not because I received excellent care from the staff on the ward. On the contrary, the treatment was objectifying and cold. It’s not surprising that many end up in suicide behind locked doors. I survived because I felt, however fleetingly, my experiences mirrored by others.

Blogs

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace: Suicide and the Death of Agency

Today is the 10th anniversary of David Foster Wallace’s suicide. While it’s not fair to build an entire theory on an incredibly complicated issue like suicide around one person, Wallace’s death should challenge the common narratives around suicide — that “mental illness” causes it and that “we can’t ever know why people do it.” Both of these are self-serving platitudes that are simply not true.
prescriptions and suicide

Suicides Are Increasing – And So Are Antidepressant Prescriptions

Disturbingly, our study and others reveal that the black box warning is now ignored in many countries, since antidepressant prescriptions for children are on the rise again. Despite increasing certainty that antidepressants are ineffective and likely cause suicidal behavior in young people, psychiatry continues to claim that they reduce suicide risk.

Suicidal Tendencies, Part I: I’m Suicidal Because I’m Mentally Ill Because I’m Suicidal

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard “Research has found that about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness.” Here’s what I believe it means in far too many instances: It’s an 'out.' It’s an easy answer that absolves us all of blame. If someone has a ‘sickness in the brain,’ then it doesn’t have to be our fault or even necessarily our concern.
Robin Williams RIP

The Creativity and Suicide of Robin Williams: A Phenomenological Study

My purpose in writing this case study is not to suggest that creativity is a mere byproduct of trauma, or to deny the role of so-called mental illness in suicide, but to situate these phenomena within the context of human lives. To render them humanly (rather than medically) intelligible. With his mind and body disintegrating, Robin Williams took his life to thwart the eradication of self.

Suicides Rise Dramatically with Increasing Psychiatric Care

As the amount of involvement that people have with psychiatric care increases, the likelihood that they will commit suicide rises steadily and dramatically, according to a recent study. Taking psychiatric medications makes people nearly 6 times more likely to kill themselves, while having spent time in the previous year in a psychiatric hospital makes them over 44 times more likely to kill themselves.
depression happy mask suicide

Suicide in a Culture of Mandated Happiness – Who’s to Blame?

We live in a culture of mandated positivity and compulsory happiness, which somehow remains untouched by the current political, social, ecological and economic realities of the world. If you’re distressed, it must either be your bad attitude (which is a choice) or your broken brain (which is not a choice); god forbid we look anywhere outside the self.
suicide silhouette

Deadly Serious: Talking Openly About Suicide

The suicide crisis is real. The pain is real. The deaths are real. None of us can afford to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that this isn't happening. But the helplessness and confusion about what to do about it are also real. And that's why peer relationships and peer-developed modalities can be so helpful. Many of us have been there and are still alive to talk about it. We know what ways of relating gave us hope and helped us to continue on.

Katharine Hepburn is Glamorous – Suicide is Not

What do you do when the media reports stories of children who have killed themselves on SSRIs? Position the stories of these children, not the drugs they were taking, as a suicide risk. Warn that more children will die if mouthy parents are allowed to speak and upstart journalists are allowed to report. And then position psychiatrists as the only people who can talk about suicide without producing an epidemic of self inflicted deaths.
suicide attempter attempt survivor

Hegemonic Sanity and Suicide

The “good” suicide attempt survivor wakes up in a hospital bed bathed in beautiful natural light, surrounded by the people who love them most, and they realize that their thinking was flawed and all those unsolvable problems can actually be solved if they are just compliant with medication and therapy. And then there's the “bad” suicide attempter who is angry that they lived, who challenges the status quo.
alternatives to suicide

Suicidal Tendencies, Part III: So, When Do I Get to Call the Cops?

What if the key to saving someone is to admit you are powerless to save anyone at all? What would that beckon us to change? A few years ago, I spent a substantial amount of time talking with a man who entered my life because someone in the mental health system told him I might be the one who could save him (or at least, that’s how he heard it). His name was David.
crazy letters

Waiting for Gravity

Of course one wishes for an easy answer, but the things that conspire to drive a person over the edge are too numerous and varied ever to point and say, it was this one; one can never really be so certain. No one can say it wasn’t that one, or that it wasn’t really all of those together, or that, when it came my own turn for “insanity,” I wasn’t standing halfway over the edge already, waiting for gravity to kick in and for me to fall.

Why Should Suicide (Or Voluntary Death) Be a Civil Right?

Regardless of what one's moral stance is on the value of life, or the meaning of death, it is time to recognize that there are people whose views differ from ours, and that we do not have the right to force them to live (and die) the way we want to. We all die; it's the journey that matters, not the destination.

Research

Podcasts and interviews

Around the Web

Resources

Western Mass RLC Healing and recovery through Peer Support.

A list of warmlines, peer support groups, discussions about suicide and other resources can be found at the bottom of this post by Sarah Knutson.