By Joseph Scotto, LCSW-R
Vice President, Behavioral Health
I once had a patient who survived the September 11th terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. He was the only one in his office who did. For four hours, his wife couldn’t get in touch with him and believed him to be dead. Both suffered from extreme depression afterward—but both were too ashamed to acknowledge it. How could they be depressed when he, unlike so many they knew, came home? People around them were quick to tell them how they should feel: “You are so lucky,” people would say after hearing of their harrowing experience. Not: “I’m so sorry you went through this.”
I thought of that man and his wife when I heard about the suicide of Kate Spade and then, just a few days later, of Anthony Bourdain. Continue reading
By Anderson Sungmin Yoon, DSW, LCSW-R, CASAC, RPT-S
Vice President, Integrated and Value-Based Care
On December 18, 27-year-old Korean “K-pop” artist Jonghyun, lead singer of global boy band SHINee, was found unconscious in an apartment in Seoul. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, where he was immediately taken. The cause was suicide.
Like most, it was a tragedy that didn’t need to happen. Continue reading
By Renée Riebling
A victim of bullying wants, above all, for the torture to just stop; most victims also would like to see their tormentors pay, or at least understand the agony they caused. Netflix’s hit series 13 Reasons Why, a binge-worthy, suspenseful drama that chronicles the final months of a troubled teen who ends up taking her own life, offers suicide as a satisfying way to achieve both — and a new study indicates it might be having devastating consequences. Continue reading
After comedian Robin Williams died, we asked how someone with access to the best help in the world wasn’t able to find what he needed. Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen noted that for Williams, money was no barrier to the best possible care. So what’s the verdict for ordinary people who are trying to find the help they need? “Accessing mental health care is getting harder, not easier,” Cullen wrote. “It’s getting more expensive for families, not less.”
For a select group of our country’s youth, the Affordable Care Act is good news. A recent study found that more young people are getting the mental health care and substance abuse treatment they need, thanks to the change allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. This is excellent progress. But what about teens and young adults who have few resources, whose parents are uninsured and dealing with their own mental health needs? Cuts in mental health funding mean that these young people are less likely to have access to mental health care–and also that they are more likely to need it.
When we fail to treat childhood trauma, we pay for it later on, in tragic mental illness and costly health problems that perpetuate the cycle of childhood trauma for the next generation. Continue reading
When the media broke the news of Robin Williams’ death, it was shocking to realize that someone who gave people so much joy was experiencing such pain. He was loved and revered by people he’d never met—a man who had every success and a family who loved him but who still felt unable to reach for the help that he needed. His loss is devastating, and it’s a fresh reminder that people all around us are struggling, without access to the resources and care that could help them survive.
Robin Williams was not alone. 1.1 million people attempt suicide each year, and 39,000 people take their own lives. One in five Americans suffered from a mental illness in the last year, but only 39 percent of them were able to get mental health services. We must erase the stigma that prevents people from getting help, and we must make sure that everyone seeking help has access to the care they need. Continue reading