Saturday, May 12, 2012

Suicide Euphoria

Suicide is getting a little press these days as a couple of damaged sportsmen find that escape from the mental 
pain of their chronic injuries.

Lon here takes it on and addresses the lesser known aspect of euphoria which is simply decision release. Quite possibly that euphoria is the best mental high the individual has had in years.

It should be obvious to all that the world of sports is entering a revolution. Concussions are no longer acceptable. It will take time for this all to work through the system but it will.

It takes no skill at all to induce a concussion in an opposing player. It simply takes opportunity and enough tries. The presently accepted tactics that allow this are all obvious and well known. It will turn out that football as presently played is terminal. Sorry folks, but unless a complete rethink starts now, the sport is likely to end. And oh yes, just how are we to continue justifying boxing?

The body can survive anything except a high acceleration blow to the head. Thus reworking our sports to avoid deliberate blows may be possible.

Seau's Suicide Euphoria

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

After hearing sports news commentators talk about a subject they are misreading, it is time to revisit the subject of Junior Seau's suicide. Speculation is one thing, and has been wild. But there is no reason to not look at his suicide based upon science.

Much decoding occurs when forensically examining suicide after the fact, of course, and no one really knows what a suicidal individual is thinking. Their thought processes are confused, so for relatively normal human beings to try to figure out what caused the suicide is difficult. Nevertheless, from the research, interviews, and decades of suicidology (the formal study of suicide), a few insights can be shared.

Let us look, therefore, first, at one important piece of obvious misinformation being shared about suicide, suicide ideation, and the hidden signs of suicides concerning Junior Seau's suicide.

One of the most common items heard from sports newscasters and sports talk radio personalities when talking about the topic of Junior Seau's suicidality has been this kind of comment, "All those who knew him said he has been so cheerful in recent weeks; certainly this means he's wasn't suicidal."

Not true. Suicide is about an escape from the pain, real or imagined, in the suicidal person's life. Once the desire has been made to take one's own life, the suicidal individual often exhibits an unusually notable upturn in their mood, a time of what I call "suicide euphoria."

Here is what I wrote for the State of Maine about the relatively unknown condition of "Suicide Euphoria":

Sometimes depressed, despondent, angry, or agitated individuals consider, and then finalize, suicidal thoughts that may become a defined “suicide plan.” Once this occurs, the behavior in a potentially suicidal person may appear as “suicide euphoria” by an observer. This “feeling” of great happiness or well-being is based on the idea that very soon “no pain” will exist for the suicidal person. This state of euphoria may fool helpers and gatekeepers who are thinking that a “flight into health” is taking place for the individual. Friends and families of suicide victims are often confounded with a sense that this was not a suicide because of the cheerfulness of a person expressing this euphoria. When the action of suicide is planned, the vulnerable person may actually be appear calm, and demonstrate short periods of hard to understand happiness.

Junior Seau's suicide was thoughtfully completed. He called his children and left goodbye messages of love to them.

Methods and timing of suicides are important clues to decoding suicides. Seau's choice of the high lethality method of a gun, combined with the specific placement of the shot to his chest, was a direct of the suicide of David Duerson on February 17, 2011. Duerson inflicted a self-inflicted gunshot to his chest and sent a text message to his family saying he wanted his brain sent for research to the Boston University School of Medicine to study it for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) caused by playing professional football. 

Seau purposely shot himself in his chest to make certain his head (and thus his brain) was not damaged, so testing could occur.

Junior Seau, Ray Easterling, David Duerson. Photo: TMZ.

It also, no doubt, was not lost on Seau that on April 19, 2012, ex-NFL football player Ray Easterling killed himself.

The timing of Junior Seau's previous suicide attempt is telling, as well, that Seau was aware of the deaths of his peers. Seau drove his white Cadillac SUV off a coastal cliff at Carlsbad, California hours after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, on Monday morning, October 18, 2010. It is to be noted that NFL player Kendrick L. McKinley had killed himself on Monday, September 20, 2010, exactly a month before Seau's probable attempted suicide.

His suicide has resulted in some good insights from a few writers. But most have added more confusion than clarity.

Suicide euphoria, behavior contagion, and copycat behavior are all underpinnings of the Junior Seau suicide that are being ignored in mainstream sports discussions of this self-death. Seau's suicide will not be the last among former NFL players, and this will be especially true if people don't get the message he was trying to send.

There is a map among these deaths, and it is time to start reading it.

For first timers here, I know a bit about suicide. I have directed a few federal research projects on the topic, directed some documentaries on the hidden warning signs, written a few books (e.g. Suicide Clusters) and manuals on suicides and suicide prevention, and delivered trainings and consultations to over 10,000 professional and paraprofessionals about the factors in prevention and postvention events related to self-deaths.

Previously, my research on baseball suicides was highlighted in "Donnie Moore and the Burdens of Baseball," New York Times, July 30, 1989, and "The Moore Tragedy," Sports Illustrated, July 31, 1989. Just as Major League Baseball did in 1989, NFL football is now in a similar period of deep introspection.

1 comment:

Joe V said...

Back in the 1950's there was a well known fashion model living in England named Ruth Ellis. Ruth's boyfriend was violent and he beat Ruth regularly. On one occasion, while Ruth was pregnant, he punched her in the stomach causing her to miscarry.

Finally, Ruth shot her boyfriend to death outside a nightclub. She then went and confessed to the police and cooperated with the prosecutors trying to convict her. She was subsequently tried, convicted and sentenced to hang.

Ruth was reported to be calm and in good spirits during the weeks leading up to her execution and she made no attempts to save herself. Finally on the day of her execution she smiled at the executioner when he entered the room to take her to the gallows. She continued to smile at him until he place the hood over her head.

It would seem likely that Ruth Ellis committed, "suicide by the state". She was obviously troubled as evidenced by her ongoing relationship with an abusive man. She smiled at the executioner because she was about to escape this world and finally be relieved of her pain.