Association Between Obesity in Women’s and Suicide
I’ve looked at several studies on the relationship between overweight/obesity and suicide. The only conclusion I could come to was that there is an association between obesity and suicide risk for women but not for men. Makes sense; women have a hard time identifying as “Jolly Fat Ladies”.
I found a report from 2011 by three PhDs and two MDs titled WEIGHING THE EVIDENCE FOR AN ASSOCIATION BETWEEN OBESITY AND SUICIDE RISK. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to understand it. In their report, they said chronic illness is an important risk factor for suicidal behavior. Obesity is perhaps the most prevalent chronic disease at present. Although the contribution of obesity to fatal and near-fatal suicide is “controversial” several large population studies have shown that obesity is independently linked to an increased risk of suicide. However, this association has been challenged by reports demonstrating a paradoxical relationship to an increasing body mass index (BMI)—-(obesity) and suicide. They also said it has been suggested that bariatric surgery patients are at increased risk of death by suicide postoperatively. Bariatric Surgery; RYGB-gastric bypass LAGB-laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding SG-laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. SG costs more than LAGB so it might depend on your zip code which one you get.
“Controversial” or not it further warrants our concern for overweight/obesity and its relationship to our general wellbeing and mental health.
The Ed Sullivan Show is on ME TV every Sunday night; I record it and watch it at my convenience. The other night he had on The Mamas and The Papas. Mama Cass: I’d forgotten how beautiful her face and voice were. I only remembered that she had died tragically very young and very obese. Cass Elliot was 5’ 5” and 300 pounds at her heaviest. It also reminded me that I had once been in her home in Marin County California. No, I never met her; she had moved from that place and a friend of mine owned it at the time.
So I thought I’d take a look at her life’s story to see if her struggle with obesity had any connection to her mental health and her untimely and tragic death at the ripe old age of 32; not surprisingly there appears to have been. Ellen Naomi Cohen was born in 1941 to Russian Jewish immigrants; the family was poor until Papa started a business selling meals to workers from a lunch wagon. As a child and teenager, she was always very overweight, but she said she had such a high IQ (165) that “she had the mental and emotional tools to deal with it”. In high school, she took the name Cass Elliot, reportedly in honor of a friend who had died. Cass never finished high school, she left for New York to become an actress. She worked checking coats in a theater and then moved to Washington D.C. to attend college and at the age of 22 she joined a singing group called The Big Three. In 1965 at age 24 she got her big break; she got accepted into a singing group made up of a husband and wife; John and Michele Philips and a single guy named Denny Doherty. They called themselves The Mamas and The Papas. They were very successful musically but socially they failed miserably. It was a miracle that they lasted three years. Cass fell in love with Denny Doherty, but he was never in love with her; so, she was miserable. REJECTION Michele had an affair with Denny even though she was married to John. Cass was devastated and asked Michele “I don’t get it, you could have any man you wanted, why would you take mine?” Cass was very successful as a singer but a total failure at controlling her massive obesity. She told a reporter “It’s easy to find boyfriends, I just buy them a motorcycle, a leather suit and put them in acting school”. DENIAL? The group was so successful musically and financially that they stayed together for three years despite their “social problems”. Cass had such a beautiful singing voice that she was to have a fairly successful solo singing career. It was in 1974 at age 32 while she was doing solo concerts at the London Palladium that she died alone in her exclusive London apartment. She told friends that she had been vomiting for weeks, possibly part of her efforts to lose weight. At her largest she was nearly 300 pounds; a little heavy for a 5’ 5” girl. She had been known to alternate days fasting and eating. Yo Young? She canceled a TV appearance right before the broadcast. Then on July 28th she went to a cocktail party hosted by Mick Jagger, left early, and returned to the apartment she was renting in an exclusive section of London. The next day her body was found, and her agent started the rumor that she had died choking on a ham sandwich. He wanted to protect her reputation because he suspected an overdose; she had admitted to using heroin before.
An autopsy revealed that Mama Cass Elliot had died of heart failure and no drugs were found in her body. The ham sandwich hadn’t been touched but I guess the rumor swirled for a time. As I write this, I’m convinced that Cass was Bi-polar Manic Depressive; I’m very familiar with the disease, I lived with it for 15 years till I lost my beloved wife to heart failure due to the (necessary) use of heavy-duty psychotropic drugs. Hopefully, that will change shortly with psychedelic therapies.
Lessons learned from Cass Elliot’s tragic early death:
1. There is no healthy Obese. If you are massively overweight do something to help you lose weight permanently. Being overweight causes inflammation which increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and premature death.
2. To keep your heart strong and prevent heart failure everyone should have a heart-healthy exercise program; check with a pro.
3. Never take recreational drugs unless you are willing to risk premature death.
4. Since more than 40% of North Americans die of heart disease everyone should strive for an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Cass Elliot. September 19, 1941, July 29, 1974
Yo-Yo diets; Losing and gaining weight repeatedly can cause heart failure which means that your heart is too weak to pump blood through your body. Every time that you lose weight you lose muscle and fat. If you don’t exercise regularly every time you regain that weight you regain only fat. So, with Yo-Yo dieting, your heart muscle grows smaller and weaker until eventually, it grows too weak to pump enough oxygen to the brain. Then the person stops breathing and dies.
Obesity can kill by causing a heart attack, strokes, and diabetes. Your IMMUNE SYSTEM is supposed to be good for you for killing germs that attack your body. As soon as the germ is gone your immune system is supposed to ramp down until your next infection. Obesity can cause your immune system to stay active all the time; it uses the same cells and chemicals that kill germs to attack you; which is called INFLAMMATION. Inflammation can gouge holes in the inner linings of arteries to start plaque forming. When a plaque is knocked off it can bleed, clot, and cause a heart attack or stroke. Inflammation also prevents your liver from controlling your blood sugar level to cause diabetes. The bottom line is there is nothing good about Overweight or Obesity; it can kill or cause one to kill oneself. I saw enough of that in my years as a police officer; it isn’t pretty.
I want to borrow a little from Dr. Gary Small’s book “The Small Guide to Depression”. A few disturbing statistics: Nearly 8% of Americans age 12 years or older suffer from moderate to severe depression. The rate of developing depression at any point in life ranges from 20 to 25 % in women and 7 to 12% in men; about double ladies! Those numbers rise about 10% for people aged 40 to 59. Depression is the most common cause of suicidal thinking and behavior. For those aged 15 to 34 years suicide is the second most common cause of death. So, as I’ve said before, there is a definite connection between overweight/obesity and depression. Being overweight is something we can address but it’s not the only thing that causes depression as my friend Mr. Green can attest. Anyone suffering from moderate to severe depression should seek professional help; it’s dangerous and even life-threatening.
Remember our purpose is to educate and encourage. I’ve talked about the DEA, Schedule 1, etc. before. Here is an encouraging update. One of my favorite companies, CYBIN has been granted a Schedule1 manufacturing license by the US Department of Drug Enforcement Agency. The license would allow CYBIN to study, produce, analyze and work with Schedule1 controlled substances. Another company FILAMENT HEALTH is using 3 of its botanical drug candidates in a clinical trial. COMPASS PATHWAYS has launched a Phase 2 clinical trial to assess the efficacy of The Comp360 psilocybin therapy program for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The beat goes on for dramatic new (safe) therapies for mental disorders.
There’s Always Hope For Mental Illness.