Monday, 9 December 2019

Forum: Shielding young people from disappointments does them a disservice

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Much of what makes people suicidal is hard to talk about. Shame often plays a major role. Even a suicide note may not always tell us the real reason someone opts out of life (Suicide support system still fragmented, current strategies need a review, ST Online, Dec 5; and Have a 3-digit hotline for mental health emergencies, Dec 3).

Sometimes, a suicide seems like it came out of nowhere. A suicidal person may conceal his "dark" thoughts well, appear exuberant about life, and the next moment he is gone.

When a person is suicidal, his reasoning capabilities can be so impaired that any attempt to see a future self who might feel better, as well as consideration of the harm that would be caused to loved ones, can be tragically blinded.

Mental illness alone does not cause suicide. It may be true that many suicides are linked to underlying psychiatric conditions, but many are not. It is being aware that one is mentally ill, and believing that others who know about it are judgmental, that makes mentally ill people so vulnerable to taking their own lives.

It is therefore crucial to understand how suicidal urges work. People should be taught to recognise suicide's hypnotic spell and to wait long enough for it to wear off.

Education in suicide prevention should also include studying how we, as a society, think about suicide.

One of the things we can do for young and vulnerable people is to help them navigate emotionally through their disappointments in life. Shielding our loved ones from disappointments not only does them a disservice, but also places them at risk of maladjustment when a major crisis arises.

Sherman Goh Keng Hwee


Surprising study finds mild stress in childhood may extend lifespan by making kids ’resistant' to challenges

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Dealing with some stress during childhood may actually be good for you, a new study suggests.

In research conducted on roundworms, scientists found worms that had more biological signs of struggle - measured via oxidative stress - during development had longer lifespans than worms that had less.

It happens naturally over our lifetimes as we age, but 'mild' oxidative stress can also result from day-to-day activities that put strain on the body, like dieting and exercising.

'Experiencing stress at this early point in life may make you better able to fight stress you might encounter later in life,' said lead author Daphne Bazopoulou, a post-doctoral researchers at U-Mich.


Children spend longer reading and are motivated to learn when there's a dog in the room

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Parents may want to rethink getting their children a dog, as a new study reveals our canine friends motivate them to read more.

Researchers found that children spent longer reading and showed more persistence when a dog was in the room as opposed to when they read without them.

The children also reported feeling more interested and competent, which leads experts to believe therapy dogs way enhance a child's reading abilities.

The study was conducted by a team at UBC Okanagan's School of Education who examined how 17 children, in grades one through three, would react while reading with and without a dog present.


Number of new HIV infections in New York City plummets to historic low as the number of people taking preventive drug soars 1,000%

The number of new HIV diagnoses in New York City has dropped below 2,000 for the first time since records began in 2001, officials reveal.

Last year, 1,917 New Yorkers were diagnosed with HIV, down from 2,157 the year before, and a from 4,846 in 2001.

It comes on the heels of data showing an uptick in the number of people in New York City taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a drug which reduces a person's risk of contracting HIV by 99 percent.

While rates have been steadily dropping for years, this new report shows a promising drop in rates among women, which have not been falling as quickly.