Archive for the ‘suicide lawyer’ Category

What is filicide and how can it be prevented?

Texas suicide lawyer

A Christmas Day tragedy in Boston has, once again, shed light on the alarming rate of suicides occurring across the United States, according to NBC News.

After 1 p.m. on Christmas Day, police responded to the incident involving a mother who had taken her own life and the lives to her two young children.

The incident that occurred in Boston was more than just a death by suicide. It was a filicide, which often occurs as a form of domestic violence.

Filicide is the deliberate act of a parent killing their own child. Filicide is relatively common, with estimates that it comprises 4 percent to 20 percent of all homicides in various populations.

What drives filicides among mothers?

There are five motive categories: altruistic, acutely psychotic, unwanted child, accidental, and spouse revenge.

Altruistic motive is the most important factor that distinguishes filicide from other homicides. Two subgroups are often seen among these murders committed “out of love.” These parents claimed that they couldn’t abandon their children when they killed attempted to kill themselves.  These parents killed to relieve the child’s suffering, which may have been real or imagined to the parent.

After the “altruistic” and “acutely psychotic” filicide, there is often immediate relief of tension. However, upon realization of the gravity of their actions, they may attempt suicide even if the suicide was not planned.

Psychiatrists and mental health clinicians should be alert to the filicidal potential of all depressed parents, particularly mothers considering suicide. If the suicidal thinking can be properly addressed then the deaths of children can be prevented too.

Is postpartum depression a factor in filicides

Up to 80 percent of mothers experience postpartum depression within the first three months of giving birth — brought on by physical changes, hormonal changes, and stress. In some mothers, postpartum depression can last for years.

Symptoms of postpartum depression often include:

  • Anxiety, worry, sadness
  • Fears of not being able to care for children
  • Mood changes and increase in crying
  • Difficulty with sleep
  • Difficulty with eating and self-care
  • Social isolation
  • Thoughts of harming herself or her children

While postpartum depression is not a leading cause of filicides, it can be a contributing factor in some cases.

How medical professionals can address maternal filicide and suicide

When a young mother is suicidal, a direct question about the fate of her children may be helpful in assessing the inseparability of the parent-child bond.

These tragic deaths can be prevented but clinicians must be fully trained, competent, and not rushed in assessments. Three-quarters of the patients showed psychiatric symptoms prior to their filicide. Some mothers talk openly of suicide and even expressed concern about the future of their children.

It is discouraging that a full 40 percent of killing parents are seen by a psychiatrist or other physician shortly before their act of killing their child.

Treatments for postpartum and other mental health issues often experienced by mothers include:

  • Therapy: Seeing an individual therapist or marriage counselor can help new mothers adjust to the changes of parenthood. In addition, therapy is a great way to learn coping methods and receive emotional support.
  • Antidepressants: Medication should be closely monitored and properly administered. Antidepressants may be helpful for temporary use after a mother gives birth.
  • Hormone therapy: Estrogen replacement therapy may be helpful when used in conjunction with antidepressants.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson represents those who have survived suicide attempts and families of those who have died by suicide. If you notice any signs of possible suicide risk in a relative, friend, or co-worker, we urge you to speak up. Doing so could save a life.

If you have lost a loved one due to death by suicide, you may be eligible to take legal action. To find out how nationally renowned suicide lawyer Skip Simpson can help you and your family, contact us online or call us at 214-618-8222.

1 in 5 adolescents engage in self-harm. What exactly is it and what can be done to prevent it?

Texas suicide lawyer

Self-harm is a method of regulating emotional pain and trauma, according to MayoClinic. While it is typically nonsuicidal, it can lead to a cycle of emotional pain and guilt, as well as potentially fatal injuries or death by suicide, if left untreated.

Self-harm often involves cutting, burning, self-hitting, piercing, and carving words on skin. Roughly 1 in 5 adolescents reportedly engage in self-harm or cutting at least once as a mode of comfort from emotional pain. Research suggests that self-harm is an indicator that an individual is at risk of dying by suicide.

Addressing historical challenges in diagnosing and treating self-harm

The reaction adolescents receive when seeking help after a bout of self-harm may do more harm than good, according to The New York Times. Self-harm is often treated as a symptom, rather than an individual diagnosis — leaving therapists and other medical professionals with little to offer in terms of treatment. Psychiatrists often diagnose conditions they see as an umbrella cause of self-harm, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. Self-harm is not an attempt at suicide.

“It’s the only way you know to deal with intense insecurities or anger at yourself. Or you’re so numb as a result of depression, you can’t feel anything — and this is one thing you can feel,” said one adolescent.

In recent years, however, psychiatric researchers have scrutinized several factors that can lead to self-harm, including motives, underlying biology, and social triggers. In turn, this can open up a vault of treatment options and give parents an idea of why self-harm occurs.

Barent Walsh was one of the first therapists to delve into the treatment of self-harm at The Bridge program in Marlborough, Massachusetts. He explains how much reach self-harm has in the lives of everyday people.

“It used to be that this kind of behavior was confined to the very severely impaired, people with histories of sexual abuse, with major body alienation,” said Walsh. “Then, suddenly, it morphed into the general population, to the point where it was affecting successful kids with money. That’s when the research funding started to flow, and we’ve gotten a better handle on what’s happening.”

Prior to the mid-1980s, no known research was conducted on self-harm. By the 1990s, it started to become increasingly recognized in popular culture and has been discussed by Princess Diana, Johnny Depp, and Angelina Jolie.

Today, media glamorization may be an influencing factor in self-harm among adolescents. Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program for Self-Injury and Recovery, conducted surveys at 10 universities. Through her research, she found that roughly 1 in 5 college students engaged in self-harm at least once to soothe emotional pain.

In most cases, self-harm begins at around age 15 but can manifest at around age 17 or 18, according to Whitlock. Self-harm doesn’t stop after only one incident.

“About 3 in 4 continue, and the frequency tends to go up and down, as people go in and out of various stages,” she said.

For about 20 percent of people who engage in self-harm, the habit becomes a profound addiction that can take years to break. Some become dependent on it as the only way to truly feel anything or have control over the physical pain when they don’t have control over underlying emotional pain. Self-harm may also serve as a way to feel release from pain or suppress emotional pain.

Emerging treatment seems positive

Researchers and psychiatrists have found specialized talk therapy (also called dialectical behavior therapy) to be effective at minimizing and even eliminating the risk of self-harm and death by suicide. This treatment method was originally designed to help treat borderline personality disorder. Talk therapy may be done through one-on-one or group therapy sessions on a weekly basis. During each session, patients are taught coping methods in order to regulate underlying emotions and triggers that may lead to self-harm.

The effectiveness of this strategy was demonstrated in a study at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oak, New York. Through the study of 800 adolescent inpatients, doctors found that specialized talk therapy led to significantly fewer self-harm incidents, as well as reduced time on suicide watch and inpatient treatment. These results contrasted with inpatients who were treated before specialized talk therapy become standardized.

When it comes to mental health challenges and suicidality, there is no room for error. Psychiatrists and other medical professionals are expected to give patients who may be at risk of death by suicide their full attention and offer treatment on a case-by-case basis. The cookie-cutter methods of diagnosing and treating mental health have failed far too many times.

If you have lost a loved one due to death by suicide, it’s critical that you explore your legal options during these difficult times. Suicide lawyer Skip Simpson fully understands the pain and suffering you and your family may be going through and would like to help you in the pursuit of justice.

To schedule your free case evaluation, don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Skip Simpson. Based in Texas, we serve clients across the United States.

New research shows that suicide and self-harm risk nearly triple in people suffering from restless leg syndrome

Texas suicide lawyer

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) — also known as Willis Ekbom Disease — is classified as a sensorimotor disorder that causes those affected to have an unstoppable urge to move their legs. It’s often caused by end-stage renal disease and hemodialysis, as well as iron deficiency, medication side effects, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, pregnancy, and nerve damage.

For those who suffer from RLS, moving their legs is a way to ease pain and discomfort in the lower extremities. Symptoms of RLS often flair up in the late afternoon, evening, or at night when someone is trying to sleep. In turn, people with RLS often don’t receive adequate sleep — resulting in mood changes and inability to concentrate.

Researchers find a connection between RLS and death by suicide

According to a study conducted by researchers at Penn State, there may be a link between RLS and suicide risks. The connection between RLS and suicide is currently unclear but RLS often accompanies sleep deprivation, depression, heart disease, ADHD, obesity, and overall poor quality of life.

The Penn State study involved approximately 169,373 participants (both with and without RLS) across the United States and found that those with RLS are at a 2.7-fold greater risk of death by suicide or self-harm than those without the condition. None of the participants in the study had prior cases of attempted suicide or self-harm. Throughout the study, however, approximately 119 cases of death by suicide or self-harm were identified during a mean follow-up of 5.2 years.

While research scrutinizing sleep disorders is limited, researchers believe that sleep disturbance, insomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea may elevate suicide risks in people with RLS. Depression, however, was ruled out as a suicide risk factor.

Finding a solution to RLS-related suicide may require further research

Death by suicide has risen by 30 percent since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, nearly 45,000 people in the U.S. died by suicide in 2016. These statistics are alarming. In a time when death by suicide is at an all-time high, studies such as the one conducted by researchers at Penn State help shed light on the possible risk factors we should be addressing.

About five percent of the population in Western countries is impacted by RLS. The condition can be debilitating for those who suffer from it. In the meantime, pinpointing the central cause of death by suicide and self-harm among people with RLS will require further research. Therefore, it’s critical that doctors don’t dismiss this condition as merely a nuisance.

If you lost a loved one to death by suicide that could have been prevented, it’s crucial that you take legal action. Knowing where to start, however, can be overwhelming and confusing, especially when dealing with the death of a loved one.

Nationally-recognized suicide lawyer and counselor Skip Simpson at The Law Offices of Skip Simpson helps families of those who died by suicide seek answers and justice. If a doctor or other medical professional failed to act promptly and effectively when they should have, speak to our experienced and compassionate legal team as soon as possible.

You can contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation or call (214) 618-8222.

Brain scans may ID suicide risks linked to depression

Texas suicide lawyerEven though the majority of people with depression don’t die by suicide, statistics show that roughly 30 percent who are unaffected by multiple antidepressant drugs or therapy make at least one attempt in their lifetime.

A common misconception about depression is that it must be treated as a single condition. However, it often involves multiple ailments that can heighten the risk of suicide, according to Science Mag. Researchers are currently trying to identify several depression subtypes by comparing the neural circuits that light up during certain tasks with actual depression symptoms. These efforts are part of a larger initiative to delve deeper into brain biology and mental health.

Identifying subtypes of depression that are most often linked to suicide

While the ultimate goal is to identify suicide risks through biological means, researchers hope to develop effective strategies for care that extend far beyond conventional psychiatry. This effort includes Research on Anxiety and Depression-Anhedonia Treatment (RAD-AT), which enrolls volunteers with certain subtypes of depression that put them at a heightened risk of suicide.

The study — which is led by Leanne Williams, a Stanford clinical neuroscientist — pioneers a method of treatment based on brain circuitry. In addition, the study hopes to link symptoms of depression to brain biology in order to help those who have had no previous success with treatment.

For more than 20 years, Williams has studied how depression manifests in the brain and has worked to collect thousands of brain scans from people with depression. After losing a patient early in her career, and recently, a loved one, she has dedicated herself to preventing death by suicide in people with depression.

After extensive research, Williams has identified at least six subtypes of depression, each of which is generated by unusual activity in the brain that effects certain sets of circuits responsible for regulating mood and cognition. Three key subtypes were found to be linked to suicide risks. These include:

  • A subtype that affects a circuit called the default mode network, which creates aimless mental chatter and negative thoughts while the brain is in neutral.
  • Another subtype, also called anhedonia, affects the reward networks — causing those affected by it to feel little or no pleasure.
  • A third subtype associated with attention, planning, and impulse (called cognitive control) often doesn’t respond adequately to depression treatment.

The link between brain biology and suicide has been studied since the early 1980s, particularly by neuroscientist John Mann of Columbia University. After examining the brains donated by families of those who died by suicide, he found that levels of serotonin were significantly lower than depressed people who died in other ways.

What other research has concluded

Mann recently joined Maria Oquendo, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania, to further study the link between low serotonin levels and suicide. In a 2016 study, Mann and Oquendo compiled data from positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, which tracks serotonin levels in the brain by using radioactive labels.

The study, which included 100 participants who were depressed or suicidal, found a significant biological difference between people with low-serotonin levels and those who experience circumstantial suicidal thoughts.

Another study, which was led by neuroscientist Irina Esterlis at Yale University focused exclusively on the link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide. The study also used PET imaging, which found that people with PTSD who experienced suicidal thoughts were deficient in the signaling molecule glutamate. Esterlis’s finding also explores the possibility of treatment with a drug called ketamine, which may help with glutamate deficiency.

Skeptics believe that there is no one way to identify depression subtypes. Some research suggests indicators of depression subtypes may be based on distinct symptoms, response to treatment, genetics, hormones, and gut bacteria.

What we do know is, suicidal thoughts often occur in people who, otherwise, live seemingly satisfying lives. For this reason, conventional psychiatry may not be effective at mitigating the risk. You can’t simply ask a person suffering from depression why they feel depressed. The biological markers in the brain simply can’t be expressed in words.

We hope that the findings from this research lead to effective measures of identifying biologically related suicide risks and administering effective treatment.

If you have lost a loved one due to death by suicide, you may be looking for answers and closure. An experienced Texas suicide lawyer at the Law Offices of Skip Simpson can help you through these difficult times. We’re dedicated to helping families seek justice. Contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation with our legal team.

New Method for Predicting Suicide Ideation in Patients that have been Treated with Antidepressants

Texas suicide lawyerPredicting suicide ideation is a critical precursor to providing intervention and treatment to at-risk individuals. In patients who suffer from depression and other disorders that impact mood, antidepressants are often the standard method of treatment.

Antidepressants have the potential to make matters worse, however. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prompted a Black Box Warning on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that acknowledges the risks of suicidal thoughts in children, teens, and young adults.

Patients who are treated with antidepressants should be regularly screened for suicide ideation through follow-ups. The results of recent research conclude that prediction may be possible.

Identifying treatment-worsening suicide ideation

Doctors may soon be able to identify suicide ideation in patients receiving antidepressant treatment, according to a study in the Journal of Clinal Psychiatry.

The study analyzed data collected from 2007-2011 involving 237 patients ages 18-75 with major depressive disorder (MDD). Patients in the study received either 60 mg of duloxetine (an antidepressant drug) or placebo.

Researchers examined the link between treatment-worsening suicide ideation (TWSI) and clinical and biological factors.

TWSI involved a 1-point increase on the Montgomery-Asberg Despression Rating Scale (MADRS) item 10, which identifies suicidal thoughts.

The MADRS is a ten-item questionnaire used by psychiatrists to evaluate a patient’s level of depression. For example, zero points indicate that a patient is happy, whereas six points indicate that a patient is at risk of dying by suicide.

Researchers zeroed in on item 10 over the course of eight weeks while assessing suicide ideation. They then assessed overall depression severity by adding up total scores from all items found in the MADRS. In addition, they assessed anxiety severity by using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and a familial psychiatric history questionnaire.

When assessing from baseline, researchers used blood samples to analyze a link between or overlap of messenger RNA (mRNA) and microRNA (miRNA) – both of which are genetic codes transcribed in patients’ DNA. They were then able to create TWSI predictive models based on clinical factors, mRNA, miRNA, and combined factors.

Nearly 10 percent of patients who received duloxetine exhibited TWSI at baseline analysis, however, TWSI was not predicted in patients who received a placebo.

Urging healthcare providers to do the right thing

Signs of depression and suicide ideation aren’t always clearly exhibited. The stigma placed on individuals who are at risk of dying by suicide has enabled a culture where individuals may go to great lengths to mask their suffering. Thus, identifying suicide ideation, and even depression, may be impossible in some cases. The signs may only become apparent after a person has attempted suicide or lost his or her life.

As researchers continue to identify prediction methods, our medical system is inching closer to effective solutions that could save lives. It’s critical that doctors and other medical professionals are properly trained to identify suicide risks and proceed with proper intervention measures.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has been closely watching emerging medical developments and we urge hospitals and doctors to do the right thing. If you have lost a loved one to suicide because of someone else’s failure to provide intervention, contact us online to discuss your matter. We’re dedicated to representing families of mental health patients and holding negligent parties accountable.

Prevalence of suicide among adolescent females

Texas suicide lawyerYoung people across the United States are among the most vulnerable when it comes to suicide risks. In fact, it is the second most common cause of death among youth ages 10-19 – taking more than 85,000 lives from 1975-2016.

A Nationwide Children’s Hospital study posted in JAMA Network indicates that the suicide rate among girls ages 10-14 was “three-fold” from 1999-2014, according to Forbes.

The study pulled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing the need to scrutinize the increased suicide rates among young females – especially suicide by suffocation or hanging. Historically, females had higher rates of only contemplating or attempting suicide, while males had a higher rate of actually dying by suicide.

“Overall, we found a disproportionate increase in female youth suicide rates compared to males, resulting in a narrowing of the gap between male and female suicide rates,” said Donna Ruch, PhD and lead author of the study, in a press release.

Youth suicide and its connection to social media

The development and socialization of young females, as well as the prevalence of social media among tweens and teens, is considered a risk factor that should be scrutinized. The prevalence of social media has raised some concerns regarding how it impacts the mental health of adolescents.

Excessive use of social media not only inhibits the ability of children and teens to develop a healthy social life, it opens the door for exclusion and cyberbullying.

“Kids text all sorts of things that you would never in a million years contemplate saying to anyone’s face,” said Dr. Donna Wick, a clinical and developmental psychologist.

In addition, Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair attributes the risk to low self-esteem to the need for adolescent females to compare themselves to others.

“Girls are socialized more to compare themselves to other people, girls in particular, to develop their identities, so it makes them more vulnerable to the downside of all this,” she said.

For adolescents in general, acceptance and “being liked” is a monumental part of their identity. Adolescent females mostly care about their appearance and may spend hours scouring through photos to decide which ones to post on social media. Simply not getting enough “likes” in comparison to someone else, or receiving negative comments, can be enough to make adolescent girls feel alienated.

Behaviors and warning signs to watch out for

It’s important that parents monitor what their children do on social media. Feelings of hopelessness or being excluded can manifest in ways that may seem rather subtle.

There are several behaviors and warning signs that may indicate contemplation of suicide, according to Healthline.

These include:

  • Making threats or comments about taking own life
  • Socially withdrawing from friends, family, and community
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Engaging in aggressive, impulsive, or reckless behavior
  • Exhibiting dramatic mood swings, anxiousness or agitation
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, or being trapped
  • Giving away possessions

Adolescent years can be a difficult time, especially among females. It may be difficult to see their point of view and why the need for social acceptance is so important for teenagers – it’s an inevitable a part of their development and identity.

Parental involvement simply isn’t enough to curtail the suicide rate among teens. Suicide prevention takes cultural change and awareness in our schools and communities.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson not only seeks to promote such awareness in our culture but treat cases of adolescent suicide with the utmost care and help families find answers. If you have lost a loved one to suicide, we’d like to discuss your matter with you. You can contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.

The Impact Death by Suicide Has on Those Affected

Texas suicide lawyerAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate in the United States has increased by 33 percent from 1999-2017 and suicide takes an average of 40,000 lives per year. The rate among children and teens, however, is even higher.

The CDC said death by suicide among children ages 10-17 his increased by 70 percent between 2006-2016.

Following a slew of deaths by suicide among children – including an eighth-grade boy and 8-year-old boy from Cincinnati – adolescents are being taught how to identify the warning signs of suicide in their health classes.

Cincinnati Public Radio’s Cincinnati Edition features an audio interview with three school officials: Culture and Safety Manager Dr. Carrie Bunger of Cincinnati Public Schools, Public Information Officer Tracey Carson of Mason City Schools, and Assistant Professor Dr. Jennifer Wright-Berryman of the University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences School of Social Work – all of whom are familiar with the devastation of suicide.

The ripple effects

Suicide among children and teens can devastate school peers, as well as an entire community. One concern expressed by school officials is contagion. It’s a “ripple effect” that can lead to more than one suicide within a community. According to U.S. News & World Report, teens ages 15-19 are the most susceptible to contagion after being exposed to suicide.

In the interview, Carson discusses the contagion effects of suicide:

“There is no worse day than the day that you come in and you call your staff together to share that your student has died by suicide. It’s just truly one of the worst things that happens in a school community, but it ripples out, because when we have a young person who dies by suicide, it doesn’t just end at school. It impacts an entire community.”

Providing social and emotional support to grieving students

When addressing death by suicide, school officials must be explicit about what happened, while accommodating the emotional needs of those who are affected. It starts with identifying those students who are grieving and prompting teachers, counselors, and other school faculty to provide support.

It is important that school districts avoid prolonged memorials of a student who died by suicide.

“To impact contagion, to romanticize, and for those students, for the living, that may be at that cusp of ‘I’m feeling a level of despair’,” Bunger said. “It is something that we have been very mindful of in terms of honoring the living and making sure that we are providing proactive strategies to help support those students that are with us and coming through the school walls.”

Identifying the signs and providing early intervention

According to Wright-Berryman, there are several suicide red flags school faculty and students can watch out for. The primary cause of suicide among children and teens is the feeling of being excluded and isolated.

The signs often include:

  • Sudden behavior changes
  • Sudden substance abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Academic failure
  • Academic success (in some cases)
  • Social media activity that raises red flags
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Suddenly quitting a sports team, musical activity, or other extracurricular activity
  • Talking about suicide or self-harm

According to the school officials in the interview, children and teens who are suicidal are most likely to reach out to their peers rather than adults. Giving students the tools they need to identify the warning signs and to refer their peers to adults is critical.

Part of the problem among children and teens, as well as in society at large, is the cultural view of intervention. There seems to be a social stigma surrounding mental health that deters many individuals from seeking help.

We expect our school systems and communities to promote a culture of suicide awareness and early intervention. If the signs are there, it’s up to responsible parties to intervene, if they can. They should be held accountable. That’s why it’s important for a child’s loved ones to contact suicide lawyer Skip Simpson for a free consultation.

Offering Comfort to Those Who Lost Loves Ones from Suicide

Texas suicide lawyerIf you know someone who lost a loved one due to suicide, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 47,173 suicides in the United States in 2017.

Suicide is often viewed as a taboo subject that many people would rather keep quiet about to avoid invoking more grief. This can cause a friend or loved one to feel abandoned during a troublesome time.

What you say to a friend or a loved one who is grieving may not always provide comfort. Self Magazine says finding the words isn’t easy and offers these tips that might help. Read more here.

Walking The Borderline: Pete Davidson, Suicidal Thoughts and Stigma

Texas suicide lawyerYou may have seen him on Saturday Night Live, cracking jokes and sporting a jokers’ grin. You may have heard of him in the tabloids after a highly public split with pop sensation Ariana Grande. And, if you are familiar with the trademarks of borderline personality disorder, you aren’t surprised by the whirlwind romance that came to an abrupt end.

Pete Davidson has taken the internet’s attention once again after the end of the relationship, but this time with a series of words on Instagram that brought out just how deadly the disorder can be.

“I really don’t want to be on this earth anymore.
I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last.
All I’ve ever tried to do was help people.
Just remember I told you so.”

Ending the message with a heart emoji and deleting his Instagram, the celebrity drew concern from all corners of the globe. Some blamed Ariana, his recent ex (who herself just lost a former boyfriend to drugs) as if women are rehabilitation centers for troubled men, and as if her decision to leave a relationship was worth blaming another death on. Pete Davidson was accounted for, unharmed. And he was speaking up. Approximately 5.9% of adults in the US has BPD, according to NAMI. It’s time we learned about it.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Profoundly misunderstood by the healthcare community, BPD is not an abbreviation for bipolar disorder, which is a severe disorder mostly affecting moods, but is a personality disorder that can change someone’s very worldview. Often described as unpredictable (and also often co-morbid in those with bipolar disorder) this disorder takes life away from sufferers. They view things in extremes, their hobbies and interests can flip at a moment’s notice, and their lives are a rollercoaster of unstable relationships.

How they view themselves and others is a constantly changing, never settling process.

Thought to stem from childhood abandonment, abuse, unstable relationships or other adversity such as poverty or an unstable home, BPD is deadly and acts quickly. Symptoms may include:

  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger
  • Difficulty forming bonds and trusting
  • Self-harming behavior such as cutting, picking, or substance abuse
  • Recurrent suicidal thoughts or threats
  • Dissociative feelings, feeling cut off from reality
  • Sudden, severe mood swings
  • Sudden, fast moving relationships that end just as quickly
  • Pushing people away intentionally, only to cling to them

People with BPD are often vilified. Seen as abusive, uncontrollable and people to stay away from, Pete Davidson has done the community a sincere service by addressing his illness. He’s spoken about his time in rehab, in which he thought that drugs induced moments of blind rage and breakdowns which impaired his memory. After first receiving a diagnosis for bipolar disorder, and another mental breakdown, he was properly diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

How different are bipolar disorder and BPD?

Pete had been tweeting his support for Kanye West in speaking about his mental health, which had been a hot topic as the celebrity stumbled through the political sphere and often seemed like a puppet to some. His internet presence made very little sense. His grandiose behavior and recent history with extreme debt seemed like red flags to some, but humor for others. Kanye spoke up finally about his history with a bipolar diagnosis, making a dent in the stigma against mental illness (especially for men, and men of color) and it had given Pete the courage to talk about his own struggles.

Bipolar Disorder and BPD can be housed in the same brain, creating what must only be a truly painful daily experience for a sufferer, but their key differences are:

  • Shorter, more frequent mood swings for BPD-a bipolar person can be hypomanic or manic or exhibit depression symptoms for weeks to months, BPD exists on a constant swing
  • BPD produces more feelings that have the sufferer question who they are, and a fear of abandonment. This severely affects familial bonds, close friendships and relationships
  • Borderline is a personality disorder, affecting some parts of the brain separate from a mood disorder like bipolar. Recovery and maintenance can be different.
  • Fear of abandonment and unstable personal relationships are more unique to BPD as a symptom, whereas bipolar patients can have them as a product of their disorder.

Suicidal Ideation and Passive Suicidal Thoughts

Many people with various mental health conditions exist in a permanent state of wanting death. This can take the form of an ideation, almost like a yearning daydream, or a reoccurring thought that the sufferer simply wants life to end. This may not be accompanied by a plan or action, or even self-harm, but as a welcome intrusive thought that has made itself home among day to day activities.

Imagine every waking moment gagged by wanting life to end. Every anniversary dinner, every birth of a child, every morning coffee is dull and flat because you are alive and hate every moment of it. This is merely another symptom of BPD that is incredibly hard to control, as it can occur in any mood. Living in the public light has given Pete Davidson the opportunity to do several things that put a dent into the stigma around mental illness: ask for help, voice his feelings, and freely share his diagnosis while lifting up another performer.

Finding Hope

Though Ariana Grande begged fans to “be gentle” with her ex after he cited online bullying as a trigger for his disorder, Davidson has been publicly struggling. Ironically, that publicity has reached thousands diagnosed with the disorder, thousands more wondering if they’ll soon join statistics. Men especially are not encouraged to show mental “weakness” and too often live in a culture that would rather see them dead than in therapy.

Pete Davidson, Kanye West and many others are challenging that. Davidson himself wrote:

“I’ve spoken about BPD and being suicidal publicly only in hopes that it will help bring awareness and help kids like myself who don’t want to be on this earth…to all those holding me down and seeing this for what it is – I see you and I love you.”

Currently, the go-to therapy method for addressing BPD is DBT-dialectical behavioral therapy. Unlike CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people identify  and change core beliefs and behaviors, DBT is skills-based.  Learning how to cope, and learning how to live, are two things that some patients may need to learn.

Offering a message of hope from such a large platform to anyone struggling with their mental health or suicidal thoughts is something that an entire massive online audience needed to hear. Thank you, Pete Davidson for your humor, entertainment, and helping your brothers and sisters of the world in a way only you could do. Don’t go anywhere; we desperately need you.  You are giving folks hope where there was none, and left us laughing too. What a gift to us.

Pets benefit mental health – and reduce risk of suicide

Texas suicide lawyerPet lovers have long believed that the companionship that comes with having a pet has real benefits from the owner. Now, a systematic review of research puts hard evidence behind that belief.

The review, led by Dr. Helen Louise Brooks of the University of Liverpool and published in BMC Psychiatry, suggests that pets do indeed provide benefits to people with mental health conditions.

 

A distraction, a sense of purpose, unconditional support – how pets benefit people at risk of suicide

Americans were estimated to have spent over $69.35 billion on their pets in the year 2017, reaching a new high. While the love for our furry friends is well acknowledged, their services can make the difference between life and death for some.

In the review, “pets were perceived as providing unconditional love and support” – something that people struggling with mental health issues often cannot get from friends and family. In the face of the often overwhelming challenges that come with living with a  mental illness, that level of love and support is invaluable.

Pet owners were also found to draw strength, self-worth and meaning from their pets. Multiple pet owners said that taking care of their pets gave them something to like about themselves. Another spoke directly about an experience with suicidal ideation: “The thing that made me stop was wondering what the rabbits would do.”

One of the most persistent myths about suicide is the idea that a person who is determined to die by suicide is inevitably going to do so. The reality is that the suicidal urge is an acute problem that does not last forever. Pets have been shown to provide an important distraction, a grounding that allows suicidal people to step outside their own thoughts and focus on caring for or interacting with the pet. That’s often enough to save a life.

Some pets, such as dogs, were also shown to force positive behavior from their owners. Simple acts necessary to dogs such as going outside, engaging with the community and participating in physical activity are all known to have significant mental health benefits. For a person struggling with depression or another mental health issue, the simple fact that the dog has to go outside is a powerful source of motivation. Many people that struggle with taking care of themselves often find solace in taking care of another.

 

Different animals serving different purposes

Hospitals frequently utilize the talents of therapy dogs, who offer calming presences and physical affection to patients in care. This unconditional love can make a world of difference to someone with a psychiatric disability, especially when navigating often cold and unfamiliar settings of an inpatient unit, especially to those who may not have any visitors otherwise.

Psychiatric service dogs come with their own set of legally protected regulations. Specially trained to assist one person, these dogs can enter areas that regular pets cannot (such as restaurants and establishments that have a “no pets” rule in place) and usually wear identifiers such as tags, collars and vests to let others know they are “on duty.”

Texas suicide lawyerEmotional support animals can include dogs and often do, but could theoretically be any animal that offers an ailing owner comfort in their time of need. Deeply attuned to their owners moods and behaviors, these animals can be allowed (with a “prescription” note from a psychiatrist) to live in places with a “no pets” policy and are protected under the ADA. However, they do not have the training of a service animal and are not allowed to enter the same spaces as designated service dogs.

The benefits of tackling mental health treatment with animal assistance are documented through research, and patients often feel more at ease with a furry companion than an all-too-often unfamiliar and anxiety inducing environment of a hospital.

Patients who disassociate or hallucinate can be calmed and grounded with animal intervention, whether it comes from a trained service dog or engaging tactile grounding techniques petting the family cat. Depression and anxiety can be calmed, and traumatic episodes can be interrupted by the unconditional bond between humans and pets or service animals.

 

Pets need to play a role in care plans for people at risk of suicide

While further research is clearly needed into the specific benefits of pet ownership and the types of interventions that are most effective, the evidence clearly shows that pets have an important role to play in mental health care. As one of the researchers pointed out, introducing pets is potentially a very powerful intervention because it invites patients to get involved in their own care, creating an opportunity to have an open discussion about what works best for the individual patient.

Obviously, not every patient will respond well to pets, but for those who do, having an animal companion can be the difference between life and death. This is an avenue of treatment that family members, friends and mental health professionals alike need to explore to make sure that people struggling with mental health problems have access to all of the resources and support they need.