Sunday, June 17, 2018

Perspectives: Staying ‘alive’ to the realities of suicidal depression and other mental disorders : A proposal to Gan Kim Yong ,Minister of Health



Within just a week, two high profile celebrities have lost their lives in a most cruel way.

First, it was fashion designer Kate spade who hung herself and left a suicide note to her teenage daughter. Then it was Anthony Bourdain, Celebrity Chef and CNN food critic who was found dead in a hotel room in France.

Kate Spade, 55 died in an apparent suicide on Tuesday June 5, 2018 while Anthony Bourdain 61, died also from suicide on Friday, June8, 2018. 

Both celebrities had hanged themselves.

I, like many others – worldwide are deepened saddened by these tragic incidents and thus it’s important to keep their loved ones in prayer during this difficult period.


But make no mistake about it – depression and suicide are silent killers.  So too are other mental disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia. Even though these issues are sensitive and delicate, we need to come alive on these matters by discussing it openly and rationally.

 

Some of the risks factors of suicide include:

♦ Loss of interest or pleasure

♦ Insomnia

♦ Decreased appetite

♦ Retardation, fatigue or agitation

♦ Feelings of worthlessness, guilt

♦ Impaired concentration, indecisiveness

♦ Financial distress

♦ Isolation

♦ Personal issues, such as marital problems

 

Relationship can be tricky and not everyone can manage break-ups as it is by no means easy to cope with.  For like grief, the emotional pain from failed relationships can be overwhelming.

 

The other important matter to note is that children and loved ones are in real danger of going through psychological issues as it can be traumatic for them to cope with loss.

 

In yet another horrific incident, the media had reported that a Frenchman had committed suicide at Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Saturday, June 9. There were no details released on the identity of the man, or why he threw himself off mosque roof in Islam's holiest city.

Was it suicide as reported by the press? Or was it a mental illness such as Bipolar that caused the death.

Patients with bipolar can believe that they can fly or do the impossible. It is part of the symptoms of the illness.

A case in point is how Blake LeVine, now aged 35 who as a child believed that he could fly. As a teenager, Blake would spend hours in the library frantically reading all that he could about how humans could take flight. His parents grew so concerned that he would attempt it by jumping off of one of New York City’s skyscrapers that they had him institutionalised. After being hospitalised several times, Blake was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

In another media report, this time by Channel NewsAsia,on June 14, “SCDF rescues woman walking on roof of overhead bridge in Yishun”, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers  had managed to rescue a woman walking on the roof of an overhead bridge.

The woman was brought to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and was arrested for attempted suicide.

Was this suicidal depression or was it a mental illness gone untreated?

We need to have a clear understanding of all types of mental disorders.

 

Family, friends, employers, religious groups and the media all have a part to play in helping depressed people overcome their struggles which can prevent suicide.  We can do this by showing empathy and concern to depressed people coupled with a listening ear; and by being in tune with the warning signs of depression.  We must never dismiss a cry for help as a sign of weakness or view the sufferer as being bothersome.

 

Certainly, suicide survivours can reinforce the message that taking one’s own life is not the solution as treatment is readily available and recovery is always possible.  These valuable sharing experiences can be carried out at schools, workplaces, religious places, community clubs and during talk shows on radio and television networks where these issues can be discussed candidly.

 

Listeners can call in with their questions and shared experiences. It will be good to also invite enlightened employers and marriage counsellors who can give guidance and directions on how to better manage challenges in life’s journey.

In addition, counselling, group therapy and supportive psychotherapy can give encouragement and support to anyone who finds life meaningless.

I should additionally add that there are stress management solutions that are available to provide anonymous education and support which we need to educate more people about.

Let us not wait till the situation gets out of hand and more tragedies take place –for one life lost is one life gone too many.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Opinion piece: Keep alive the realities of mental health issues and suicide, through survivours and talk shows: By Raymond Anthony Fernando



For a lady who was so successful in the fashion industry, it is so hard to believe that Kate Spade would have lost the will to live (“Designer Kate Spade suffered depression for years, husband says”, Channel NewsAsia, June, 7). 

I like many others – worldwide are deepened saddened by this tragic incident and it’s important to keep her family in prayer during this difficult period.


But make no mistake about it – depression and suicide are silent killers.  So too are other mental disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia. Even though these issues are sensitive and delicate, we need to come alive on these matters by discussing it openly and rationally.

 

Certainly, suicide survivours can reinforce the message that taking one’s own life is not the solution as treatment is readily available and recovery is always possible.  These valuable sharing experiences can be carried out at schools, workplaces, religious places and at the community clubs.  

 

Some of the risks factors of suicide include:

♦ Loss of interest or pleasure

♦ Insomnia

♦ Decreased appetite

♦ Retardation, fatigue or agitation

♦ Feelings of worthlessness, guilt

♦ Impaired concentration, indecisiveness

♦ Financial distress

♦ Isolation

♦ Personal iisues, such as marital problems

 

Relationship can be tricky and not everyone can manage break-ups as it is by no means easy to cope with.  For like grief, the emotional pain from failed relationships can be overwhelming. We must never dismiss a cry for help as a sign of weakness or view the sufferer as being bothersome.

 

Instead, family, friends, employers and religious groups all have a part to play in helping depressed people overcome their struggles which can prevent suicide.  We can do this by showing empathy and concern to depressed people coupled with a listening ear; and by being in tune with the warning signs of depression.

 

Radio and television networks can play a supporting role as well, by raising more awareness of mental health issues and suicide through regular talks shows where experts and suicide survivours can discuss these issues candidly.  Listeners can call in with their questions and shared experiences. It will be good to also invite enlightened employers and marriage counsellors who can give guidance and directions on how to better manage challenges in life’s journey.

 

In addition, counselling, group therapy and supportive psychotherapy can give encouragement and support to anyone who finds life meaningless.

 

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Inspiring & educational talks on mental illness By: Raymond Anthony Fernando




(a) Talk: Understanding Schizophrenia - a talk on a true-life experience


 

In this solid one-hour talk, I will cover my late wife’s 40-year battle with depression and Schizophrenia, the trials and tribulations of our courtship and marriage and her miraculous recovery that enabled her to become an author of 8 books- 4 of which are bestsellers. The talk will also provide an insightful peek into caring for a loved one stricken with mental illness.  I will also provide useful caregiver tips in managing loved ones with mental illnesses and what are the warning signs that people, including supervisors, caregivers, retirees, office colleagues, teachers, students, parents, employers, employees, volunteers and even a layman need to look out for in helping someone cope with Schizophrenia – said to be the most distressing mental disorder.

 

My talk also promotes the sanctity of marriage- caring for a spouse, “in sickness & in health.”

 

The fees I charge for this talk is $250.

 

( b ) Talk: Depression – Beat it, Defeat it

 

In this 45-minute talk, I will cite some of the causes of depression, provide useful tips on how to better manage depression and what are the warning signs that one must look out for in tackling depression.  This talk is also based on my own battle with depression for several years and how I overcame this illness and charted several new directions in life. Today, I am an author of 30 books.

 

The fees I charge for this talk is $250.

 

(c) Workshop: How to turn a life experience into a book.

 

Here, I will give an insight into how budding writers can come up with their first book. I will provide useful tips on the real world of self-publishing.

The fees I charge for this talk is $250.

 

(d) Seminar: The writer, the entrepreneur, the panther

 

A 45- minute talk in which I will provide 16 steps on how writers can market their books based on my own success story.

 

The fees I charge for this talk is $200.

Facilities required:


I require a LCD Projector, laptop that can screen my powerpoint slides onto a screen, windows media player with speakers to broadcast my montage (5.6 minute video), and a table to promote my * books and that of my wife (*if and when our books are available for sale) 


 


Portfolio of Raymond Anthony Fernando
Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author of 30 books, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity and a regular newspaper forum page writer.  He is a volunteer with Silver Ribbon Singapore and the Institute of Mental Health; and is Singapore’s leading advocate for the mentally ill.   The author of 30 books was married to Doris Lau whom he groomed to become an author of 8 books.  Raymond has written on a wide range of subjects through the media and in his books, and it includes real life stories, relationships, marriage, social issues, advocacy, ghost stories, humour, children’s stories, poems, creative suggestions and spiritual content. Raymond who was chosen as Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010 is born on Valentine’s Day.  He has contributed 31 years’ service in the public sector, has 15 years’ experience in public relations work and has received several awards and commendations from government organisations.  

 



 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Opinion piece: Bringing distressed people out of despair : By: Raymond Anthony Fernando



It is encouraging that the Catholic News (CN) through the wisdom of Father Roland Rotheiser has written candidly about the delicate subject of suicide (“On Suicide and despair”, CN, May 27, 2018).

Suicide, mental illness and death are often not talked about or discussed openly as they are viewed as taboo subjects. That has to change if we have a genuine desire to give distressed people a ray of hope and to value life.

The salient points raised by Father Rotheiser are very true in every sense of the word as many people view suicide not only as a sin, but a crime.

People are driven to suicide when society and the environment becomes negative, judgemental and uncaring towards their feelings. In such a scenario, they feel a sense of hopelessness and despair when human beings don’t care. And that is where some depressed people grappling with mental health issues often turn to pets that offer them that much-needed solace.

We all need someone or something to walk with us in life’s journey. We just can’t do it alone.

Whatever religion we practice, one virtue is abundantly clear: We have a loving Superior Being who cares for us all.  As Christians, we need the power of prayer to lift the human spirit when we are faced with big challenges in life.

Saving lives should not just be restricted to helping people with physical ailments, but for emotional healing as well. For example, while teaching people the techniques of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest, just as important, if not more important is how we can teach people the skill of emotional healing in helping someone trying to cope with despair and unworthiness. For positive words and deeds are crucial in helping the depressed cope better.

 

We need supportive employers and colleagues to rally around anyone who has hit rock bottom – and bring the person to get the much-needed help from the professionals.

 

Caregivers of the mentally ill are most vulnerable to suicide as they struggle every day of their lives to balance work and family life – simultaneously.

 

Often, the spoken and unspoken word can make a big difference in rescuing a distressed person or pushing him/her to end his/her life.  We need to build a kinder environment and a kinder society as the internet that makes it convenient for cyberbullying to ruin lives are very real.

 

On a personal note, my attempted suicide in 1995 was most certainly a wake-up call where I had initially given up on life and God. But the kindness, compassion and competence of the surgeon at NUH who saved my life made a huge difference in my life. The words he told me when I opened my eyes will always stay etched in my mind: “Mr Fernando, don’t do this again, because there is always a way out.”  

Indeed, there is always a way out – so let’s embrace hope – even amid uncertainties, big challenges and adversities.

 

Raymond Anthony Fernando