It’s never easy to find the right response for a friend experiencing suicidal tendencies, but those who encourage suicide can do extensive damage. Last month, a Massachusetts grand jury indicted 18-year-old Michelle Carter for allegedly encouraging a friend to commit suicide. Police say that Carter’s friend, Conrad Roy, texted her messages indicating he was considering suicide. Roy allegedly told Carter he was scared to kill himself and leave his family, but police say Carter persisted in encouraging him. When Roy attempted to kill himself in his truck, he panicked and exited the vehicle, but Carter allegedly encouraged him to get back in and complete the act.
Carter, who was 17 when Roy committed suicide, is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Massachusetts does not criminalize assisted suicide, but prosecutors say that Carter’s actions are far beyond mere assisted suicide, particularly since Roy expressed that he did not actually want to die.
Rebekah Gregory, who lost her leg as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, recently faced bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in court. The experience changed her perception of her attacker. She explained in an open letter to Tsarnaev that she posted on Facebook that she no longer feared him after seeing him in person: “I looked at you right in the face … and realized I wasn’t afraid anymore. And today I realized that sitting across from you was somehow the crazy kind of step forward that I needed all along.” Like many survivors of trauma, Gregory may have found a sense of closure in facing her attacker and in writing a letter to him.
Surviving a traumatic assault can be extremely challenging, but the degree to which it affects a person’s quality of life varies from person to person. A study of 159 women who had been assaulted at least once found that 30% developed depression, while another 21% developed posttraumatic stress. Women who didn’t experience serious mental health symptoms were more likely to report high levels of social support and mastery over their own lives. This suggests that the support of loved ones in conjunction with the ability to control one’s own life may go a long way toward helping assault victims heal.
According to a new Government Accountability Office report, the Navy, Army, and Marine Corps do not have accurate figures on how many troops have left the armed forces due to mental health concerns. Defense Department policy requires the military to use specific codes, thus offering detailed information on why a soldier has left. But the military often uses the general “condition, not a disability,” instead. Consequently, the Pentagon cannot get accurate data on the rates of mental health issues among soldiers or on how these concerns affect the armed services.
According to a study that analyzed marriages in which one spouse was diagnosed with a serious illness, marriages are 6% more likely to end in divorce when the wife gets sick. Though the study did not explore why this is, researchers suggest that women may be better caregivers. Men typically aren’t socialized to provide intensive care for others, so wives may be dissatisfied with the quality of care they receive from their husbands, and husbands may be frustrated by the prospect of providing ongoing care.
In recent years, public concern over concussions among athletes has grown, but few measures have worked to improve the mental health of athletes. This week, the Sixth Youth Safety Sports Summit unveiled new guidelines, which will also be published in the Journal of Athletic Training. The guidelines include 10 recommendations for those working with student athletes, including recommendations that schools have a specific mental health plan and that they implement an effective mental health referral system.
Despite endless protestations by partners that size doesn’t matter nearly as much as men think it does, penis “size anxiety” continues to be a significant concern among many men. A newly released study of more than 15,000 men has found that the average length of a flaccid penis is 3.6 inches, while the average fully erect penis measures 5.16 inches long. Average girth of a flaccid penis is 3.66 inches, compared to 4.59 inches when erect. Researchers also uncovered a modest positive correlation between penis size and height.
Anxiety may undermine anxious people’s ability to make good decisions, a new study says. Researchers found that people experiencing anxiety performed more poorly at a game-playing task, suggesting that anxiety may inhibit people’s ability to read environmental cues and make good decisions.
Anti-psychotic medications are powerful drugs with powerful side effects, but more doctors are prescribing them to children. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of children on Medicaid who took such drugs increased 62%, bringing the figure to 2.4% of all child Medicaid recipients. A study exploring this increase found that more than half of doctors who prescribed these medications deviated from established guidelines. The most common error was failure to do lab tests to monitor the drugs’ effects. Current guidelines suggest that children who have not been diagnosed with a serious mental health condition should not receive anti-psychotics unless other medications have failed.
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