World Suicide Prevention Day – 2016

It’s been 2000 days since the last time I tried to commit suicide.  That wasn’t the first time – in fact, it was the third time.  But it was the only attempt that involved the authorities, and it was the attempt that landed me in a Secure Mental Health Ward.  It was also my most successful attempt; March 21, 2011 was the day I almost died by my own hand.

I was confined to the hospital for five weeks following that episode.  I’m told I remained in a catatonic state for three days after; I don’t remember much of those first three days.  I had taken a massive overdose of pain medication. And it took that long for whatever pharmaceutical measures they undertook to bring me back around to reality.  I do remember a doctor asking how I felt about not succeeding in my attempt.  And I still possess a vague recollection of mumbling in response, “there’s always tomorrow.”  In retrospect, that’s probably why they decided to keep me in the secure ward.  And I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be here to write this 2000 days later, had I not been “committed” that day.

Of course, that’s not the whole story.  For each time I’ve tried to sneak out the back door of life, there have been countless fleeting impulses to lurch in front of a bus, or toss myself into a freezing river.  And there have been too many cravingly intense moments of suicidal conviction.

When being assessed for clinical depression, one endures a barrage of standard questions, and one of those questions is, inevitably, “how often do you think of suicide?” My answer for that question has been, for many years now…“I never stop.”  Even since being “treated”, suicidal thoughts are still more familiar to me than is comfortable.  It never goes away.

That’s called mental illness.  That’s what comes of untreated chronic depression.  That’s the product of putting on that mask of normalcy for decades, not letting any but those closest to you have the slightest glimpse of the pain you feel, day in and day out.

You might read this and wonder why I didn’t ask for help.  You might question why I didn’t reach out.  Why I didn’t recognise, in myself, such an obvious need for assistance.  And you might not understand how complicated those questions really are.  There are so many reasons.  There are so many doubts.  So many ways a sick mind can trick a person into believing that they deserve what they feel.  Or, moreover, that they don’t deserve help.  And that help doesn’t help anyway.  Even now, medicated and psychoanalysed, I still harbour those same thoughts.

We live in a world chock full of social cues that tell people in pain that the right thing to do is to just rub some dirt on it and walk it off.  It’s easy to believe that this is a world without understanding, without compassion – for a lot of people, it really is.  Mental illness, especially depression, makes it too easy for us to overlook the caring hands and kind words that surround us.  It makes it second nature for us to deny the joys of life, and to commit ourselves to misery and loneliness.

2000 days ago I almost ended my life.  It’s just coincidence that this anniversary falls on World Suicide Prevention Day, but I’ll forgive you for thinking it serendipitous.  My story isn’t uncommon.  The details are unique, but the destination and the cause are much too familiar for far too many people.  I wrote this hoping to add to the conversation already started by so many people suffering through mental illness and its fallout.  I don’t want well-wishes or pity.  I want awareness, I want real help made available from real mental health resources in every city around the planet.  I want a cure for mental illness.  Those things are attainable, through conversation and compassion.  But if I could ask anything of you, my reader, it would be this:

Be kind to those you love, and to everyone; be there for those you know are hurting; and, please, don’t keep your pain a secret.

Visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention and Bell Let’s Talk to learn ways to start the conversation, and to help those around you who may be in danger.

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The Slow Demise of Martin J. Clemens

Those reading this are no doubt fully aware, by now, of the recent disappearance of my former blog, martinjclemens.com.  I didn’t make any kind of deal, big or small, about its closure.  In fact, I didn’t say a word about it to anyone.  That wasn’t by accident.

Those reading this likely also know about my personal troubles; that I’m consistent only in being inconsistent; that I tend to be unstable, in every sense of the word; that I live in a precarious state, both financially and emotionally; and that I often take things to heart which should not be taken to heart.

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Amazing fMRI “Study” Not What It Seems

The following was originally posted on MJC (February 2014), and I felt that it should probably survive the demise of that blog since it clears the air on a topic many find important.

Did you see headlines like this over the last few days?  “The Woman Who Can Will Herself Out Of Her Body” or “Scientists unlock mystery of out-of-body experiences (aka astral trips)”, or even “Out-of-body experiences are the result of unusual brain activity, study claims”?

If you just read the headline and not the linked articles, you might have gotten the wrong impression.  Actually, even if you did read the article you may still have gotten it mixed up, but that’s not really your fault.

All three of those headlines, and a host of others, refer to a “study” published 10 February, 2014 in the science magazine Frontiers, titled Voluntary out-of-body-experience, an fMRI study.[1]  The story broke via a Popular Science Magazine article by Douglas Main, titled The Woman Who Can Will Herself Out Of Her Body.

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What is – and isn’t – AI?

The following is an excerpt from the book I’ve been working on for the better part of a year.  I may or may not finish it (as is both my prerogative and my style), but recent discussions elsewhere have prompted me to post this here, for the time being.

AI-lowres-300x285What it is:

Artificial Intelligence is a complicated topic, and as such the pursuit of Artificial Intelligence is equally complicated.  A complicated pursuit of complexity, one could say.  So what then is Artificial Intelligence?

It does us little good to provide a single definition, as there are many.

  1. The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
  2. An area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem like they have human intelligence.
  3. The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.

Or, from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence: “the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines.”

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I Live In Poverty. This isn’t a choice.

I live in poverty.  This isn’t a choice.  This isn’t where I thought I’d be when my 6th grade teacher asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I never imagined I’d be sitting here alone, wondering where my next meal might come from, feeling both gratitude and more shame than I knew was possible for the generous donation of $60 I received from a friend so that I could buy enough food for myself and my cats to last the rest of the month.

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If you make racist comments on my social media posts, I will treat you like a racist…because it is 2015.

Dramatic Musings

This has been a tough 24 hours in social media. In the same day our province made a commitment to admit and help re-settle 1500 immigrants and refugees, and there was a horrific terror attack in Paris. Many have argued that a humanitarian effort is worthwhile for the refugees who desperately need safe haven. They also find the commitment to be worthwhile as we are a declining, aging, under-educated province desperately in need of an influx of people. Unfortunately many do not agree.  The trouble seems to be that this particular group is brown and in many cases they follow the teachings of Islam. To compound the issue, the attack in Paris (and Beirut and Bhagdad this past few days by the way), perpetrated by the very people these refugees are seeking asylum from, has sensitized a certain demographic of people already suspicious of those who look different. The result…

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10 Answers A Creationist Doesn’t Want To Hear

[Originally posted on martinjclemens.com on February 18, 2011]

051111_darwin_portrait_02This afternoon I stumbled upon yet another poorly written creationist diatribe, touting a singular ability to refute the brilliant scientific minds of the last three centuries of enlightenment.  Every time I read one of these idiotic monologues, it strikes me that the author has less knowledge of the subject for which they treat than an infant does calculus.

Anyway, this particular piece issued a challenge, it requested that “evolutionists” review the 10 questions he or she had posted in the body of the article, which are supposed to be definitive proof that “evolution is stupid”.  And since I’m a huge supporter of remedial science for the illiterate, I thought I’d give it a go.  The questions are listed above my answers in order as they appear on Breaking The Presidium[1].

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