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Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

Why Are Men Killing Themselves by Suffocation?

A reader sent me a link to the actual study on middle-aged suicide and as I looked over it I noticed the following information: Suicide circumstances varied considerably by age, with those related to job, financial, and legal problems most common among individuals aged 40–64 years. Between 2005 and 2010, the proportion of suicides where these circumstances were present increased among this age group, from 32.9% to 37.5% of completed suicides (p<0.05).

Digging deeper into the data, one finds that men are the ones using suffocation as a suicide method most often. For example, for middle-aged men, 4186 (from 2005-2010) of them used suffocation as a method compared to 931 women (click on the table to enlarge):

Rising Suicide Among Adults Aged 40–64 Years - American Journal of Preventive Medicine

The authors point out: “Not surprisingly, suffocation as a suicide method was more common in areas where firearm prevalence is lower. Increases in the use of suffocation were similarly greater in states where gun ownership is less common.” The authors also state: “Suffocation, another highly lethal and broadly accessible suicide method, is similarly associated with suicides where interpersonal and especially external circumstances are present.”

Based on the information in the charts,  31.3% of middle-aged men who committed suicide had “intimate partner problems.” I wonder what these problems looked like and if they are more likely to lead to suicide by suffocation. How many of these men were feeling stuck in a bad marriage or relationship with no help available? How do we reach these men?

Posted at 5:36 am on March 6th, 2015 by Helen Smith

We are genetically more like our fathers

This is according to a new study:

Like father, like son. And also like daughter, according to new research.

The University of North Carolina School of Medicine released a study Monday indicating mammals are genetically more like their fathers than their mothers, according to a statement from UNC.

“Specifically, the research shows that although we inherit equal amounts of genetic mutations from our parents – the mutations that make us who we are instead of some other person – we actually ‘use’ more of the DNA that we inherit from our dads,” the statement reads.

What? How dare mammals use more of the DNA from a father than a mother. There must be a government program or law that can change this inequality.

Posted at 5:05 am on March 4th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Why Do So Many Middle- Aged Men Feel So Lost?

This is the title of a recent (rather patronizing) article at The Telegraph that many of you have been sending me this week. From the article:

They are all part of a “sandwich generation”: they sit between the baby boomers and the digital natives. And they are a group who have, according to recent statistics, lost their way. The Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report for 2014 shows that men aged 40-44 are the demographic group with the highest rate of suicide, nearly four times that of women the same age; for those aged 45-54, the rate is roughly three times higher for men than women. New data from the Office of National Statistics confirm those findings. And although the statistics aren’t always straightforward (there may be under-reporting of female suicides), things aren’t getting better: while the male rate fell for most of the past decade, since 2012 it has been back on the rise.

So what is a middle-aged man to do according to the article? Get rid of masculinity of course but isn’t that always the answer?:

Terry Real, a psychologist and the author of “How Can I Get Through to You? Reconnecting Men and Women” thinks the time has come for men to readjust their sights. Our culture’s masculine code, he says, dictates that “men don’t need relationships, men don’t need to be connected, men don’t need to be heartfelt”.

The answer, Real says, is to understand and then reject that old, outdated part of the masculine code, which gave a sense of entitlement, a sense that men can “go home, rip open our belts, pop open a beer, belch and be loved. We just don’t get away with that anymore.”

As for Henry, he has hope. He has recently found a job, has a new partner and has come off the dole. “It’s a start,” he says. “You’ve got to start somewhere, haven’t you? Even when you’re 50.”

Yeah, it’s all about entitlement. Maybe men are depressed because the middle-aged ones are expected to do it all without being loved, without positive feedback and because society hates them for being men. Who wouldn’t feel disgusted and depressed in a society that values your life and feelings so little? Kind of like the author of the article. I just love the way the caption to the article states that the author, Lucy Cavendish “lends an ear.” It seems to me she lent more like a kick in the balls to men that she has little empathy for and doesn’t really understand. Where are real articles in mainstream magazines and papers about what men are truly dealing with? Not this re-hash of men’s lives written by women who really don’t have a clue.

Posted at 5:05 am on March 2nd, 2015 by Helen Smith

Do You Know the News?

I recently took a quiz at the Pew Research Center to see how my “News IQ” compared to others of my age and sex.
It was interesting that fewer women seemed to know the answers to the military or geography questions.
You can see how you do here.

Posted at 12:53 pm on February 28th, 2015 by Helen Smith

The Evils of the (Straight) Male Gaze

Christina Hoff Sommers: What gender scholars get wrong about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue:

Posted at 12:36 pm on February 26th, 2015 by Helen Smith

I Thought the Economy was Improved?

CNBC has an article about the increase in depression between 2005-2010:

The economic costs from the psychological affliction of depression have gotten significantly larger in recent years—and people suffering from that condition were hit particularly hard by the 2008 financial crisis, a new study has found.

Annual costs related to major depressive disorder rose to $210.5 billion in 2010, according to the study published Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. That represents a 21 percent increase over the $173.3 billion in overall annual economic fallout linked to sufferers of the disorder as of 2005, the report noted….

During that five-year time span, the number of people suffering from depression grew from 13.8 million to 15.4 million, with the fastest rate of increase seen among people older than the age 50.

“Worsening economic conditions after the 2008 downturn took a particularly heavy toll” on those people, noted the report, whose lead author, Paul Greenberg, is a managing principal at the Boston-based economic consulting firm Analysis Group.

Since the economy is now so “improved” due to the amazing job of the current administration, shouldn’t the rate of depression be dropping soon? It will be interesting to see the rate for 2011-2015.

Posted at 1:39 pm on February 25th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Why Home Ownership Sucks

dave_barry_cover_2-24-15-1

With all the negative news on TV, the internet and everywhere else concerning the weather, the economy, ISIS, etc., I decided it was time to read something funny and picked up Dave Barry’s new book Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry. Well, parts of it were very funny, but of course I was drawn to the negative chapter on home ownership titled “Everything I Know about Home Ownership I Learned from Johnny Carson.”

Now that our house is ten years old, I can relate to all the problems that Barry discusses in this chapter. He says there are basically two kinds of houses: “New Houses, which are crap, because they don’t build them the way they used to anymore” and “Old Houses, which used to be good, because they were built back when they built them the way they used to, but which today, as a result of being old, are crap.”

So this means that either way, one has to deal with broken things and this is the theme of his chapter on housing. One of the things no one talks about much when pushing home ownership is how much time and money goes into fixing these broken things just to keep your house functional. I am starting to really understand why older people just let their houses go; it’s a full-time job making sure your house doesn’t fall in around you with the broken pipes, busted lights, and appliances that need to be maintained.

This leaves homeowners like Barry dealing with “Truck Guys” who think he is a pervert wasting his time looking at the internet all day when he is actually an English major making a living as a professional writer. And Barry really believes that Home Depot commercials should be required just like drug commercials to have a disclaimer: “At the end, when they’re showing the happy couple in their new do-it-yourself kitchen, an announcer would say: ‘These people are actors. They are not capable of operating an espresso machine, let alone building this kitchen. This was done by contractors with trucks.’”

I am glad to know this, as I spend a lot of time feeling inadequate that I can’t fix much of what is wrong with our house and am constantly asking a man with a truck to explain stuff to me. It doesn’t seem to make it any easier though to do it myself. I am still glowing about putting in light bulbs in high-ceiling fixtures with this bulb-changing kit we got from Amazon and anything beyond that is tough.

Given all the headaches with homeownership, I wonder why any of us own homes at all. If you do your own handiwork, please give me a few tips. I could use some.

Posted at 5:42 am on February 24th, 2015 by Helen Smith

Protesting Due Process

Ashe Schow at the Washington Examiner:

When author and history professor K.C. Johnson went to Ohio University to discuss due process rights for students accused of campus sexual assault, he knew what he was getting into.

Although due process is a central tenet of the American justice system, it has been attacked in recent years as an impediment to justice by those claiming to be the victims of sexual assault.

Johnson, who co-wrote the book about the false rape allegation against the Duke lacrosse team, has been trying to bring sanity back to the debate over how college campuses handle sexual assault accusations by explaining repeatedly that accused students should not be convicted based on an allegation, without the ability to defend themselves.

And that’s where the activists disagree.

Maybe Greg Lukianoff can use this example (among many, many others) to answer his question: “Do You Think “Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity on Campus?”

Posted at 11:39 am on February 21st, 2015 by Helen Smith

Yes, Next Question

Greg Lukianoff : “Do You Think “Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity on Campus?”

Posted at 1:24 pm on February 20th, 2015 by Helen Smith

“We can be defaulted into being a father of a child that is not ours.”

A reader sends me a troubling story about a Detroit man threatened with jail time for not paying child support for a child that is not his:

DETROIT (WXYZ) – The state told a Detroit man: Pay child support for a kid that is not yours or go to jail! On Friday, 7 Action News went with him as he turned himself in at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

“I stayed up all night. Couldn’t sleep thinking about it,” said Carnell Alexander.

Carnell says no matter what the state orders, he won’t pay child support for a child he doesn’t know and that DNA tests prove isn’t his.

“I haven’t even had a chance to speak to him except for one time when we took a DNA test,” said Carnell….

Carnell says he is not only worried about how this impacts him. He says something needs to be changed so that men who are wrongfully named fathers are protected.

“We can be defaulted into being a father of a child that is not ours. I don’t understand the law, but we do have that law in place,“ said Carnell.​

That law should be changed, no man should be jailed for not paying child support and much less, not paying child support for a child that is not even his.

Posted at 9:57 am on February 17th, 2015 by Helen Smith