World Suicide Prevention Day 2013 – How You Can Help

 

world-suicide-prevention-day-banner

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY

WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY, September 10th, is an opportunity for all sectors of the community – the public, charitable organizations, communities, researchers, clinicians, practitioners, politicians and policy makers, volunteers, those bereaved by suicide, other interested groups and individuals – to join with the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to focus public attention on the unacceptable burden and costs of suicidal behaviours with diverse activities to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities.

Those activities may call attention to the global burden of suicidal behaviour, and discuss local, regional and national strategies for suicide prevention, highlighting cultural initiatives and emphasising how specific prevention initiatives are shaped to address local cultural conditions.

Initiatives which actively educate and involve people are likely to be most effective in helping people learn new information about suicide and suicide prevention. Examples of activities which can support World Suicide Prevention Day include:

• Launching new initiatives, policies and strategies on World Suicide Prevention Day
• Learning about stigma, mental health and suicide prevention (http://goo.gl/rKr8G)
• Holding conferences, open days, educational seminars or public lectures and panels
• Using the WSPD Press Preparation Package that offers media guides (http://goo.gl/zLA3Sm)
• Writing articles for national, regional and community newspapers and magazines
• Holding press conferences
• Placing information on your website and using the IASP World Suicide Prevention Day banner, promoting suicide prevention
in one’s native tongue (www.iasp.info/wspd/2013_wspd_banner.php)
• Securing interviews and speaking spots on radio and television
• Organizing memorial services, events, candlelight ceremonies or walks to remember those who have died by suicide
• Asking national politicians with responsibility for health, public health, mental health or suicide prevention to make relevant
announcements, release policies or make supportive statements or press releases on WSPD
• Holding depression awareness events in public places and offering screening for depression
• Organizing cultural or spiritual events, fairs or exhibitions
• Organizing walks to political or public places to highlight suicide prevention
• Holding book launches, or launches for new booklets, guides or pamphlets
• Distributing leaflets, posters and other written information
• Organizing concerts, BBQs, breakfasts, luncheons, contests, fairs in public places
• Writing editorials for scientific, medical, education, nursing, law and other relevant journals
• Disseminating research findings
• Producing press releases for new research papers
• Holding training courses in suicide and depression awareness
• Using and sharing the Toolkit that contains WSPD resources and links to related Web sites (http://goo.gl/pWWo1r)

• Becoming a Facebook Fan of the IASP (www.facebook.com/IASPinfo)

• Showing your support for the Day on the Official World Suicide Prevention Day Event page on Facebook (www.facebook.
com/events/415169808532653/ by clicking “Attending”
• Following the IASP on Twitter (www.twitter.com/IASPinfo), tweeting #WSPD or #suicide or #suicideprevention
• Creating a video about suicide prevention (www.youtube.com/IASPinfo)
• Lighting a candle, near a window, at 8 PM in support of: World Suicide Prevention Day, suicide prevention awareness,
survivors of suicide and for the memory of loved lost ones. Find “Light a Candle Near a Window at 8 PM” postcards in over
40 languages at: http://www.iasp.info/wspd/light_a_candle_on_wspd_at_8PM.php
• Participating in the first World Suicide Prevention Day – Cycle Around the Globe (http://www.iasp.info/wspd/cycle_around_
the_globe.php)

If anyone in the greater Los Angeles area is interesting in organizing or attending an event or vigil, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

 

Advertisements

All of Us Are Searching for an Open Arm: The Uprising of Sad Music in the Media

Ever since the great tearjerker of ’11, the media has seemingly at last seen fit to begin a shift in focus toward a more somber melody. With a growing spotlight on artists such as Adele, Muse and Interpol to Chelsea Wolfe and Zola Jesus, songwriters would seem, in some cases, to be enjoying a more visible success specifically due to the inclusion of the melancholy than in recent years. For some, largely gone are the days of the I, IV, V and in are the repeated inclusion of the appoggiaturas and resolving minors. 

John Sloboda, a professor of music psychology from my alma mater (Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London) states it like this: “Your hair’s standing up on end, shivers going down your spine, a lump coming into your throat, even tears running down your eyes.” And how is this? These effects are not solely felt, they are physiological responses to a specific perception-but do we even know what we’re perceiving? Just yesterday, Research Digest brought attention to a bit of qualitative research being done by Annemieke Van den Tol and Jane Edwards (University of Limerick) regarding the negative experiences of 65 individuals, and the music they chose to listen to. The research then would obviously fall into two separate themes or categories-the strategy adopted in music selection, and the function the music serves.

Without regurgitating the large amount of insight that many other researchers have almost simultaneously come across, there are definitely a few reoccurring themes in explanation of why people gravitate toward sad music:

  • Distancing (the act of distancing oneself from a sad experience via listening to sad music)
  • Desire for connection (in order to connect life events and current mood with a choice in music)
  • Trigger (in order to connect with an experience or person lost via nostalgia and emotive progressions)
  • “As The Spirit Wanes The Form Appears” (my personal favorite, exhibiting belief that when the spirit is most tried and tested, one is able to more fully come to grips with the state of things around and within them, and reach out for either a  perceived or real hope)
  • Common humanity (in order to feel part of a greater puzzle-instead of feeling isolated and alone, one may feel they are being reached out to via the lyricism or voice of the music and are thus part of a “larger human experience”)
  • Control (although sad music obviously often evokes melancholy emotions, they would seem to be separate from reality. These sad events are not actually happening in real-time, not unlike when we read sad fiction. We are able to experience sadness without any real threat to our safety, mental state or well being. Richard Kunert has written a great post on precisely this over at Brain’s Idea which walks through this a bit more in depth. Richard states:

Prolactin is a hormone associated with feelings of tranquillity, calmness, well-being, or consolation. Huron (2011) suggests that the body uses it to counteract grief and thus avoid descending into an uncontrollably depressive episode. Such hormonal counter-measures to negative environmental inputs are also found for physical pain. Physical pain is reduced by endorphins. Such a bodily mechanism can be exploited – as when heroin addicts fool the brain’s response to pain. Huron (2011) proposes that sad music can activate the counter-measures to actual sadness – i.e. prolactin production – without any real sadness being present. One gets the hormone’s consoling effect without the sadness and might thus actually enjoy it. (Kunert, 2012).

 

I’d like to briefly focus on the last theme of control: what does this say for people who suffer from mental illness, post traumatic stress or major trauma? These circumstances largely represent a loss of control for the subject. This loss of control is often to blame for irrational and impulsive behaviors. Suicide, acts of self-inflicted harm and many crimes of passion are the ultimate act and statement of control-which is the very override we’re trying to buy time against in the amygdala when thinking in terms of behavioral manipulation.

My friend and fellow music psychology comrade Kelty Walker put it this way: “Same goes for any emotion, song, genre, movie, book, person, car, job, and yes, belief system. Anything that elicits a response in the amygdala can be used to condition ourselves into our desired state. Now, if only we were more widely aware of it…”

 

In the spirit of “sad” music and emotional/physiological response, I’m enclosing one of the most powerful songs (and experiences) of my life. There are few songs which elicit the type of response this work is capable of in me-in any situation, mindset or setting. Come 3:15, the response is quite Pavlovian.

Request For Feedback – When Tragedy Strikes: A Music Behavioral Analysis

Dear friends,

Thus far, my research interests have lain in the children I’ve tested and taught in person, and I have had little use for gathering data from anyone over the age of 18. As I craft together my first pitch, however, I’d like to ask for some feedback. I’ve been given the opportunity to write about two subjects I find very fascinating. In fact, I believe anyone else has yet to combine them in quite this way. I’m attempting to piece together the music industry and psychological resilience. In the end, it all boils down to music behavior analysis. In this vein, I find myself happily at home. When venturing toward the music industry and modern practice, however, I’m treading on new ground.

 So I ask you, dear reader, if you have ever gone through a period of immense stress (i.e. one’s senior year of college or an audit at work), lost a loved one due to natural or unnatural causes, or experienced a major trial of any kind, to lend me your feedback. If you have ever streamed music using Spotify, Grooveshark, Songza, 8track, LastFM (etc.), or elected not to, I ask for your feedback. 

 

It’s been a few weeks since I really sat down on meditated on these concepts. This weekend, however, tragedy struck. A friend of mine lost his father, and I lost someone very dear to me. I suppose now is as good a time as ever, then, to write about loss, and how we respond to it.

I am interested in the way we respond to trauma/loss through the psychological lenses of music behavior with a special emphasis on playback. Because the debate of ownership vs. streaming is relatively new, there is precious little data available in the area I’m seeking. In terms of loss, this natural phenomenon has always existed. As for the modes and vices with which we counter this loss, our outlets would seem to expand on a daily basis. We grow at the speed of modern technology.

How has the ability to stream music affected stress/pain culture in the industry? Has it been altered in the least in terms of our music listening habits (ownership vs. access)? Is streaming saved for the young in age and young at heart, those without the worries of time and weather? In occasions of strife, do we turn to a new and fresh outlet which resigns our need and right of control? Or in a subconscious search for the regulation of external chaos do we flee from such an idea, clinging heavily to those old safe tunes proven time and time again to get us through?

 

I would appreciate any and all feedback in the aid of my essay. You may leave a comment, or if you wish to reach me privately, you may contact me on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I don’t fall apart, Will my memory stay clear?

If I keep holding out

Will the light shine through?
Under this broken roof
It’s only rain that I feel
I’ve been wishin’ out the days
Come back

I have been planning out
All that I’d say to you
Since you slipped away
Know that I still remain true
I’ve been wishin’ out the days
Please say that if you hadn’t have gone now
I wouldn’t have lost you another way
From wherever you are
Come back

And these days, they linger on, yeah, yeah
And in the night, I’ve been waiting for
A real possibility that I may meet you in my dreams
I go to sleep

If I don’t fall apart
Will my memory stay clear?
So you had to go
And I had to remain here
But the strangest thing to date
So far away and yet you feel so close
I’m not going to question it any other way
It must be an open door for you
To come back

And the days they linger on, yeah
Every night I’m waiting for
The real possibility that I may meet you in my dreams
Sometimes you’re there and you’re talking back to me
Come the morning I could swear you’re next to me
And it’s ok

It’s ok, it’s ok

I’ll be here
Come back, come back

The “Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker” and my cover of Adele

In futile effort of keeping up with the Joneses of pop culture and music psychology, consider this my token post on Adele. Why?

 A) She’s fabulous

B) She just won big at the Grammys

C) WSJ Online has just released a major post largely on her hit Someone Like You entitled Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker 

D) I have covered her countless times, and her piano songs are a part of my teaching repertoire

In terms of the post WSJ released, I strongly recommend giving it a good read. The research was originally conducted at McGill, a university widely celebrated for their Music Perception and Cognition program, and home to celebrity writer Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music. In light of Adele’s recent superstardom and the widening knowledge and appreciation of music psychology as a whole, I’d wager this article is going to get some serious attention. While I wholeheartedly agree with it’s main premise, I find something deeply awry here, and it is found the in subtitle itself:

Why does Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ make everyone cry? Science has found the formula.

As a twenty-something young woman who has not only sung since age three, composed angsty love ballads on the piano for years but also been left by a lover in the worst way, I love Adele. Let me be clear on this: I love Adele. Someone Like You and Hometown Glory (as well as Rollin’ In The Deep, which I will teach tomorrow) are also favorites of my young vocal and piano students. However, I think if we look at that tag line again of this post-‘science has found the formula’- we will see that something is very wrong. I may be alone in my feeling here, but I doubt it. With the way EEG, MRI, fMRI and now even rtfMRI are developing, we know more about the human brain and it’s reactions to stimuli than ever before-more than we ever dreamed possible. I have a couple problems with the way the article glorifies grace notes and appoggiaturas-but most of all, how they glorify her. Yes, she and Dan Wilson have crafted a brilliant combination of soul, melodic intonation and dissonance in all the right suspended instances-but at the end of the day, I would be cautious in how objective we lean in quantifying beauty. There is a line to be drawn-there necessarily is. In saying “science has found the formula,” we have inadvertently taken the ‘magic’ (for lack of a better word) out of her song, and made it just that: a scientific formula. It should not be a commercial marketing scheme, however, and God forgive us should we ever make it one. It’s a great article, yes, and I hope everyone reads it. I only hope we can all take a step back from the science behind every mathematical placement of every ornamentation and remember why this lovely woman crafted the song in the first place.

And now, just for fun, a rough cover I did of Adele’s Hometown Glory in 2011.