Tag Archives: suicide

Americans ‘snapping’ by the millions

Americans ‘snapping’ by the millions

Exclusive: David Kupelian reveals record fear, stress, suicide – and inspired way out

Terrorism. Chaos. Fear of the future. In the age of Obama, America is undergoing a “fundamental transformation” – that much everyone knows.

But what few seem to realize about this transformation is that the sheer stress of living in today’s America is driving tens of millions to the point of illness, depression and self-destruction. Consider the following trends:

Suicide has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of injury death for Americans. Even more disturbing, in the world’s greatest military, more U.S. soldiers died last year by suicide than in combat;

Fully one-third of the nation’s employees suffer chronic debilitating stress, and more than half of all “millennials” (18 to 33 year olds) experience a level of stress that keeps them awake at night, including large numbers diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorder.

Shocking new research from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in five of all high-school-aged children in the United States has been diagnosed with ADHD, and likewise a large new study of New York City residents shows, sadly, that one in five preteens – children aged six to 12 – have been medically diagnosed with either ADHD, anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, but for this the use of calming supplements can really help treating these symptoms such as cbd products, you can find the https://nanocraftcbd.com product line online.

New research concludes that stress renders people susceptible to serious illness, and a growing number of studies now confirm that chronic stress plays a major role in the progression of cancer, the nation’s second-biggest killer. The biggest killer of all, heart disease, which causes one in four deaths in the U.S., is also known to have a huge stress component;

Incredibly, 11 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older are currently taking SSRI antidepressants – those highly controversial, mood-altering psychiatric drugs with the FDA’s “suicidality” warning label and alarming correlation with school shooters. Women are especially prone to depression, with a stunning 23 percent of all American women in their 40s and 50s – almost one in four – now taking antidepressants, according to a major study by the CDC;

Add to that the tens of millions of users of all other types of psychiatric drugs, including (just to pick one) the 6.4 million American children between 4 and 17 diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin or similar psycho-stimulants. Throw in the 28 percent of American adults with a drinking problem, that’s more than 60 million, plus the 22 million using illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants, and pretty soon a picture emerges of a nation of drug-takers, with hundreds of millions dependent on one toxic substance or another – legal or illegal – to “help” them deal with the stresses and problems of life.

By the way, things are no better over the pond – and may be worse, according to one major study that concluded almost 40 percent of Europeans are plagued by mental illness.

Note: This report is is excerpted from the April 2013 issue of WND’s acclaimed Whistleblower magazine, “STRESSED AND DEPRESSED: The unreported health crisis of the Obama era.”

What on earth is going on? Why isn’t medical science – and for that matter all of our incredible scientific and technological innovations in every area of life – reducing our stress and lightening our load? Why doesn’t the almost-magical availability of the world’s accumulated knowledge, thanks to the Internet, make us more enlightened and happy? Why is it that, instead, more and more of us are so stressed out as to be on a collision course with illness, misery, tragedy and death?

Most important, what can we do to reverse course? Fortunately, amazingly effective help is available – but more on that later.

‘He wants people to snap’

“Life is difficult,” wrote psychiatrist M. Scott Peck at the outset of his international best-seller, “The Road Less Traveled.” Stress, difficulties, disappointments, accidents, disease, misfortune, cruelty, betrayal – they’re unavoidable in this life.

Yet, during eras when society and families are stable, unified and fundamentally decent and moral – as, say, America during the 1950s – the stress level for each person is minimized, or at least not compounded by a perverse society. Conversely, when – as is the case today – we have widespread family breakdown, a depraved culture that mocks traditional moral values, a chaotic economy and disintegrating monetary system and a power-mad government dominated by demagogues and sociopaths, the normal stresses of life are greatly multiplied.

Thus it has come to pass that America, long the hope of the world, has grown increasingly dispirited and angry, which in turn breeds anxiety, fear, confusion, hopelessness and depression.

After all, let’s face the hard facts: We just re-elected perhaps the worst president in history, someone manifestly obsessed with dismantling traditional, free-market capitalist America and transforming it into a socialist nanny state. That in itself is highly stressful – at least for the roughly half the population that still understands socialism always leads to a profound loss of freedom and prosperity.

Then there’s today’s relentless economic pressures: high unemployment (the actual rate is at least double that of the “official” government rate), foreclosures and bankruptcies, a stagnant growth rate, 11,000 new people signing up for food stamps every single day, rising taxes for the entire middle class whose net worth is simultaneously shrinking, ever-higher prices for food, gas and other essentials – and overshadowing it all, a galactic national debt burden, courtesy of a wildly out-of-control government unrestrained by either the Constitution or common sense.

That, too, is very stressful. Top it all off with an administration continually abusing the public for the sake of enlarging and consolidating its political power – for instance, by purposely making the “sequester” cuts hurt Americans, even our active-duty soldiers, as much as possible.

Make no mistake: This sort of stress on Americans is not only intentional on the part of Team Obama – it is strategic. Remember, these people are revolutionaries (that is, engaged in “bringing about a major or fundamental change,” as Merriam-Webster puts it) and utterly committed to replacing one societal structure – America’s constitutional, limited-government, free-enterprise system – with another – a socialist, wealth-redistributionist system run by an all-powerful government.

Such a radical change cannot be accomplished while Americans are calm, happy, content and grateful for their blessings. Citizens must be unhappy and stressed out. Indeed, widespread popular discontent has always been the required fuel for leftist transformation.

Just reading a few pages into Saul Alinsky’s notorious “Rules for Radicals,” one encounters repeated confirmation that the very key to radical “change” is keeping the populace angry, encouraging their grievances, stoking their resentments and making sure they are continually upset. That is the primary psychological dynamic of “community organizing” – and America today is led by community-organizer-in-chief Barack Obama, a long-time master practitioner and instructor in Alinsky’s neo-Marxist agitation methods.

Top radio talker Rush Limbaugh recently picked up on this normally unspoken aspect of Obama’s modus operandi: “I think he wants people to snap,” opined Rush. “I think Obama is challenging everybody’s sanity. Obama [is] literally pushing people to snap, attacking the very sanity of the country.”

Commenting on Obama’s sudden obsession with employing every means possible to deny law-abiding Americans their constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms, Limbaugh exclaimed: “All of this is so in our face. Everything that people hold dear is under assault. Deliberately making people upset! This is not what presidents do.”

It’s not what presidents do – unless they happen to be leftist revolutionaries, in which case “deliberately making people upset” is precisely what they do to accomplish their intended “fundamental transformation.”

We need to realize that Americans could not have twice elected a leader as transcendentally unworthy of the presidency as Barack Obama without first having had their minds and hearts captured. Through constant leftist indoctrination, emotional manipulation, ruthless intimidation – and then being rewarded once they have “converted” – perhaps half of the American electorate has been programmed over the course of decades by a subversive school system and equally perverse “news” establishment. Truth be told, both institutions have become full-blown abominations, occupying as they do near-sacred stations of public trust in American civilization.

Of course, at the nuclear core of the myriad assaults on traditional America is the rejection (at least by society’s elites) of God and repudiation of the Judeo-Christian values that underpin Western civilization. This in turn has led to pervasive societal disintegration and a Pandora’s Box of almost unimaginable problems.

Unfortunately, despite our nation’s growing number of seriously troubled people, psychiatry provides little help. It has evolved in our secular, mechanistic culture to see virtually all mental, emotional and spiritual problems as genetic or physiological in origin. No longer is there any such thing as sin. Nothing is moral or spiritual. Good character, introspection, understanding, repentance and forgiveness, so vital to genuine healing, are now irrelevant. Just write a prescription.

Since the current research fad is to conclude (as the National Institute of Mental Health puts it) that “depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain,” psychiatry has come to rely heavily on altering our brain chemistry by (in the case of depression) tricking it into producing higher levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. But this forces us to ask an obvious question: What are you talking about? Do you really believe that the 23 percent of American women ages 40 through 59 currently on antidepressants ALL have defective or diseased brains?

Or, is it just possible that, rather than tens of millions of inexplicably damaged brains, much of today’s epidemic of “depression” and other “disorders” has a lot more to do with the prevalence of stress, pressure, confusion, cruelty, anger, injustice, temptation and corruption all around us – and our inability to deal with it without being infected and hurt by it?

Finding the way out

There are, of course, proven commonsense steps each individual can take to minimize the effects of stress. Chuck Norris’ personal list of “12 ways to avoid depression” is as good as any available online, and encompasses everything from diet and exercise to meditation and gratitude to God.

But boiling the matter down to core essentials, there are really three time-tested elements required for staying healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They are:

1) A genuinely healthful diet: Newsflash – eating the wrong foods (or eating too much) causes huge problems. Obesity is not only stressful, but has myriad adverse health effects, including depression. Likewise, eating foods that are heavily processed, high-sugar, adulterated, chemicalized, processed, artificially flavored, colored, sweetened and preserved stresses both body and mind. As WND columnist and orthopedic surgeon Lee Hieb, M.D., puts it, “If my great-grandmother would not have recognized something as food … I don’t eat it.”

Mountains of research and dietary wisdom can be boiled down to this: Eat a variety of fresh, natural foods, especially vegetables and fruits and particularly lots of enzyme-rich raw foods. Fish and chicken are fine, so is red meat in moderation, same with dairy (eggs, milk and butter – not margarine), but buy natural/organic whenever possible.

2) Regular exercise: A good exercise regimen not only helps keep our heart (and the rest of us) healthy, it confers untold benefits, tangible and intangible – plus it is, all by itself, a major de-stressor! Again, WND columnist Chuck Norris, who as a six-time undefeated world karate champion (and reputedly the world’s toughest man) knows a little about exercise, says this: “Exercise is a cure for so many ills; depression is one of many. Exercise is so powerful on our mind that Men’s Health calls it the drug-free depression cure.” Enough said. Just do it.

3) Personal quiet time for prayer and reflection, allowing us the opportunity to seek the Creator’s will while letting go of accumulated anger, frustration and resentment toward others. (In other words, renewing our love for God and our neighbor.) Anger in all its forms has long been shown to be at the very root of many serious problems and illnesses, both physical and mental.

Pause button. One all-important point needs to be made here: It is not the stress itself that harms us, but rather, the way we overreact emotionally to it. And primarily, that reaction is one of resentment, either overt or subtle.

Grasping this often-overlooked fact leads directly to the bottom-line principle for successfully coping with stress, whether it’s related to money, work, health, relationships or trauma: Learn to calmly endure the stress (or as the Bible expresses it, “trials and tribulations”) with genuine patience and faith instead of anger and frustration, and an amazing thing happens: The stress, rather than making us sick and debilitated, actually serves to make us stronger, more at peace and more whole.

Help with this all-important facet of stress management comes, ironically, from the occupation Forbes calls the “most stressful job” in America – namely, the U.S. military.

Despite the tremendous ravages of war stress – 22 suicides per day among U.S. military veterans (on average) and an epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder and other war-trauma conditions streaming out of Iraq and Afghanistan – a quiet revolution in overcoming stress is nevertheless unfolding within the military.

Like the constantly inculcated attribute of “resilience,” the military has also found the practice of “mindfulness” to be extremely helpful in overcoming stress. And the gold standard in this growing field is “Be Still and Know,” a simple and time-tested awareness exercise that been used in all five armed service branches for many years.

Currently relied on by tens of thousands of soldiers and veterans, “Be Still and Know” is the key ingredient included in a compact disc titled “Coping Strategies.” In essence, the 30-minute exercise helps users discover genuine patience, mental clarity and (a word the Founding Fathers used a lot) equanimity. It has been highly endorsed by both the U.S. Army’s chief of chaplains, Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carter, who calls it a “great resource for our Soldiers,” and Col. John Bradley, M.D., long the chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“Coping Strategies’” distributing organization, the nonprofit Patriot Outreach founded by U.S. Army Col. Antonio P. Monaco, offers the CD (or Internet download) free to all U.S. military personnel, veterans and family members upon request. It is also readily available to civilians, at a nominal charge to support the free grants to the military. Patriot Outreach’s program has been publicly praised by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as well as former GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum.

Having written about “Coping Strategies” and the “Be Still and Know” exercise a couple of years ago, I recently checked in with a member of the Patriot Outreach team, Navy Special Ops veteran Lee Booton, for an update.

Booton, who experienced a lot of hand-to-hand combat, came home from Vietnam with a nice big fat case of post-traumatic stress disorder. (“In the middle of the night I was pounding on my wife, thinking I was still fighting the North Vietnamese,” he told me. “I felt horrible.”) Yet years later, when he was introduced to “Be Still and Know,” Booton knew it provided the answer he and other stressed-out soldiers were desperately seeking. Over the past five years, volunteering with Patriot Outreach, Booton has “met face to face with returning troops” and personally “handed out between 5,000 and 6,000? of the “Coping Strategies” CDs to vets and encouraged others to download the exercises for free. (There are actually four exercises included in “Coping Strategies” – the main one, “Be Still and Know,” plus three others that focus specifically on “Overcoming Pain,” “Overcoming Fear” and “Overcoming Stress.”)

Does he ever hear back from the soldiers he helps? “Yes!” says Booton enthusiastically. “Sometimes they give me a big hug and say, ‘Boy, does that work,’ or ‘You helped save my life – this made it so much easier for me to deal day-to-day with all of my issues.’”

‘Cure stress’

“Be Still and Know” was developed by Roy Masters, who at 85 is the patriarch of stress experts, having taught this method since 1960 to millions, his fans including everyone from movie star John Wayne to Internet journalist Matt Drudge. He also hosts talk radio’s longest-running counseling show, “Advice Line,” on Talk Radio Network. The author of 18 books, Masters was featured on the Sean Hannity Show to discuss his newest book, “Hypnotic States of Americans.”

Recently, all four of the audio exercises on the “Coping Strategies” CD have been released in a new civilian version on a dedicated MP3 player called, “The Cure Stress Device.”

“In today’s high-tech, wireless world,” said Masters, “a little, self-contained audio device the size of a credit card seemed like the best delivery system possible.”

In a recent message he tweeted, Masters summed up more than 60 years of work in just 140 characters: “Learn to endure cruelty and injustice without resentment and after the stress has passed you will find the fulfillment you have been seeking.”

“Most stress,” explains Masters, “is simply cruelty, in one form or another, directed at us by other stressed-out human beings, who themselves have been victimized by cruelty and stress in their own pasts.

“Imagine, however, that someone said or did something cruel to you, but that you did not react in any way whatsoever – you did not become upset, resentful or even ruffled. You simply observed that this person was saying or doing something cruel, as though you were calmly observing the scene in a movie. You simply would not be stressed by what would appear to others to be a highly stressful encounter. Stress and cruelty affect us as profoundly as they do only because we react to them resentfully.”

The exercise works so well, he adds, because “it enables you to become objective, a little bit separate, detached and disentangled from all your troublesome thoughts, emotions, heartaches, fears and traumatic memories – and that, all by itself, is extremely helpful, and actually healing.”

‘You just be cool and calm’

“Stress” – our modern name for all the trials and tribulations the Good Lord in His wisdom deems necessary for us to grow in character and faith – is not the enemy. It is, however, the difficult but necessary part of life that tests us, proves us, and ultimately makes us better – or kills us.

Fortunately, in the loving sacrifice of his Son, not only did God make provision for the forgiveness of mankind’s sins, but He also gave us another priceless gift – the perfect example of how to deal with stress. Even while hanging on the cross in agony, Jesus did not resent his tormentors and even asked God to forgive them. That’s the essence of what we need to find.

In one sense, our task is simple: Since our past sins have been forgiven, and since the future is in God’s care alone, we just need to focus on discovering how to live right now, in this present moment, with faith, patient endurance and perfect integrity.

Now more than ever, it is essential that Americans get a handle on stress. The pressures of modern life are being greatly multiplied by the ever-present threat of terrorism and a socialist government that thrives on promoting everything dark, perverse and angry (and therefore stress-producing) in human nature. Remember, Winston Churchill called socialism “the gospel of envy.”

After Rush Limbaugh warned his listeners that Obama wants good Americans “to snap,” he added, good-naturedly: “You just be cool and calm. Everything’s going to be fine. I’ll tell you when it’s not.”

Indeed, to prevent Obama and company from completing their “fundamental transformation” of America, we are going to have to learn to stay cool, calm and collected – and not just on the surface, but deep down in our souls.

Know this: If you are upset at Obama and the maniacal left – if you’re angry, full of rage, feeling hopeless, frustrated, wanting to drop out, or wanting to lash out and act violently – believe me, that’s precisely what your adversary wants. Not only that, that’s how he wins, because when you’re upset and angry and overreacting – pardon me for putting it this way – you become stupid. That’s what’s wrong with the Republican Party. Its principles are magnificent (read the 2012 platform), but most of its leaders are intimidated by the ruthless Obama administration and the blatantly biased and abusive “mainstream media.” Thus, in their reactive, intimidated state of mind, they become ineffective, cowardly and contemptible (with a few notable exceptions, for which we are very grateful).

This is true not just of politicians, but all of us: No matter how smart, moral and right-thinking we might otherwise be, when we’re angry and upset we do not possess God’s grace, wisdom, courage and creative genius guiding our steps, and thus we are no match for the evil rising in America.

But if Americans would discover grace under pressure – hey, Ronald Reagan had it, why can’t we? – if enough of us found strength and resolve that were rooted, not in rage, but in righteousness and love of God and our neighbor, then nothing, and I do mean nothing, could stop us. Having regained our lost innocence, we would likewise see our beloved country restored to the noble land it once was.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing,” James 1: 2-4 KJV.

The preceding is excerpted from the April 2013 issue of WND’s acclaimed Whistleblower magazine, “STRESSED AND DEPRESSED: The unreported health crisis of the Obama era.”

SOURCE

Pain is so close to pleasure

Woman featured in Times story about sexual disorder commits suicide

By Leonora LaPeter Anton,

Persistent genital arousal disorder brings woman agony, not ecstasy

A woman who was featured in a Tampa Bay Times story that dealt with a rare sexual disorder was found dead of suicide late Saturday at her home in Spring Hill, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s officials did not provide details about how or when Gretchen Molannen died, but she was last seen alive Thursday at 11:30 p.m. Records show deputies responded to a suicide call about midnight Saturday night. The Times received emails from two of her friends confirming her death and lamenting that she wasn’t able to get the help she needed.

Molannen, 39, suffered from persistent genital arousal disorder, a debilitating condition marked by continuous sexual arousal. Women who have the disorder are physically but not psychologically aroused. Many must masturbate for hours for just a few minutes of relief. Some doctors believe the condition is caused by a nerve malfunction.

Molannen struggled with the disorder for 16 years. For the first 10 years, she had no idea what she had and suffered in silence. She tried to work, but the condition affected her job performance and she was unable to keep steady employment after 1999. She lived in Spring Hill with her parents — both now dead — and never told them what she was going through. In 2007, she saw a woman talk about the condition on the TV program 20/20 and finally realized what she had.

Molannen sought help from numerous medical professionals, but many had never heard of the condition. She couldn’t afford the tests or treatments that have worked for some sufferers.

She said the condition was so debilitating that she attempted suicide at least three times during the past year.

“I know that God wants more out of my life than having me testing out suicide methods, constantly crying and abusing myself,” she said in the story that was published on Tampabay.com on Friday and in the Times’ Floridian magazine on Sunday.

The Times found Molannen on Craigslist in early 2012; she was seeking help from medical professionals. She had no income and had filed for Social Security disability benefits. Her request had been rejected. She wanted someone to give her a free MRI so she could prove her condition to a judge.

Molannen agreed to tell her story last July. The Times interviewed her for a total of 10 hours, about half in person and half on the phone. In August, she went before a disability judge for a second time. He later rejected Molannen’s disability claim and she gave that rejection letter to the Times.

Last week, after the story had been written and edited but before it was published, it was read to Molannen word for word. Several small details were removed at her request.

Before publication, the Times thanked her over the phone and in an email for her help. She replied by email on Nov. 28:

“Thank YOU for taking an interest in doing a story for me! I am flattered that you cared so much to want to help. I just hope this will educate people that this is serious and really exists, and that other women who are suffering in silence will now have the courage to talk to a doctor about it. If men have suffered with the shame of impotence or even priapism, now it’s time for women to get help as well. Thank you for your patience with me and for devoting so much time to this. I’m sure your editor is very proud of your work and I’m excited to see my own story online.”

The Times tried to reach Molannen over the weekend by text, phone and email to see how she was doing. She did not respond.

On Monday, her boyfriend sent the Times an email, saying she had committed suicide and the story “won’t help her now.”

After publication, the Times received several offers to help Molannen, from both legal and medical professionals. Two women called, saying they had a similar problem and hoped to talk to Molannen about it. The story was also shared on a support group for women with persistent genital arousal disorder and many of the women responded. (For more information on the support group go to www.psas-support.com.)

“Wow, you are awesome, Gretchen,” a woman named Jill wrote. “You have suffered so, may God bless you for sharing your story that was difficult to read let alone live.”

SOURCE

The Ones We’ve Lost: The Student Loan Debt Suicides

Custom Search

The Ones We’ve Lost: The Student Loan Debt Suicides

C. Cryn Johannsen

The College Conspiracy

This story was produced by the independent Economic Hardship Reporting Project, co-edited by Barbara Ehrenreich and Gary Rivlin.

One evening in 2007, Jan Yoder of Normal, Illinois noticed that her son Jason seemed more despondent than usual. Yoder had been a graduate student in organic chemistry at Illinois State University but after incurring $100,000 in student loan debt, he struggled to find a job in his field. Later that night, Jason, 35, left the family’s mobile home. Concerned about her son’s mood, Jan Yoder decided in the early morning hours to go look for him on campus, where a professor she ran into joined her in the search. The two of them discovered his body in one of the labs on campus and called campus police at 8:30AM. 32 minutes later, Jason was declared dead due to nitrogen asphyxiation.

When the story was posted on several different sites in 2007 and 2008, the Internet chatter was not always kind to the dead man. While many expressed great sympathy for Yoder and ranted against the student lending system, others were quick to invoke the “personal responsibility” argument — “it was his fault;” “why did he take out that amount of loans?;” “Mr. Yoder took out those loans . . . he had an obligation to pay them back.” — and denigrate him.

His mother, of course, saw it differently. While she was preparing for Jason’s funeral, student debt collectors were still phoning her about the money her son owed. As reporter David Newbart wrote in a 2007 article for Chicago Sun Times, she was gruff when confronted by these calls. “You are part of the reason he took his own life,” she told them and then hung up the phone.

Suicide is the dark side of the student lending crisis and, despite all the media attention to the issue of student loans, it’s been severely under-reported. I can’t ignore it though, because I’m an advocate for people who are struggling to pay their student loans, and I’ve been receiving suicidal comments for over two years and occasionally hearing reports of actual suicides. More people are being forced into untenable financial circumstances as outstanding student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion. And people simply aren’t able to pay all the money they owe. In the past few years, the rate of defaults for federal loans has increased at an alarming rate. According to the Department of Education, those recent graduates who began repayments in 2009, 8.8 percent had already defaulted on their federal loans. That compares to 7 percent in 2008. Currently, 36 million Americans have outstanding federal loans. I can’t help but wonder how many of those millions are feeling distressed or suicidal, or how many have attempted suicide because of all that debt hanging over their heads.

I first started appreciating the depth of the problem of suicidal debtors a few years ago, with a post on my blog, All Education Matters, entitled, “Suicide Among Student Debtors: Who’s Thought About It?” I was stunned by the responses. In comment after comment, people confessed to feeling suicidal. One person wrote, “I was very actively looking into suicide until I got on anti-depressants. Now I have to take happy pills every day to keep the suicidal urges at a minimum level. You are correct to ask the question. Many of the folks who are incredibly deep in law school debt will end up killing themselves. I think, in the next 1-3 years, we are going to see absolutely massive numbers of law school graduate suicides.” Said another: “Yes, I thought about suicide a lot over the past few years. I take anti-depressants and I had been smoking cigarettes for months but I did end up quitting. The big issue with that is I want to be an opera singer so [smoking] was my way of giving up. I’m trying to do what I can to get through this… and praying for an answer.”

Some of the people who write to me are quite specific about how they plan to kill themselves. One person said, “I think about jumping from the 27th floor window of my office every day.” For suicide prevention experts, this is a dangerous sign, as it means that the person has actually devised a plan to carry out the act. In recent months, the notes have increased, and if anything they are even more desperate. One individual admitted that he thought about killing himself all the time. Another even claimed — which was beyond disturbing — that prior to writing his comment, he had been sitting in his car, with the garage door shut.

There have been no epidemiological studies attempting to find a correlation between student loan indebtedness and suicide or suicide attempts, but experts would not be surprised if one exists. A statement published on the website by the American Association of Suicidology (APS) notes, “There is a clear and direct relationship between rates of unemployment and suicide. The peak rate of suicide in 1933 occurred one year after the total US unemployment rate reached 25% of the labor force. Similar findings have been documented internationally. At the individual level, unemployed individuals have between two and four times the suicide rate of those employed.” The document adds, “Economic strain and personal financial crises have been well documented as precipitating events in individual deaths by suicide.”

I spoke to Dr. Peter Kinderman, a clinical psychologist at the University of Liverpool, who has written about the disastrous mental health effects of recent austerity measures in Greece. When I told him about the suicidal notes that I’d been receiving from desperate debtors, he said this is to be expected. Kinderman had served on the Department of Health’s Ministerial Advisory Group in Great Britain, from 2010 to 2011, which issued a report predicting that the European economic crisis would have a significant impact on mental health. Suicides and suicide attempts have increased dramatically in several European countries. Not surprisingly, the problem seems particularly acute in Greece and Italy, two countries that have been hit hardest by austerity measures, and have seen a jump in suicides. In 2011, Andreas Loverdos, the Minister of Health in Greece, announced that suicides had likely increased by 40% in the first five months of that year when compared to 2010. The numbers are equally as grim in Italy. A taxpayer rights group in Rome called Federcontribuenti insists that suicides have become an increasing problem in the country. In April of 2012, the group asked prosecutors in Rome to investigate 18 suicides in Northern Italy. The president of the organization, Carmelo Finocchiaro, called for an investigation to see whether those who should be preventing this “social massacre” are doing their part.

Suicide, Kinderman insists, is not the result of “a brain malfunction.” He added, “There are psychological consequences when economies fall into decay.” Under circumstances of severe economic stress, he told me, “Feeling suicidal is understandable. It is not a disease, it’s a problem.”

It turns out I’m not the only one who receives suicidal notes from student loan debtors. There is a loosely connected group of bloggers who call themselves the scambloggers to underscore their perception that U.S. legal education system is a scam, churning out many more graduates than the economy can possibly employ. The “scamblogs” receive heavy traffic and each post elicits hundreds of responses from morose, depressed, and increasingly hopeless law grads.

The majority of law grads now wind up deeply in debt and jobless. As Brian Tamanaha, a law professor at Washington University Law in St. Louis, says, “My book vindicates the basic view of the scambloggers that attending law school is a highly risky proposition that turns out badly for many students, who end up with a huge debt and no law job” — or any job, for that matter, that generates enough income to manage the debt.” A surprising number of law grads post suicidal remarks publicly on scambloggers’ sites each month. One example: in August of 2011, a man who identified himself as Jordan posted his plan to light himself on fire outside of the Capitol:

I plan to douse myself and light myself aflame on the

Capitol steps, to draw attention to the dire situation of the millions

of indentured educated citizens who, like me, have no options, plus a

predatory banking system coming after us.

There is no political solution to this problem . . . I will be

setting myself on fire, and the student debt debacle will hopefully

come to the forefront of public consciousness.

Fortunately, there have been no reports of self-immolation outside the Capitol building.

Like me, individual scambloggers must deal with private emails from suicidal people. Nando, a scamblogger popular for his sharp tongue and scatological contempt for law schools, tells me he has also received numerous suicidal notes. He talked about how hard it is to receive these notes, especially if you’re not a trained therapist or counselor. “I’ve talked to a couple of guys on the phone, and you try to deal with the positive, and I say, ‘You don’t want to do anything rash.” He recalls one particular conversation with a suicidal man, and sighed, “I mean, I am not a drinker, but one guy made me want to go out and drink a beer.” In some cases, Nando has suggested leaving the country in search of work.

It isn’t hard to find student debtors who feel like they’ve been crushed by the system. At 47, John Koch is still living with his elderly parents in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Although he has a law degree, Koch has earned a living as a house painter for many years. When I ask about his living arrangement, Koch explains that he has in own space, “I’m downstairs. They are upstairs.” He pauses, however, adding wearily, “But I mean, I am 47-years-old. I suppose in one sense, in your parents’ eyes, you’re always going to be a child.” John laughs, and continues after clearing his throat, “Of course, I can come and go and do whatever I please. But you’re still there, it’s um… it’s little things, you know… you have something, like, I have my hobbies and I leave some things in my apartment, and my mother comes down and says,” he imitates her in a high-pitched tone, “‘Oh, you can’t do that. You’re makin’ a mess.'”

John breathes heavily, “I mean, I am there for my parents. My father will be 80, and my mother is 73, and they are having health problems, and I am there if there is a trip to the ER. So that’s good for them.” There’s silence on the phone. John breathes in deeply and laughs again when I ask, “So, it’s good for them, but what about you?”

With a strong Long Island accent he exclaims, “It’s… you know… it’s your independence you’re talkin’ about! And from where I came from — ” His voice trails off and after a pause, he adds, “I was married, living in a home, with my wife, and living… I guess that’s the American dream — to have your own home, a family, children possibly.”

Koch originally borrowed $69,000 in 1997. The majority of that money was loans for law school, seemingly, he says, to “better myself.” After he graduated from Touro Law School, Koch struggled to find steady employment and eventually he defaulted on his loans. He was immediately slapped with $50,000 in penalties. For years, he had been filling out deferment forms every six months to buy himself more time but in 2009, Sallie Mae declared him in default. At the time of this writing, Koch owes over $320,000. That sounds staggering but it’s hardly unusual. Once a person defaults on a student loan, the balance grows exponentially, with interest compounding on interest, penalties and fees. By the time he “retires,” in 23 years, Koch figures he will owe close to $1.9 million. He can’t get even subprime credit, he tells me, and it’s not like there’s any way out of his trap: student loan debt cannot be absolved through bankruptcy.

Koch struggles with suicidal thoughts and admits to self-destructive behavior, such as heavy drinking and cigarettes. Eventually he channeled those feelings into a blog that draws more readers each month. In January of 2012, though, the Suffolk County police paid his parents an unpleasant visit to inquire about their son’s suicidal comments and posts

I spoke to Koch a day or two after the police showed up at his home. He was still rattled. “My parents discovered my blog, and so did my sister,” he said after the police visited his home. Koch surmises that the police were former Touro law students who were tipped off about the suicidal posts. The log that upset his sister the most, Koch told me, included a “series of 5 poems about 5 fanciful kids that go to law school and all end up killing themselves 5 years later.”

Koch launched a new site (Esqpainting) after the police visit but disbanded his online writing projects in early June. He decided that blogging is no longer a good outlet for him. Yet for Koch the agony continues. Parroting the voices of the people who have created this situation for millions of student loan debtors, Koch snarled, “‘You know, you have this debt, and we’re gonna make it bigger, and we’re never gonna let you out, and… and… the rest of society is going to cover it for you. And we’re never going to let them out either.'”

I spoke to Koch a few months ago while he walked his dog and smoked a cigarette. He described his life as pretty much over, and he echoed that sentiment a few weeks ago. “So much for achieving the American Dream.” These days, Koch watches as the interest piles up. He sighs when we hang up, and says, “I mean, why punish the debtor with greater debt?”

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.SOURCE

The GM genocide: Hundreds of Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

By Andrew Malone

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it’s even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father’s body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.

As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India’s economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.

Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years’ earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out.

There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on – they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless – as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting.

Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end.

As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. ‘He was a loving and caring man,’ she said, weeping quietly.

‘But he couldn’t take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.’

Shankara’s crop had failed – twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India’s ancient story.

But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops.

Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts – and no income.

So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.

The crisis, branded the ‘GM Genocide’ by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a ‘global moral question’ – and the time had come to end its unstoppable march.

Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning ‘the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming… from the failure of many GM crop varieties’.

Ranged against the Prince are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.

The rest of the world, they insist, should embrace ‘the future’ and follow suit.

So who is telling the truth? To find out, I travelled to the ‘suicide belt’ in Maharashtra state.

What I found was deeply disturbing – and has profound implications for countries, including Britain, debating whether to allow the planting of seeds manipulated by scientists to circumvent the laws of nature.

For official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here each month.

Simple, rural people, they are dying slow, agonising deaths. Most swallow insecticide – a pricey substance they were promised they would not need when they were coerced into growing expensive GM crops.

It seems that many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.

Pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and ‘agrarian distress’ that is the real reason for the horrific toll.

But, as I discovered during a four-day journey through the epicentre of the disaster, that is not the full story.
Monsanto

Death seeds: A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a Monsanto research soybean field near Atlantic, Iowa

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands – only to kill themselves as well.

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed – two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.

She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. ‘He cries when he thinks of his mother,’ said the dead woman’s aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.

Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.

The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were ‘magic seeds’ – with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.

Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution.

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers’ lives have slid back into the dark ages.

Though areas of India planted with GM seeds have doubled in two years – up to 17 million acres – many famers have found there is a terrible price to be paid.

Far from being ‘magic seeds’, GM pest-proof ‘breeds’ of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.

With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.

Having taken loans from traditional money lenders at extortionate rates, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have faced losing their land as the expensive seeds fail, while those who could struggle on faced a fresh crisis.

When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.

But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That’s because GM seeds contain so- called ‘terminator technology’, meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own.

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death.

Take the case of Suresh Bhalasa, another farmer who was cremated this week, leaving a wife and two children.

As night fell after the ceremony, and neighbours squatted outside while sacred cows were brought in from the fields, his family had no doubt that their troubles stemmed from the moment they were encouraged to buy BT Cotton, a geneticallymodified plant created by Monsanto.

‘We are ruined now,’ said the dead man’s 38-year-old wife. ‘We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.’

Villagers bundled him into a rickshaw and headed to hospital along rutted farm roads. ‘He cried out that he had taken the insecticide and he was sorry,’ she said, as her family and neighbours crowded into her home to pay their respects. ‘He was dead by the time they got to hospital.’

Asked if the dead man was a ‘drunkard’ or suffered from other ‘social problems’, as alleged by pro-GM officials, the quiet, dignified gathering erupted in anger. ‘No! No!’ one of the dead man’s brothers exclaimed. ‘Suresh was a good man. He sent his children to school and paid his taxes.

‘He was strangled by these magic seeds. They sell us the seeds, saying they will not need expensive pesticides but they do. We have to buy the same seeds from the same company every year. It is killing us. Please tell the world what is happening here.’

Monsanto has admitted that soaring debt was a ‘factor in this tragedy’. But pointing out that cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as ‘untimely rain’ or drought, and pointed out that suicides have always been part of rural Indian life.

Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds – no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics.

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three ‘independent’ surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive – and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.

(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is ‘only double’ the price of ‘official’ non-GM seed – but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by ‘unscrupulous’ merchants, who often also sell ‘fake’ GM seeds which are prone to disease.)

With rumours of imminent government compensation to stem the wave of deaths, many farmers said they were desperate for any form of assistance. ‘We just want to escape from our problems,’ one said. ‘We just want help to stop any more of us dying.’

Prince Charles is so distressed by the plight of the suicide farmers that he is setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM.

India’s farmers are also starting to fight back. As well as taking GM seed distributors hostage and staging mass protests, one state government is taking legal action against Monsanto for the exorbitant costs of GM seeds.

This came too late for Shankara Mandauker, who was 80,000 rupees (about £1,000) in debt when he took his own life. ‘I told him that we can survive,’ his widow said, her children still by her side as darkness fell. ‘I told him we could find a way out. He just said it was better to die.’

But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children’s schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country.

Cruelly, it’s the young who are suffering most from the ‘GM Genocide’ – the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these ‘magic seeds’.

Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high.

Read more: SOURCE

FBI Witness Murdered Who Had Access & Was To Testify In Obama/Soetoro Passport FBI Investigation.

FBI Witness Murdered Who Had Access & Was To Testify In Obama/Soetoro Passport FBI Investigation.

Another day, another creepy murder related in some way to Barack Obama. There is something about this guy that leads to unusual murders wherever his name arises.

The most recent unusual death involves the fatal shooting of a key witness in the passport file fraud investigation. If you recall, during the campaign it was discovered that Obama, Hillary and McCain’s passport files had been breached.

It was Obama’s that was reported first with the implication that Hillary had something to do with it. Then, sort of as an afterthought, it was reported that both Hillary’s and McCain’s files were also violated.

There has been some speculation that Hillary’s and McCain’s files were violated as a cover-up for the real focus of the breach, which was Obama’s passport file. Some people wonder what was removed from his file and if it was part of an effort to make sure no one found out about Obama’s shady past.

Like, when did he actually first get a US passport? What is on that passport? Like maybe his real name? His place of birth? His parentage? (If you think I exaggerate the importance of the birth certificate and other biological information, it has just been reported that Obama’s lawyer, Robert Bauer, was paid $688,000 this year to make sure no one sees any of it).

Anyway, the story is reported in the Washington Times:

A key witness in a federal probe into passport information stolen from the State Department was fatally shot in front of a District church, the Metropolitan Police Department said yesterday.

Lt. Quarles Harris Jr., 24, who had been cooperating with federal investigators, was found late Thursday night slumped dead inside a car, in front of the Judah House Praise Baptist Church in Northeast, said Cmdr. Michael Anzallo, head of the department’s Criminal Investigations Division.

Cmdr. Anzallo said a police officer was patrolling the neighborhood when gunshots were heard, then Lt. Harris was found dead inside the vehicle, which investigators would describe only as a blue car.

City police said they do not know whether his death was a direct result of his cooperation with federal investigators.

“We don’t have any information right now that connects his murder to that case,”
Cmdr. Anzallo said.

Say what? We don’t know if it was connected? Hmmm, somehow, nothing ever gets connected where Barry is involved and somehow the murders always go unsolved.

The Washington Times reported April 5 that contractors for the State Department had improperly accessed passport information for presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain, which resulted in a series of firings that reached into the agency’s top ranks.

Sorry Tommy Coburn: Obama & The Banking Cartel Already Cut Education Assistance By $100 Billion, Already Cut Food Stamps By $2.2 Billion, & Health Care By +$6.6 Billion.

One agency employee, who was not identified in documents filed in U.S. District Court, was implicated in a credit-card fraud scheme after Lt. Harris told federal authorities he obtained “passport information from a co-conspirator who works for the U.S. Department of State.”

Now, somehow, I fail to be convinced that someone violated the law to get into Obama’s passport file to commit credit card fraud. This is not a logical thought.

I’m not sure where the Washington Times got the information for that last paragraph, but are they saying that this Lt. Harris’s name was openly mentioned in a court complaint and they had him wandering around without any type of security protection?

How many dead bodies does it take to figure out something strange is happening here?

Let’s see, we have three at Trinity United Church of Christ (murders never solved):

…the murder of Donald Young, a 47-year-old choir master at former Rev. Jeremiah Wright‘s Trinity United Church of Christ—the same congregation that Obama has attended for the past 20 years. Two other young black men that attended the same church—Larry Bland and Nate Spencer—were also murdered execution style with bullets to the backs of their heads—all within 40 days of each other, beginning in November 2007. All three were openly homosexual.

In Arkansas, we have the pre-convention murder of the Dem Party Chairman, who rumor has it, was not going to switch his vote from Hillary to Obama. Someone was attached to this murder, but he is also dead. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for the murder; the guy was mentally unstable, but then so are most murderers.

Obama isn’t alone with a past of more than a few skeletons. It seems most of our recent presidents have an issue with unnatural deaths.

Barrack Hussein Obama The Community Organizer? Not Quite.

The real question is, who is the President of the United States and will we survive his presidency? All that I know is that I am really relieved that I have never met this walking death sentence, seen this walking death sentence, nor talked to this walking death sentence. Otherwise, I would be very worried.

YES, the above video is fake. It is a compilation of sound bites taken out of context and digitally remastered in an attempt at humor. Did it succeed?

SOURCE

More U.S. Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010

More U.S. Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010

Cord Jefferson

For the second year in a row, more American soldiers—both enlisted men and women and veterans—committed suicide than were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Excluding accidents and illness, 462 soldiers died in combat, while 468 committed suicide. A difference of six isn’t vast by any means, but the symbolism is significant and troubling. In 2009, there were 381 suicides by military personnel, a number that also exceeded the number of combat deaths.
Earlier this month, military authorities announced that suicides amongst active-duty soldiers had slowed in 2010, while suicides amongst reservists and people in the National Guard had increased. It was proof, they said, that the frequent psychological screenings active-duty personnel receive were working, and that reservists and guardsmen, who are more removed from the military’s medical bureaucracy, simply need to begin undergoing more health checks. This new data, that American soldiers are now more dangerous to themselves than the insurgents, flies right in the face of any suggestion that things are “working.” Even if something’s working, the system is still very, very broken.

One of the problems hindering the military’s attempt to address soldier suicides is that there’s no real rhyme or reason to what kind of soldier is killing himself. While many suicide victims are indeed afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after facing heavy combat in the Middle East, many more have never even been deployed. Of the 112 guardsmen who committed suicide last year, more than half had never even left American soil.

“If you think you know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know,” Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, “because we don’t know what it is.”


SOURCE

Can Combustion Be Spontaneous?

Can people spontaneously combust? The Romans (and Dickens) thought so. As it’s given as a cause of death by a coroner, what IS the truth?

By Peter Hough

When firemen were called to 76-year-old Irishman Michael Flaherty’s home in the middle of the night last December, the sight that greeted them could have leapt from the pages of a Victorian murder mystery.

Mr Flaherty’s body had been burned away to little more than a pile of ashes. Apart from the floor below him and ceiling above, the room was not damaged. There were no signs of foul play or anything that could have caused the ignition.

Mr Flaherty was lying on his back in the living room with his head near an empty fireplace, but firemen found no sign of accelerants such as petrol and there was no evidence of anyone having entered or left the scene.

He was alone in the house and his neighbours were only alerted when the smoke alarm sounded. By the time the firemen had arrived, the flames that had engulfed the pensioner had left barely a trace of him to identify.

So what is the explanation? Having dismissed all alternatives, the West Galway coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin last week made headlines by officially recording Mr Flaherty’s demise as a case of ‘spontaneous human combustion’.

But while many may scoff at the idea that the human body can catch fire and burn of its own accord, I’m rather more open minded than most when it comes to cases such as this. For, having written a book on the controversial subject and researched the area for 20 years, I have learned of many similar deaths that are very hard to explain away.

So what is spontaneous human combustion, and how long has it been happening? I first came across the idea in Charles Dickens’s novel Bleak House, where the author does away with the alcoholic rag-and-bone man Krook by making him mysteriously burst into flames.

Dickens had done his research: in the 1850s, the main theory used to explain these occurrences was alcohol — that, if you drank enough, it seeped into your skin and made it possible to catch alight if you brushed past a flame. Thankfully, that explanation was later revealed to be nonsense.

But Dickens was not the first to touch on this phenomenon in print. The first sketchy mentions were made as far back as Roman times by the natural historian Pliny — though it wasn’t until 1613 that the first proper written account emerges in an English medical journal.

A lady called Mrs Russell was staying with her daughter’s family in Christchurch, Dorset, when she woke in the night during a noisy thunderstorm with the feeling she had been clouted on the side of her head. She decided to check on the rest of the family and found, to her horror, her daughter burning in her bed.

The report says the poor woman couldn’t be properly extinguished even after death, so she spent the next couple of days smouldering — which does suggest her body was somehow burning from the inside.

It’s not surprising that this fire has been linked with the electrical storm — was she struck by lightning? Or was it the little-known phenomenon of ‘ball lightning’ recorded during storms, where a ball of electricity can explode when it reaches the earth?

Most cases cannot be explained in this way, however. We don’t know exactly how many instances of spontaneous human combustion have occurred, as many may have been unreported or put down to something else (not many coroners are willing to be associated with ‘mumbo jumbo’ or cause additional hurt to the family).

But with my co-researcher Jenny Randles, I found at least 111 cases around the world where the cause of the fire hasn’t been found — and there have been many more since the book was published in 2007.

The basic case usually follows a set pattern — the person was found only after they had burned, nobody heard screams and their surroundings were relatively untouched by fire.

According to our statistics, 59 per cent of cases involved women, and half occurred between midnight and 6am. Often the walls and ceiling were coated in greasy soot, thought to be burnt remnants of body fat.

There have been people who have survived this sort of experience. The most interesting case we found was an American called — fittingly — Jack Angel. In 1974, Angel, a travelling salesman from Georgia, parked his motorhome outside a Ramada hotel and went to sleep.

He awoke to find his arm had been charred so badly that it had to be amputated; other parts of his body had suffered burns, too.

No part of his motorhome was damaged, he didn’t smoke and there was no fault with the vehicle. Angel — and his lawyers — insisted on a major investigation. Police took the mobile home apart hoping to find some electrical short circuit that would allow Angel to sue the manufacturers.

After months of effort they hadn’t found anything to explain Angel’s burns, and the case was closed.

Over the years, theories have been put forward to explain spontaneous human combustion. It has been linked with paranormal activity — one Lincolnshire case in 1905 where a maid burst into flames was blamed on a poltergeist that was also said to have beheaded chickens.

Nowadays, the favourite scientific theory is the ‘candle’ or ‘wick’ effect. Under certain circumstances, it is believed that the human body can burn like an inside-out candle, with the clothing acting as a wick.

For this to happen, someone would have to collapse from, say, a heart attack and fall on a source of ignition such as an open fire or cigarette that then sets light to their clothing. The fire would have to burn away the top layer of skin, allowing the highly flammable fat below to seep into the clothing and fuel the flames for hours.

Scientists suggest this could go on until nothing remained but ash. The theory was demonstrated using a dead pig wrapped in cloth on BBC’s QED show in the Eighties.

So why doesn’t the rest of the room catch on fire? The theory is that if it happens (as in most cases) in a closed space with limited oxygen, the fire would burn very slowly and be insufficient to burn the rest of the room.

What people often overlook is that it is very hard to completely burn a human body, as we are 90 per cent water. In crematoriums, bodies are exposed to heat of 1,100c for an hour-and-a-half, and the bones still remain.

So scientists suggest the wick effect would take, at the very least, 16 hours of smouldering to turn a body to ash. Not quite ‘bursting into flames’, then.

The trouble is that — for that reason alone — many of the stories I have come across just don’t fit with this ‘candle’ theory.

Take the case of Barry Soudain, from Folkestone, Kent, in 1987. His landlord, chasing him for rent money, found him on the kitchen floor: all that remained were his feet — the rest (you guessed it) was ash.

The police were adamant it was the ‘candle’ effect, but there was a half-full kettle of water boiling on a gas ring on the hob. If he had caught alight from the gas ring, he couldn’t have been burning for hours or the kettle would have burned dry.

I talked to the coroner — and he believed that the candle effect wasn’t the answer.

Another explanation is the ‘Haystack’ theory. Farmers are familiar with the phenomenon of haystacks and compost heaps catching fire. At the end of hot, dry summers it is not uncommon for harvested hay or steaming compost to spontaneously combust due to a combination of flammable matter and micro-organisms such as bacteria and mould breeding within the tightly packed material.

It is not inconceivable that similar types of bacteria in the human gut, aided by methane gas, could cause a person to erupt into flames and burn with the ferocity of a tinder-dry haystack. As one of the fire officers I spoke to for my book, Preston-based Tony McMunn, told me, the results of a normal fire death and a case of spontaneous human combustion bear no comparison to one another.

He had witnessed both, and described most people caught in a fire as having crisp, blackened skin but little damage beneath the surface. But with spontaneous combustion, often all that is left is an arm or leg.

As he chillingly put it: ‘It’s as if they burned from the inside out.’

Perhaps we can explain away some of these strange deaths, but I don’t believe we will ever solve them all. Take the chilling tale of two little sisters in 1899 from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire — Amy and Ann Kirby, aged four and five.

For some unknown reason, they lived a mile apart, one with their mother, one with their grandmother. One day, so the records show, the grandmother ran into Amy’s room to find her on fire, with no explanation. The child died from her injuries.

Her grandmother had to make the agonising walk to tell the girl’s mother of the tragedy. But instead she was met by the mother bearing the news that Ann had passed away, too. How? She had gone up in flames — at exactly the same time as her sister.

Perhaps some things will always remain a mystery.

Peter Hough is author with Jenny Randles of Spontaneous Human Combustion.

Read more: SOURCE

In Russia we only had two TV channels. Channel One was propaganda. Channel Two consisted of a KGB officer telling you: Turn back at once to Channel One. – Yakov Smirnoff


Russian spy agency targeting western diplomats

FSB using psychological techniques developed by KGB to intimidate and demoralise diplomatic staff, activists and journalists

Russia’s spy agency is waging a massive undercover campaign of harassment against British and American diplomats, as well as other targets, using deniable “psychological” techniques developed by the KGB, a new book reveals.

The federal security service (FSB) operation involves breaking into the private homes of western diplomats – a method the US state department describes as “home intrusions”. Typically the agents move around personal items, open windows and set alarms in an attempt to demoralise and intimidate their targets.

The FSB operation includes the bugging of private apartments, widespread phone tapping, physical surveillance, and email interception. Its victims include local Russian staff working for western embassies, opposition activists, human rights workers and journalists.

The clandestine campaign is revealed in Mafia State, a book by the Guardian’s former Moscow correspondent Luke Harding, serialised in Saturday’s Weekend magazine.

The British and American governments are acutely aware of the FSB’s campaign of intimidation. But neither has publicly complained about these demonstrative “counter-intelligence” measures, for fear of further straining already difficult relations with Vladmir Putin’s resurgent regime. Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, was head of the FSB.

British sources admit they have files “five or six inches thick” detailing FSB break-ins and other incidents of harassment against Moscow embassy staff. “Generally we don’t make a fuss about it,” one said. So pervasive is the FSB’s campaign that the British government is unable to staff fully its Moscow embassy. The intrusions are designed to “short-tour” diplomats so they leave their posts early, the source said.

Despite a recent improvement in US-Russian relations, the FSB has also targeted US diplomats and their families. In a 2009 confidential diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks, the US ambassador in Moscow, John Beyrle, complains that the FSB’s aggressive measures have reached unprecedented levels.

Mafia State recounts how the KGB first became interested in “operational psychology” in the 1960s. But it was the Stasi, East Germany’s sinister secret police, that perfected these psychological techniques and used them extensively against dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s. These operations were given a name, Zersetzungliterally corrosion or undermining.

According to former Stasi officers the aim was to “switch off” regime opponents by disrupting their private or family lives. Tactics included removing pictures from walls, replacing one variety of tea with another, and even sending a vibrator to a target’s wife. Usually victims had no idea the Stasi were responsible. Many thought they were going mad; some suffered breakdowns; a few killed themselves.

It was Erich Honecker, East Germany’s communist leader, who patented these methods after concluding that “soft” methods of torture were preferable to open forms of persecution. The advantage of psychological operations was their deniability – important for a regime that wanted to maintain its international respectability. Putin spent the late 1980s as an undercover KGB officer based in the east German town of Dresden. Harding was himself the victim of repeated FSB break-ins, and last November was, in effect, expelled from Russia when the foreign ministry said it was not renewing his journalist’s accreditation.

Mafia State also reveals:

• FSB officers privately admit the agency was involved in the assassination of dissident spy Alexander Litvinenko. They regret, however, the bungled way it was carried out.

• The British embassy in Moscow has a “polonium” chair sat on by Andrei Lugovoi, the chief suspect in the Litvinenko murder. Uncertain what to do with it, officials have locked it in a room in the embassy.

• Russia’s footballing union knew a week before a vote in December that Fifa’s executive committee would give Russia, rather than England, the 2018 World Cup.

The FSB never explained why they targeted Harding with such zeal. Other western correspondents have also suffered from occasional “home intrusions”, but on a much lesser scale.

SOURCE

The Vanishing Passengers

The vanishing passengers: It’s a mystery as bizarre as it is disturbing – why have 165 people gone missing from cruise ships in recent years?

By Natalie Clarke

On the evening of April 6 this year, John Halford packed his suitcase and left it outside the door of his cabin on the cruise liner Thomson Spirit. It was the last day of a week-long Egyptian cruise and the ship was due to dock at Sharm-el-Sheikh the following morning.

Mr Halford, 63, texted his wife Ruth, who was at home in Britain, to say he would see her at the airport the next day, then went off to dinner. At about 12.30?am, he was seen by other passengers drinking cocktails in an upper-deck bar. He then vanished.

Mrs Halford, who has three children, Lucy, 20, Sophie, 18, and Connor, 17, learned of her husband’s disappearance as she was getting ready to drive to the airport to collect him.

‘The phone rang, it was the Thomson’s desk at the airport in Egypt,’ she said. ‘I was told the plane was in the air but my husband was not on it. He’d gone missing from the ship. You could have knocked me over sideways. It made no sense. The children and I were shell-shocked.

‘At first I thought he must have somehow gone ashore without anyone realising, but it would have been impossible because there are various checkpoints when you disembark. He’d simply disappeared.’

Today, more than five months on, Mr Halford, a bookseller from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, remains missing, his fate unknown.

His case is far from unique. Over the past few years, there have been an alarming number of unexplained and unsolved disappearances on board cruise liners.

According to the U.S.-based International Cruise Victims Association, 165 people have gone missing at sea since 1995, with at least 13 this year alone — many of them from vessels popular with British holidaymakers.

Cruise ship holidays are enormously popular. According to the Passenger Shipping Association, 1.7 million cruises will be taken in Britain this year (many will be repeat cruises by the same holidaymakers). But what is happening to all these passengers who simply vanish while at sea, never to be seen again?

Are they the victims of a sinister crime wave? Have they had a mishap at sea and fallen overboard, or perhaps chosen to take their own lives?

The sad fact is that, in many cases, no one knows. And for the family and friends they left behind, that only compounds the heartache. Loved ones such as Ruth Halford and her children, who remain in limbo; bereft, baffled and unable to grieve.

‘John had been really looking forward to the cruise,
’ says Mrs Halford.

‘He’d once worked in Libya and was intrigued by North Africa. He was fascinated by ancient Egyptian culture and wanted to see the pyramids.

‘He went alone because we couldn’t afford to go as a family, plus the children had exams coming up. Ships are places where it’s easy to meet people, and John didn’t mind going on his own. The passengers who saw him in the bar say he was not drunk and was in good spirits.

He’d packed his suitcase ready to go but his other belongings — his passport, glasses, mobile phone and rucksack — were found in his cabin. But there was no sign of John.

‘John wasn’t depressed — there was no sign at all that he was contemplating suicide. He just wasn’t like that.

‘His suitcase was later returned to us and in it were three necklaces for me, Lucy and Sophie with our names written in hieroglyphics and a similar name bracelet. John was planning on coming home to us.’

At first, Mrs Halford, 46, believed that her husband, with whom she was about to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary, would turn up. But, as time has passed, her hope has nearly all gone.

‘It has been incredibly difficult, surreal really, and terrible for the children,’ she says. ‘In my heart I believe he is dead, that he is gone, that he somehow slipped and went overboard. I can’t think of any other explanation.

‘A search of the sea was carried out at the time, but nothing was found. I am told there are sharks in the area: it is very painful to think about.

But is the idea of someone ‘slipping overboard’ credible? The rails on cruise ships are at least 3ft 6in high, which makes it incredibly difficult for anyone — even someone who might be drunk or ill — to pitch overboard.

With no clues as to where or how her husband vanished, Mrs Halford is struggling to rebuild her life. After taking time off work after John went missing, she has now had to return to her job as a medical secretary to pay the bills and support the children.

‘Life goes on,
’ she says. ‘I need money to pay the bills and we’ve lost John’s salary. John took out travel insurance and I’ve been on to the company to try to make a claim but they simply say: “What are you claiming for?”

‘Thomson haven’t given me any support, either. John was in their care, but I haven’t had so much as a letter from them. I can’t get a widow’s pension because we don’t know if John is dead.

‘We’re living a nightmare and we can’t see a way out of it. It is so unreal that we can’t grieve. We are in limbo. What do we do? Should we hold a funeral? But how can we if we’re not sure he’s dead?’

The parents of 24-year-old Rebecca Coriam, who went missing from a Disney cruise liner in March this year, can empathise with the tumult of emotion Mrs Halford is experiencing.

Last Monday, Mike and Ann Coriam met MP Mike Penning, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, who has responsibility for maritime issues, to discuss a change in the law that would allow UK authorities to investigate cases of British nationals who go missing on vessels while abroad.

At the moment, investigations are handled from where the ship is registered.

Miss Coriam, from Chester, vanished as the Disney Wonder was on passage from Mexico to Los Angeles. A single policeman in the Bahamas, where the ship is registered, is investigating her disappearance.

Miss Coriam was working on the ship as a youth activities coordinator. She was last seen by a work colleague at around 5.45?am on March 22 by a male colleague and appeared upset, but when he asked her if she was all right, she said she was fine and on her way to bed.

CCTV footage on the ship shows Rebecca walking into shot with her hands in her back pockets, as was her habit. After that, there were no further sightings of her. Her credit card is missing, but has not been used.

John Jennings, Rebecca’s uncle, says: ‘Personally, I feel that someone has done something bad to Becky. The police officer who came aboard the ship to investigate concluded soon after she went missing that at that time there was no sign of foul play, but I don’t share that view.

‘The implication was that Becky had committed suicide, but there is no indication at all that she was depressed. Yes, she’d had some sort of argument, but it could have been over something quite petty.

Rebecca had bought four tickets for Disneyland Paris as a surprise so that she could go there with her mum and dad and sister Rachael when she got back.

‘That’s not the action of someone contemplating suicide. We have discovered recently that someone has changed the password on Becky’s Facebook account, so we can’t get into it. It must be someone who knows her, who knows what the original password was.’

Her disappearance echoes another mysterious case that has been barely reported in this country — that of a 62-year-old German, identified only as Sabine L, who vanished from Cunard’s prestige liner, the QE2, in 2007, as it sailed off Madeira.

Sabine and her husband Ludwig boarded the ship at Southampton on December 17, 2006, for a two-week cruise to the Canaries and Madeira.

One night, the pair went to bed at about midnight in room 5167. The next morning, when Ludwig awoke, his wife was not in the cabin. She was never seen again.

Had something sinister befallen her; or could she be among those who are suspected of having taken their own life while on a cruise ship?

Just this week, there was precisely one such incident. Passengers lined the decks as the Balmoral made its way up Southampton Water on Tuesday morning following an eight-day tour of Norway’s fjords.

The passengers were preparing to disembark when the announcement was made. A passenger was missing. No one was permitted to leave the ship until the police, who were waiting at the quay, had completed an onboard investigation.

Francis Hemsley, 89, of Walton- on-Thames, Surrey, had last been seen at dinner at 9pm on Sunday. Some time between then and the next morning, as the ship headed south along Britain’s east coast, he’d vanished.

A subsequent police investigation established that in this instance there was a note left in Mr Hemsley’s cabin. Although they will not reveal what it said, Mr Hemsley appears to have decided that he wished to die, and wanted to spend his final days amid the serenity of the Norwegian fjords.

No body has yet been found, and officially the investigation is ongoing, but according to Hampshire police, who are investigating his disappearance, ‘initial inquiries indicate the man fell overboard and that it was a non-suspicious death’.

His disappearance echoes that of another elderly Briton who vanished from the same Fred Oslen ship, the Balmoral, last October.

The 79-year-old unnamed man had been on a three-week cruise in the Adriatic with his wife. She woke in the early hours when the ship was about 45 miles south of the Lizard in Cornwall and saw that her husband was missing.

He had last been seen onboard at about midnight.

After she alerted the crew, and a search of the 43,000-tonne vessel had established he was not on board, an air-and-sea search involving British and French coastguards and two warships in the area was launched.

Nearly one year on, there is no body and no answer to the question the family keep asking themselves: what happened?

Two eerily similar disappearances, then, on the same ship.

Certainly, the fate of a 50-year-old woman who was a passenger on board the Sea Princess as it cruised the Caribbean last December, between Curacao and Grand Turk islands, gives credence to the ‘suicide at sea’ theory.

CCTV footage shows the unnamed woman, who was on holiday with her husband, climbing over her cabin balcony in the early hours and falling into the sea.

Her body has not been found, but at least the woman’s family know that she chose to take her life and that she is gone.

For John Halford and Rebecca Coriam’s families, however, and scores of other people around the world, there is no such resolution.

Thomson Cruises, the company Mr Halford went on holiday with, says it has been assisting Thames Valley police and the Foreign Office in Egypt with their inquiries, and acknowledges that it may not have given Mrs Halford as much support as it could have done.

‘We are sorry to hear Mrs Halford feels she has not had our support and we would like to apologise,
’ says a spokesperson. ‘This is a very rare occurrence and we have learnt lessons from it.’

But Mr Halford remains missing, as does Rebecca Coriam and countless others.

Most of these people disappeared on black nights, far out at sea.

Precisely what happened to them all are mysteries that look unlikely ever to be solved.

Read more: SOURCE