Programs Battle Teen Suicide

In the fast-moving world of today, many parents and teachers have little time to take notice or act upon what may seem like teenage mood swings or oversensitivity. However, awareness of teenage depression is increasing due to undeniable facts, and sometimes, the tragic consequences.

In the US, around two million adolescents experience at least one major depressive incident every year. While suicide is more rare, teenage anxiety and depression have other significant effect’s on a teen’s life, and may lead to decreased performance or attendance at school and extracurricular activities, tension with parents, siblings and other family members, withdrawal from social circles and general lack of support, severe emotional distress, alcohol and drug use, and lastly, suicide.

Suicide Facts

For many, suicide may seem like an unlikely result, however, suicide is the third-leading cause of death in adolescents aged 11-18. This past year, 15% of high school students reported serious thoughts of killing themselves during the year, while 11% report having made a suicide plan, 7% have reported attempts and 2% have reported attempts that left them in need of medical care. Parents are generally unaware of their child’s situation. Even after the fact, only 10% of suicide attempts are known to parents.

What Can You Do?

Still, there is a lot a parent or other caregiver can do to help their child avoid such actions. 63% of teens at risk of suicide reveal psychiatric symptoms for more than a year before their suicide. By keeping an open mind and monitoring your child’s mental and emotional state, it is possible to help them avoid the situation completely. There are various programs available which  offer free annual mental health screening for adolescents in medical practices, schools and various other frameworks. Working hand in hand with the parents or caregivers, the program provides a safe, noninvasive method of monitoring and supporting teenagers throughout their most vulnerable years.

International Women’s Day Past, Present and Future

International Women's DayAnyone who did a Google search today was made aware that March 8 is International Women’s Day. What exactly is the origin of International Women’s Day and what is its significance?

First National Women’s Day Declared by American Socialist Party

The first observance of National Women’s Day took place on February 28, 1909 in accordance with a declaration made by the Socialist party of America, and was subsequently celebrated on the last Sunday of February every year. The following year the Socialist International met in Copenhagen and gave Women’s Day an international character. The main thrust of the movement was to give women equal rights with men, especially in the desire for universal suffrage (voting rights) for women.

On March 19, 1911 over one million men and women participated in rallies throughout Europe and the US to give women the right to hold public office, vote,  work, and receive vocational training and end job discrimination. The following week on March 25, the tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York claimed the lives of 140 young women and girls, mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants. This disaster lead to crucial changes in labor laws in the United States, legislating humane working conditions for all workers.

International Women’s Day Precipitated the Russian Revolution

In subsequent years the day was used to protest for peace, especially when World War I was brewing on the horizon. In 1917 Russian women took to the streets for “Bread and Peace” in the wake of 2 million Russian soldiers who had been killed during WW I. Despite the fact that political leaders in Russia were against the timing of the strike the women protested anyway, on International Women’s Day, which fell that year on February 23 according to the Julian calendar, which was then still in use in Russia. Four days later the Czar was forced to resign his leadership and the provisional government that was established subsequently gave women the right to vote.

Because February 23rd in Russia was March 8 in the United States and most other places around the world, International Women’s Day is now universally recognized to fall on March 8 every year.

The UN and International Women’s Day

Today the United Nations takes an active role in supporting the goals of International Women’s Day, promoting and protecting the rights of women all over the world. When the UN Charter was signed in San Francisco in 1945 it was the first and only internationally recognized agreement which stated that a fundamental human right was equality regardless of gender. The foundationall idea fueling the drive to giving women full equality is the belief that there can never be a real, lasting solution to the world’s most threatening political, social and economic problems without the total participation and complete empowerment of the women of the world.

Natalie Portman Renaissance Woman

natalie portman
Natalie Portman

For most people winning an Oscar for best actress by the age of 29 might be considered an amazing achievement and the culmination of a life’s work and dedication to a calling. However, for someone like Natalie Portman, who is incredibly talented in so many ways, receiving her well-deserved Oscar is just one more note of recognition in a life full of such kudos.

For instance, when Ms. Portman was still a teenager in Syosset High School in Long Island, New York in the 1990s, she was a serious contender for one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for scientific achievement for aspiring young scientists: the Intel Science Talent Search. In the 69-year old history of this coveted award the winners and runners-up have gone on to win seven Nobel prizes; two Field Medals (the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel); six National Medals in science and technology; and a long list of MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants. What they never had before, however, until Natalie Portman came along, was an Academy Award winner among them.

What is even more remarkable is that while she was preparing her scientific study of a new way to convert waste into useful forms of energy in an environmentally friendly way, she was maintaining her straight A’s in school and performing in a large number of serious films directed by some of Hollywood’s most illustrious celebrities. She is probably most well known for her role as Queen Amidala in the Star Wars prequels, which sent her acting career into moon orbit.

What is less well known however is that after she did her thing as Amidala, she attended Harvard University to study “the evolution of the mind” in the department of neuroscience there.

“I’ve taught at Harvard, Dartmouth and Vassar, and I’ve had the privilege of teaching a lot of very bright kids,” said Abigail A. Baird, who was one of Ms. Portman’s mentors at Harvard. “There are very few who are as inherently bright as Natalie is, who have as much intellectual horsepower, who work as hard as she did. She didn’t take a single thing for granted.”

Obama Gets Ribbed for Ordering Ribs

Michelle Obama came under fire for her ‘less than pc’ choice of entrée at Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail Village, where the first lady is spending President’s weekend with her daughters and some friends. Ms. Obama chose the braised ancho-chile short rib along with hominy wild mushrooms, sautéed kale, and pickled pumpkins salad with arugula.

Ms. Obama is being accused of hypocrisy by poorly informed opponents for ordering such a ‘fattening’ main course who have claimed that the rib contains 1500 calories with 141 grams of fat.

Kelly Liken, the restaurant’s owner begs to differ. According to her braised short ribs are relatively lean; the braising cooks off a majority of the fat. The 5 ounce serving she offered Ms. Obama is closer to 600 calories, making her meal a healthy choice, as Ms. Liken explained, “A proper 5-ounce portion of protein is what nutritionists say we should have.”

But why all the fuss? Who cares what Michelle Obama eats for dinner? It appears that Obama has been working hard to promote healthy eating as part of her anti-obesity campaign.

Eating at Kelly Liken’s establishment was actually quite consistent with her message of eating well since the restaurant associated with the Brush Creek Elementary School’s Sowing Seeds program in which students grow their own vegetables in a green house, some of which are eventually served to them for lunch at school. Ms. Liken also uses the school-grown produce whenever she can. Liken explained her feelings about food and the first lady in the following statements:

“The food at Restaurant Kelly Liken is the healthiest food you can get in a restaurant. I want to nourish the people who eat it, to teach people they don’t have to sacrifice taste and texture to eat nutritious and healthy foods. It was refreshing to see how interested she (Obama) really was and how passionate about the kids’ healthy lunches, as well as the movement to eat locally here in the Vail Valley,” Liken said.

Strong Winds Topple Christmas Trees Across Northeast

National Christmas Tree
National Christmas Tree

Coming on the tail of unseasonably warm weather, a cold front howled its way into the northeastern United States with winds gusting up to as high as 53mph in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

Several Christmas trees were knocked over by the intense blowing, the most noteworthy being the National Christmas tree which is located on the Ellipse right outside the White House . The tree has been there since 1978 when it was relocated from York, Pennsylvania.

The official website of the “First Tree” explains that the tree was 15 years old and 30-feet tall when it was replanted in front of the White House in 1978. Until Saturday the tree stood to a height of almost 42 feet.

According to a spokesperson for the National Parks Service a new tree to replace the downed Colorado blue spruce has already been chosen, since it was predicted that the tree could be toppled at any moment. The new tree is expected to arrive within the next few weeks.

Study Shows Allergies May Protect Against Brain Cancer

Glioblastoma Cells

In a study which was published in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Bio-markers and Prevention on February 7th, researchers have linked the suffering of  allergies with protective effect against the most common form of brain cancer in adults in the United States.

Bridget J. McCarthy, research associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois and the study’s lead author found that patients with gliomas, both low and high grade tumors, were more likely to report having no allergies than other cancer-free patients who were included in the study.

“We need to do more studies to really get at that underlying mechanism. Then we might be able to do things that would influence people who might have a higher risk or may have a family history,” commented McCarthy.

The overreaction that allergic people have to usually harmless substances like pollen or dog hairs may actually be protecting them from cancer, since their immune system seems to be on “high-alert.”

It is not now clear how this information can help either prevent or cure this form of brain cancer, but the interesting results of the study pave the  way for further study of the phenomenon.