Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ed Shneidman

Ed Shneidman, the founder of suicidology, an absolute genius, and a major hero of mine passed away on Friday at the age of 91.

His obituary can be read here.
A few fairly recent articles: http://www.kansascity.com/238/story/1178078.html

The American Association of Suicidology, which Shneidman began, will be hosting tributes and donations in his name: http://www.suicidology.org/web/guest/shneidman

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Internet and Suicide

I think this article makes some interesting points about how the Internet could be used as such a valuable resource by those ambivalent about suicide, but instead often exacerbates the problem. It's sickening that when somebody writes about their suicide attempt, and shows video of it, people egg them on instead of trying to get them to stop and seek help.

In a world where people increasingly turn to the Internet as a source of information and a way to document their lives, there should be less of these kinds of problems, not more. About 80% of people give somebody an indication that they are planning to commit suicide before actually doing so. I would not be surprised if that number went up, given obsessions with web forums and social networking pages (status indicators included). The question is: What will people do with that information? Hopefully in the future, people will offer help, or at the least discouragement, rather than treating the suicidal individual as an anonymous source of entertainment, as seemed to happen in the tragedy in the article above.


There are a number of things interesting that I find interesting about the case of a girl who committed suicide after a fictional love interest on MySpace spurned her.

My first reaction after reading the article linked above, though, relates mostly to the terms of service argument. Basically, it is ridiculous. If somebody went into a court room and said they didn't read the laws of the United States, so they didn't have to follow them, it wouldn't mean a damn thing. I can't see the not reading TOS argument holding any weight here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

CNN: Post-Election Blues

Article on post-election "depression"

Conceptual Knowledge

As a kid, I often felt frustrated going to Hebrew school because I was taught to read and chant Hebrew without knowing its meaning. Essentially, I was trained to stand up for my Bat Mitzvah and sound good, even if I had no clue what I was saying. I figured if I was going to spend all that time, I should at least be able to speak Hebrew somewhat conversationally and know what was going on.

These days, my statistics class feels rather similar to Hebrew school. I'm learning how to plug things into formulas to determine significance of just about anything. However, I generally don't know why I'm using one test or another, or really even what is going on within the test. If I had a giant set of data, I probably wouldn't know all that well what to do with it on my own. It's quite frustrating, and I've been attempting to get more books and do more internet research to fill in the gaps, but having difficulty. Hopefully this will change over time. I keep wishing the information would magically implant itself into my brain, but no such luck yet...


Today is a very happy Friday. My general life desire lately has leaned toward running away from PhD land to play with dolphins. As that is clearly not an option right now, I'm doing my best to just recognize that the first year sucks and tough it out.

Today, though, both clinical supervision and professional development seminar are canceled. Which means I can stay home and work on my stats quiz. Okay, the stats quiz is not happy. But the staying home is, especially if it snows as predicted.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Memoir Project

Grad school has generally been miserable, painful, and tedious lately. I think this is largely due to my overemphasis on memorizing criteria and stats, both of which are highly detached from real people. The detail-oriented studying serves its purpose, but is not enjoyable, and ultimately not as memorable (which doesn't help come finals and comprehensive exams).

So, I have a new plan, and we'll see how it goes. I'm trying to compile memoirs and other kinds of supplementary texts associated with my courses. I have a little bedtime reading and tea drinking ritual, and these books are going to become a part of it. This week, for example, as I'm reading and memorizing the minutia of schizophrenia, I will also read a memoir (The Center Cannot Hold). I should have DSM-IV Made Easy by Morrison soon, as well, which is supposed to be helpful for remembering criteria and looking at case studies. Hopefully this will all help me paint a more conceptual, memorable picture, remind me that there are real people involved in this stuff, and perhaps more importantly, remind me why I loved psych in the first place--before the massive stress overload.

The downside of more reading is of course that I already have a shitload of required reading and homework, and not enough time for that. But I think if I want to maintain my sanity and not have a total crisis of faith in what I'm doing, this is a pretty necessary initiative. And it is highly school-related, so should not feel too guilty while doing the reading.

If anybody has suggestions of psych-related books, I'm very open to them!

P.S. I also have two undergrad classes of papers to grade this week. Yuck. There is some magical force that makes it so the two classes I TA for both have papers due at the same time. One of the profs has the unfortunate habit of not telling me about the papers until after he already has them turned in, so that I can't plan for this. Makes me rather grumpy, but have to put up with it. That is why I get the stipend, after all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poll: Young Unmarried Women for Obama

Check out this poll showing the gigantic margin for Obama among young unmarried women. I wonder if it perhaps has something to do with him not trying to take away our rights to do as we please with our own bodies (among, of course, so many other things). Interesting, no?


Warning: Angry political commentary ahead

The increasingly discussed concept of Obama's tax plan as "socialism" is a bunch of crap as far as I'm concerned.

For one, I don't think most republicans would ever have thought of this on their own. I believe that the word was used and they all thought it was a good idea, so started throwing it around themselves.

Second, I don't know what republicans think taxes are, exactly. Perhaps most of them are so rich that they haven't been paying them much in the past, and are thus unfamiliar with what taxes are and what they do. Americans have been paying taxes for quite some time. Before that, they fought with the Brits about paying them without representation. Jokes about their inevitability are common (death, taxes, can't avoid either...) So, the concept of "spreading the wealth" (if that's what you want to call it) to fund federal programs is not really a new idea. That's how we have public roads and schools and things. When somebody offers to give me some of that money back, I say "Yes, thank you" and stop bitching and whining and calling them names. Of course, I'm just a grad student, and do not make anywhere near $250,000 a year. (Though, I'm really perplexed about how a plumber could be making that much?? Why don't I end this pain and misery right now and go fix some toilets and sinks instead??)

Ahem, anyway, I can see how it behooves somebody with a lot of money to be a republican. However, most of us do not fit that criteria (95% of American families, I believe, the Obama campaign would say). I guess that is why Obama is up so far in the polls right now. And I suppose if taxes are somehow now equal to socialism, then we have been a socialist country for a long time. This is not an idea I think the republicans would enjoy. I would be interested, though, in seeing McCain's plan for running the US without taxing people.

(P.S. I received a call from Obama for America while writing this post. How poetic. They wanted me to volunteer at an office in Van Nuys. Unfortunately, a bit far away from me now. Like...2,000 miles. Wouldn't mind doing some campaigning here if I can find some time in the perpetual business that is my life.)

Rising Suicide Rates in US

Have mentioned before that I expect an increase in suicides with the way the economy has been. This study published by CNN today seems to echo that belief:

Rising Suicide Rates

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Keeping an Eye on WM3 Hearings

This is certainly not a WM3 blog, but the topic is one that remains incredibly important to me, so here is just a little encouragement for people to keep reading and learning about this case. I may not focus my writing on the WM3 in particular, but I do focus on troubled adolescents, a population just as at risk of being targeted as outsiders as these men were when they were arrested as teenagers.

Rule 37 hearings are ongoing for two of the WM3, though the remainder is postponed until November. Information about the hearings (really interesting stuff) can be found at:

WM3 Blog

There are also a few ongoing fundraising projects for the defense team and generally supportive things:

Photo wall
Broken Justice Shirt (my personal favorite)
CD (also a favorite)
Damien Echol's book (haven't purchased this myself quite yet, but read it and loved it, and hope to obtain this and other books about the case in the near future)

Staying informed about the world seems to be more and more depressing these days, but that makes it even more important, not less. I've been too busy with grad school goings on to blog much lately; however, I'm still reading and thinking about all the things I want to say here, and I hope to return to my little corner of the web on a more regular basis soon (now that I have Internet in my apartment, not just the coffee shops).