Saturday, August 9, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

If We Took a Holiday
UK residents regard their vacation as vital to their mental health, according to a new study. Of course, it's published by Just the Flight, an online travel agent.

Execs Need Help, Too
UC San Diego has created the Executive Mental Health Program which encourages executives, who are feeling the economic pinch in terms of pressure to perform, to take care of themselves as well as their bottom line. Read more about it in the San Diego Business Journal Online.

Suicide Prevention Tips
All too often we hear the words, "I never knew so-and-so was depressed. He just killed himself out of the blue." In fact, most people who suicide leave a trail of clues. They key is knowing what to look for. Here's a helpful piece from the Capital Flyer at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 8, 2008

Anthrax Suspect Took Secrets and Demons to the Grave

At first blush, news that federal investigators had fingered a respected Army scientist post-mortem as the culprit behind the cryptic 2001 Anthrax scare seemed, well, flimsy. Now some of the facts of this rather bizarre case are surfacing and the accusations seem more justified.

Puzzling and even disturbing is the fact that scientist Bruce Ivins was apparently a troubled soul plagued by dual demons of depression and paranoia yet continued his work as a bioweapons specialist. He struck without warning, without overt provocation. How many others are lurking in our military laboratories, toiling feverishly on their concoctions and twisted plans, known to be possessed by similar demons, but operating without impediment?

Much to his credit, though, Ivins seemed to be more messenger than rogue domestic terrorist. His point seemed to be to scare us out of our complacency. "Look at what the terrorists can do!" he was exclaiming. He hinted that he knew something we didn't. Perhaps, but we'll likely never know. He took his secrets to the grave when he kiled himself a few weeks ago.

What, if anything, could have been done differently? Could Ivins have been stopped before the end to his Anthrax terror spree? Could he have been better protected from his own illness?Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Your Economic State of Mind

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today published an editorial that captures what must really be the overarching mental health story of the year: What toll has our faltering economy taken on the American psyche?

Mention is made in the piece of a woman who killed herself after her home went into foreclosure. Surely she is neither the first nor the last. While our leaders focus on bail-outs and shake-outs, perhaps it is time that states and local governments pay attention to what is surely a growing mental health crisis.Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Right to Bear Arms & Mental Illness

No matter where you may stand on the right to own firearms in America, there is no denying that the background checks to purchase them need closer inspection.

Josh Horwitz' piece today on the Huffington Post eloquently articulated this. The deficiencies of the background verification system exposed in the aftermath of the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University have produced little more than lip service to reform. As it stands, an individual with a severe mental illness, with a propensity to violence, can legally purchase a firearm in most areas of the country. By the time President Bush signed the NICS Improvement Act of 2007, which was supposed to improve the screening process, the National Rifle Association had successfully secured new gun-owning rights of the mentally ill. Amazing, isn't it.

I have worked off and on over the last few years with a young man who idolizes Seung-Hui Cho and his Virginia Tech massacre. He has threatened repeatedly to commit a similar act at a local school, which is how he found his way to me. He has shown up at my office, tattered copy of The Satanic Bible in hand, to discuss his latest theories on being the Evil One and how much libidinously-satisfying damage he can really do. Oh, yes, the police are well aware of this young man, but little can be done until something happens.

While we try to contain him, and thousands like him in our midst, it is likely only a matter of time before his hands are covered with blood. And ours, too.
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