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Men's Issues - Why Some Men Turn To Suicide - By Chris Gearing

Monday, May 12, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss why some men turn to suicide - click here.

Men have a tough time in a world that expects so much of them. In fact, suicide rates for men are four times higher than women. In the last few years, the suicide rates for men in their fifties increased by nearly 50%. Here are a few reasons why men may turn to suicide:

Generational Perfect Storm

The economic struggles of the last decade have been especially hard for men who have the expectation of providing for their entire family, including older children and both sets of elderly parents. When the stress and expense of supporting two generations finally hits, the perfect storm of financial hardship can be devastating for a hard-working man.

Pressure Cooker

Many men were never taught the skills of emotional regulation and control. When they are up against complex problems in life, admitting and processing the emotional fallout from loss and setbacks is more difficult for a man who is supposed to be endlessly strong and stoic. Once the internal pressure becomes too great, they may hurt themselves or others.

Men's Issues - Why Do So Many Men Struggle With Depression? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss why many men struggle with depression - click here.

Men have a tough time in a world that expects so much of them. In fact, suicide rates for men are four times higher than women. In the last few years, the suicide rates for men in their fifties increased by nearly 50%. So why do so many men struggle with depression and anxiety?

Weight of the World

Many men feel as though they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and they are often reluctant to share their troubles with loved ones.

Lone Wolf

Many men tend to ruminate on what is worrying them, and they feel duty bound to work it out on their own. Depression grows in isolation since we tend to lose perspective and it reinforces our feeling of helplessness. They tend to conclude that nothing they do makes a difference and the worst outcome is inevitable.

Quiet and Strong

Unfortunately, boys and men are frequently told to not talk about what they are feeling. In fact, many boys are actively encouraged to suppress the concerns that haunt them. They don’t learn the language of emotional expression, and they often push their emotional surges down and cover them up. That internalization can lead to negative health effects like higher blood pressure and heart concerns. They don’t have an emotional outlet, and they often resort to vices or distractions to take their minds off their worries.

Growing Kids Strong - Are We In The Middle Of A Childhood Depression Epidemic? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, August 02, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss some of the statistics of childhood depression and why the problem is getting worse with each generation - click here.

One out of every four children will experience severe anxiety before they graduate high school.

One out of every ten teenagers will experience an episode of major depression by the time they go to college.

In addition, about half of teens diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and the average age of onset for an anxiety disorder is now six years old. However even with all of these terrifying statistics, only eighteen percent of anxious or depressed teens ever see a professional psychotherapist.

Psychologists and government officials have been warning for years that childhood depression and anxiety are reaching epidemic levels, and the numbers are not encouraging. However, very few parents are seeking out professional treatment for their children.

Here are some important points to keep in mind about child and adolescent depression:

Lifetime Effects:

Depression can be a lifelong struggle. Severe depression reoccurs in about half of those who have had it once in their lifetime. Once your child experiences a depressive episode, they will battle more frequent and severe depression for the rest of their life.

Rise In Suicide:

In 2012, American teenagers were polled on mental health issues. Sixteen percent of teens reported seriously considering suicide, thirteen percent created a plan to commit suicide, and eight percent had attempted suicide and failed. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24, and it is responsible for thousand of deaths every year.

Generational Snowball:

Researchers have been interviewing previous generations for years to investigate their rates of depression throughout their lives. They asked if they had ever experienced at least two weeks of depression or anxiety symptoms during their lifetime. For those who were born before World War I, only one percent experienced an episode of depression. For those who were born in the mid 1920’s and faced the Great Depression and World War II early in their lives, only four percent ever experienced an episode of depression. For those who were born in the 1950’s and grew up in the political and social turmoil of the 1960’s, seven percent had experienced depression by the time they were 30. Currently, ten percent of children and adolescents experience a major depression before they graduate high school. The rates of depression are growing with each generation, and our young children are experiencing more depression than ever.

Childhood rates of clinical depression and anxiety have grown exponentially over the past century and can have devastating lifelong effects. If you are worried about a child or teen you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Optimistic Child" by Dr. Martin Seligman

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov)

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH.NIH.gov)

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA.org)

Suicide - Is This Generation More Depressed or More Aware of Suicide? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, June 07, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing examine why the rate of teen suicide is continuing to climb even though we know more about teen suicide than ever - click here.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five US teenagers considers suicide every year.

Psychologists know more about suicide than ever, but the rate of teen suicide has climbed steadily over the generations and is now the third leading causing of death for Americans from 15 to 24 years of age. So, why does the rate of teen suicide continue to grow even though Americans are taking more action than ever to stop suicides?

Epidemic Depression:

Part of the answer is that teen depression and anxiety are reaching epidemic levels. Research has found that teen depression has increased tenfold over the last century and it strikes a full decade earlier than it did fifty years ago. That means that this generation is ten times more likely to reach clinical levels of depression, and they will likely become depressed when they are still children. In addition once depression and anxiety have set up shop in your child’s mind, they are more likely to return in the future. Severe depression reoccurs about 50% of the time.

Swept Under The Rug:

Even though suicide attempts indicate very serious mental health issues, very few suicidal teens actually receive professional treatment. According to research, 60-80% of American teens who attempt suicide do not seek out professional treatment until after the second suicide attempt. Their friends and family downplay the suicide attempt and try to make it a temporary anomaly. Hopefully, they don’t wait until it’s too late.

Deadly Differences:

Eighty-four percent of completed suicides, or attempts that end in death, are committed by boys. Girls are much more likely to attempt suicide, but boys tend to use much more violent and lethal means in their attempts. They may use a gun, intentionally wreck their car, or even jump off of buildings. Girls tend to use much less violent methods such as poison or overdosing.

If you are worried about your teen, here are some suicide warning signs to watch out for:

  • Stressful life event or loss like a relationship breakup
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Lack of effective coping skills
  • Family history of suicide
  • History of depression or other mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of peers or acquaintances
  • Increased withdrawal from others
  • Increased rate of angry outbursts
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Low appetite
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • History of previous suicide attempts

Clinical depression and suicide are very serious issues. If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"Learned Optimism" by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

"Unraveling the Mystery of Suicide" by By Tori DeAngelis, American Psychological Association

"Suicide Among Pre-Adolescents" by Michael Price, American Psychological Association

"Teen Suicide is Preventable" published by the American Psychological Association

American Association of Suicidology, www.suicidology.org

National Institute of Mental Health, nimh.nih.gov

Suicide - The Rising Rate of Teen Suicide - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the rising rate of teen suicides, why American teens need more help than ever, and some of the warning signs of teen suicide - click here.

According to the CDC, one in five US teenagers considers suicide every year.

The American Psychological Association reports that teen suicide is the third leading cause of death for people who are 15 to 24 years old. So why would a teenager with every thing to look forward to in life choose a permanent solution such as suicide?

Most teen suicides begin with a perfect storm of upsetting events, like getting dumped by a significant other or losing a family member, that leads to overwhelming depression. If they lose hope and think that their life will never change for the better, they may begin to think about committing suicide. At a basic level, these adolescents lack the necessary coping skills to think accurately about temporary setbacks and how to overcome adversity.

There are several factors that can lead to teen suicide:

No Hope For The Future:

Suicide becomes an option for a young person when all hope is lost. In fact, hopelessness is the best predictor for a suicide attempt. Hopelessness is the most common emotion in those who attempt to end their lives.

Escaping Unsolvable Problems:

The motivations for either attempting or completing suicide are complex. In most cases, they are trying to escape depression and loss, debilitating anxiety, or a situation they regard as being unsolvable such as being bullied or abused. The older the child is, the greater the likelihood that their suicide is connected to interpersonal conflicts.

Hidden Mental Illness:

Mental illness, such as clinical depression or general anxiety disorder, is the top risk factor in suicide and accounts for 90% of all suicides. Clinical depression is the most common disorder linked to suicide. Children and adolescents are particularly skilled at hiding their mental health challenges since they do not know how to fully describe their thoughts and feelings. Since they are confused about what is going on inside of their minds, they don’t know when they need to ask for professional help.

Masking Their Pain:

Adolescents will not always articulate their pain because they often don’t understand the serious nature of their feelings. In fact, they may even present a happy façade. Psychologists describe this condition as a “smiling depressive” since they are hiding their clinically depressed thoughts behind a mask.

A lack of emotional coping skills combined with overwhelming situational stress can drive children and teens toward suicide. If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"Learned Optimism" by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

"Unraveling the Mystery of Suicide" by Tori DeAngelis, American Psychological Association

"Suicide Among Pre-Adolescents" by Michael Price, American Psychological Association

"Teen Suicide is Preventable" published by the American Psychological Association

American Association of Suicidology, www.suicidology.org

National Institute of Mental Health, nimh.nih.gov

The Higher Risk of Suicide In The Baby Boomer Generation - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on KTXD 47 discuss the recent teen suicides in Rockwall, TX and why suicide is more common in the Baby Boomer generation - click here.

The Rising Adult Suicide Rate - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 03, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the rising adult suicide rate and what you can do to help - click here.

Teens and the elderly are no longer the most likely to commit suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a report that found an almost 30% increase in the suicide rate among middle-age adults (ages 35-64). The top three methods of committing suicide among adults were poisoning, suffocation or hanging, and firearm.

Over the last decade, the adult suicide rate has grown at an alarming rate.

Suicide rates spiked a few decades ago when the baby boomer generation hit their teenage years, and the suicide trend has followed the boomer generation as they have aged. As many boomers are being confronted by unique mid-life challenges like dual caregiving for children and their parents, their own health problems, and one of the toughest economic climates in decades, they may be more likely to commit suicide.

If you are concerned about someone you know, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Frequent thoughts about death and dying
  • Talking about committing suicide
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Trouble with or uninterested in eating or sleeping
  • Suddenly making end of life arrangements
  • Drastic changes in behavior or daily activities
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities
  • Loss of interest in work or hobbies
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Unnecessary risk taking
  • Loss of interest in their appearance
  • Previous suicide attempts

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are very serious issues. If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

American Psychological Association, “Suicide Warning Signs”, (http://www.apa.org/topics/suicide/signs.aspx)

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Suicide Among Adults Aged 35-64 Years – United States, 1999-2010”, (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6217a1.htm?s_cid=mm6217a1_w)

Profile of the Ohio School Shooter - By Chris Gearing

Monday, February 27, 2012

Watch Dr Sylvia Gearing on CBS 11 discuss the tragic Ohio high school shooting - click here.

With the tragic news of a school shooting at an Ohio high school this week, many Americans are shocked that shootings continue to occur in a post-Columbine world.

Since the tragic Columbine shootings in April 1999, psychologists have assembled a list of common denominators between school shooters.

Teenage Males: They are usually Caucasian males between the ages of 11 and 18 with the average age being 16 who are engaging in their first act of lethal violence. Boys between the ages of 13 and 19 commit about 1/3 of violent crimes.

Rural Settings: School shootings usually occur in the rural or suburban areas outside larger cities. The kids are from a blue collar or middle class backgrounds.

Seasonality: Time of year has a lot to with this kind of crime with most of them occurring between December and May (usually in the Spring).

Tough Home Life: Family background is usually highly dysfunctional and attachment to the parents has been compromised in some ways. The family often looks fairly normal to the community and people are often surprised that the child becomes a murder. Discipline is overly harsh and applied inconsistently.

Cold Blooded: Premeditation is a central part of the crime. Smuggling a gun or guns into a school takes forethought and cunning. There is a plan that has been carefully constructed somewhere along the way. Acquisition of firearm—almost always from the home-- is necessary as is the requisite clothing to hide the firearms as the enter the school.

What would push a teenager to engage in this type of lethal crime against his peers?

Vengeance is the primary motive for almost all of the school shootings and again, this teenager has a history of being bullied and being socially isolated. The second motivation is to achieve notoriety.

The shooters are often perceived as nerdy and physically unattractive and are the common targets of ridicule from other children. Anger and resentment build up over time.. Suddenly there is a precipitating event that forces them to lose control and to lash out in a murderous rage.

If the target is a school official, then a teacher or a principal has had to take disciplinary action against the child.

If the targets includes peers, those who are deemed responsible for the torment are targeted almost exclusively. Many of the kids who have been shot in the past are the more popular or successful kids who are perceived as having wronged the shooter at some point in time.

What are these kids like emotionally and psychologically?

Socially Withdrawn: Most of the time, school shooters are emotionally immature, isolated and socially withdrawn. The emotional centers of the brain are not fully connected to the logical analytical parts of our brain that tells us that “no injustice is worth taking someone else’s life.”

Violence Unites Them: If they do have friends, the friendships generally revolve around their dark view of the world—militaristic, violent, “dog eat dog” kinds of views that justify their social isolation and bond them to one another. They enjoy bragging about their interest in violence and killing and are fascinated by the weapons of violence—guns, bombs, knives, and online or media depictions of violence or death.

Hypersensitive to Criticism: Cognitively these kids are very rigid and simplistic in how they view others. They don’t examine their judgments of others and are quick to assume that others are criticizing them. They are distrustful and view themselves as victims of others. Hypersensitivity is common and they anticipate rejection. They do not usually trust adults.

When does the child cross the line to violence?

Prior to the crime, the child begins to:

  • Feel justified to kill
  • Perceive few or no alternatives
  • Believe that the consequences will be worth it

Here are some warning signs if you are concerned about your child:

Learning to predict violence is the first step to preventing violence. Remember that most of the time, these crimes are well rehearsed. The school shooter fantasizes about revenge against those who are perceived to have harmed him. They often have protracted mental and behavioral rehearsals of their acts of violence in which they carefully select the victims, the time, location, means of killing and how it will play out.

Remember that their violence is calculated--it is not a crime of impulse or passion. It is a crime of intentional revenge.

Here are some warning signs of school shooters:

  • Lack of Conscience
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Depressed, Sullen Behavior
  • Tendency To Follow "Leaders" No Matter What
  • History of Oppositional Behaviors
  • Actual Threats—Written or Spoken
  • Past Acts of Violence
  • Access to Weapons
  • Past Suicide Attempts
  • Family History of Violence or Bullying
  • Cruelty to Animals

Sources:

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

The Classroom Avenger by James P. McGee Ph.D. and Caren DeBernardo, Psy.D.

Suicide and Teens - By Chris Gearing

Monday, January 16, 2012

With the shocking news this weekend that a Texas teenage committed suicide by jumping off the 18th floor of the Dallas Hyatt hotel, many Americans are worried about their own teens and the risk of suicide.

So, why would a teenager choose to end his life?

Feeling Hopeless: Suicide becomes an option for a young person when all hope is lost. In fact, hopelessness is the attitude most highly correlated with those who attempt to end their lives. Suicide has become the third leading cause of death for kids between the ages of 10 and 24.

Motivations for Suicide are Complex: The motivations for either attempting or completing suicide are complex but the main motivations include a desire to escape depression and loss, debilitating anxiety or a situation they regard as being unsolvable such as being bullied or abused. The older the child is, the more likely it is that the suicide is connected to their own interpersonal conflicts.

Are our children more depressed or are we just better at detecting depression?

Both statements are true since this generation's children are more depressed but we also have more safeguards in place to detect the depression. That being said, depressed kids are vastly underserved in our society with very few being seen by a psychologist. We know that depression has increased tenfold over the last century and strikes a full decade earlier than it did fifty years ago. Severe depression reoccurs most of the time—about 50% of the time. In fact, The Center for Disease Control now reports that anti-depressants are the most prescribed drugs in America. We are much more likely to battle depression and other mental illness for our entire lives.

What about those teens who are depressed and make attempts to hurt themselves but are never brought to the attention of medical professionals?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 150, 000 kids between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical attention at the emergency room because of self-inflicted injuries. But that is when the denial kicks in. Very few of them actually follow up with psychological treatment or counseling. They tend to downplay what happened. They feel that they just need to get their child home and figure this out. No matter what recommendations are made by doctors or other healthcare professionals, families tend to blow it off. Kids can be very depressed and hide it well.

However, the numbers do change after the second attempt. Families do seek treatment after a second suicide attempt as they begin to realize that this is more of a chronic issue and is not a fleeting crisis.

Are there gender differences in completed suicides?

Eighty four percent of completed suicides are committed by boys, even though girls are much more likely to attempt. Suicide remains a health threat for men throughout adulthood with four times as many males dying by suicide as females. The reason for this large gap is that boys and men use much more violent and lethal means of committing suicide with guns, cars, or in this case - jumping off of a building. Girls and women choose much quieter means of suicide such as poison or overdosing.

This country has a double standard of masculinity. We want our boys to be strong and courageous and virile and yet have access to their emotions. Too many boys are confused about how to express their feelings. Anger is the only emotion some boys feel that they can express. When depression strikes, they are more reluctant to admit that they are vulnerable and that they are struggling. Depression is a progressive illness and can lead to suicide if it becomes too severe and too intense, but it can also be treated and success rates rise exponentially depending on how early in the depression the child begins treatment.

Here are some warning signs if you are worried about your teen:

  • History of previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • History of Depression or other mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Stressful life event or loss like a relationship breakup
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
  • Increased withdrawal from others
  • More angry outbursts
  • Increased Need for Sleep, Low Appetite
  • Dramatic Mood Swings

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