Suicide: The WHO World Study

Since the tragic death of actor Robin Williams, the social media sites have been a buzz about the topic of suicide. People are now talking about a subject that has been taboo for a long time.

The suicide rates that are studied by Center for Disease Control, (CDC), in the United States are now lagging behind by more than a year. The information has not yet been updated and made available for 2012 or 2013. However, as of 2010 Suicide was the 12th leading cause of death. According to the CDC suicide in 2010 killed more people in the United States then car accidents. The total number of people who died from suicide in 2010 was 38,364.


According to the World Health Organization, one person commits suicide every 40 seconds, just to put that into perspective that is more than all the yearly victims of wars and natural disasters. The highest toll seems be among the elderly. These statistics were released by WHO at the United Nations summit in Geneva on, Thursday, September 4, 2014.  According to an article entitled, “One Person Commits Suicide Every 40 Seconds: World Health Organization.”

According to Shekhar Saxena, Director of the WHO Mental Health Department, “There are 1.5 million violent deaths every year in the world, of which 800,000 are suicides.” The study showed some of the highest rates are found in Central, Eastern Europe, and Asia. At least 25% occur in “rich” counties. It also found men are more likely than women to kill themselves.

The World Health Organization research showed “Globally suicide rates are higher in people seventy years and older. Though, in certain countries, the highest rates are found among the youth. Notably suicide is the second leading cause of death in fifteen to twenty-nine year olds globally.

The WHO has now named suicide a major public health problem and has set a goal of cutting suicide deaths by 10% by 2020. They studied 172 countries for this report and it took a decade for them to finish all the research. The WHO director, Margret Chan says, “The report is a call for action to discuss a large public health problem which was ignored due to taboos for far too long.”

The United States, has a suicide rate of 10 to 14.9 per 100,000 people. The WHO studied showed that low to middle-income people have a higher rate of suicide, a total of 606,700 or 75.5% per 100,000 people compared to the wealthier people, which totaled 197,200 or 24.5% per 100,000 people. It also showed that among the low to middle-income, the highest rates were among twenty to thirty year olds. This study did show that in at least one year 2012, higher income countries had a slightly higher rate of suicide, 12.7% per 100,000 people.

They have gave out a warning about this study, that “Suicide figures are often incomplete, mainly because many countries fail to keep proper count.” As I pointed out the United States is one of those countries. They have not come out with suicide data for the years 2012 or 2013 yet.

Please remember suicide is preventable. It is a permanent solution to a temporary situation or problem. The number one challenge in preventing suicide, the WHO pointed out,”is that the majority who commit suicide are often marginalized groups of the population, many are the poor and the vulnerable of the society.” Although depression, mental health issues, and suicide knows no income level, or society status, as we have seen most recently with the suicide of the actor Robin Williams.




The Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Good or Bad

The new digital age (2014/Sharon Scott)

The new digital age (2014/Sharon Scott)

Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on October 12, 1998, However it did not become law until October 2000. At the time it was incorporated into the already enacted copyright law. “This landmark law updated the United States copyright laws to meet the demands of the digital age” this according to the website story DMCA: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This law became necessary do to the huge amount of information that now can be transmitted and transferred as well as accessed, via the internet, and the reality of copyright infringement occurring. It was mainly to address the common issue, which is circumvention of protected copyrighted material, which could be stolen or copied and used to make a profit by someone else.

According to the website, in an April 6, 2013 article, written by Regina Moore, “content industries lose billions of dollars a year to piracy.” However, according to the website the “DMCA tilts strongly in favor of copyright holders.” Also according to the, the “legacy of the law after five years since it was passed continues to be controversial, with a far reaching impact that is supporting the attempt of copyright holders to control access to and downstream use of their content.” This site also claims that, “The doctrine of ‘fair use’ has never more been threatened than it is now.” The website, feels that the “DMCA is a serious threat that jeopardizes the ‘fair use’ exception.” The site also stated that, “The DMCA anti-circumvention provision has done very little to stop any piracy.”

a website (2004/Sharon Scott)

a website (2004/Sharon Scott)

The Federal Government website,, gave a definition of the DMCA with an exception for ‘fair use’, which it states, “Includes reproduction in copies or phono-records or by any other means specified by the exemption section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship,or research.” According to this Federal website, none of those uses of a publication infringes on the copyright holder.

This reporter, asked two journalists, as well as a Federal Agency for comments about the DMCA law. However, the Government Agency, sent an email, which stated “No comment.” The other two sources did not reply at all.

A political website (2014/Sharon Scott)

A political website (2014/Sharon Scott)


Information: America’s Freedom

Town of Rocky Mount Municipal Building   (2014 Original Picture/Sharon Scott

Town of Rocky Mount Municipal Building (2014 Original Picture/Sharon Scott

When the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed by Congress in 1966, it created the “right of access to all documents held in the executive branch, other then documents in the possession of the President and his immediate staff,” however, “all cabinet agencies, independent agencies, regulatory commission and Government owned corporations are covered. Congress and courts were not” In 1996, the law was expanded to “require Federal agencies, whenever possible, to share data in a specific format, such as on computer diskettes or CD-ROM.” (this comes from The Associated Press Style Book and Briefing on Media Law, 2013)

Since 1996, a lot has changed in the world. People have Smart Phones and Handheld computers. The way news is reported has also changed, as has the role of the journalist. There are bloggers and “citizen journalists” now.

Some amendments to the FOIA that was passed by Congress, and are in effect now, may cover bloggers and “citizen journalists”, who now use their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to give out news and information.

Rocky Mount Court House Rocky Mount, VA 2014(original photo/Sharon   Scott

Rocky Mount Court House Rocky Mount, VA 2014(original photo/Sharon

According to Mashable story, Bloggers Rejoice! We’re Now Covered by the Freedom of Information Act, in 2008, Congress again amended the FOIA. This time, it seems to cover both bloggers and “citizen journalists.”  This amendment gave a clear definition as to who could be a “news media entity.”

According to Daily blogging tips, Bloggers covered on Freedom of Information Act,”the new definition now encompasses people that distribute news content electronically through telecommunications services.” That includes anything digital.


“The term ‘a representative of the news media’ means any person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses it’s editing skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and  distributes that work to an audience. In this clause the term ‘news’ means information that is current events or that would be of current interest to the public.”

According to Daniel Scocco, on his blog Daily blog tips, “I do not know how effective this amendment will be covering all bloggers, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Rocky Mount Juvenile Court House, Rocky Mount, VA 2014 (original photo/Sharon Scott

Rocky Mount Juvenile Court House, Rocky Mount, VA 2014 (original photo/Sharon Scott


Medical and Mental Health Records and The Courts


Medical Records taken by Sharon Scott 8/17/14

In a recent article by John Hult. Privacy Risks Rises With Push for Online Medical Records. He is writing about the laws in South Dakota, where thousands of small claims and civil court cases  to collect medical debt. In the article he points out how the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not protect privacy in these cases. Once the information has been taken for the case, it is a matter of public record. This is the case in most states. Once it is in the court system it is no longer strictly confidential. In most of the States this is true. Though it is normally up to the judicial system in each state according to the states laws. Also Judge’s in their jurisdiction do have enough leeway by the states laws to decide what should be done with the information and how it can be handled. So the Virginia has certain laws on the books, but are they enough to actually keep medical and mental health records confidential, not always in every case.

Here in Virginia they follow the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). They like most other states also have their state laws to protect Medical and Mental health records.

Here in Virginia privacy of all medical and mental health records is very important. Here as in most states a patient has the right to view and have their medical records. But, the mental health records are usually not given to the patient or they are not even allowed to view them. If a doctor feels that it would be harmful to the patient.

Since in most case a patient must give consent for the doctor to show the records to anyone else, here in Virginia there are a few exceptions, for instance they may release the records to a patient’s lawyer, parents if (a minor), to a spouse if there is a threat of communicable disease or a threat to spouse’s life. Of course, they must release records to any government agency that ask them or to a court if they ask them.

When there is a request from a court for medical or mental health records it is usually because the person health has been  up as part of the case. Once the records have been given to the court. Especially, if the case is one for felony or other charges. Both lawyers get a chance to see the records to build their case or to build a defense. Most of the time the records can be sealed, in other words, journalists cannot see them. However, anything used openly in court in front of the jury is written in the court record. If the court room becomes closed to all observers and this must be written up in the court records and why the judge closed it. The records stay sealed. If it is open court, then anything brought up at trial in front of the jury and the audience about what said in the records, will be quoted by a journalist. As in most states, not just Virginia after the trial is over the judge has two ways to decide. Seal the records for a certain amount of time, seal them permutably. There is a third option which in a lot of states they use it. That is release the records along with the trial records, which then the public can view all of it. This is very rare in Virginia that a judge does that. A majority of the time the medical and mental records are permanently sealed. Except for any thing that is brought out at trial and are in the court record.

Of course the FBI, CIA, and any other state or federal agency who requests the files can get them without a patient’s approval.

Also, the State Board Of Medicine, who licenses doctors can also get your medical records, including mental health records when a complaint written about a particular doctor, and sent in. Denise Sexton, an investigator with the medical board in Virginia, when asked stated, “We do not need permission to gain access to any medical records, from any doctor, if we receive a complaint about a doctor. I collect all the records from every doctor who has seen the patient. Plus, I get a get statement from the patient, as well as the doctor who the complaint is about. After all this is been provided then it all goes to the board. They look over all the records and testimony and  then take a decision about if the complaint is sound and how to punish the doctor if he is found at fault. The records however, remain sealed.” When asked about if anyone outside the board see those records or can talk about the case. Her answer was “No, the hearing is private, the patient and the accused doctor are not even present. After the board makes a final decision then a certified letter is sent out to the patient, as to the outcome. If the patient decides to sue then the records would be released just like any other court case.” The Virginia Department of Health Enforcement and Complaint Website. This is the Virginia website to go to if you have a complaint about a doctor.



Fairy Tails: Shows Societies Problems:

The twentieth annual Francelia Butler student conference on Children Literature, was held at Hollins University in Hollins, Virginia, on Saturday, July 26, 2014. The conference is named  after the author Francelia Butler. She was the first one to give this genre the name. After she retired and wanted the genre to continue she donated her entire collection to Hollins University. She did so to expand and promote Hollins writing curriculum.

The conference started at 8:00 am with coffee and snacks. The speakers started at 8:15 am. The first speaker explained who Francelia Butler was and why she is important.

The first student to read her award winning story was Jenn Coletta, entitled “Speaking for Tucker.” It was about Tucker who is deaf and starting his first day of high school. The second student was Cassie Gustafson who presented her paper discussing criticism of the book “Thirteen Reasons Why.” The paper was titled “Vengeance, premeditated and insufficient trauma: the controversial portrayal of Hannah Baker as a victim.” In this book Hannah is a fifteen year old who commits suicide. Gustafson wrote this paper because she wanted to state how bad does trauma have to be in order to be  a legitimate trauma. Gustafson sited status about teen suicide. “Suicide is the third leading killer among teenagers, about 406 teenagers die from suicide a month. Sixteen percent of teens consider suicide and eight percent try to but fail at least once.” Gustafson stated. Gustafson said,”the criticism is that Hannah is not a sympathetic enough character. As most who criticize the character says she is wanting attention or laying quilt trip on others. As Gustafson pointed out any trauma in a teens life is like the end of their world, no matter what the trauma is.

Then two students read their poems and another read her story. Then Ali Standish presented her paper entitled “Walt Disney’s Hansel and Gretel: The film that never was.” This paper pointed out that at the time Disney’s adaptions, “Babes In The Woods” was done, Disney was telling stories with uplifting subjects, happiness and happy endings. So this movie did not follow the fairy tale itself. Standish pointed out, “Hansel and Gretel was a story of abandonment of children, child abuse, and cannibalism. At the Time this story was done these were very real problems.” She also stated, “Disney did not have female heroines at the time of this movie. So the movie changed who actually saved the children.” The movie “Babes In The Woods” was released in 1932 and played only one time. Disney’s next try was by Tim Burton, his version was a little more true to the written fairy tale. But was never released at all. Standish said she felt Disney “abandoned children, by portraying women as subservient and skinny and having always the male characters saving the day.” And with that last statement she concluded her talk.

The keynote speaker was an author of several books on fairy tales and their evelution and their impact on society today. Jack Zipes, is a professor as well as a linguist, he translated the Brothers Grimm from Germany to English. In his talk he discussed first the popularity of fairy Tales today. He then compared two different kinds of apprentices, as well as the wizard master. Zipes said,”There are always two types of magic white, and black. So there are always two types of apprentices good and bad.” He pointed out that in fairy tales apprentices are more slaves to the wizard then an indented servant. He also pointed out that fairy tales were and still are discussing problems facing societies. Zipes said,”The fairy Tales were a way for the writer to write about the rulers, government or other problems they saw in their communities but do it indirectly, otherwise they could have been in prison or dead.”

People can understand the messages in fairy tales easier. “Harry Potter, as seen above the commercialism, the magic and the critique of Rollin’s herself. If you look at Rollin’s background you will see the hunger, abandonment, lack of money, sending children out of the home to help bring in money. This was all Rollin’s saw growing up and even a little of it still exists today,” Zipes pointed out. “As long as there is trouble in the world fairy tales will continue being written, that is a given.”

The conference ended at noon, for lunch. I have put in a couple of pictures from this live event. This is Jack Zipes at the podium. Both pictures taken by Sharon Daley Scott at the conference on July 26, 2014

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Violence and The Mentally Ill:



With, the recent mass shootings, some people are on edge, before the facts come out, the press and others seem to assume that the shooter is mentally ill, and you hear calls to “lock up the mentally ill.” Poll on Violence and the mentally ill. The NRA is calling for a National database of mentally ill people, to prevent them from getting guns.

The FBI statistics show that only about five percent of violent crimes are committed by people with mental illness. They say, most of the time the mentally ill are the victims. FBI Website. Also this article gives more myths and facts concerning violence and mental illness. Myth vs Fact: Violence and Mental Health.

The president has called for mental healthcare reform. Here in Virginia there is now a committee established to look at Virginia’s mental healthcare system and make changes, accordingly. Facts about violence.

Christina D. Dormsetter-O’keefe, Ed.s.LPC, the service director at East Mental Health in Roanoke, VA, does not have much hope the reforms will help. “They are focusing on Crisis. And not on long term, ongoing care, that will prevent crisis.”

Ms. O’Keefe said “They have cut money from programs that give ongoing care, and are giving more money to help during a crisis.”

She rarely sees clients that have actually committed a violent crime, she stated,”They are usually the victims.” Most she states are convicted of drug possession or selling drugs.

She shared her thought that Virginia would see more tragedies in the future. “I do not see reform in Virginia changing anything, including violence.” She also feels a database of those who are mentally ill, “is very unfair to the mentally ill, most are not violent or wish to do self-harm”

She said, “We need services for the mentally ill that is ongoing, consistent and excellent. Such as life training, conflict management and self-care. This will help prevent most crises from occurring.”

Parents and school systems can help. Ms O’Keefe said, “though I am not in the school system, schools can catch problems early, even though some mental illnesses show up in young adulthood. School can also help stop bullying. The biggest problem with bullying today is blaming the victim, just like in rape cases, that has to stop! Also with cyber-bullying it has become an epidemic.”

Here in the Roanoke Valley, there are not as many violent crimes, as found in larger cities. However, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney in Roanoke City, John McNeil states, “Here in Roanoke the number of violent crimes by the mentally ill is slightly higher then the FBI’s statistics. Though I do not have the exact numbers.”

Roanoke has a high number of homeless, most of them are mentally ill, compounded with drug and alcohol usage, this according to Mr. McNeil. Again he had no specific numbers.

Mr. McNeil did state,”Most crimes I see are non-violent crimes. Mostly trespassing, loitering, disorderly behavior and property damage.” The violent crimes Roanoke does see are not mass shootings but rather, fights, abuse, rape, stabbing, domestic violence, and shootings. “Usually, the big violence is due to misplaced anger, do to mental illness, the victim is in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Mr McNeil, does agree about having a National Database for the Mentally ill,”anything that can keep guns out of the hands of potentially violent people, I am all for.”

Also, he states “Police, as first responders need to be trained to recognize a mentally ill person from a person who is just bad. The way they approach a mentally ill person, could make a difference of either defusing the situation or escalating the situation.”

The courts have little leeway to help those in need. “We have a very limited budget to rely on. So, most of the time it means jail. Then we have to deal with them again when they are released.” He did point out that they do have a  few parole officers that can monitor them to make sure they take their medication and also make sure they comply with all their treatment requirements. But, again it came back to lack of funding and the over crowding of jails and over worked staff. “A lot of people fall through the cracks.” Mr. McNeil said.

Concentrating on the short term fixes are okay, but more importantly is providing money and trained professional to treat over the long haul: Crises can be avoided if there are continual care for those who are mentally ill, as both Ms. O’Keefe and Mr. McNeil agreed on this point.