Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One in Five Children Commits Suicide?

Each week 450,000 children are bullied in school. Another 500,000 are taunted by their peer group in the community. And more than one in five children will turn to suicide as a way out of being severely bullied, writes Debbie Andalo.

Speaking as a survivor of school bullying and peer group taunting, let no one claim to be a greater foe of this awful practice. I am pleased that schools these days are trying to eliminate bullying. But this article claims that one in five children will turn to suicide. This is just nuts.

Granted, the rate of attempted suicide is thousands of times higher than that of suicides that end in death (I can't bring myself to call them successful). And the rate in UK is apparently much higher than here in the US. Who knows why.

Still... One in five children? This article claims that one in six children in inner cities attempts suicide. One guesses that the rate is lower in less depressed areas.

I suffer from chronic clinical depression (which I am able to treat with medicine). Also, my son accidentally killed himself by drug overdose. So I am sympathetic to the problem, but I can't help thinking that the aim of that wild statistic is meant to make the problem sound bigger than it actually is. Very few of the attempted suicides are serious enough to require hospitalization. A small fraction result in death. Are these people measuring suicidal ideation as equivalent to an actual attempt?

The quote says that one in five children turn to suicide as a result of bullying. But surely some of those children are reacting to the many other causes of despair: family problems, alcoholism/drugs, depression or factors endemic to their locale other than bullying.

It seems that the authors of the study are trying to drum up gov't money (about 4 British Pounds per child, it turns out). I do not know if that is an appropriate amount of money to spend on that particular program, but can't they justify its cost with believable statistics.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Global warming advocate believes in head shrinking

The interesting part of this article is the description of a study that shows a correlation between skull size and higher latitudes. The author of the Wired article misinterprets the study to claim that thus global warming might shrink brain size. One hopes he's kidding.

The study might indicate that surviving in colder climates requires more brain power, thus smarter people lived longer than dumber people in more challenging environs. This is not the same as suggesting that cold climate caused bigger brains (killed smaller brains would be more accurate). Hence warmer climate would not cause smaller brains.

The author of this article demonstrates he might not have been one of the survivors in an icier era.

Worse, he demonstrates that the only way to promote his global warming theory is to attempt to ridicule its critics into silence rather than to present convincing evidence to the contrary. This is not science, but scaring people into believing pseudo-science is not about science. It's about controlling other people.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Beautiful Life Lie

Here's a provocative little essay. Jerry and I were discussing today how one of the things we resent about the Catholic Church is that they set themselves up as an Authority and insist that Catholic adherents believe things that have no basis in reality (e.g. even though they admit that the Eucharist and wine undergo no changes in physical properties, one must believe they are actually the Body and Blood or one is not allowed to partake of the Catholic Communion rite).

That's a lie, but the worst part of it is the so-called authority who foists it on others. This essayist suggests adopting your own "life lie" (by which he means what others call a life's dream). As I said, it's provocative.

I think of his advice as similar to buying a lottery ticket. It matters not that our chances of winning are small. We buy because we are 100% guaranteed at least a flicker of hope of riches. That's worth a buck every now and then.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Toxicology report

I just received this note from Ben's mother today.
I finally got Ben's toxicology report. I will be mailing you the complete copy soon but basicly there were only 3 things in his system. There was NO heroin. There was :

  • Fentanyl : 3.3 ng/ml [therapeutic range 1-3]
  • Methadone : 54 ng/ml [therapeutic range 50-1000]
  • Diphenhydramine (antihistamine) : 77.8 ng/ml [therapeutic range 30-300]

He was treating himself for heroin addiction. He was trying to get off of the heroin. He was trying to be good and clean himself up. And he was trying to do this using a street mixture.

It was the fentanyl that killed him. It is a pain killer and usually given to patients in the form of a patch. It is a dangerous drug and doctors have to watch their patients for respiratory side effects. It can slow down the breathing which relaxes the body and also slow the heart rate. It is very potent and less controllable in liquid form. If Ben had been seeing a doctor, he would not have died. If Ben had been treating himself in front of his friends, letting them know what he was using, he would not have died. If he'd passed out in front of his friends and they knew what was in the syringe, he could have been given a drug to counteract the effects. Ben was a little bull-headed, always wanting to do things his way and this time it got him killed. I know this was an accident. I am slightly comforted by the fact that he was trying so hard to get his life on a positive track.

Please pass this information on to anyone who may be interested.