Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Date-rape-drug nail polish criticized by advocates against sexual violence

From:  Lehigh Valley Live

There are numerous ways to prevent date rape. Wearing special nail polish isn't high on the list, according to advocates against sexual violence.

The advocates are skeptical of the value of a new product being developed by a group of North Carolina State University students. Their company, Undercover Colors, is developing a nail polish that changes colors when a woman puts her fingertip in a drink that contains drugs like Rohypnol, according to The Associated Press.

Stories about the product have gone viral and appeared in American and British newspapers.

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape warned Wednesday that the product could do more harm than good.

"The promotion of products such as this nail polish as 'rape prevention' are actually a distraction from other more meaningful prevention efforts," said Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape spokeswoman Kristen Houser.

Friday, August 29, 2014

States with medical marijuana have 25 percent fewer prescription overdose deaths

From:  The Washington Post

States that allow medical marijuana have 25 percent fewer prescription drug overdose deaths, a team of researchers finds in a newly released academic paper, suggesting that expanded access to marijuana, often used for its purported pain-alleviating qualities, could have unintended benefits.

“As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin grows, individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal,” Colleen L. Barry, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School and senior author of the study, said in a statement. The analysis was conducted by researchers from the Bloomberg School and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Williams suicide shines light on Colo. health crisis

From:  The Coloradoan

The suicide of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams this month released a flood of brokenhearted tributes from his many fans, friends and admirers. It also brought attention to a public health problem that Coloradans suffer at a higher rate than most of the rest of the country.

Colorado’s suicide rate consistently tops the national average. In 2011, the state had the ninth highest suicide rate in the nation, according to the latest available Centers for Disease Control data.

And it’s going up. The suicide rate in the state has jumped by about 19 percent over the past decade, taking the lives of 1,004 Colorado residents last year, the state health department reports.

Like Williams, many of those who died were middle-aged and older men. In 2013, their suicide rate was roughly twice the statewide average.

People who study the trends say the nature of suicide makes it hard to pin down a reason that Coloradans experience more than their fair share of this tragedy.

But some of the worst states in the country for suicide — which also include Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico — share common traits, notes Jarrod Hindman, who runs the state’s Office of Suicide Prevention. They’re places with large stretches of unpopulated land, where geography can isolate people from neighbors and social ties.

Colorado’s ethos of rugged individualism also may be partly to blame, said Hindman, for its insistence on “picking ourselves up by our bootstraps” instead of asking for help.

“Those can be great social norms,” said Hindman, “but not if you have a brain disorder.”

Williams battled depression and addictions, key risk factors for suicide, and his wife has said that he struggled with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

In its investigative series, “Untreated: How Ignoring Mental Illness Costs Us All,” Rocky Mountain PBS I-News reported that the state’s disjointed and underfunded system of mental health care leaves many suffering from depression and other mental illnesses without adequate care — even if they want it.

But Hindman and others note that men are often less likely than women to seek help.

Dave Fishell, a 61-year-old resident of Grand Junction, calls himself lucky. He suffered his first major bout of depression 27 years ago, after losing his job as a features reporter at the Daily Sentinel. He was among those who sought help when depression drove him to consider taking his own life.

In retrospect, he believes he had a genetic proclivity toward depression; his grandfather had been hospitalized. But it took a life crisis — in his case, a job loss — to trigger its initial appearance. What followed was a yearlong spiral, he said, that affected almost every aspect of his life.

“When you’re at the very worst, when you’re really thinking suicidal thoughts, there’s no hope,” said Fishell. “It’s like being at the bottom of a deep well and you can barely see the top. It’s black, it’s dark, and you don’t think anybody’s going to reach you.”

Somebody did reach Fishell. His wife, a nurse, urged him to seek psychiatric help. Over the intervening three decades, Fishell has been hospitalized three times for depression and regards himself as a success story in the way he has learned to manage the disease.

Fishell’s wife did something else that may have been crucial to his survival: She locked away his guns in a safe and held onto the key.

Men are more likely than women to use more violent means like guns in suicide attempts — another important factor in their higher rates of completing suicide.

Fishell is now a board member at the Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Foundation, which has started a campaign to teach gun owners and their families to do what his wife did for him.

Mesa County and its Western Slope neighbors have been state standouts in recent years — in the worst way possible — for their high rates of suicide.

Greg Rajnowski is the health planner for the Mesa County Health Department, which has identified suicide as one of the most pressing public health issues in the region.

Rajnowski also notes that middle-aged men and older men aren’t the only ones at risk. Young and middle-aged women attempted suicide more frequently than their peers in recent years, according to hospitalization data.

“It creates a cost to the health care system that’s much more pronounced for females than males,” said Rajnowski, noting that suicide attempts place a high burden on emergency rooms and behavioral health care providers.

At the same time, a scarcity of psychiatric beds in western Colorado and around the state mean that those who are depressed and suicidal sometimes have to travel hundreds of miles for a bed, I-News has found.

Danny Sandoval directs diversity, student advocacy and health programs at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Sandoval, a Denver native who lost his uncle and a high school friend to suicide, now works with students to recognize the signs of depression and suicidal thinking.

Family members and friends can offer powerful support by raising the topic with people who seem to be suffering, rather than shying away from it.

“Suicide can be prevented,” said Sandoval.

The Coloradoan brings you this report in partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS I-News. Learn more at rmpbs.org/news. Contact Kristin Jones at kristinjones@rmpbs.org.

Suicide in Northern Colorado

• There were 56 suicides reported in Larimer County in 2013 and 48 reported in Weld County. The suicide rate in both counties was lower than the statewide average of nearly 18 suicides per 100,000 people.

• Among Colorado counties with more than 40,000 residents, Fremont County had the highest suicide rate, at more than 45 suicide deaths per 100,000 residents. Twenty-one people took their lives in the county during the year.

• Eleven of Colorado’s 64 counties did not report suicides in 2013, according to state health data.

Help is available

• Colorado’s new statewide mental health crisis hotline is open 24 hours each day, 365 days a year at (800) 493-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-8255. In case of a psychiatric emergency, call 911.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Colorado State of Mind: Suicide and Depression

Jarrod Hindman with the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention was interviewed by Rocky Mountain PBS about the current and upcoming suicide prevention efforts in Colorado.  The interview with Jarrod starts about 21 minutes into the video and highlights Man Therapy and the Suicide Prevention Commission.

You can also view the web extra for more information on suicide prevention.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Call for Speakers -- 2015 Fire & Life Safety Educators Conference of the Rockies

Only a couple weeks remain to submit proposals for the 22nd Fire and Life Safety Educators Conference of the Rockies which will be at the Estes Park Conference Center in Estes Park, Colorado, April 21-23, 2015.

Hosted by the Fire & Life Safety Educators of Colorado (FLSEC), a 501c3 nonprofit organization, this conference is known across the continent as a don’t miss risk-reduction conference. This three-day conference will feature speakers on a range of topics designed to empower life safety professionals and similarly-minded emergency responders and private industry leaders to become better risk reduction resources in our fields.

The conference is more than fire safety and fire prevention (although those topics remain important). We’re committed to injury and illness prevention, all-hazards community risk reduction, community resiliency, instructional methodology, technology and program improvement. The only limit to course topics is your imagination. We’d like to invite you and your colleagues to propose programs for this conference. We offer courses in two formats: 90-minute breakout sessions and 3-hour workshops.

Proposals are due to me at the close of business on Sept. 10. More details are on the 2015 FLSE Call for Speakers and the 2015 FLSE Speaker Proposal Form.

You can find additional information about the conference and the Fire & Life Safety Educators of Colorado at www.firesafetyeducators.org.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why Do More Men Commit Suicide?

Robin Williams's death has brought welcome attention to the very real problem of suicide in the U.S. From 2000 to 2011, suicides increased to 12.3 per 100,000 people from 10.4. Deaths by suicide now exceed those from motor-vehicle accidents.
This is not, as you might think, a problem occurring disproportionately among teenagers or the very old. The people most prone to taking their own lives are those 45 to 59 years old (Robin Williams was 63). Suicides among those in their 50s have been rising especially fast: In 1999, the rate for people in that decade was 13 per 100,000 people; by 2010, it had risen almost by half, to 20 per 100,000.

What puzzles researchers even more is that men commit suicide more often than women do -- about four times as often -- even though most studies find that women are twice as likely to be depressed and also more likely to have suicidal thoughts. This discrepancy suggests an eightfold difference between the chances that a depressed man and a depressed woman will succeed in committing suicide.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Toddlers to teens are dying every day from guns, new national study shows

From:  The Lens

For every U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan during 11 years of war, at least 13 children were shot and killed in America.

More than 450 of the children who died were younger than kindergarten age.

Another 2,700 or more were killed by a firearm before they could sit behind the wheel of a car.

Every day, on average, seven children were shot dead — with Louisiana second only to Alaska in the per capita rate of gun deaths among young people. The state has the highest rate of gun homicides among young people.

A News21 investigation of child and youth deaths in America between 2002 and 2012 found that at least 28,000 children and teens 19-years-old and younger were killed with guns. Teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 made up over two-thirds of all youth gun deaths in America.

The News21 findings are compiled in the most complete database to date from records obtained from 49 state health departments and FBI Supplementary Homicide Reports.

“It’s an unacceptable number and it should be regardless of where you stand on gun-owning ideology,” said Colette Martin, a member of Parents Against Gun Violence. “The numbers are that high and we are as a country ignoring them.”