Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Hidden life- Death and Suicide rates low in severely underpriveleged groups

I came across this interview as a follow on from a friend's blog. It is rather personal to me as I have lived through a family member's depression and suicidal behavious, and spent much of my time trying to analyse and digest the victim's behaviour. As a parent, one is forever changed when tragedy revolving one's child occurs, and I have no magic answers for dealing with it. It leaves a permanent scar, for which there is no miracle cure, only perhaps amelioration.

Of more widespread interest is the fact that suicide occurs less in impoverished circumstances, as opposed to those who have resources and perhaps comfortable socio-ecomonic circumstances. Something to ponder over:

"I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever. In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father,and then having being abandoned by Jim. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer inthe Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there forme. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you couldcrawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans. Because he alwayssaid: ‘You never know - it might come in handy again, and then Annieyou can come back from Neuf York and you can get right back in there." Johanna Reiss, author of a Hidden Life.

click here to read more

I think this is a really important thing to remember in prevention of suicide.... the sufferer is not alone, is not abandoned.

Johanna Reiss explains it in a better way than I could:

"the middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commitsuicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak. (In) Elie Wiesel’s book. I had read... In concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazisand so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too. And so there were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.

And the other thing about suicide is that if you feel that somebody totally needs you, you manage to hang in there.

There has to be a reason for people to stay alive, there has to be hope, and there has to be somebody or something that is so important that you couldn’t possibly leave it. Elie Wiesel wrote--he was a boy in a camp--that he was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him. And that’s the only time he mentions the allure of suicide."

Can this be a key that will save lives and give them hope where there is none?

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Nowadays it seems there is an expectation that as one ages, we can expect have a knee replacement/hip replacement/ bypass surgery etc. The health care system (especially the public ones) are strained by an affluent society with expectations that each niggling pain and ache will be death with promptly.

Is this an unreal expectation? I have known many people who have had a hip replacement, only to pass away six months later, never having gotten out of the rehabilitation wheelchair; other more mobile citizens being told they need a knee replacement but ten years later they are still mobile, albeit in some pain, but still not enough to warrant them consenting to a knee replacement.

I have an 88 year old father - in - law with circulation impaired enough in his leg that his knee bone is dying. Yes dying, and ten years ago they drilled a hole in his kneecap to initiate further bone growth. This worked. Now the problem has recurred. At 88 what would he do differently if he knee was magically fixed. In his words, probably nothing different, except perhaps walk a little further than he does each day. He would not play any more lawn bowls or sport than he does now, would not be taking on any marathon challenges, so does he need the magic wand, even if the Doctor had it? Probably not, although some pain relief would probably be desirable.

I am not in any way demeaning the suffering of those with a very serious condition who do urgently need replacement joints. This will always be necessary in some cases. And I can only imagine the agony that some people go through with their joints. I really hope I am never in that situation myself.

However, perhaps instead of lamenting or questioning a health care system that is struggling to cope with the masses of patients, and a shortage of beds, we should rather question modern life's' expectations in senior years and the quality of life that is possible without resorting to major surgery.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And they said the Vikings were bloodthirsty?

Popular British empire history paints the Vikings as a marauding bloodthirsty pirates that used to pillage and raid the residents of Anglo Saxon England. Some claim that although there were raids on England and other coastal countries, the majority of Vikings led a peaceful life, but that in order to assist the spread and adoption of Christianity, myths pervaded about their bloodthirsty pagan rituals and fearsome callous immoral ways.... however, archaeology throws a different light on this, as new evidence is uncovered. One site in England has archaeologists buzzing... as it seems the peaceful residents of England also had mean streaks... read on....below regarding an archaeological find in Britain that reveals Vikings may not have been the only ones to practise sword bases execution in a mass genocide.....but on a lighter note, I have taken something creative from my supposedly "bloodthirsty" viking blood.....

Rosemaling is my favourite art which has its roots in viking history from over 1000 years ago. Some of my collection can be viewed here:

Roving Vikings in the 8th.century copied the Greek and Roman acanthus leaf design. They used these to carve the form of the leaves on their war ships as a decoration and protections from all evil spirits, sea monsters and other dangerous threats that might face them during their long journeys from the North to other distant places in the world.
However, not all the Viking's lives were saved by the acanthus carvings on their ships....

Article found in Extract from Joan Dahl's DVD on Rosemaling....


An analysis shows that many of the men suffered wounds thought to relate to the process of decapitation.... (gruesome find!)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS* 51 bodies were unearthed near the site of the 2012 London Olympics
* On Friday, scientists announce the men were Vikings from the Dark Ages
* The men, who were beheaded, were found near the Olympic sailing venue
* Carbon dating places the men in the time period from A.D. 890 to 1030

London, England -- They were 51 young men who met a grisly death far from home, their heads chopped off and their bodies thrown into a mass grave.
Their resting place was unknown until last year, when workers excavating for a road near the London 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, England, unearthed the grave. But questions remained about who the men were, how long they had been there and why they had been decapitated.

On Friday, officials revealed that analysis of the men's teeth shows they were Vikings, executed with sharp blows to the head around a thousand years ago. They were killed during the Dark Ages, when Vikings frequently invaded the region.
"To find out that the young men executed were Vikings is a thrilling development," said David Score, project manager for Oxford Archaeology, which excavated the remains. "Any mass grave is a relatively rare find, but to find one on this scale, from this period of history, is extremely unusual and presents an incredible opportunity to learn more about what is happening in Dorset at this time."

Radiocarbon dating had already placed the remains between A.D. 890 and 1030, before the Norman conquest of Anglo-Saxon England.

Teeth ID beheaded Vikings
Scientists from the British Geological Survey then went further and analyzed the men's teeth to find out exactly where they were from. Isotope analysis of teeth can reveal clues about a person's drinking water, and in turn the climate they came from, said Jane Evans, an isotope geochemist at the survey.

"What we found was all of these guys came from a climate that had to be colder than Britain ... probably Sweden and Norway," Evans said by phone Friday. "One guy had such a signature of such a cold climate that he probably came from above the Arctic Circle."
The isotopes also show the men had eaten a high-protein diet, comparable to known sites in Sweden. It means the men were probably Scandinavian Vikings who were executed by Anglo-Saxons.

Evans and her colleagues at the British Geological Survey's NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory in Nottingham, England, analyzed 10 of the skeletons over the course of six weeks.

This is the best example we have ever seen of a group of individuals that clearly have their origins outside Britain.
--Jane Evans, an isotope geochemist at the British Geological Survey

"These results are fantastic," Evans said. "This is the best example we have ever seen of a group of individuals that clearly have their origins outside Britain."
Many of the executed men suffered multiple wounds, inflicted by a sharp-bladed weapon, to the skull, jaw and upper spine, all thought to relate to the process of decapitation, the Dorset County Council said.

Some men show evidence of other wounds, including a cut to the pelvis, blows to the chest and stomach, and defensive injuries to the hands, the council said.
The bones still appear cleanly sliced, indicating the men suffered a "sword-based execution," Evans said.

There are also two examples of healed fractures that are unlikely to have been medically treated. In one case, the skeleton's right leg is 5 centimeters, or about 2 inches, shorter than the left, which would have given the person a pronounced limp, the council said.

The burial site was found during work for the Weymouth Relief Road, meant to ease traffic congestion on the highway to Weymouth, on England's southern coast. Weymouth Bay and nearby Portland Harbor will host the Olympic and Paralympics sailing events during the 2012 London Olympics. The leader of the Dorset County Council, Angus Campbell, said the construction of the road had already revealed prehistoric and Iron Age finds.

Researchers are hoping to find further evidence about the men's lifestyles, activity, health and diet, the council said."

My thoughts:

Was it just the Vikings who were bloodthirsty heathens or a "urban" myth designed to promote Christian beliefs and conversions?
Something to ponder about