Monday, April 26, 2010

Suicides Will Stop. That's an Order

It's not touchy feely stuff, General. It is not losing an asset into which you have poured massive taxpayer investment. It is about getting treated for clear disorder, some of which may have been caused by military service. It is about competing with the Air Force for history's best suicide reduction program.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Thousands of soldiers, their bald eagle shoulder patches lined up row upon row across the grassy field, stood at rigid attention to hear a stern message from their commander.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Townsend addressed the 101st Airborne Division with military brusqueness: Suicides at the post had spiked after soldiers started returning home from war, and this was unacceptable.

"It's bad for soldiers, it's bad for families, bad for your units, bad for this division and our Army and our country and it's got to stop now," he insisted. "Suicides on Fort Campbell have to stop now."

It sounded like a typical, military response to a complicated and tragic situation. Authorities believe that 21 soldiers from Fort Campbell killed themselves in 2009, the same year that the Army reported 160 potential suicides, the most since 1980, when it started recording those deaths.

But Townsend's martial response is not the only one. Behind the scenes, there has been a concerted effort at Fort Campbell over the past year to change the hard-charging military mindset to show no weakness, complete the mission.

There are Army doctors like Tangeneare Singh, reaching out to soldiers struggling silently from depression, trauma-related stress and other mental illnesses. There are staffers like Daina Cole, who tracks data collected from Fort Campbell's soldiers, looking for evidence of problems.

And there are platoon sergeants like Robert Groszmann, trained to listen carefully to the soldiers under his command to detect signs of trouble. He knows that the Army must deal with the deadly issues of some of its fighting men and women, though some disdain this "touchy-feely Army stuff."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rejected Job Applicant Commits Suicide

I suppose one has to add feminism to the list of risk factors. She was bright, personable, had a boyfriend. The following likely never entered her mind.

1) Being a good wife is as important as getting a job.

2) Starting a family is far more important than getting an entry level job.

3) If no one is hiring, employ yourself, and start a business helping or pleasing people.

Indictment for Abetting Suicide in a Foreign Country

Suicide is the intentional act of another. The defendant had neither power over the suiciders, nor any duty to them from a professional relationship.

And then again, the scapegoating families. These families had far more power to prevent the suicides by obtaining adequate treatment for their loved ones, than the defendant had to induce the suicide by advice on making knots.


Drybrough hanged himself on July 27, 2005. His sister reported going to his home and finding a suicide note, then finding him hanging from a rope tied to a ladder.

Documents say Melchert-Dinkel told investigators he advised Drybrough to use a "slip knot" and place the knot behind his left ear to compress the left and right carotid arteries. Computer evidence showed that Melchert-Dinkel also instructed Drybrough on how to hang himself from a low object.

The victim's mother, Elaine Drybrough, told a British newspaper last month that Melchert-Dinkel "appointed himself Mark's executioner. He whispered in his ear each time he logged on to the computer. Because of his medical experience, he knew exactly ... the buttons he needed to push."

Mark Kajouji, who now serves as an ambassador for Your Life Counts, a national suicide prevention program in Canada, said he can't say for sure whether his sister would still be alive if not for Melchert-Dinkel. But he wonders.

"Obviously, he pushed her to the brink," he said. "He could have been the guy who said, 'Don't do it.' But instead he decided to prey on it.""

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boxing Champ Hangs Self in Jail, Charged with Murder of Wife

The accumulation of risk factors came to an end.

"CARACAS, Venezuela – Former boxing champion Edwin Valero, who had a spectacular career with 27 straight knockouts and flouted a tattoo of President Hugo Chavez on his chest, hanged himself in his jail cell Monday after being arrested for stabbing his wife to death, police said.

The former lightweight champion used the sweat pants he was wearing to hang himself from a bar in the cell, said his lawyer, Milda Mora.

Valero, 28, had problems with alcohol and cocaine addiction and struggled with depression. He had previously been suspected of assaulting his wife and was charged last month with harassing her and threatening personnel at a hospital where she was treated for injuries.

Valero's 24-year-old wife, Jennifer Carolina Viera, was found dead in a hotel room on Sunday, and police said the fighter emerged telling hotel security he had killed her.

Valero was found hanging in his cell early Monday by another inmate, who alerted authorities in the police lockup in north-central Carabobo state, Federal Police Chief Wilmer Flores told reporters. He said Valero still showed signs of life when they took him down, but they were unable to save him.

The former WBA super featherweight and WBC lightweight champion was a household name in Venezuela and had a huge image of Venezuela's president tattooed on his chest along with the country's yellow, blue and red flag.

A man whose fists carried him from poverty in a small town to fame, Valero's all-action style soon earned him a reputation as a tough, explosive crowd-pleaser, and his last victory in Mexico in February over Antonio DeMarco brought his record to 27-0 — all knockouts. Venezuelans called him "Inca," alluding to an Indian warrior, while elsewhere he was called "Dinamita," or dynamite.

Valero had a turbulent disposition and had been in trouble with the law before, for violent incidents and problems with alcohol and drugs.

Last month, he was charged with harassing his wife and threatening medical personnel who treated her at a hospital in the western city of Merida. Police arrested Valero following an argument with a doctor and nurse at the hospital, where his wife was being treated for injuries including a punctured lung and broken ribs.

The Attorney General's Office said in a statement that Valero was detained March 25 on suspicion of assaulting his wife, but his wife told a police officer her injuries were due to a fall. When the boxer arrived moments later, he forbade Viera from speaking to the police officer and spoke threateningly to the officer, prosecutors said in a statement.

A prosecutor had asked a court to keep Valero in jail, the Attorney General's Office said. But a judge instead allowed him to remain free under certain conditions including that he appear in court every 90 days, said Mora, his lawyer.

Mora told The Associated Press that after the incident Valero was held for nine days in a psychiatric hospital in Merida, where he underwent police-supervised rehabilitation. She said people close to the fighter posted bail on April 7 and he was allowed to go free.

Valero's manager, Jose Castillo, criticized authorities for failing to act more forcefully to prevent the killing.

"I asked the authorities not to let him out. He needed a lot of help. He was very bad in the head," Castillo told reporters. "But they let him out. They were very permissive with him and because of that, we're now in the middle of this tragedy."

Mora, however, said of Valero: "He was the only one responsible."

She said that the Venezuelan government had arranged for the fighter to attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Cuba. He had missed a flight to Cuba earlier this month and was scheduled to fly there soon, she said.

The fighter had police escorts who were charged with protecting him. But last week he slipped away from those escorts, leaving his house near Merida with his wife and saying they were headed into town, Mora said.""

Friday, April 9, 2010

Slide Show of Celebrity Suicides

This list has the same variety as any compilation of suicide by ordinary people.

Nancy Grace Deposed in Suicide Case. Has Bad Cold

"Nancy Grace's deposition could make you sick .... if you were sitting in the same room with her.

Grace sat for her deposition in Atlanta today, in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a woman who killed herself after getting grilled by Grace.

We're told Grace had an epic cold and barely made it through the depo. Various people in the room were bringing her Vicks cough drops, Kleenex and other accoutrement.

Our sources say the depo wasn't groundbreaking ... no smoking gun."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Designer Suicide Preventable, but by Those Around Him

Those around the person are in the best position to intervene, and to get the person into ordinary treatment of their condition.

"In one sense, Mr. McQueen’s suicide wasn’t a surprise. Statistically, according to mental health studies, he fitted the characteristics of those most likely to kill themselves — single, middle-aged men who are under severe stress, which bereavement would certainly cause. Suicide is also a means of escape.

Mr. Leane believes that Mr. McQueen couldn’t deal with the pain of losing his mother. “She understood him,” he said. And that wasn’t an easy matter for his father. “With East End families, there’s always an issue with tradition,” Mr. Leane explained. “Lee’s dad was a cabbie, his brothers were a builder and a cabbie, and Lee wanted to make dresses. It wasn’t on their radar. I think there was a clash with his father in the beginning, because he didn’t understand. He said, ‘Now, what you want to do if you want to sell clothes is get a stall in the market.’ Lee told me that. And when Lee got the Givenchy job, he said to his dad, ‘Now, that’s the way to sell clothes.’ Lee loved his dad and his brothers. They just didn’t understand what he was getting into.”

Mr. Leane also thinks that Ms. Blow’s death and the prospect of losing a beloved dog were also contributing factors. “When he lost Issie, it was one of the elements, really,” he said. Based on interviews with his closest friends, this seems the most plausible explanation for his suicide. “It’s not great having all those important women disappear,” Mr. Treacy said. “And his mum was very important. He was the youngest.”"

Cluster of Suicides at Disney World

The exploitation of this tragedy by an union official is unfortunate. They have a model to address the problem in the Air Force program. The company also has the ability (less than the military) to force depressed or alcoholic workers into ordinary treatment. The Air Force program is history's most effective suicide prevention program. Yet it required no innovation, just the application of modern treatment methods.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Impossible that Neurontin Caused This Suicide

Neurontin is a weak mood stabilizer that likely prevents suicide. The suicider took it for over a year. When medications cause paradoxical intoxication and agitation, they most often do so at the start.

This family could not face its role in the suicide. It likely sought to scapegoat a medication. I am angry that Pfizer failed to fight this claim to the end. This settlement will invite 100's of additional lawsuits instead of deterring them.

The case citation is Shearer v. Pfizer Inc., 07-cv-11428- PBS, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).