Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weekly Psych News Roundup

Mentally Ill Murders Decline in the UK
A new study pubished by BBC News this week found that murders committed by mentally ill perpetrators has fallen by two-third in the last 30 years...

Psychiatric Issues Clog Massachusetts Courts
The Wicked Local reports the Commonwealth's district courts were packed with mental health and substance abuse cases in 2008, to the tune of some 9,000, not including criminal cases with psych issues...

The Sadder Sex?
Fox News cited a study that found women may start off happier in life than men, but after 48, the happiness roles reverse...

Popal was Insane
This week, Omeed Aziz Popal, the man who went on a hit and run rampage in San Francisco in 2006, was found legally insane. See the full story at NBC...Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Gene of Interest for Schizophrenia Researchers

Researchers at Cardiff University in Wales, home of 2007 Nobel Prize winner for medicine Sir Martin Evans, etched a new place in history, this time for their genetic exploration of schizophrenia.

The team looked at genes that occur commonly in individuals with schizophrenia than those without it. What popped out them was one gene in particular, ZNF804A , which seems to work by turning other genes on and off. Now science will have to discover exactly which ones ZNF804A is fooling with. Their findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics on the evening of July 30th.

“The main message from this study is hope that the modern weapons of biomedical science will ultimately defeat the secrets of the disease," said Professor Michael O’Donovan of the Cardiff's School of Medicine, who led the study.

Many predict that the very core of psychiatry will change in the next few decades as the genetic secrets of mental illness are unraveled. The genetic treatment of devastating illnesses like schizophrenia will indeed be a godsend.
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Thursday, July 31, 2008

California Takes A Stand for Teen Suicide Prevention

In the ongoing and long-overdue flurry of activity around mental health services for our young people, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger here in California this week signed a bill for teen suicide prevention.
Known as the Jason Flatt Act, named after a 16-year-old who successfully suicided, the law allows school districts in California to use a handful of dollars from their Professional Development Block Grants for suicide prevention training of teachers.
This sort of legislation makes for decent ink for both the Governor and the California Teachers Association, which supported the bill. But the reality is the Jason Flatt Act falls very flat. Schools can't use the funds until 2014. When that day comes, they can provide faculty with a paltry two hours of training.
This hardly seems like an urgent response to a very real crisis. The bill itself points out that suicide is the third-leading cause of death for American youth 15 to 24, fourth for kids 10 to 14 and second for college-aged young people.
With tragic numbers like those, it's almost embarrassing that this is the best our Golden State can do.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yolanda Gets Her Own Law in Massachusetts

Last January, a 16-year-old girl suffering with bipolar disorder named Yolanda Torres committed suicide. She wasn't one of the handful of lucky children in Massachusetts to get the mental health care she needed. Like the rest of the nation, the Massachusetts system of care for children is abominable. A 2006 report found that 102,000 of the state's 146,000 children needing mental health services actually got any help.

This week, the state's House of Representatives may vote on Yolanda's Law which will dramatically increase services to Massachusetts children. Among the changes are its increase in screenings by pediatricians, day cares and preschools. The bill will also provide addiional assistance to schools for mental health services and even increase options available to those with managed care insurance.

The only opposition? The psychotics at the Church of Scientology. I guess if the kids can make it to the mothership, they'll be okay. But more on them in a later post. Keep up the good work Massachusetts!
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Veterans Suicide Hotline: 55,000 Served

As if there was ever any question that military service can take a profound psychological toll on those who serve our country, these statistics released by CBS News today offered a sobering reminder.

The Department of Veterans Affairs suicide hot line has logged some 55,469 calls in the first six months of 2008. At the beginning of the year, about 21,000 people had used the service. CBS also obtained data showing where the calls originated. Texas came in first place with 2102 calls, followed by California with 2088 calls, then Florida with 1250 calls, and in fourth place Massachusetts with 1051 calls.

Of the total calls, 22,044 identified themselves as vets. About 2966 identified themselves as family or friends of veterans.

Whether or not we agree with the military actions taken by the United States, the men and women serving our country deserve every bit of support we can possibly give them.
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