Movie of the Month (December 2018)

In December 2018 we chose a movie for you:

It’s a Wonderful Life

Directed by: Frank Capra
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Year: 1946
Running time: 131 minutes

The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season.  

Plotit’s an American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift (Philip Van Doren Stern, 1939). The story is about George Bailey who is thinking about suicide on Christmas Eve (1945); in Heaven, Clarence, is assigned to become George’s guardian angel. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched, and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born, offering him the greatest Christmas gift.

The story reminds us about Mozart’s Papageno. In Singspiel, Papageno tries to attempt suicide, but he is saved by the three child-spirits: they remind him the magic power of the bells he was gifted at the start of the story (Click HERE to know more about Papageno). In suicide prevention the Papageno effect is the positive role that media can play in order to prevent suicide, in contrast with the Werther effect. Recently, many media recommendations have been implemented worldwide to foster suicide prevention and improve the quality of media reporting about suicide. Movies, TV-series, newspapers, websites and other media resources may help vulnerable people to find positive qualities, coping strategies to face off difficult moments and, as is suggested in the literature, this effect is most pronounced in an audience with increased vulnerability to suicide.

“Media can make a very relevant contribution to suicide prevention by minimising sensationalist reporting, and maximising reporting on how to cope with suicidality and adverse circumstances”.


Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #26

Does psychopathology vary due to the influence of Christmas holidays? Since we are approaching Christmas and the arrival of the new year, the question is timely. We found an article published on Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience in 2011, “The Christmas Effect on Psychopathology” (Sansone et al), which offers an overview of the literature about this topic. The article reports about different issues in the field of mental health, such as access to emergency room services on behalf of psychiatric patients, depressive symptoms, substance abuse and also self-harm behaviors, suicide attempts and suicide. The Authors report that according to the literature, deliberate self-harm decreases around Christmas holidays, in particular in younger patients; suicide attempts rate decreases during Christmas period, but some studies reports that it may increases during the New Year holiday.

On Psychology Today, it is suggested a correlation between the reduction of these events and a protective effect exerted by the proximity of relatives and the hope of ‘things getting better from here’.

A previous reading suggestion (#17, March 2018) was about a recent publication by our member Christina Van der Feltz-Cornelis on Frontiers in Psychiatry, “Springtime Peaks and Christmas Troughs: A National Longitudinal Population-Based Study into Suicide Incidence Time Trends in the Netherlands” in which it is stressed that suicide incidence was 42% lower at Christmas, compared to the December-average (IRR = 0.580, p < 0.001), but after Christmas, a substantial increase occurred on January 1, which remained high during the first weeks of the new year.



Movie of the Month (November 2018)

In November 2018 we chose a movie for you:

Les Misérables

Directed by: Tom Hopper
Starring: Hugh Jackamn, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter
Year: 2012
Running time: 158 minutes
Among the others awards, Anne Hathaway won the “Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress” (Oscar 2013). 

PlotLes Misérables (2012) is a musical drama film, based on the French novel by Victor Hugo. Events take place in France during the early 19th century and the movie describes the stories of many characters, representing different social layers. The main characters are: Jean Valjean, released after 19 years of imprisonment for stealing bread; Javert, a police agent who dedicates his life to imprisoning Valjean once again; Fantine, a factory worker forced to prostitute herself after losing her job to support her daughter Cosette; Marius, a revolutionary student. In the movie these stories intertwine each other.

We chose this movie because we wanted to focus on two characters: Javert and Fantine.

Javert spends all his life trying to catch Jean Valjean and send him back to prison; he becomes slave of this condition and when he realizes Valjean is not only a thief but is also capable of pity (“Is he from heaven or from hell?”), understanding that he may have been wrong, he can not find a reason to live anymore.

Fantine fell in love with Tholomyes and from this relationship a children was born, Cosette; Tholomyes abandoned them so Fantine is forced to work to sustain Cosette. She is teased by her co-workers when they discover that she is a single mother and her foreman makes sexual provocations to her. The coworkers ask to fire her because they don’t want problems (“you must send the slut away, or we’re all gonna end in the gutter”) and the foreman, hurted from the secret, asks her to go on her way. The poor woman is therefore forced to prostitute herself and is mistreated and derided by men who abuse her for little money. She then no longer ate and drank anything but brandy to keep warm and not to think about his condition.

Fantine is the literary and cinematographic example of the abused women, deluded and then disappointed from men but also from other women, victim of the prejudice. Anne Hathaway, who played Fantine’s role and won the Oscar for it, said about the character: “I searched Fantine in a dark place in my heart. On the set I felt a great anger for what is done to her, the generous heart transformed into pure hatred in order to survive.(…) For a woman the condition was difficult even fifty years ago. I have also researched the present, there are many women in the world who sell their bodies to keep their children. It seems to me that this is the right historical moment to make the human condition really better“.

This is the reasons why we chose this character for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  


“There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
(…) Then it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream in times gone by
(…) I dreamed, that love would never die
(…) But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame”


International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

In 2018, from November 25th  to December 10th (Human Rights Day) there will be the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign” to promote the ending of violences against women and girls around the world. The  campaign aims to avoid silence and stigma that may promote violence against women: “the time for change is here and now”. Many campaigns have been carried out worldwide to encourage physically or psychologically abused women to tell their stories.

In 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s, promoted the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” campaign; in 2018 the global advocacy theme is: Orange the World: #HearMeToo

“The UNiTE partners are encouraged to host events with local, national, regional and global women’s movements, survivor advocates and women human rights defenders and create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policy-makers and the public. As in previous years, the colour orange will be a key theme unifying all activities, with buildings and landmarks lit and decorated in orange to bring global attention to the initiative” (LINK).

In Novara (Italy), every year, our Section member Patrizia Zeppegno organizes a cultural half-day event at UPO University to reflect about violence against women, using a movie on this topic and then discussing about it with students, residents, professors, specialists, clinicians and administrative staff. It will be on  November 26th from 10.00 to 13.00 pm and the main theme will be “There is a moment you have to decide: you can be the princess that needs to be saved or the warrior that saves herself…”.  

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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