Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #25

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The website of the United Nations, in a dedicated page, describes violence against women as “one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world”, which still “remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it” (LINK). Violence may be physical, sexual but also psychological. Consequences of all these types of violence against women may result in short- and long- term physical, psychological, and sexual problems (LINK).

In the manual “Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: taking action and generating evidence” (LINK), the WHO stresses the role possibly played by a history of sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence on increased health risks and health-risk behaviours in both males and females. A meta-analysis of the prevalence of child sexual abuse and its lifetime health consequences showed that child sexual abuse significantly contributes  to depression, alcohol and drug use and dependence, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide attempts.

The possible correlation between violence against women and suicide is addressed by websites such as (LINK): the website reports  that about 33% of rape victims may show suicidal thoughts, while 13% make a suicide attempt or eventually die by suicide, and suggests a relationship between these events and the violence-related long-term emotional consequences, depressive symptoms and stigma. Many women may feel trapped and powerless, and may find it difficult to ask for help, for example because they may feel embarrassed to talk about their experiences, and may believe that suicide is the only way out. Many children living in households where domestic violence occurs may attempt suicide (LINK)

The Rape Crisis Scotland published an interesting manual named “ Suicidal thoughts/feelings. Information for survivors of sexual violence” with many self-care tips for survivors (LINK). 

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“Domestic violence is always wrong, and it is a crime.
And there is never an excuse for domestic violence.


World Mental Health Day: Experiences from Members

Our members shared with us their experiences for the World Mental Health Day:

Ricardo Gusmão and Inês Rothes from Portugal were involved in a World Mental Health initiative of the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto (ISPUP). Ricardo Gusmão presented, among other subjects, a project aimed at increase mental health literacy of the scholar community and reduce stigma, including the subject of suicidal and self-harm behaviours – WhySchool. The WhySchool project is carried out by the team of EUTIMIA ( and will be implemented in 2018/19 and 2019/20 in the 17 Municipalities of Metropolitan Area of Porto (AMP).

– Natasa Ljubomirovic shared her project to carry on research related to self harm behavior and suicidal attitude behavior among the adolescent, the sample for research will be adolescents who were hospitalized at the Clinic for child and adolescent psychiatry Institute of Mental Health, Belgrade, Serbia.

Patrizia Zeppegno and Carla Gramaglia with their clinical and research team participated to the initiative “Progetto Onda” for women’s mental health at the “Maggiore della Carità” Hospital in Novara offering free psychiatric  interviews and assessment, counseling ans psychological support for women with eating disorders or menopause-related problems.

Thanks to Ricardo Gusmão, Inês Rothes and Natasa Ljubomirovic


Movie of the Month (October 2018)

In October 2018 we chose a movie for you:

Black Swan

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel
Year: 2010
Running time: 108 minutes

Plot: the movie is about Nina, a fragile ballerina with great ambition, who is selected to play the main role in the production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, who is better embodied by Lily, the new arrival in the dance company. Nina is overwhelmed by the pressure of the competition for being the main character, which leads her to lose her contact with reality, and eventually to a tragic end, overlapping with that of the character that she interprets.

By Source, Fair use,

“Il primo giorno della mia vita”

Have you ever dreamed of being alive at your funeral? That’s the main theme of the novel written by Paolo Genovese “Il primo giorno della mia vita”. The protagonists are four people with suicidal intent: Emily, a young ex-athlete girl who is disable after a bad injury during a competition; Aretha, a police woman who lost her child; Daniel, a young boy suffering from diabetes and bullied at school; Napolen, a motivator who has no apparent reason to feel hopeless and depressed. All of them want to end up their lives, but, right in the moment they commit suicide, they meet a stranger who offers them the opportunity of seeing their future, as if they were still alive. The man picks up all of
them in an old-style station wagon and guides them in a journey where they assist to their funeral and see their future. Aretha, Emily and Daniel begin to be friends, and they find out that there is a lot of love and opportunities in their future lives, despite the sufferings they are experiencing at the moment. They eventually find the strength to face their difficulties with new hope in the future and decide to take the chance to came back and live their lives. Napoleon, the only character who apparently doesn’t live any difficult existential condition, but is probably affected by major depression, doesn’t change his mind and decides to go on with his suicidal project. At the end of the story, Napoleon takes the place of the mysterious man and guides people who are going to commit suicide through the same experience of seeing their future lives, just as he did earlier.

Suicide and Ballet

Throughout ballet history, several characters die by suicide, such as Giselle, or (in some versions) Odette and the prince in Swan Lake. In the past centuries, ballet was mainly entertainment, and the protagonists’ suicide could seem somehow in contrast with the ideal of the romantic ballet. Only later (18th century) ballet became an independent art form, which could be used also as an instrument to communicate social messages. Famous example of ballets that represent suicide and suicide struggles include Giselle, Swan Lake, La Bayadère, Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, where the main reason for suicide is unhappy love. There is often a poor lady who has been abandoned or betrayed by her lover and commits suicide; consequently the “survivor” men have to face the burden of their beloved loss. Some ballets also deal with homicide-suicide cases and double suicide. Sometimes the theme of suicide permeates the whole representation, and the idea of suicide haunts the protagonist, who designs and programs it in detail, while other times suicide is represented as an impulsive gesture. Different suicide methods can be represented, including violent ones, but the most frequent is suicide by poisoning. Sometimes viewers find out that a character died by suicide, but are left to imagine about it, while in other works suicide is represented in detail, albeit always in elegant manners, for example using specific steps, that can simulate the act. Dancers that have to play the role of characters that commit suicide may live and perform these dramatic moments in different ways,  deeply moved by their feelings, in particular when the decision to commit suicide accompanies the characters for all the opera.

Swan lake is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76; the choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger. Since then, Swan Lake has been one of the most performed ballets all over the world. Outstanding dancers, such as Carla Fracci and Rudolf Nureev performed this masterpiece in theaters, which in 2010 inspired also the movie “Black Swan” by Darren Aronofsky (see Movie of the Month).

The opera, generally presented in four acts, tells about Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse. Prince Siegfried must choose a bride at the royal ball and he is really upset that he cannot marry for love. He goes out with his friends and reaches the lakeside where there are many swans and one of them transforms into a beautiful maiden, Odette, who explains that she and her companions are victims of a spell cast by the sorcerer Rothbart. The spell can only be broken if one who has never loved before swears to love Odette forever. Rothbart goes to the royal ball with his daughter Odile, transformed to look like Odette and they deceive Siegfried who proclaims to the court that he will marry “Odette” (Odile). When he realizes his mistake, he goes back to the lake to apologize with Odette, who has chosen to die, rather than remaining a swan forever. Siegfried chooses to die with her and they leap into the lake. This action breaks Rothbart’s spell over the swan maidens, causing him to lose his power over them. Rothbart eventually dies, and the swan maidens watch Siegfried and Odette ascending into the Heavens together, forever united in love.There are also many alternative endings in which Odette and Siegfried live happily ever after or kill Rothbart, and also tragic endings in which Rothbart fights with Siegfried, who is defeated and dies, leaving Rothbart to take Odette triumphantly up to the heavens.


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Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #24

The 10th October is the World Mental Health Day, whose objective is raising awareness on mental health issues, trying to promote and supporting people who suffer from mental illnesses, but also mental health workers.  The main theme this year is:


Adolescence and the immediately following years are characterized by several changes and challenges, which can represent a powerful motivation towards growth, as well as a source of discomfort and worries. A further complication for adolescence is represented by the constant confrontation with peers, the adult world and the showcase of social networks.

The WHO has published on its website this statement about the World Mental Health Day: “in terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds”.  Loneliness and sadness may be the first signs of a distress that can eventually lead to greater discomforts. Contrarily to what is usually believed, most suicides do not happen without warning, and it is important to be aware of risk factors and warning signs. Recently, attention has been paid also to those personal and social resources that may play the role of protecting factors for the individual, including  resilience and coping strategies to face the challenges of today’s world.

The “WHO’s Preventing suicide: a community engagement toolkit” (click HEREhas been published on  September 10th, 2018. This toolkit stresses the role of communities in suicide prevention: “They can provide support to people who are vulnerable and to those who have made an attempt on their life. They can provide comfort to people who have lost someone to suicide and can also help fight stigma”.


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Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #23

Our member Erminia Colucci suggests her latest publication about suicide:

Suicide first aid guidelines for assisting persons from
immigrant or refugee background:
a Delphi study

Here her comment about it:

This article is part of a series of projects by the authors aimed to develop a community-based tool to help members of the public to recognise potential warning signs for suicide and practical advice about how to respond (and what not to do) if someone close to them was considering taking their own life. The guidelines  specific for assisting persons from immigrant or refugee background were developed using an expert-consensus method (Delphi) with panel of professional and/or lived-experience experts. The article provides a list of the items included as well as links to the free resources developed from this project, i.e. the complete printable Suicide First Aid guidelines and the shorter infographic (available also on ). Members of this mailing list are invited to distribute the article as well as the free resources to anyone who is likely to encounter people from immigrant or refugee background at risk for suicide. The authors are now looking for opportunities to also develop training based on these guidelines (train the trainer style) and members are encourage to contact the first author Dr Erminia Colucci ( if interested”.

Looking forward to sharing with you
the next scientific news and reading suggestions!

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Thanks to Erminia Colucci

Movie of the Month (September 2018)

In September 2018 we chose a movie for you:

The Big Chill

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan
Starring: Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum
Year: 1983
Running time: 105 minutes

PlotThe story is about Cooper family who receive the news of their friend Alex’s suicide. At the funeral the Coopers, meet with college friends and then they all go to Coopers’ vacation house, where they stay for the weekend sharing they stories.

The movie was suggested by our member Patrizia Zeppegno who said:

It is a beautiful movie in which the group and the individual have to face the grief for a friend. This tragic event elicits different feelings in each one: sadness, regret, psychological pain, guilt, rage. The relationships among group members may also represent different feelings of the single survivor. As my master Eugenio Torre teaches “bereavement is a ‘crisis’ that may offer the chance to think about the past and go on throughout the future”.


Thanks to Patrizia Zeppegno

Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #22

Some jobs are highly related to occupation-associated suicide; in particular, physicians have a suicide rate which is twice that of the general population. Recently, on Jama Psychiatry, it has been published the article “A Physician’s Suffering – Facing Depression as a Trainee”, which focuses on the impact that a physician suicide may have on colleagues. It describes the experience of a physician who was in training when he learnt about a colleague’s suicide, his feelings and the problems he experienced during the training period, that lead him to think about suicide himself. After a period when he was afraid to ask for help because of the stigmatization of psychiatric problems, he then decided to disclose his condition to his primary care physicians and eventually to a psychiatrist and a therapist who helped him overcome his crisis, accomplish his projects, becoming a doctor and helping his patients.

LINK: A Physician’s Suffering – Facing Depression as a Trainee

Farrell CM. A Physician’s Suffering—Facing Depression as a Trainee. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(6):749–750. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1520

Looking forward to sharing with you
the next scientific news and reading suggestions!

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