San Diego recently experienced back to back murder suicides involving Hispanic families. Looking for insight, San Diego Red, the bilingual partner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reached out to Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick, asking him to shed light on these tragedies, put them into context of economic times and address cultural factors.
What are the warning signs of potential murder suicide; how rare is it and what resources are typically available?
Dr. Richard Shadick, director of the Counseling Center at Pace University in New York, said people who want to kill themselves usually give warning signs.
“Most notably, if someone has a history of violence they report feelings of depression, anger management difficulties, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness,” Shadick said. “There is social withdrawal from the family, community and friends. Substances can be involved.”
“Typically there are some difficulties that have occurred prior to a murder-suicide, financial difficulties, perhaps domestic violence,” he said.
The SanDiegoRed, the bilingual partner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reported that according to health experts, Latinos suffer from mental illness about the same rate as the rest of the population but are less likely to seek help. In San Diego County, Latinos make up one-third of the region’s population but are just 20 percent of the adults who seek help at county mental health facilities.
“There is some shame associated with it,” Shadick said, echoing a well-known cultural barrier. There is an expectation among Latinos, he said, that “men should be able to handle their problems on their own, that they should be able to make money for the family and handle marital or relationship difficulties without relying on others.”
Mental health professionals rely on a number of screening tools to accurately diagnose depression. Here’s a peek at the questions they ask — so you can assess your own risk.
Not everyone experiences the same warning signs of depression, according to a just-published article on EverydayHealth.com. Some people may endure sadness, hopelessness, feelings of guilt; others may lose interest in their favorite activities, have trouble thinking clearly, or face fatigue and changes in their sleeping or eating patterns.
“Diagnosing depression requires a complete history and physical exam,” says Richard Shadick, PhD, associate adjunct professor of psychology and director of the counseling center at Pace University in New York City. Doctors must also rule out medical problems such as thyroid disease and consider coexisting emotional health issues like anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress, and substance abuse.
What goes into a depression screening? “There are many types of depression scales and depression screens,” explains Shadick. “The questions asked look for common symptoms as well as how much these symptoms might be affecting a person’s ability to function and maintain relationships.”