Cyberbullying: When Going Viral is Bad News

Dear Mr. Dad: My teenage daughter is often very upset and withdrawn after she uses her computer or checks her phone. And lately, she’s been refusing to go to school in the morning. She won’t talk to my husband or me about what’s going on. Could she be a victim of cyberbullying, and if so, is there anything we can do about it?

A: Humans have been bullying each other ever since we lived in caves, and students have been bullying each other ever since the first school was built. Bullying is so common that it’s almost impossible to find anyone who hasn’t witnessed it, been victimized, or done it.

Unfortunately, thanks to technology, bullies can now do their nasty work 24/7 and from anywhere in the world. Experts estimate that half of 6-12th graders have experienced cyberbullying at least once, and about a quarter of them experience it regularly. Worst of all, studies show that when bullying happens on line, people are more likely to join in—and less likely to do anything to stop it.

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Depression Among Elderly Men Is Rampant

Although women are diagnosed with depression about twice as often as men, four times as many men as women commit suicide. Part of the depression-vs-suicide discrpancy is due to the fact that men and women have different symptoms and too many mental health professionals don’t recognize men’s. In this guest post, Alena Shelly explains some of the factors that lead to depressnion in a particularly affected group: older men.

You may not be elderly or even middle aged (yet) but there are probably men in your life who are in that age category. Were you aware the group most at risk for suicide is older, white men? The suicide rate in the 80 to 84 age group is actually twice that of the general population. Many older men are in poor health and have become dependent on others for help. They don’t like this because they are not accustomed to being “needy.” When a man perceives himself as strong, independent and the one who took care of others it is hard to lose one’s autonomy. [Read more...]

Men and Suicide: Much More Than a Mental-Health Issue

Anyone who’s ever looked at suicide statistics knows that men are 3-4 times more likely to kill themselves than women are (women, however, attempt suicide more). But what a lot of people don’t realize is that men in lower socio-economic groups—especially men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s—are significantly more likely to commit suicide than men in higher income brackets. (A man’s “socio-economic group” can depend on his level of education, income, job, or even where he lives.)

There’s no question that there’s a major mental health issue here. Depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness play an important role. But according to a fascinating new study done in England, there are a number of other factors the greatly increase men’s vulnerability to suicide.

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April is the Month of the Military Child. Let’s do everything we can to support them.

1.8 million children have a parent in the military and most of those families have been through multiple deployhments. As a Marine Corps veteran, my heart goes out to every one of them. We’ve all heard a lot about PTSD, the increased divorce rates in military families, and the out-of-control suicide rate (more servicemembers committed suicide in 2011 than were killed in action). But very few of us know about the toll deployment takes on children.
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Veterans can’t get meeting with the VA? Sadly, not much of a surprise

A group from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) spent some time in DC and had tons of meetings with various officials. But the one organization that shut them out was the Veteran’s Administration, the people who should be paying the most attention to issues vets–especially vets of Iraq and Afghanistan. And it wasn’t just that the VA was busy that week. Nope. The IAVA has been trying to get in the door for nearly three years!

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Giving Military Dads a Reason to Live

Dear Mr. Dad: My husband is deployed overseas right now and we just had our baby girl. He was home for the birth, but had to leave only 20 days after. He really doesn’t seem to take much interest in her. We talk over Skype all the time but he still keeps some emotional distance between him and our daughter. How can I let him know that he’s a father and help him actually feel like one?

A: First, my sincere thanks to you and your husband (and your daughter) for your service to our country. Thanks also for trying to help your husband—he’s lucky to have you in his corner. There has been a lot of talk lately about supporting our military families and I applaud the efforts of Michelle Obama and Jill Biden to bring those needs to light. But despite their good work, almost all of their efforts have been aimed at supporting the families back home (which is incredibly important).

Unfortunately, there are almost no resources that focus on the needs of the deployed servicemembers themselves. That’s precisely why I wrote my book, “The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads.” Military dads (and moms) need as much support as they can get to help them maintain strong relationships with their children and spouse. And don’t be fooled: This isn’t just a nice-to-have kind of thing. Research has shown that when servicemembers feel connected to and needed by their family, and feel like they know what’s happening at home and are an important part of it, some of the effects of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) can be reduced. On the flip side, feeling disconnected, unimportant, unneeded, unloved, or unappreciated aggravates PTSD and contributes directly to the increased rates of divorce and suicide in military families.

Sadly, the dynamic you so poignantly described is very common among young military dads. When you think about it, it makes pretty good sense. There are a number of things that could be going on. To start with, your husband may be feeling rather useless and he may be putting up all that emotional distance as a way of protecting himself. After all, he’s thousands of miles away while you’re there every day with the baby. In his mind he’ll never be able to catch up, and his daughter will never love him as much as she loves you. There’s also a good chance that your husband has heard stories from some of the other dads in his unit who’ve been through multiple deployments. They may have told him how incredibly painful it is to come home and have your baby or toddler cry or run away and hide instead of giving you a huge welcome-home-daddy hug.

He also may be trying to protect your daughter. If he’s concerned that he won’t be coming home (and it would be surprising if those thoughts didn’t cross his mind), he may have decided that there’s no sense in getting too attached to her—or for her to start getting too attached to him. An irrational—but completely understandable—line of thinking.

So what can you do? Remind him often of how important he is to you and your daughter, and how much you need him. Tell him that you show the baby his picture and talk about him every day. Send him pictures, handprints, and other reminders (don’t try to get the baby to say Hi to daddy on Skype. Babies are notorious for going on strike—and screaming or crying—when they’re supposed to be performing).
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