Helpful hints and discussion about mental health and mental health issues as it relates to
news, popular culture and day-to-day life.


Sunday 24 August 2014

Bullying as a social phenomenon: Amanda Todd,Ukraine and Russia, Israel/Gaza, and ISIS

by Stephen B.Chadwick, MA Counselling Psychology.

Likely that most people in Canada, and likely the States, know of Amanda Todd,
the young teenager who was bullied and harassed on line to such an extent that she was coerced into revealing herself on-line and then later was stalked by the same individual.

As a result of her distress, you can read her full biography at wikipedia here:, this poor teen committed suicide due to the distress.

So, you might ask, what exactly has the very sad, very disturbing suicide death of a young teenage girl got to do with bullying and moreover, the grander politics of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine (with Russia), Israel and Gaza and ISIS?

What I would respond is that virtually all of these involve bullying. And where all of these situations may not necessarily end in suicide, the act of bullying, which is aggressive and somewhat psychopathic/sociopathic of nature, is reflective of a larger topic which I touched upon in another post on envy, see link:

At first one may think, that well, "bullying is normal" and "when I went to school, everyone was teased". And it is true.... somewhat. Everyone in the world probably is teased at some point or other in their life, personally, on a personal level. But is bullying normal?

I don't think so.

It is said that teasing is a sign of affection. And I personally believe this to be true. One can tease someone as a sign of affection. However, taken too far or teasing done too long or to excess or when the object of the teasing is perhaps undergoing other stressors, then the teasing is no longer fun and funny, it becomes at best, annoying and at worst, destructive.

So, we as adults in this world, must help those "young people" to do what is morally right and ethically right. And cyber-bullying, where teenagers post nasty things about other people in order to sway opinion of others and to "defriend" people on social media is exactly what happened to this poor little child, Amanda Todd. And yes, she was just a little child. Teenager she may have been, but helpless and innocent from her attackers.

Now, I am sure that there are persons out there who are psychologically made of teflon or have the sensitivity of linoleum. They can drink and swear say offensive things and take drugs in public and make complete fools of themselves, and nonetheless have the courage to hold their head up regardless of how they have behaved. Example is Rob Ford.

For those outside Canada, who do not know who Rob Ford is, he is the infamous mayor of Toronto, who has had a rather embarrassing public persona. For those interested, his bio from Wikipedia,including some of his more colourful exploits is here:

However, poor Amanda Todd was not Rob Ford. If she had been, she might have survived. Rob Ford may not be a bully. Or he may. But it would seem, by his actions, that his insensitivity to what he says and does and his perhaps cavalier approach, may unlie a supreme arrogance, that may, just perhaps border on psychopathy. In other words, to put it in simple terms:

"I can do what I want, and I don't care a fig, if what I do affects anyone else.... Oh! And I am not guilty and never wrong".

This kind of thinking is absolutely and completely selfish and also completely anti-social. It is a first-class way to alienate people. Kind of like an ANTI- Dale Carnegie.

Not, How to win Friends and Influence People,

 but rather, How to Lose Acquaintances (you no longer have Friends left) and Alienate Potential Contacts.

Something like Toby Young's
Book, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

But getting back to the question of bullying, what exactly is a bully? A bully is usually someone or some thing (like an organization or body), which uses force, threats, coercion or intimidation to force another party (usually weaker in some way) to do something.

Unfortunately, we adults -- and I may an overgeneralization here, as there may be some or even many exceptions, somehow believe that bullying is something that only occurs in grade school or highschool and then stops. WRONG!

Bullying occurs in all areas of life. It occurs at work: with management and the unions and employees. It occurs in interpersonal relations: with elderly parents and adult children (or vice-versa). It occurs interpersonally as well in intimate relationships between men and women and also amongst queer couples.

And yes, bullying even occurs at the national and international level with "corporate takeovers" and "bidding wars" and so on.

And further, bullying occurs at a more sinister level when you view situations such as what has happened in Eastern Ukraine and Russia, what is happening in Gaza with Israel and what is happening with ISIS in the middle Eastern countries. For another view of the personal and psychological expanded to the national and international level see my post on identification at the national level, link here:

You see, when people in power have perhaps a certain perspective or outlook on the world which then influences their decisions for a population, well, the entire population gets taken along on the psychological/emotional ride that the person in power takes when they, say, going invading another country. The rest of the population may (or may not) agree with the powers that make the decisions, but the rest the world perceives the entire nation as personifying the traits of the dictator or person in power.

But what motivates a bully?

What causes a bully to bully?

Again, you could have a look at my other post on envy, see link here:
But essentially, bullying results from some desire on the part of the bully to take something from the victim, whatever that thing may be or to split off the undesirable part of oneself, whatever it may be and cast it onto (or project it) onto someone or something else.

So, let me give a concrete example:

Beautiful, young teenage girl. She is talented. She is intelligent. She gets good grades. She is artistic. She maybe plays several instruments well or perhaps sings well. Or perhaps she can draw, sketch and paint really well. However, her weakness is, she is still somewhat insecure. She is internally sensitive and takes jibes or teasing or criticisms about her looks to heart.

Another (teenage) girl..... completely unaware of her raging envy has it out for her.For those who may have read my entry on envy, envy can rear its ugly head as seething, (even murderous) rage and so lead people wanting to annihilate and destroy the object of their envy.

So, this other teenage girl... completely unaware of her envy of the first girl and perhaps also unable to appreciate and value her own gifts..... or morely likely has been taught (and told)  by her parents not to appreciate and value her own gifts, begins to attack the beautiful, young teenage girl. This other teenage girl mounts a campaign (with other willing, equally envious girls) to alienate and socially destroy the reputation of this other girl -- the beautiful, intelligent, talented one. So the gaggle of girls begins to spread rumours, drop hints, say things in passing. Nothing that is overtly offensive or aggressive, but in subtle little ways, like Chinese water torture, one drop at a time. They slowly, bit by bit, begin to wear and chip away at the other girl's self-esteem until she becomes a blithering, blubbery mess. This, my friends is evil.  And all simply because the other girls and their ring-leader cannot recognize what is beautiful and good within themselves. This is envy.


How do we see this manifested on a national level?

How do simple, girlish tactics manifest at an international level?

Example: Ukraine and Russia and the "information war", read: Propaganda.

And if we dig further, it could be speculated that resources, i.e. the "beauty" or "talent" or "grades" of a country are "envied" by another nation. They are envied so much, that if the other girl, read: "Nation" cannot take them (by force, read: bullying) then they will murderously destroy them. According to some media sources, a certain slavic nation is destroying infrastructure of another certain slavic nation as the aforementioned slavic nation retreats from another certain slavic nation's occupied area.

I wonder if this sounds familiar in other conflict areas of the world????

Okay --- enough, sarcastic tongue in cheek.

We know that sometimes bullies occur due to envy of what the victim has or possesses. But what if the victim of the bullying does not have anything that the bully wants? And so the bully can't appropriate it or even destroy it.

What I am talking about is another scenario: scapegoating.

So let me give you another concrete example:

A young man works perhaps say in a bank, or for an insurance company or a law office or even for a software company. He comes to work. He perhaps is dressed somewhat like a geek. He has some odd mannerisms. However, he is also dedicated to the company, firm or organization he works for. He appears to get on well with his co-workers and his boss. He bends over backwards. He stays late at night. He goes the extra mile on projects to demonstrate his enthusiasm and dedication to the company/firm/organization.

However, after some time, he feels comfortable enough to reveal to his co-workers that either he is gay, or has a mental illness, like bi-polar disorder or that his politics are left-wing or right-wing, or that he doesn't like to go to the after work "drink-your-face-off" Friday night parties or that he is a regular church-goer or that he is  "fill-in-the-blank".

Now, being gay or having bipolar disorder or left/right/centre politics or "fill-in-the-blank" attribute runs counter to the (unspoken) culture at the workplace where he makes his living. So slowly, bit by bit, once again, like the scenario of the teenage girl just mentioned, he gets picked apart, likely by management but it could also be his co-workers until he is either fired or forced to leave.

Clearly, this scenario has nothing to do with envy. His superiors and/or his coworkers have no envy of him, on the contrary. What they cannot contain is their contempt. And this contempt becomes a means of scapegoating. Unconsciously he is counter-culture -- whatever the current culture is -- hence he is hated.

And what the dominant culture hates -- whether he is gay, bipolar, left/centre/right, heavy drinker, tee-totaller or church-goer, is that he threatens the dominant, current status quo of the dominant culture. Moreover, the dominant culture feel threatened because he, with his attribute -- whatever it may be -- is reflecting back EXACTLY what the dominant culture DOES NOT WANT. It is a classic: Mirror, mirror on the wall scenario. The mirror reflects back the ugliness of what you cannot hold within yourself.

Now, dear friends, you do not have to go too far back in history to see this example played out on a national level. See my most recent post on Michael Brown Jr., the young man who was shot in Ferguson, Missouri:

Moreover, apart from the race situation in Missouri, Hitler`s National Socialists blamed the Jews for the situation, particularly of unemployment in Germany. And then of course there were the witch-hunts of the McCarthy era in the States, not to mention the witch hunts in the Middle Ages. And of course, there are several recent examples of closet homosexual politicians in the States who have railed against the moral decay of homosexuals and gay marriage only to be found (surprise, surprise) having clandestine "same-sex" encounters in public bathroom stalls and other places! Indeed, in the words of Shakespeare from Hamlet, act III, scene II: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

And then, most recently ISIS and other extremist factions appear to wish to blame the United States and the West for many of the social problems that exist within their own countries. Death to the West!

However, is it not ironic that the act of scapegoating --  a typically Judeo-Christian tradition, exemplified most profoundly by Christ, who, whether one believes in the story or not, was the ultimate scapegoat, is being used by extremist groups, who are, rather ironically not Judeo-Christian!
Talk about lack of awareness!

However, I digress.

Suffice it to say that bullying seems to appear at a local, personal and at the national and international level, either due to envy -- a desire to have what the other has (or destroy it or the person/entity if you cannot have it) or scapegoating, to cut off, what is abhorrent in oneself and project it outwards to someone else or some thing else, blame them for it and then kill them in order to get rid of uncomfortable feelings within yourself. Interesting, no?

So how to help those who are bullied? Of course there are now laws that are being enacted and/or will be enacted to protect children and teenagers in school. And this is a good thing. As it teaches children, both the victim and the bully that the victim has resources and that the bully will need to be accountable. Regrettably, it is also a sociological problem, for if a bully "learns" that it is okay to "get away" with coercion, it wears away his (or her) moral fibre. Effectively, it becomes okay, because there is no punishment.
But what if the current environment does not protect the child, the teenager or even adult, from bullying? What if all measures produce no satisfactory response? What then?

Indeed, what then? The answer is simple, but rather cliché and might appear to some to be trite: Love.

For the young girl in the scenario, I described, to the young girl, now gone, Amanda Todd, to other young girls (or boys) who may experience bullying. This is the answer. Love and support. The bullying is an attempt to annihilate the person (or country). By loving and supporting at the personal level -- by telling the person you love them, this shores up their worn-away self-image, whether it is a teenager or someone who has suffered workplace harassment and bullying.

And analyzing or doing a "post-mortem" of the situation is often helpful in order to figure out -- at least for the victim -- whether it was envy at the root of the bullying problem or scapegoating or a combination. However, it must be borne in mind that one has to be careful not to "blame the victim" in the analysis. In other words, if the individual is: beautiful, young, gets good grades, is artistically talented, or is gay, bipolar, left/centre/right in politics or is a drinker, teetotaller or church-goer, it is no reason to unintentionally blame the individual for the way they are or somehow try to make them change if they are currently happy being the way they are. Because if the victim does try to "accommodate", i.e. not look too pretty, or get bad grades, or "appear too gay" or drink their face off, they will also, ironically, end up not being their true, happy, authentic selves and thus will be unhappy (again).

I regret, friends that this entry was so long, but, I hope it helps,

Take care,


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Monday 18 August 2014

Michael Brown: Prejudice, race relations and tensions -- How to handle?

With what has recently happened in Ferguson, Missouri in the United States it is no wonder that there are now protests in that city following the death of Michael Brown, a young black youth, who was unarmed, yet was shot.

When I thought about this the other day, I could only think that this is nothing else but a "hot mess", as the expression goes. There is no elegant way out of this mess. Not for Darren Wilson, the man who shot Michael Brown, not for the city of Ferguson, nor the state, nor the protesters, nor the lawyers who will be involved, nor the governor of that state and most certainly not for Michael Brown's family.

So this post, today is to help address perhaps some of the complicated issues -- or at least try to understand them. I claim no authority on sociological issues, nor race relations in the United States. I am not an American citizen. I am not a "person of colour", unless of course "white" is -- from a point of view of physics --- a combination of all the colours of the rainbow when put through a prism, but I do understand some of the difficulties of prejudice. And I understand something (I think) about human nature and psychology.

So, perhaps it might be useful to take this scenario apart and examine its parts and from there maybe see what we little people -- meaning people who are ordinary people going about our daily business can do to help prevent prejudice and racial tensions in little ways, everyday?

To begin with, what exactly happened? Michael Brown, a young black teen was shot multiple times in Ferguson, Missouri. And he was stopped apparently by the police officer, Darren Wilson for jaywalking. There was also some news information that seemed to suggest that Brown and his friend who was with him at the time, Dorian Johnson, and who witnessed the event that Brown (and Johnson) may have robbed a convenience prior to the shooting death of Brown. Apart from Johnson, a bystander -- a woman by the name of Piaget Crenshaw -- witnessed and took photos of the event, stating that she saw Brown run from the police car with his hands in the air.

 Now, suppose Brown and Johnson had just robbed a convenience store (which they apparently they hadn't) and suppose Brown struggled with the police officer (which apparently he hadn't). One wonders if this is justification for having been shot? I suppose it would depend upon whether or not the officer was in need to defend himself from being attacked by Brown.

I won't get into the details, because one can go back and forth on who said what and who saw what and who did what, where, when, etc. etc. This is for the courts to decide.

However, judging by the human outcry by what has since happened Ferguson, it is likely unjust that Brown was shot to death.

Given that the community of Ferguson is mostly (from what I have read) black and that the police department (from what I have read) is mostly white, it would seem that this might be a racial concern/issue.

Now, for most police officers, policing is a stressful situation: one has to rely on quick-thinking, split-second decisions. They have to put their lives on the line to save people, even people who are on drugs and intoxicated, from themselves and others. Moreover, the officer is sometimes not aware if the individual he or she has to confront is armed or concealing arms, etc., etc. Police work is stressful and dangerous.

However, sometimes these types of situations are exacerbated by anxiety, hyperarousal, and acting before thinking. Moreover, if one is of a different colour or race it puts a literal, visual barrier between one individual and an ordinary citizen who may look  suspicious, but is actually doing nothing harmful.

It is a recipe for paranoia. And anxiety.  If you feel like the police may be after you, because you are black and therefore "put upon" and followed around on the street or in a department store or wherever you may go, then likely you will act paranoid. You will naturally be looking over your shoulder!

Now think about it.

If I am feeling distrustful of someone or something, I will look over my shoulder. I will be hypervigilant. If then, someone else sees me -- looking over my shoulder, what exactly will he (or she) think. To put it in simple terms:

Your mother knows you like to sneak cake out of the fridge. You get punished for it when you do.

Now she sees you "sneaking" but for what, she doesn't know. What do you think she is going to think.

AHA! You are sneaking cake out of that fridge again!

.....But maybe you weren't.

But if your mother is so... and here is another fancy word "PUNITIVE", you may just want to hide from her the fact that you are sneaking something else. Maybe in fact you are sneaking money out of the fridge or freezer (what you call "COLD HARD CASH") to buy your mom a mother's day gift or birthday present.

But what is she going to think????

Exactly. She will think you are sneaking cake again.

Now, I wish dear friends that it could be this simple and innocuous, that poor Michael Brown's situation was all just a silly confusion over stolen cake out of a fridge -- but it's not.

It has more to do with assumptions and prejudice.

What people assume about white people. What people assume about black people. What people assume about anyone who is different from themselves.

Now one can say, well and good. And one can take the time to examine prejudices and see that most people are just like everyone else. We all want the same thing (mostly). However, when one has certain ingrained ideas about other people hammered into you constantly, day-in and day-out, again and again. Even if you consciously try not to believe clichés or stereotypes about other people, they will invariably seep into your consciousness.

So it seems that race and racial prejudices still rear their ugly heads in the United States, especially in the south.

Now! Hold on just a second there!

Do not think for even a moment, that racial (or other) prejudice does not exist in other areas of the world. I regret dear friends, that up here in Canada, for example, that we Canadians have the view that we all live in one great big jolly non-racial, non-judgmental, non-homophobic, non-prejudicial paradise. Ha! I wish.

Prejudice exists EVERYWHERE. Let me say that again.

Prejudice exists EVERYWHERE.

Though laws might be enacted to stop racism and homophobia, and "fill-in-the-blank"-phobia, it unfortunately exists. And probably always will.

So, most areas of Canada for example do not have a preponderence of black people to white people as in the United States, however, there are other visible minorities that nonetheless, take abuse from the "dominant culture": Chinese, East Indian, First Nations (or Native Indian), and even French-Canadian or Québecois., etc. etc.

And yes, prejudice can go two ways.

And Canada (and the U.S.) are not the only countries where there is prejudice. In Great Britain, they have problems with race too, with Jamaicans and immigrants from the African countries and former colonies of Great Britain, like India and Pakistan and more lately, Eastern Europeans. In Ireland: well, it's a Protestant/Catholic thing. In France, it's about the Muslims from Algeria and the muslimification of France. In Italy, again immigrants from the African countries. And in Germany, that country where Hitler once reigned?

Ask the Germans about "Wessies" and "Ossies". A Wessie is someone from West Germany who stereotypically works hard so that lazy "Ossies" can freeload off the German state welfare system. And then of course, Germany also has the difficulty with nationalized, German-speaking, fully socially integrated Turks. These Turks were once "Gästarbeiter" or Guest workers who came to Germany to help build up the Germany economy and business, yet these same people sometimes have difficulty with integration into the society they helped to build!

What I am saying, friends, is that prejudice and problems of prejudice exist EVERYWHERE.

Now the funny thing is....

Sometimes these prejudices will manifest in the most bizarre ways. For example, during the Second World War, some German Nazi Officers would take Jewish mistresses in secret. In the deep south of the United States, as I am sure is common knowledge, white slave owners would also have black slave mistresses. It has been known that there is also some degree of attraction of Germans towards naturalized Turkish citizens of either gender. And of course there is also the common obsession with some Caucasian men taking Asian girlfriends as they are so "exotic".  Clearly, in this instance, the "prejudice" get subverted and taken inwards. Whereas some of these men may abhor other men who are "the wrong kind", i.e. different, etc., they certainly place on a pedastal of the same. Obviously they are making these women into a fetish of sorts. The women are turned into objects of lust. They are truly objectified. Just as their male brothers are also objectified. They are turned into something other than full human beings with emotions and feelings and... everything else.

But the other side of prejudice is.... wait for it.

Prejudices can actually be a good thing.

(I can hear the stunned silence!) Gasp! Shock!

Okay, so what do I mean by this?

What I mean is that prejudices are "prejudgements" or assumptions that we have about people or places or situations.  And sometimes this can, in fact be a good thing.

What I mean by this is, all of us and I mean absolutely all of us, prejudge ANY situation, based upon what we have been told or experienced in the past.

Now the ONLY thing, as far as I can think of where prejudices come in as useful, are in situations or dealing with people who send up our warning signals to beware.

So, one time, a very astute young man, railing about the aversion to "prejudices" rightly pointed out that:

        "Like, supposing you see, like some Charles Manson-like dude, coming up your driveway with a limp and covered in blood and with a bloody axe in his hand. Sure in hell no way, you're gonna stick around to see if the guy is "a nice guy" and maybe you just, like, have some prejudices about him!"

So sort of somewhat like the image from the film The Shining with Jack Nicholson. Note: I will NOT add in an image here. It's rather too gruesome. But for those of you who wish you can watch the film.

So, then I wonder? I just wonder, is it in fact perhaps possible that, without excusing anyone's actions, that heightened anxiety, hyperarousal of fear and the presence of prejudice and a firearm all "neatly" combined to produce the tragedy of poor Michael Brown and his death?

I would hazard to guess.

So, finally what to do?

Do we abandon all prejudices?

Quite clearly from the Jack Nicholson/The Shining Character example -- the answer is no. Clearly no.
But with race, we are not talking about monsters. Monsters and psychopaths exist in every race. However, perhaps the objectification of people, when they come with monstrous prejudices attached does turn them into being viewed by others as a Jack Nicholson character???

So then, again what do we do.

Perhaps, if indeed you are a person who has prejudices.... and we all do.
Test them.
That's right. Test them out. See if they are indeed valid in all cases. And then if they are not....., which they probably aren't, then you need to discard your old way of thinking and throw them out.

And if you are someone who is struggling with (racial) prejudice towards a particular group... process your feelings and concerns. If you have a black friend, talk to them -- CAREFULLY -- mind you, but talk to them. Express what you feel and what you struggle with. Of course you have to be careful what you express, it may get you in hot water.

And the same would go for someone who was struggling with Asians, or Muslims or Jews or Queer people or "fill-in-the-blank" type person. See them as real.  See them as individuals.See them with their flaws and see their humanity. Do not see them as a cliché or stereotype.

If you are troubled by what you have seen in Ferguson, process it with a friend. Talk it over. The best way that you personally, on a small, individual level can defend against the tragedy -- and this kind of prejudice happens EVERYWHERE in the world, is to connect and join in solidarity with someone from the other side of the so-called fence.

Take care,


I welcome comments, questions for clarification and dialogue respectful to this post and any others.

If you are interested in this or other posts, why not click on the Google + button or submit your email, either way, and follow this blog?

Thursday 14 August 2014

Robin Williams: Suicide and tips for persons struggling with suicide


So I need to start this post entry by saying it was not my intention to write a post on suicide, suicidality, prevention, warning signs and helping those struggling with suicide and/or people supporting those struggling with suicide. In my past work experience, I did a lot of crisis counselling for people who were feeling suicidal, but I was concerned about "capitalizing" upon this poor man's death.
In view of the death of actor Robin Williams, it may be timely to visit the topic as it has brought the subject of mental health and in particular, suicide, to the fore. Moreover, dealing with living in the limelight may have had a huge toll on the man that we may never fully understand, see post on Envy, Narcissism and the Cult of Celebrity, link here:

Robin Williams' struggle with depression and his eventual suicide brings to light an issue that many people who are depressed wrestle with: taking your own life. Now, for most persons, in the most simple way to view the situation, the desire to suicide, or thoughts about suicide, even fleeting thoughts are usually in response to feelings of utter hopelessness.

Most people who are full of hope (or faith,.... and yes, I mean that religious thing too!), usually don't succumb to taking their lives.  It is when things appear to the individual that there is no way out or no solution, that they begin to entertain the idea of suicide or what is called "suicidal ideation" --- again another fancy expression, that psychotherapists/counsellors like me use!

So people who are facing chronic pain or who have had multiple losses and have begun to lose hope are most at risk.

So, many of us have experienced times of desperation where we felt hopeless and may have even voiced or said aloud "I wish I were dead". This is like an ideation. Fleeting, brief and it goes away as the situation changes. However, if the situation intensifies and continues, for an ongoing period of time, then the fleeting thoughts appear more and more often. Now they become a continuous daily theme. At some point the "theme" may then evolve into something more sinister.

This is when the individual starts fantasizing about taking their own life. This is an amber/red alert type of situation. However, if the individual then moves from fantasies to actual, concrete planning of their suicide, now you have an emergency.

The following are some red flags -- warning signs that you or someone you know is at very serious risk. Indeed if someone only even says, even just in passing, even just jokingly "I feel like killing myself" Then your red flag needs to go up. 
Red Flags:
  1. Saying "good bye", literally and figuratively. Having meetings with people. Having lunch or dinner with people. This is usually a "goodbye" dinner for the suicide victim, saying good bye to loved ones before they "go". Tidying things up. Wrapping things up.Giving away prized possessions.
  2. History of depression in the individual.
  3. History of past suicide attempts in the individual.
  4. History of suicides or past suicide attempts within a family.
  5. History of drug/alcohol abuse.
  6. A very sudden shift from regular "down" mood to a feeling of elation. (Usually due to "seeing a final solution" to their pain, i.e. "suicide".
  7. Suicidal thoughts.
  8. Firm suicide plans.
  9. Access to weapons: guns, ammunition, knives, ropes, cords, belts, medications, poison.
And then the following are some protective factors which buffer against suicide, suicidal ideation and suicidal gestures:

Protective Factors:

  1. Family members close by. Someone living with the individual. Even a family pet.
  2.  A sense of "purpose" or mission for the individual.
  3. A belief in some kind of faith/religion.
  4. Someone/anyone to talk to, who will listen without judging.
Note also that in general men tend to use more lethal, permanent means for suicide, whereas generally, women use less lethal, less immediate means for suicide. Women of course are socialized more to reach out for help, whereas men unfortunately are not. Hence women may have more suicide attempts (in a bid either for attention or help) whereas men will not, but when planning for a suicide, men will use more irreversible means. So men will tend to use firearms more often, whereas women will use poison or cut their wrists.

So, for the average individual, even thinking or discussing the possibility of suicide with someone else may be scary whether you are the suicidee or the person who is trying to help.

If you are the person who is trying to help:

1. Don't freak out. As long as the person in front of you is in one piece and not harming themselves, you and they are okay. The most important thing: KEEP THEM TALKING. While they are talking, they can't be harming (usually).

2. Don't think that by asking if the person has a suicide plan, that it will make them act on it. On the contrary, for most suicidal people the fact that a person is even interested in what they are experiencing and wants to help.... this can often alleviate their pain and pull them back from suiciding. Don't be afraid to ask them if they feel like killing themselves or if they have a plan.

3. Ask the person to go to hospital. And accompany them. And call an emergency first-responder.

If you are the person who is feeling suicidal:

1. Call someone, preferably a mental health professional, or crisis line or even a friend and tell them you are in immediate crisis and are feeling like you are actively wanting to kill yourself.

All of this is very brief information and what I would call  a guideline. Suicide is much more complicated than this, especially if there are other factors involved. However some of the above is pretty basic.

For more information see the following websites (including the one attached to this blog,

1. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention:

2. In the U.S.: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

3. In the U.K., Russia, Ukraine and Poland and most of Europe:

Be aware that this is not a comprehensive list, but to be used as a starting point, especially if you or someone else is suffering from severe longterm depression.
Please also have a look at two other earlier posts: When Talking to Friends isn't enough, link here:

and Tips and Strategies for dealing with Anxiety and Depression, link

Most important of all, dear friends, KEEP TALKING!!!
The best way to avoid suicide for yourself and preventing it in others, is genuine concern and connection.
As I was thinking about this post I thought of a Stevie Nicks' song. Some may think it dated or even hokey, however, the lyrics point out something sincere -- to keep talking to your friends when you are feeling like you are sinking into that hole of depression. And if that doesn't work to talk to a professional. In fact, one comment on this video stated that a teenager remembered this song, especially when he was down and it was the ONLY thing that kept him from suiciding.
I post the lyrics with it, because Ms. Nicks, by her own admission, said this song was difficult to sing and the lyrics are what make the song so poignant.
Lyrics follow the video.

Enjoy, and keep talking and
Take Care,


I welcome comments, questions for clarification and dialogue respectful to this post and any others.

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I can see we're thinkin' bout the same things
And I can see your expression when the phone rings
We both know there's something happening here
Well, there's no sense in dancing round the subject
A wound gets worse when it's treated with neglect
Don't turn around there's nothing here to fear

You can talk to me
Talk to me
You can talk to me
You can set your secrets free, baby

Dusty words lying under carpets
Seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
Locked inside hidden safe from view
Well, is it all that hard?
Is it all that tough?
Well, I've shown you all my cards now isn't that enough?
You can hide your hurt
But, there's something you can do:

You can talk to me
Talk to me... talk to me
I can set your secrets free, baby

Though we lay face to face and cheek to cheek
Our voices stray from the common ground where they
Could meet
The walls run high, to veil a swelling tear
Oh, let the walls burn down, set your secrets free
You can break their bounds, cause you're safe with me
You can lose your doubt, cause you'll find no danger
Not here

You can talk to me
Talk to me
You can talk to me
You can set your secrets free, baby

Oh, I can see you running... I can see you running
I can see you running all the way back home
I can see your expression when the phone rings
And I can see that you're thinkin' bout the same things
Is it all that hard?
Is it all that tough?
Well, you've taken all there is now baby
Isn't that enough?
Well, I can see you runnin'... I can see you runnin'
All the way back

Sunday 10 August 2014

Justin Bieber: Narcissism, Envy and The Cult of Celebrity

by Stephen B.Chadwick, MA Counselling Psychology.
So, dear friends it has been a number of days since I have been able to post. And I have wanted to post about a number subjects, for example:

1. Bullying, on the small scale and the large, national scale

2. Confidentiality, especially as it pertains to psychotherapy and counselling.

3. And Self-respect, especially for young females, but really for anyone,

so stay tuned. There are other posts to come. But for now, I simply wanted to post another entry and not leave you“abandoned, out in the middle of the emotional ocean”, so to speak!

So this entry is going to be about the Biebs! – Justin Bieber.
 Our collective fascination with celebrity and stardom and tabloids and “costume malfunctions” and envy is perfectly normal and part of human nature .

Monday 4 August 2014

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices

 So, in order to take a bit of a break from all the doom and gloom of what is going on in Gaza and Eastern Ukraine that is in the media right now, I thought I might make an entry on healthy lifestyle choices.

Coincidentally, a local food retailer called Country Grocer which services the area in which I live, is now following on the twitter account attached to this blog, so this week’s topic is a natural fit.

Now, before I begin talking about “making healthy lifestyle choices”, I should preface this by saying that, one has to be very careful about talking about this area of life.