Monday, October 30, 2006
That's right...DON'T VOTE...
...(that is) until you've done your homework!
It's real simple. I figure in a little over a week we'll have PLENTY of statistics to analyze and compare with the up-coming elections. So, this week I want to dedicate this entry to the up-coming numbers of the November elections which will be held on November 7th in your friendly neighborhood.
I did my homework and I early voted this past weekend. If you still haven't voted, and are registered to vote, you need to make sure to do your homework and then hit the poll on the 7th!
To do your homework, I advise you to go to DON'T VOTE and you can find out there who is running in your area for which elections. Then, you can click on each of the candidates campaign websites from there and see where they stand on the issues that are important to you. THAT is the homework that you need to do before you vote--DON'T VOTE without it!!
I end with these numbers: the "DON'T VOTE" link is now on here 5 times. 100% of the people who read this who have NOT voted yet SHOULD click on one of these 5 links and at LEAST visit it to make sure they know all the elections that are going to be presented to them when they go to vote, even if they think they know who they're voting for already in all the elections. One quick stop can't hurt 'em!
Best wishes to you and your candidates in the upcoming elections!
GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND VOTE, AMERICA!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The Bridge is a 90-plus minute documentary centered about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. For those not too familiar with this bridge, it was opened in 1937, and it is over a mile long spanning over the San Francisco Bay. The roadway on the bridge skies some 220 feet above the surface of the water below. Quite a fall if you were to slip off, but unfortunately, more than 1,200 individuals have experienced that 4-second fall since the bridge opened. This number represents the number of individuals who have done more than “slip” off the edge—in their minds it was a jump.
The Golden Gate Bridge has been a popular means for suicidal individuals completing their plan for ending their lives. As mentioned, more than 1,200 have taken advantage of the near-guaranteed death. With the 220 foot fall taking a mere 4-seconds, the body is calculated at hitting the surface of the water below at going approximately 75-miles per hour. At speeds like that, death is only a splash away. So, as a glorious monument that tourists by the thousands visit on a regular basis, it also has it’s dark hidden secret—or at least hidden until Steel decided to shed some light on the matter…
The Bridge was Steel’s project inspired by his drive to get a better understanding of “the human spirit in crisis.” So, after years of planning, he and his crew set up cameras in January 2004 at the park located near the bridge. They kept their cameras rolling for 365 days, gathering the “activity” that took place on the bridge for the full year of 2004. When they had shut off their cameras, they had footage of 24 suicides.
He had footage of individuals who paced up and down the bridge for more than 30-minutes before making the move to end their life.
He had footage of individuals who sat on the railing for minutes before making the final gesture over.
He had footage of individuals who walked up to the edge and simply climbed over immediately like there was nothing left to cross their mind.
He even got footage of a man up on the bridge taken photographs when a lady climbed over the railing in front of him and before she could step off the ledge, the photographer grabbed her and pulled her back over and sat on her until authorities could arrive. A life saved, for the moment at least. The camera crew caught the same woman coming back to the bridge multiple times after then. It was then that the crew would make the call to the bridge authorities their selves.
This was one of the rules Steel’s crew had, and that was if they noted an individual who seemed suspicious in the sense that they believed the person might be there to commit suicide, they would call the bridge authorities immediately. Unfortunately, some people’s last moment behaviors are not predictable.
So, after recording the actual footage of the deaths, Steel’s next step was to talk to the families who were left behind after the suicides. He recorded interviews with these individuals questioning them about the behaviors of their loved ones leading up to the suicide, as well as asking about their feelings toward the act that is noted as selfish.
So Steel gathered his footage—individuals taking their own lives and family and friends reactions to the behaviors.
Many have argued that it is unethical and wrong to video people taking their own lives—and even worse to make it into a documentary for others to witness. The talk about this film has already begun, but the controversy only begins there…
As previously mentioned, Steel took methods for gaining the footage in what is being viewed as controversial as well. First, when Steel got the permit to set up his crew to tape the bridge in the park, he was not clear about why he wanted to film the bridge. There was no mention to the filming purpose being to shoot a documentary about suicides committing at the mercy of the Bay below. If that did not raise enough questions from his critics, his choice to interview the friends and families left behind without mentioning to them that he had the suicides recorded inflamed the questioning.
To the questioning Steel has consistently responded with his defense that he did not want word to get out during the filming of the project about WHAT the project was about in fear that it would give others an encouragement to go ahead with their suicidal plans in efforts to be a part of the film.
So, does what will the country make of this documentary film? Will the suicide rate at The Golden Gate Bridge increase? Will it raise awareness to friends and families about individuals at risk of suicide and possibly help professionals and others in better assessing for at-risk suicidal clients; therefore, causing the suicide rate to decline? Will suicide prevention increase? Will America take a closer look at the issue of suicide and talk surrounding the subject will become less taboo?
Who knows what will happen, but one San Francisco native and Golden Gate Bridge jumper and SURVIVOR supports the film and is featured among the interview footage…
Kevin Hines, now 25 years old, is one of the FEW who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and has lived to tell his story. Suffering from a depressive state due to his bipolar disorder, Kevin made the decision to jump back in September of the year 2000. He remembers backing away from the railing and running and jumping and then in the beginning of the 4-second fall thinking to himself, I don’t want to die. In the remaining time he immediately threw his head back, hoping to not hit the water head first and remained conscious after hitting the water. Though suffered two shattered vertebrae as a result of the impact, without the aid of his legs, Kevin was able to somehow swim up toward the light with just his arms. Six years later, Kevin reports he is living a stable live while taking his bipolar medications and makes a career with his father working on suicide prevention in the San Francisco area.
So who knows? Who knows what cities and places will be willing to show this documentary. Who knows how many people will pay to see it. Who knows how it will affect human behavior in San Francisco, as well as around the country…
But one thing that the 20/20 program ended the segment with is for sure—the lobbying that has been going on for YEARS to get the railing on the bridge raised to prevent suicidal jumpers, has apparently begun to pay off. Information was shared that a contract company has already been hired and is in the progress of drawing up blueprints and releasing a monetary figure to the Bridge authorities soon.
Could this film have been the straw that broke the camel’s back? Might preventive measures be taken now to save lives above the quiet and yet desperation-filled Bay?
Only time will tell…
So what do you think? Was Steel’s idea for a documentary going too far? Should individuals taking their own lives be recorded and played for others to see? Are the educational and hopeful-repercussions of this film worth the controversial stand? Is suicide a taboo topic that should remain that way?
I won’t share much of my thoughts at this point in time, but I will say this…
I already looked and the film is not schedule to be in the Dallas area anytime soon (if ever) as far as my knowledge. If it was, I would already have marked my calendar.
**You can check out more online coverage of this film, Steel, and the controversy surrounding it at this or this website.
Monday, October 23, 2006
- On Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 7:46 AM (eastern time) the population of the U.S. was believed to hit 300,000,000. This statistic is based on estimates of how many babies are born, how many people die, and how many illegal aliens move into our country per minute.
- This statistic helped to arrive at the above statistic: Every 60 seconds 6 more illegal aliens join the U.S. population.
[The above statistics were stated on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on 10-17-2006]
- 82% of Americans are on at least one medication.
- 30% of Americans are on 5 or more medications.
[The above statistics were stated on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on 10-17-2006]
--The above statistics remind me once again at how dependent our society is on medicine. I've never been a big fan of medication. I personally have taken a VERY limited number of medicines in my lifetime. But I will admit that with my current internship I am believing more and more in the power of medications and the requirement of some medications in some instances (i.e. SEVERE mental illness)
- The National Alliance for Caregiving states that some 1.4 million CHILDREN in the United States are living as the primary caregiver in their household.
[The above statistic was taken from the Oprah episode on 10-20-06]
--The Oprah episode that this statistic was taken from was very eye-opening. Many children are put in the position of raising their younger siblings. This occurs when parents are unable to provide and care for the children due to instances such as handicaps, medical illness, or drug addictions. And in some of these cases, the child is not only "raising" their fellow siblings, but also caring for the parent many times. 13 year olds get up a 6 AM to COOK breakfast, pack lunches, get younger siblings up and dressed and off to school. Then they come home and make sure dinner is fed and showers are taken and teeth are brushed. 13 years old! Some 9 year olds are taking care of their single-parent mothers who are deaf and suffer from cerebal palsy. Children taking on the responsibilities of adults are young, young ages.
The final statistics I gained this past week while watching television are linked to the most interesting television program I watched all week. This was not a scheduled program for me to watch; I just kind of happened across it Friday night, but for that I was REALLY glad. This final program and statistics will be shared tomorrow in the second part to my series on suicide. The statistics will be surprising, but the topic surrounding the statistics will be controversal and intriguing.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I’ve been fortunate and my connections to the topic of suicide are less personal; however, I have had the opportunity to do a bit of studying through my academic career on the topic. It is a fascinating topic to human behavior analysts.
And while it is fascinating to me to study the human reasoning for leading up to suicidal attempts, at the same time it is a scary topic to be dealing with as a mental health provider…
It is said that mental health providers have the highest rate among career professionals for committing suicide. I find that interesting.
[Story] One of the psychiatrist residents working on a mental health team with me this past semester in my internship had a close friend who also was a psychiatrist resident commit suicide during the time we were working together on the team. The resident on our team had to take a good amount of time off to grieve because of the loss. I mean this resident’s friend was a resident psychiatrist as well. There isn’t many better paying careers than being a psychiatrist, but this individual still reached the point of feeling like suicide was his/her best option. This sheds light on the fact that the act of taking one’s own life is not limited to any one race of people, or one career type, or one gender, or one socio-economic class. Anyone can be at risk of falling into this downward spiral of cognitive reasoning…
It is said that one of the most difficult situations to deal with as a mental health provider is the suicide of a client. This makes sense to me.
[Story] My most admired professor during my graduate degree program spoke to us in class one day about how he had a client who had met with him in a counseling session one day and was depressed. That evening the client ended up committing suicide. The client had mentioned my professor in a manner that was not so encouraging in the suicide note. My professor explained to our class how that was an incredibly difficult time for him following the death, and that he even had to take some time off from his private practice to cope. He mentioned that he had to turn to a fellow colleague during the trying time to help him to get through the situation.
Though I wish I did, I don’t have a statistic on what is the likelihood of a client committing suicide while under the care of a clinician. I imagine that the statistic is surprisingly high. I say this not because clinicians are not doing their job, but because sometimes suicidal clients are unpredictable. Many times a person will not give hints to their suicidal thoughts. They will choose to keep those thoughts to their selves. Yes, they might obviously be depressed, but is every depressed person suicidal? No.
At the same time, realizing the prevalence of depression among clients and the correlation between clients who commit suicide and their state of mood being depressed, I would be willing to say that my career in the mental health realm will put me in a situation where a client of mine will commit suicide. Unfortunate? Of course. But still likely? Yes.
[The Main Story] Over the past several months I have had my first experiences in the counseling setting. As an intern therapist, I would be providing intervention strategies with clients who were victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault—individuals who are at HIGH risk for suffering from depression. With this being the case, the topic of assessing clients for suicidal ideation/thoughts and plans is crucial. This was the heavy thought on my mind the whole first week of training. I hadn’t even gotten close to having my first client, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how to properly assess for suicidal thoughts and plans and recalling what the procedure for when you have a suicidal client was. My fellow interns were concerned about remembering which forms to use with which clients and how to best word the questions on the intake form when interviewing clients, but I couldn’t stop focusing on the possibilities for interacting with the suicidal client. It was the last day of training and I remember still having questions in my head on EXACTLY what to do in the situation with a suicidal client, so I broke down and actually spoke up in the training (which is very rare of me, as I’m typically real quiet when first getting to know other adults and professionals). I was given some answers and I was feeling more comfortable. Then my first client came the following week…
Would you believe it that this client had issues with practically EVERYTHING else in the book, but NOT suicide. Phew, it was a sense of relief! I had (somehow) survived my first client (who to this day has been one of my most interesting clients—way to start off with QUITE a character), and made it through the “Have you had any thoughts of hurting yourself or suicidal thoughts in the past” question. Phew. I could breathe a sigh of relief.
Four and a half months worth of clients passed with the closest to a “suicidal client” being the ones who had had thoughts weeks before, but had no plan (which is a “safe” client for release in a clinical setting, though precautions should still be arranged). I hadn’t had to deal with the client yet that we would have to have “hauled off” to the psych. ER because of his/her suicidal thoughts at the present time with plans and means available. But maybe my “luck” was running out…
I had had a good record thus far—hadn’t had a client yet that I was unsure how to handle their response to the suicide questioning during the initial intake assessment. But then my time came. I look back on it now and think at least I DID get this experience BEFORE I left the internship and was out on my own…HA! It was just recently and…
This client admitted to having suicidal thoughts that morning. ^^Thoughts in my head at the time:
I had a struggle with getting out of the client whether a plan did or didn’t exist, but the answers I kept getting from the client was that the plan that had been planned to be used months ago was no longer an option, so currently a plan did not exist. ^^Great, so does that mean the client is plan-less and safe to go?!?! How come these real client sessions go NOTHING like the role-play scenarios we do in preparation for the “real thing??!!?” Okay, let’s keep assessing and just make sure…^^
We had somehow gotten off the topic of suicide and were talking about narrowly-connected topics. ^^Why had I waited to address the suicide question until the last minute in the session?!?! Because you hadn’t had any issues with it arise in the past with clients, so you figured this one would go down just like the rest, but boy, were you wrong. Now look—your 45 minute session is pushing an hour and 15 minutes. You’ve got to figure out whether this client has to be “hauled off” or is safe to leave!^^
At this point, after talked around and about with the suicide question for approximately thirty minutes I was feeling like this client was going to be “safe” to let leave after establishing some safety precautions with the client first. But then at the same time, who wants the thoughts of “what if” looming over their head ALONE as a young student?!?! So I did what any good student intern would have done…lied. HA! I basically led the client to believe the session was over, when I knew I had a “second part” about to occur.
[Note to self: Way to encourage the trusting relationship between the therapist and the client right off the bat in the first session. We’ll see how the trust aspect works out if the client even decides to come back to see you now! Crap! HA!]
I took the client back out to the waiting room telling them I was getting their discharge paperwork following the session put together and then we would go to the secretary and schedule our next appointment together. This was when I made a break for one of my supervisors’ offices (hey, it was a new client—they had no idea where the copy machine was located in the building. As far as they knew, I could have been heading in that direction to get their paperwork ready…HA!). In a matter of a couple of minutes I was asking the client to come back into the counseling room with me. At this point, my supervisor joined us in session and we went over our concerns with the client about their safety. Within 3 or 4 minutes my supervisor had established a sense of the client’s suicidal thoughts/ideation and then my supervisor left the room, giving me the “okay” to release the client.
Phew! I had made the right decision in the first place (but it never hurts to have the supervisor’s stamp-of-approval when you’ve only been in the business for a few months). HA!
So there it was—my first “suicidal client.” Well, I suppose I haven’t had the client yet that I HAVE had to have “hauled off,” but this was close enough for me for now. After getting the approval from the supervisor and then scheduling the client an appointment to see one of our staffed psychiatrists, I felt a lot more comfortable with releasing the client on their way. Let’s just hope the psychiatrist can get this client on some medication that will help with the desperate thoughts they had been experiencing.
[Part II of this series on suicide will be posted on Tuesday. Please return then for a controversial talk concerning the topic]
Monday, October 16, 2006
- Out of the 12 individuals who were at dinner at some point with us on Friday night, all but 5 of us were or had been teachers at some point. And if you look at only the women in the group, which was 10 of us, only 3 of us had never been teachers!
- Homecoming Queen Nominees: 4 Kojies, 2 GATAs, 1 Kai-O, and 1 DT. No Siggies!?!?! The DT won it.
- The football team won by the score of 35-7. The other teams touchdown was not scored until the last few minutes of the whole game. This win put the team at their best start for a season (6-0) since 1950.
- A reminder of why freshman should not be involved in pranking--they have a 1 o'clock curfew on weekends!
- The number of times I sang the GATA fountain songs during the weekend: 3 times.
- The number of times that I found myself watching the others around me to make sure I did the right moves at the right times during the fountain songs: 3 times!
- The number of times I said my new commonly used phrases "You make me laugh" or "You make me smile": about a million.
- The number of times an alumni of my senior asked me for pranking advice during the weekend: 4 times.
- The price I paid for gas when filling up on Sunday to make my trip back home: $1.86.
- The times I went to bed this weekend: 12:30 AM on Friday night, 1:45 AM on Sat. night, and after being woke up by a cell phone call I went BACK to bed again at 2:00 AM on Sat. night!
- The score of the Cardinals playoff game on Sat. night that I watched with two of my siblings: 5-0 Cardinals won!
- The number of pictures I took on my camera this weekend: 34.
- The number of hours I spent studying for my up-coming mid-term while I was out of town: 0 (zero).
And last but certainly not least...
- The number of memories I made this weekend: un-countable!
Thanks for the good times, friends!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
This past weekend I had the pleasure of taking a trip to my alma mater and taking my focus off school, work, and internship for a couple days. I think it was a much needed break!
Though the numbers of my friends returning for this year's weekend of Homecoming festivities was less than normal, it was still an amazing weekend! I think with the numbers being down allowed for me to use this weekend to impact friendships in a quality effort, rather than the quanity effort that it sometimes seems like when I find myself returning to campus for events ("Quantity effort" meaning trying to see as many of my friends while I'm there in the limited amount of time that I have).
I found myself spending long periods of time with each friend and getting to really reunite! I loved that!
The reuniting extented into the early morning hours of Sunday when I found myself reliving some of my late-night activities of the past...
I had been asked about a week before coming into town if I would want to rekindle the olden days with some pranking. I was fully aware of out-dated-ness at the time, and new the camo pants would need some dusting off, but I accepted the invitation. Methods, victims, even which night was left up in the air. We figured things would just come together during the weekend, as it did.
With a different crew in town and people and places having changed over the years, I knew things would be different. It would even call for a new and creative method. I do not think we fell short in our expectations!
One factor to the confusion for the victims was who was involved. Yes, I was quickly depicted as an instigator, but was I alone? Was this a case of a sole-pranking effort? Of course not! Who pranks alone!?! ;) But who was with me?
It is then that you can easily become a "target" if you're a close friend of mine...
It doesn't matter if it's 12:30 AM on a church night...if you're a close friend of mine...you're a suspect...
...you will probably get a call.
And a call my close friends in town got.
I tried to warn. I had informed my close friends, who I expected would be suspected, that I "was on the loose" (as it had been referred), but that wasn't enough.
There's nothing like being awoken in the middle of the night by your cell phone and answering it only to find yourself being accused of pranking. What makes it worse is when the cell phone doesn't only wake up you, but your parents too who are sleeping the same hotel room as you...
Oh the joys of being one of my close friends! If I only knew why these friends stick around! ;)
All in all it was a GREAT weekend! The football team won. I got to see some of my friends that I haven't seen in a LONG time! I got to spend some quality time with two of my siblings, as we watched our hometown Cardinals play some great baseball. I got to enjoy eating at some good ol' Abilene favorite restaurants. And I ended on a note of chalkin' one up for my "team" in our "pranking" efforts.
It was a great time! I look forward to my next returning trip. But apparently I'm not the only one...
I end with this. The poem I received at 2 AM as a voicemessage on my cell phone in response to my team's "victory." Though those of you not involved probably won't understand most of it, I can say this much...the revenge "threat" at the end is pretty clear. And upon that next returning "home" trip, I plan to be ready!
It's a GREAT poem! I must say! Way to go, girls!
You took the plate,
and messed with David's fate.
With the wise words of Abe,
we interpreted the dream.
Climbed the ladder,
and found the blue beam.
We went to get a late-night snack,
but had to tinkle,
So we went straight back.
We all had fun;
You thought you had won,
but 2007 Sing Song,
it will be back on
ONLY GET GATAs!
[P.S...I LOVE the "Pranking 101" part at the end! SO impressed with the tie-in to the Homecoming theme! BEAUTIFUL! Seriously! I LOVE it!]
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
More and more I'm believing my lack of Starbucks consumption puts me in the minority. It seems everyone nowadays has to have their Starbucks, and if it isn't the brand...it's the product--coffee.
Is there anyone else out that that isn't a coffee drinker? If you don't do coffee are you a coke-a-day drinker? Or maybe a couple-cokes-a-day drinker? ;)
Our lifestyles nowadays seem to have so many individuals addicted (both physically and mentally, in my opinion) to caffeine.
So share with me. Are you a Starbucks frequent? Are you addicted to change and dollar bills so you can get your "coke" (or "soda" by my terms--maybe "pop" by your terms) for the day while at work?
And if so, how much? Are you a couple cups of coffee drinker a day? Three or four cokes?
Don't be shy...I wouldn't doubt you caffeine folks are the majority nowadays! ;)
Monday, October 09, 2006
I was honored to be asked to write the letter, especially for someone as distinguished as herself, as she was just crowned the 2006 Homecoming Queen for her high school this weekend as a graduating senior; however, at the same time I do not think myself to be someone with much prestige to be writing someone a letter of recommendation, but oh well.
I mention this to introduce this week's statistics because I chose to share some numbers I found on what are the Top Ten Toughest Schools to Get Into for college. Granted, I'll be quick to admit that I am in no way writing this letter to get my friend into one of these schools, but at the same time, my alma mater has its own distinguished qualities. ;)
So without further ado...
The Top Ten Toughest Schools to Get Into:
10. Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island)
9. Stanford University (Stanford, California)
8. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
7. Columbia University (New York, New York)
6. California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California)
5. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, Massachusetts)
4. Harvard College (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
3. Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey)
2. Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)
and the #1 most difficult school to get into...
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
So there you have it. Good luck applying! ;)
[The above statistics were taken from this article. More information about each school is available in the article.]
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Let's think about birth order. You might have heard before that there has been a lot of research studies completed that deal with the topic of birth order. I find this sort of information interesting (as do many people, who are not even all that into the psychology realm).
Do you believe in the birthy order characteristics? It's hard to argue it otherwise, as the studies continue to show similar findings.
I'm curious about your thoughts on the matter. Think about yourself and share if you think you fit the findings. Be honest, it's okay! ;)
If you aren't aware of some of the findings, you can go to some of these links (1, 2, 3,) to learn a little more about it briefly, then share your thoughts about how you think it applies to you.
Do you seem to fit the findings?
This is a preliminary post to one I want to follow it with, which is based on some thoughts I was having earlier today while I was drying my hair! [Oh the things you'll think about when you're performing the tedious/boring everyday tasks of life!] ;)
P.S....for added fun, think about your friends or family members and where they fall in the birth order and see if you think they fit the findings! ;)
Monday, October 02, 2006
[You can read more about the forum I went to and see all four of the candidate's positions on Texas Healthcare at this link.]
Here is some of the information I noted from the forum that I found interesting...
Over the past few years, the cost of healthcare has increased more than 4-times the rate of wages. Healthcare has increased by 87% and wages by 20%.
The average healthcare premium in Texas is $1000 higher than the national average.
46.6 million Americans are uninsured. This is a 6.8 million people increase in the past 5 years. And many of these people are middle-class individuals.
5.5 million of these uninsured Americans live in Texas. This means more than 25% of the population in Texas is uninsured. This makes Texas the state with the HIGHEST rate of uninsured individuals.
Texas is ranked as the 47th state for providing for mental health and substance abuse.
Texas is experiencing an extreme nurse shortage. It is predicted that if things continue at the same rate as they are going now, by the year 2020, Texas will have a shortage of 220,000 nurses.
All of this is interesting to consider, especially when you consider this quote that one of the candidates pointed out...
We are the richest state in the country, arguably with California.
Hmmm...I think we have some serious issues to address in the area of healthcare, Texans!