Beliefs About Suicide Acceptability in the United States: How Do They Affect Suicide Mortality?

Beliefs About Suicide Acceptability in the United States: How Do They Affect Suicide Mortality?

The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, gbx153,
25 January 2018
Article history



Societies develop cultural scripts to understand suicide and define conditions under which the act is acceptable. Prior empirical work suggests that such attitudes are important in understanding some forms of suicidal behavior among adolescents and high-risk populations. This study examines whether expressions of suicide acceptability under different circumstances are predictive of subsequent death by suicide in the general U.S. adult population and whether the effects differ over the life course.



The study uses 1978–2010 General Social Survey data linked to the National Death Index through 2014 (n = 31,838). Cox survival models identify risk factors for suicide mortality, including attitudinal and cohort effects.



Expressions of suicide acceptability are predictive of subsequent death by suicide—in some cases associated with a twofold increase in risk. Attitudes elevate the suicide hazard among older (>55 years) adults but not among younger (ages 33–54) adults. Fully-adjusted models reveal that the effects of attitudes toward suicide acceptability on suicide mortality are strongest for social circumstances (family dishonor; bankruptcy).



Results point to the role of cultural factors and social attitudes in suicide. There may be utility in measuring attitudes in assessments of suicide risk.

Oxytocin and Social Norms Reduce Xenophobia

Oxytocin and Social Norms Reduce Xenophobia

Summary: Researchers report social norms together with increasing oxytocin can counter xenophobia by enhancing altruistic behaviors.

Source: University of Bonn.

Researchers from the University Hospital Bonn increased altruistic behavior, even in those with a fear of foreigners.

We tend to be more altruistic to our own family and friends than to perfect strangers. The recent migration of Middle Eastern refugees into European societies has further magnified the issue, with a large divide in society between people who do and do not support the refugees. “This is partly due to evolution: Only through solidarity and cooperation within one’s own group was it possible to raise children and survive when competing against unknown and rivaling groups for scarce resources in pre-civilized times,” explains Prof. Rene Hurlemann from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn Medical Center. However, this is diametrically opposed to the parable of the Good Samaritan, which serves as an example of selfless altruism by describing a Samaritan who incurs personal costs to help a stranger in need. “From a neurobiological perspective, the basis of xenophobia and altruism is not yet precisely understood,” says Hurlemann.

Under the psychiatrist’s supervision, a team of researchers at the University of Bonn, the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa (USA), and the University of Lübeck conducted three experiments in which they tested a total of 183 subjects, who were all German natives. In the Laboratory for Experimental Economics (BonnEconLab) at the University of Bonn, they completed a donation task on a computer. The donation task included 50 authentic case vignettes describing the personal needs of poor people, 25 of which were portrayed as local people in need, while the other 25 people were portrayed as refugees.

With an endowment of 50 euros, the participants could decide for each individual case whether they wanted to donate a sum between zero and one euro. The test subjects were allowed to keep any money that was not donated. “We were surprised that the participants in the first experiment donated around 20 percent more to refugees than to local people in need,” says Nina Marsh from Prof. Hurlemann’s team.

Questionnaire on attitude towards migrants

In another independent experiment involving over 100 participants, the subjects’ personal attitudes towards refugees were assessed in a questionnaire. Then half of the group received the bonding hormone oxytocin via a nasal spray, while the other half of the group received a placebo before they were exposed to the donation task established in the first experiment: again the participants decided how much of their 50 euros they wanted to donate to locals or refugees.

Image shows a stick and ball model of oxytocin.

Under the influence of oxytocin, the individuals who tended to show a positive attitude towards refugees doubled their donations to both the locals and the refugees. However, oxytocin had no effect in individuals who expressed a rather defensive attitude towards migrants: In those participants, the tendency to donate was very low to locals and refugees alike. “Oxytocin clearly increases generosity towards those in need, however, if this altruistic fundamental attitude is missing, the hormone alone cannot create it,” says Hurlemann.

Oxytocin in combination with social norms decreases xenophobia

How can people who tend to have a xenophobic attitude be motivated to be more altruistic? The researchers assumed that the addition of social norms could be a starting point. In a third experiment, they thus presented the participants with the average donation their peers made in the first experiment under each case vignette. Half of the participants once again received oxytocin. The result was astounding. “Now, even people with negative attitudes towards migrants donated up to 74 percent more to refugees than in the previous round,” reports Nina Marsh. Through the combined administration of oxytocin with a social norm, the donations for refugees in those skeptical towards migrants nearly reached half of the sums donated by the group, which showed a positive attitude towards refugees.

What conclusions can be drawn from these results? It appears that pairing oxytocin with a social norm can help counter the effects of xenophobia by enhancing altruistic behavior toward refugees. “The combined enhancement of oxytocin and peer influence could diminish selfish motives,” says Hurlemann. If people whom we trust, such as supervisors, neighbors or friends, act as a role model by making public their positive attitude towards refugees, more people would probably feel motivated to help. In such a prosocial context, oxytocin could increase trust and minimize anxiety – experience shows that the oxytocin level in the blood increases during social interaction and shared activities. “Given the right circumstances, oxytocin may help promote the acceptance and integration of migrants into Western cultures,” says Hurlemann.


Source: René Hurlemann – University of Bonn
Image Source: image is in the public domain.
Original Research: The study will appear in PNAS.

University of Bonn “Oxytocin and Social Norms Reduce Xenophobia.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 14 August 2017.

Our children are not our possession, they are entrusted to us to care for

Our children are not our possession, they are entrusted to us to care for until they can independently live in this world, ready with their college degrees or creative passions.

We model our good behavior to our children or God’s children and it is our honor when they grew up as responsible citizens, loving and caring other human beings.  We are temporary caretakers of our children and we do not own or possess them. They are children of God and not our own. We are tasked to take care of them until they can take care of themselves.

Religion is a place to worship and not to limit us in the way we love or treat others. Positive cultural practices are followed and negative , dehumanized cultural norms are not followed as we are human beings, with free will and love.

I am sad of some honor killings in Pakistan. Let the future children believe that this world is filled with human love, not limited by cultural practices without love and compassion and not limited by religion that judges one because of abortion, marrying another without parental permission and so on.

I am sad that there is no family planning in the Philippines. A household of 6 siblings and the father and mother have no jobs. The children has to labor to put food on the table. And the older children dependent on their parents for everything. I am sad there is not enough jobs in the Philippines and not everyone can survive without help from other family members or relatives, college education is not free and other misfortunes.

I am positive that the future is bright if we have love in our hearts and passion to fulfill our dreams, to finish college and to find a better job.

I am hopeful for the USA without Trump or with Trump but still hoping that US politicians will put the people’s issues first and not their own.


My grandma says so

I grew up in the beautiful island of Marinduque , central part of the Philippine Islands. My grandma Claudia walked with me to the clear water in the white sand beach to clean my body as the sea water is healing. It took many hours of long bus ride.
She would massage my forehead if I am feeling nauseous.
And so, she reminded me of the many things about my body, my health and other cultural practices listed below. They all reminded me of her, from her healing hands and admonitions.
My grandmother has this funny and bizarre collection of health ideas that I do not know whether some of it is true – but I’m sure most of it are just local absurdities. Maybe it is because of information deficiency and the belief in albularyo or local quack doctor.


These health beliefs always remind me what it was like to grow up in the province, fascinated and horrified by the adult world. Right now, it is really reassuring that the things I used to believe weren’t so strange after all because I discovered that, somehow, most provinces across the Philippines, and even other countries, also have their own or same health legends. And the most common – sleeping with wet hair can cause blindness.

Then again, even communities in Metro Manila and other cities, especially urban poor communities, still believe on these health legends. Although city people have access to electricity and the mass media, much of their health information can be misleading inaccurate or distorted.These beliefs are really amusing so I take time on finding little facts about it by doing a little research to satisfy my itchy curiosity. I’m not an expert in medicine and my notes are still subject to medical scrutiny.Here are some of the popular health-beliefs in our town in Mindoroand my personal notes:  
1. Sleeping with wet hair can cause blindness – In our province, it is said that if you sleep with wet hair, first you will be cross-eyed, then you will go blind. Meaning, if you happen to wake up in the middle of your sleep with your wet hair, you will only be crossed eyed – and you know what, you are considered lucky — because if you sleep longer you will be blind.

  • My Notes: According to John C Hagan III, MD, an Ophthalmologist affiliated with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, that belief is totally untrue. There is no connection what-so-ever between wet hair and eye problems. Why would you want to sleep with wet hair anyway? 

2. Urine of frogs causes warts or kulugo – Kokak Kokak! No way. I love playing with frogs when I was a kid, what I got are bruises from chasing them – not warts.

  • My Notes: The cause of the typical wart is not a frog. It happens because the wart virus finds a body with a weak immune system.

3. Eating too much magoes can cause bungang-araw or prickly heat rashes – I’m not really sure about this one. What I personally experience is that I got itchy lips and throat when I accidentally ate a portion of thatpico mango fruit rind. Despite the fact that mango can be allergic to a few people, it is still a healthy fruit and I cannot help myself eating this fruit – especially those overripe big kinalabaw mangoes, hmm yummy.

  • My Notes: Well, the problem is that mango tree sap, and the rind of the fruit, contains urushiol, the same chemical the poison ivy plant produces. Some people experience skin rashes especially in the lips upon contact with the sap or the skins of the fruit. Well, you can’t be that hungry that you want to eat even the mango skin – that’s reserved for the backyard pigs you know.    

4. Eating grilled lizard can cure asthma – The usual practice is to grill a lizard until it turned to charcoal black, grind it then mix it to some juice or coffee so you can’t taste what a lizard really taste like. Others just add a whole lizard when cooking rice. Yaikks! 

  • My Notes: Some experts say that asthma can not be cured. Of course eating lizard is not based on a prescription or medical advice, but at least they believe in alternative medicine. We just really don’t know its medicinal effects though. In the meantime, I suggest we should require all lizards to have them labeled with “No approved therapeutic claims.” – until such time that a proper study was conducted. Any objections, Godzilla? 

5. Washing hands after ironing clothes can cause pasma – Pasmarefers to a folk illness unique to the Filipino culture with symptoms of hand tremors, sweaty palms, numbness and pains attributed to an interaction of “init” (heat) and “lamig” (cold).

A rather amusing variation on this belief is the idea that condoms cause “pasma” allegedly because the rubber aggravates the body’s heat. Ha ha ha, Maybe an impotent Catholic priest, who is fighting against contraceptives and the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, started this rumor.LOL  
  • My NotesPasma is not described in medical textbooks, discussed in medical schools, or generally recognized by contemporary medical science.

6. A lady eating twin bananas will give birth to twins – Eating twin fruits like double almonds and bananas were thought to increase the likelihood of twins.

  • My Notes: None – I don’t bother googling this one, because obviously, this is ridiculous. Just consult your local manghihilot to explain this to you in detail or perhaps try visiting the psychic readers in Quiapo if you want more information.

7. Brushing hair 100 times before bedtime can make it softer and shiny – This is the old tale, which claims that brushing your hair a lot, 100 to 200 strokes a day, is good for the hair.

  • My Notes: According to the basic hair care article posted in Mercury Drug Website, we have about 100,000 strands of hairs on our head. Each grows for two to six years. It’s normal to shed some 50 to 100 hair strands a day. When hair falls out, a new strand eventually replaces it.
  • Their Advise: Don’t put strain on your hair strands by brushing too much or too vigorously. The story about brushing your hair 100 times a night is not true. Overbrushing the hair simply makes it brittle and may cause the scalp to produce excess oil.

8. Eating ants can improve singing – So finally, Celine Dion and Charice Pempemco’s secret is finally out. Sautéed ants are behind their angelic singing voice? Well, if it’s true, Willie Revillame and Paris Hilton should’ve done that two decades ago so that they wouldn’t have to be a trying hard singer.

  • My Notes: Maybe an old lunatic singer, during one of her epileptic seizures, started sharing her secret about eating ants to improve her voice, her die-hard fans heard her – and from there, the legend goes. Z and Princess Bala will not love this.

9. Drinking seawater can cure cough/colds – In our province inMindoro, whenever we got cough, my mother will let us have our sea swimming early in the morning and would encourage us to take a gulp of seawater to cure our cough. Of course seawater in our small town is really clear and clean unlike the yukkiiee toxic Manila Bay.

But wait, based on my fact finding spree, this one, which I thought was also an absurd belief is amazingly has some truth in it. Well at least I found out that not all beliefs in my list are just absurdities.

  • My Notes: According to a Czech research [Efficacy of Isotonic Nasal Wash (Seawater) in the Treatment and Prevention of Rhinitis in Children], seawater spray cures kids colds. It may be that the salt water has a simple mechanical effect of clearing mucus, or it could be that trace elements in the water play some more significant role, though the exact reason why such a solution works is not known, said Dr. Ivo Slapak and colleagues at the Teaching Hospital of Brno in the Czech Republic.

I’m sure you also know of some health myths – like jumping on New Year’s eve to make you taller?

Hmmm, what else…
Please share what you have in mind in the comments section below.  


Sources: Retrieved 16 April 2010 by YODZ INSIGNE

» Hagan, John C. III, MD, “Eye Care” 
»Tichenal Allan, Dobbs Joannie “How to Avoid Mangoes Itch
»Suvamita Ghosh Mango Allergy
»Tan, Michael. Philippine Daily Inquirer Pasma
»Conlon, Michael Seawater spray cures kids colds-Czech researchers Jan 21 (Reuters)
»Ivo Slapak et. al., Efficacy of Isotonic Nasal Wash (Seawater) in the Treatment and Prevention of Rhinitis in Children

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