Stop Suicide

Dr. Jonathan Singer

 ~ discussing the very personal topic of suicide and it's impact on those left behind

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Suicide Prevention and the Grief of those Left Behind

I was personally devastated by suicide on July 1, 2007, when my youngest brother, Scott, took his own life at the age of 28.  Scott struggled for many years in and out of mental health treatment episodes.  He never quite let go of the perceived stigma of what it meant to have a mental illness, so he never fully accepted treatment.  Even if he had, we know some people still make the choice to end their life.  What they don't know, or can't know, is how the survivors they leave behind are profoundly affected. 

I met today's guest, Dr. Jonathan Singer, LCSW at the Podcast Movement conference in Chicago last July.  Jonathan has been the host of The Social Work Podcast for over 9 years.  He started it as a way of bringing his university students extra information between lectures.  it has since taken on a long life of it's own.  There is not only a vast array of information  pertaining to all aspects of  the field of social work, but he also delivers inspirational interviews of people doing extraordinary things. 

Jonathan's primary field of study is that of Suicide Prevention and Awareness.  He is the author of Dr. Singer is the author of 45 publications, including the 2015 book Suicide in Schools: A practitioner’s guide to multilevel prevention, assessment, intervention, and postvention .  He has given over 100 academic presentations around the country and is an expert in his field. 

What's Happening in This Episode

The first half of the episode features our conversation about:    -

- The ages of children most at risk for suicide

- How to discuss suicidal language with your child

- What to do when your child says things like, "I wish I were dead!"

- How to utilize professional help and when it should be considered

- The significance of the suicidal thoughts

- The Zero Suicide Initiative

- The Jason Flatt Act

- What #Not6 is all about

The second half of the episode, Jonathan dives in with me to explore how I and my family were affected by my brother's suicide.  I am exploring this publicly hoping that it will help shed light on how complicated the grieving process can be for such a loss and also help those who are survivors of a loved one's suicide feel less alone.  Grief is complicated even when we expect a death to take place (i.e. when an elderly parent passes away), but it becomes more complex when someone you love chooses to die by suicide.  My family's reaction is not unusual, but in general, we still do not speak abou losing loved one's to suicide openly.  I'm hoping that by speaking about it in this forum, others may start their own conversations with their loved ones struggling with the suicidal thoughts, or amongst themselves if they are already grieving.

Thank you for listening to this very personal episode. 

Resources

The Zero Suicide Initiative

The Jason Flatt Act

What #Not6 is all about

Dr. Jonathna Singer, LCSW's bio at Loyola University Chicago

The Social Work Podcast

 


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Tackle TBI with NFL Alumni

Craig McEwen

~ former tight end in the National Football League (NFL) for the Washington Redskins and the San Diego Chargers, he shares with us his experiences with TBI and new initiatives by the NFL / NFL Alumni to better protect younger players. As this week leads in to Super Bowl LI, between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, take a moment to hear from a veteran player, member of a Super Bowl winning lineup, as he shares his story with us.

 

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Crossing the Line

Craig always dreamed of being a pro football player.  He didn't realize that his career would start by crossing the player's strike line, but that's what happened.  Craig was playing college football in Utah when he got the call from the Washington Redskins.  He would get the chance at the career he dreamed of, but to get on the field, he would have to sign on to play when the other players were on strike.  Craig jumped at the chance just to get on the field.  Once the strike was over, he was officially hired on.   He became part of the Super Bowl winning team in 1987.  From there, Craig was recruited to the San Diego Chargers where he spent the next 3 years. 

Craig was what's referred to as  "lunch pail" player - he was one of the guys that knew he needed to stay focused and be a good member of the team - his role was not one of show boating - he was in it for the love of the game and the team.  His goal was to stay on the field, so he gave his all every time.  That fierce determination got Craig his years in the NFL, but it also plays a factor in the repercussions he now deals with due to his career.  When you give your all in a high-contact sport, you're bound to suffer some injuries.,  Everyone knows that, but what Craig didn't realize was that it would be the invisible injuries that affected him the most.  Craig's body took a lot of hits and rough tumbles during his years on the field.  He had to stop playing after neck, back and foot injuries.  After some back surgery, he even tried to make a comeback in the European league for a year, but his physical injuries prevented him from sustaining a career as a player.  Although Craig still has some physical difficulties, it was his head injuries that have most affected his life.

Criag McEwen washington redskins Super Bowl
Washington Redskins tight end Craig McEwen (32) in action during the Redskins 30-21 loss to the Phoenix Cardinals on September 25, 1988 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (AP Photo/NFL Photos)

The Repercussions of Concussions

When Craig left the NFL, his life carried on pretty nicely for about 10-12 years: he has a long term relationship which produced a daughter, he owned a successful bar and then opened a personal training franchise.  Life was good.  But somewhere around 2011, Craig's life took a downward turn.  He had been dealing with some residual physical pain due to his bodily injuries and began self-medicating with alcohol and pain pills, he got into a bad business deal and lost any financial stability he had, and his relationship with his long-term girlfriend ended, so he was now alone, in pain, and lacked the insight to see past his current state of affairs.  That's when Craig started noticing how his mind and emotions were being affected.  He dealt with bouts of depression, foggy memory, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, and felt hopeless after what his life was turning into. 

A New Lease on Life

It was through his physical and emotional battle with himself that Craig discovered that the cognitive symptoms he was experiencing (depression, self-loathing, foggy brain, etc) were actually tied into his repeated head injury and his commons were symptoms of repeated concussions.  Since 2012, Craig has been seeking personal growth and healing.  He entered a treatment facility in 2012 to aid him with getting some perspective on his long-term symptoms and how to cope with them.  He followed this with seeking personal growth seminars, personal coaching, psychotherapy and educating himself.  Although Craig can be his own worst enemy (as many people who suffer with debilitating emotional symptoms can be to themselves), he is on a new, humble path in life.  He has dedicated himself to charitable service and advocacy for fellow athletes and combat veterans. 

From Fallen Pro to President

Four years ago, Craig had the opportunity to breathe new life into the local San Diego Chapter of the NFL Alumni Association.  He became the President of the chapter and has dedicated all his efforts on behalf of the association to focus on coordinating charitable events to fund research into 1. Making football and other contact sports less dangerous, 2.  Helping combat veterans gain funding and access to medical and emotional health providers, 3.  Raising funds and donations to help kids in need, and 4.  To coordinate events with experts who can help the former players in any and all aspects of thier lives through actual assistance and through education. 

 

Where to Next?

For as much as Craig still has some pretty rough days due to his symptoms, he is one of the most genuine and humble people around.  He knows telling of his tougher times can, and does, really help others.  Take a listen to hear Craig's story and all that is going on behind the scenes in research, playing football safer and the charitable work being done to not only those on the retirement side of their pro-ball careers, but also those currently playing and the future generations of players.  If you are interested in having Craig speak on your show or at your event or would like to get in touch with him to find out more, or to get involved and become an associate member of the NFL Alumni Association, he would be happy to hear from you. 

This episode was truly inspiring to to me.......I hope it is for you too.

 

Resources:

Craig McEwen:  You can reach Craig at sandiego@nflalumni.org

Concussed:  This is a 18 minute documentary made in 2012 featuring Craig at his most vulnerable.  This was tough for his to do, but it did help him refocus his life and pushed him towards a brighter future.

Invisible Scars:  A book by Bart Billings, Ph.D. - this book takes an in-depth look at how to combat Post Traumatic Stress through alternative methods to medication.

 

 


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Zander Keig: Beyond Race Or Gender

Zander Keig, LCSW 

shares with us his experiences, indicative of a deeper causality of discrimination
that taps into a primal fear of 'the other' that transcends race or gender...

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I met Zander

at a friend's house-warming party.  We spoke of working within the government agency system of therapy and had a lively discussion.  I went home and "friended" him on Facebook  - I then discovered my new friend was quite a fascinating person, having lived a life of social advocacy for the LGBTQ population.  It was when I clicked on a link to his website that I saw he was not only an advocate, but a well-respected person in that community who had actually gone through the transition from female to male. 

Zander Keig is a unique individual, not only because he used to be a she, but because his life has been one of overcoming tremendous hardships, starting at birth. When Zander was born, the doctor predicted he would be dead, but he was not.  Then when he was 6, he developed encephalitis - he went into a coma and when he awoke, he had to relearn some basic life skills all over again.  Zander's life since then has been a journey of self-discovery and social advocacy.

 

Zander and I discuss:

  • His early life struggles and some family reflections
  • Why he identified with the "separatist lesbian" community and what that meant for him
  • How and when he began identifying as "trans"
  • Why he feared Testosterone
  • How he and his wife created a relaiotnship that has withstood the stress of transitioning
  • How his education helped him understand those that did not understand him
  • Why he decided to edit and write books and articles on the subject of transitioning when his own transition is a very private experience
  • Why trans men are often invisible in our society
  • How intentionality informs his relationship with his wife
  • The strange thing that happened when he went from being seen by society as a 1st-generation Mexican-American lesbian to a highly-educated white male - where did his culture go? 
  • The prejudices he experienced both pre and post transition were not what you'd think! 

Questions and Comments

Although we have comments turned off this blog in general, Zander welcomes your questions and comments.  Feel free to email me DrMullen@CoachingThroughChaos.com, or leave a comment or a question on my facebook page  and I will be happy to pass it on.  

 

Resources

Zander speaks of some of the books he's edited, the documentary being produced about his life journey and his website.  Here is where you can find those resources:

Website:  ZanderKeig.net

Film: Episodes of Zanderology

Books Zander has been involved in, including Manning Up and Letters for My Brothers can be found here

 

 

Awkward Correction on my part

I realized when listening back to the produced episode that I was saying "LGBT and trans" when, of course in LGBT the T stands for trans - I don't know why I was saying it that way, but that's how it came out.  To anyone that thinks I was "not aware" - I am, I just speak faster than I think sometimes and it results in awkward verbal trip-ups.  

 

Coming Up on The Coaching Through Chaos Podcast

I just returned from the Podcast Movement conference for podcasters.  I learned a lot and made so many great new friends.  What I learned has led me to decide to make some changes to the structure of what I bring you here at The Coaching Through Chaos Podcast.  The next episode will actually be a re-boot: I will be telling you about my life journey through chaos, what it means to me and why I am doing what I do.  After that, I'll still be bringing you some great interviews, but you will understand more about what that topic means to me and how it might help you better navigate the chaos in your life. My intention is to bring you a high-quality show and that sometimes means to recognize how and when to make changes in what we are doing here.  That next episode launches August 2, 2016.  

How do you support us? Subscribe and Review

We've set up the podcast so that you can listen on both Android and Apple devices.  We are currently still on the "What's Hot" pages of iTunes in a couple of categories, but we stay there longer when we have more reviews.  When we stay on those pages, we also get seen by more people looking for great new shows to listen to.  We'd love for you to go to chaos.tips/iTunes and leave us a review.  When you're there, be sure to click "subscribe" and set yourself up for auto-downloads of our future episodes.  On non-apple products, you can listen on soundcloud, tunein.com, stitcher, or maybe you already have the "Podcast Addict" app downloaded on your Android phone - when you're in Podcast Addict, just search for Coaching Through Chaos - you can subscribe right there as well! Thanks for all your support so far!!

 

OTHER PODCASTS

FOUND

Have you ever found a note on your car, or found one on the street that was intended for someone else?  Well the people at FOUND Podcast by Wondery Media have developed an intriguing new show in which they work on discovering the origins of these notes.  I met the Wondery Media folks at Podcast Movement and I love what they are developing. I wanted to give them a shot out here and encourage you to check them out! 

 

SHRINK2SHRINK: Like Siskel & Ebert with a Psychological Twist! 

Have you listened to my friend and fellow therapist Courtney Calkins and I chat about our favorite movies yet on Shrink2Shrink? We launched a new monthly show a few months ago- our current episode is Creed, but we have also covered The Martian, Gone Girl, Inside Out, and Train Wreck! Our next episode launches on the last day of July - we'll be talking all relaiotnship and psych aspects of the fun Disney movie Zootopia! If you grew up watching Siskel & Ebert review the movies like Courtney & I did, you'll enjoy this- you'll definitely know if we liked the movie, but we also ad a psychological component to the discussion.  We pull  out our favorite clips from the movie and then we discuss all the relationship and psychological themes of the scene.  It's been great fun and we appreciate all the love and support we have received so far! Check it out Shrink2Shrink on iTunes

 

Until next time.......


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