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January 8, 2020 by Jacob Hess, PhD

No, Dr. Friedman. The Solution to Teen Suicide is Not So Simple

Photo of students disappearing from a school hallway; Damon Winter/The New York Times

Damon Winter/The New York Times

A complex array of factors is contributing to a heartbreaking epidemic of teens taking their lives – with a similarly multifaceted set of possible answers. Why, then, do we keep pretending the solutions are so simple?

In the largest newspaper in the world this week, one of the largest problems in the world was proposed as having a very simple solution.

There are few problems more heartbreaking and excruciating than the growing epidemic of youth (and adults) taking their own precious lives. And so, it’s understandable that great attention continues to go towards solutions that can make a difference.

In response to this urgent challenge, psychiatrist Richard A. Friedman asked in a New York Times op-ed: “How is it possible that so many of our young people are suffering from depression and killing themselves when we know perfectly well how to treat this illness?”

Do we? That’s certainly a widely shared perception among many in the general public today. But is the answer really this clear? 

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April 12, 2016 by Jacob Hess, PhD

In Praise of a Non-Aggressive, Creative Way of Working with Unusual Mental States

One of my best friends is in prison.  Over the years, unusual mental and emotional experiences led him to seek some way – any way – to find answers and healing.  And yet everywhere he turned, he was told there was one answer.  When he resisted that answer, he was encouraged, then pressed, then taken to court.

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