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#394#395#396#397 Episode #398 - Soma, Suicide, and the Pursuit of Happiness
(Mental Health and American Society)


Suicide is the 3rd greatest cause of death among US youth.

Sun 17 February 2008  Stephen Bezruchka, Matt Wray
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2Last week on the program, we focused on the social, and economic ramifications of the American landscape of suburban sprawl through the eyes of James Howard Kunstler. One of Kunstler's themes is that the physical arrangements of suburbia are not only unsustainable but that they both reflect and create a society that purports to represent an American Dream but have in fact become a nightmare in many ways and not delivered the happiness it purports to sell. This week, two different examinations of Mental Health and happiness in USA.
Our first speaker will be a returning guest, Stephen Bezruchka, a medical doctor whose studies in public health and clinical experience have led him to social relations, rather than the medical model, as determinants for physical and mental health. Did you know that the US comprises 5% of the world population, yet 50% of its healthcare spending? Why does USA have the most treatment of mental illness as well as the most mental illness? Did you know that it is the only nation to allows direct to customer advertising of medical health medications? Or that the 'official' grieving period for death of a close relative has been shrinking steadily and is now less than 1 year? If you're still grieving after that, according to the US medical establishment, drug therapy is recommended. He concludes that the plague of mental health problems which USA is experiencing stem from a sick society. We conclude with a very interesting talk by Matt Wray, a sociologist at the University of Nevada who has been studying suicide in Las Vegas. He begins his talk by playing a recording of a 911 call made by Lance Joyce, a few hours before he jumped off the Hoover Dam. He then interprets details of it to introduces his effort to understand the phenomenon of suicide. As well as looking at the contemporary phenomenon of suicide in USA, he looks at the origins of the study of suicide, and mentions how Emile Durkheim failed in his attempted to use cast suicide in a sociological frame, but failed, leaving it to be regarded primarily as a personal phenomenon. This, however, fails to explain why suicide rates vary so widely both between and within different societies. He reviews the different aspects of the suicide distribution in US, focusing especially on Las Vegas and Nevada. We conclude with 10 minutes of Q & A.
Thanks to the LA Sound Posse
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