mental health | KUOW News and Information

mental health

Want to know what the teenagers in your life really think about sex and drugs?

Are you sure?

Well, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a pretty good idea, thanks to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Every other year, thousands of teens in public and private high schools across the country take this nationally representative survey. The CDC just released results for 2017, and here are a few of the highlights:

Sex

The number of people dying by suicide in the United States has risen by about 30 percent in the past two decades. And while the majority of suicide-related deaths today are among boys and men, a study published Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics finds that the number of girls and women taking their own lives is rising.

If you take Prilosec or Zantac for acid reflux, a beta blocker for high blood pressure, or Xanax for anxiety, you may be increasing your risk of depression.

More than 200 common medications sold in the U.S. include depression as a potential side effect. Sometimes, the risk stems from taking several drugs at the same time. Now, a new study finds people who take these medicines are, in fact, more likely to be depressed.

Updated at 12:28 p.m. ET

Chef and television host Anthony Bourdain was found dead in a hotel room in France, his employer CNN said in a statement Friday morning. He was 61. The network and a French official said the cause of death was suicide.

Suicide rates have increased in nearly every state over the past two decades, and half of the states have seen suicide rates go up more than 30 percent.

Suicide is a major public health issue, accounting for nearly 45,000 deaths in 2016 alone. That is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta decided to take a comprehensive look at suicides from 1999 to 2016.

The author, Maya Konz. She is a high school senior with ADHD and anxiety.
KUOW PHOTO/MEGAN FARMER

I am 18 years old, and I have a condition where I am very hyper aware of things. I have ADHD and anxiety, so my attention span is very limited.

I'm not really sure how to describe anxiety, but I know the feeling.







Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital is no longer in immediate jeopardy of losing federal funding.

Federal inspectors have found serious safety violations at Western State Hospital that could increase the chances of patient suicides. The finding this week has the potential to further imperil $65 million in annual federal funding the state receives to operate the 857-bed psychiatric hospital near Tacoma.

One night about a year ago, the lights in Brian's Tacoma apartment suddenly went out. He was in his bedroom. When he walked out to see what had happened, he said he found his adult daughter who lived with him had stuck a bread knife into an electrical outlet.

The stories of patients and their families are critical to learning more about how state government operates and how our mental health system is functioning. They also shed light on personal struggles with mental health and fight the stigma attached to psychiatric disorders.

The state is currently trying to reshape the hospital and improve our long-struggling mental health system. The issue will likely be at the forefront of the Legislature's 2019 session, which begins in January.

For the last several years, Washington state lawmakers have been working on a response to a state Supreme Court order to fully fund schools. Now they’re signaling a shift to the next big challenge: mental health.

At a news conference Friday at Western State Hospital, Republican state Sen. Steve O’Ban framed Washington’s mental health crisis this way:

“I kind of think of this as, this is a bad analogy perhaps, but McCleary Two,” he said.

Combat veterans from the Vietnam-era through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan often turn to Vet Center counselors for help with post-traumatic stress or depression. And some of these counselors are themselves feeling stress - in part, they say, because of what they're calling unrealistic productivity requirements.

Ted Blickwedel, 63, is a Marine Corps veteran living in Smithfield, R.I. And recently, when he was working as a clinical social worker at his local Vet Center in nearby Warwick, he began to think about suicide.

Loneliness isn't just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being.

Now a nationwide survey by the health insurer Cigna underscores that. It finds that loneliness is widespread in America, with nearly 50 percent of respondents reporting that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes.

FILE: University of Washington Medical Center
Flickr Photo/I-5 Design & Manufacture (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8NiGU6

The University of Washington Medical Center says it will build a new facility to replace an aging inpatient psychiatric unit that’s slated for closure.

At the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, inmates with mental illness are locked down in their cells for up to 16 hours a day, even if they pose little risk. That’s one of the allegations in a lawsuit Disability Rights Washington plans to file in federal court in Spokane on Monday.

UW's Medical Center operates a psychiatric unit with 10 beds.
KUOW Photo/Angela Nhi Nguyen

One of Seattle's psychiatric facilities is facing an uncertain future. The University of Washington Medical Center could shutter its psych unit, unless it makes "costly" upgrades.


The Washington legislature passed a measure banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth in the 2018 legislative session.
Flickr photo/sea turtle (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The entire U.S. West Coast now prohibits counselors from using conversion therapy on minors.

On Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law that prohibits licensed therapists from using conversation therapy with youth under age 18. Inslee, a Democrat, was surrounded by kids and LGBTQ rights advocates when he signed the bill.


As the nation's dairy farmers struggle through their fourth year of depressed milk prices, concerns are rising that many are becoming depressed themselves. The outlook for the next year is so bleak, it's heightening worries — especially in the Northeast — about farmer suicides.

Agri-Mark Inc., a dairy cooperative with about 1,000 members, saw three farmers take their own lives in the past three years. The most recent was last month. It's a very small sample, but very sharp and disturbing increase.

Students walk in front of Gerberding Hall on Thursday, November 16, 2017, on the University of Washington campus in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with University of Washington associate professor Jennifer Stuber about suicide prevention on college campuses. Last week, the Washington state Senate passed a bill that would fund suicide prevention programs at colleges across the state.

Stuber is faculty director for Forefront Suicide Prevention at the UW.

Terese Marie Mailhot started her new memoir, Heart Berries, while she was in a mental institution, where she had committed herself after a breakdown. The pages bleed with the pain of mental illness, lost love and her family history on an Indian reservation in British Columbia.

It's a collection of essays filled with what she called "heavy material": experiences of poverty, addiction and abuse. But she also says she's finding joy in cultivating art. She spoke with me about her work and her life from Spokane, Wash.

The Rev. Talitha Arnold was just 2 years old when her father, a World War II veteran, took his own life.

"You just didn't talk about those things back then. We didn't even talk about suicide when I was in the seminary," says Arnold, who leads the United Church of Santa Fe in New Mexico.

Then, when the wife of one of her divinity school professors killed herself and no one muttered a word about it during the service, Arnold says she was appalled. "I was sitting there thinking, 'This was nuts. Why can't you name it?' " That was almost 40 years ago.

About 5 percent of people in the U.S. suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression brought on by the dark days of winter. Many more may experience a mild form of the disorder.

Casey Martin / KUOW

What kind of medical care would you want if you had Alzheimer's -- or dementia?

That's an uncomfortable question -- but you might be better off answering it now before dementia comes on.

Statue in the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa, Italy.
Flickr Photo/Alexander Edward (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/atrV5j

Matt Calkins was in junior high when he first started feeling intense social anxiety.

"I remember I would go on high school debate trips and I wouldn't say a word for like three days until I was actually debating," he said, speaking with Bill Radke on KUOW's The Record.

Condolences are pouring in for Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski . He was found dead in Pullman Tuesday of an apparent suicide.

If the Space Needle can make it through winter, hopefully we can too.
Flickr Photo/Great Beyond (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/5G8RJ7

The winter solstice was this morning at 8:28 a.m. – if you’re reading this, you’re through the darkest point of the year. But we know it may not feel like it. What to do to beat the winter blues in Seattle? Host Marcie Sillman spoke to some experts to help us answer that question.

Flickr Photo/Andrew Malone (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4unt5o

Every healthcare worker in Washington is required to undergo suicide prevention training. That includes nurses, dentists and even chiropractors. Now, University of Washington researchers have developed an interactive, online training program called All Patients Safe.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is often associated with combat, but trauma comes in many forms.

Devin Kelley, the man we now know killed more than two dozen people at a Texas church on Sunday, escaped a mental health facility before the Air Force could try him on charges that he beat his wife and baby stepson back in 2012.

And President Trump, like many people before him, is pointing to mental health — not guns — as the cause of the church massacre.

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