Today it was reported that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide and the first reaction is sadness as we lose one of the best storytellers of our generation. And right away the news is abuzz about things like gun control, the rise in opioids, depression and a lack of federal mental health programs for adult suicide prevention. While all these things are important, what the mainstream media is NOT reporting on is the link between hormone-disrupting chemicals and depression, poor impulse control, behavior, and development. Hormone-disrupting chemicals have the ability to impact someone’s life in such a dramatic way, suicide is very possible. And why isn’t the media talking about this? Who knows? I have theories, but it’s not like I have a fly on the wall at the New York Times listening in. You’ve trusted Mamavation to cover topics like the potential impact of hormone-disrupting chemicals on your weight, the real healthcare costs associated with hormone-disrupting chemicals and what happened to one journalist who took on the pesticide industry, now join us as we explore the potential links between suicide and hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Suicide Rates in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control just issued a report this week that suicide rates have increased in nearly every state in the United States and half of those states have seen increases of over 30 percent. And the worst state, North Dakota, has seen an increase of almost 60 percent. Here are some of the stats pulled out of the report:
- There were 45,000 suicide deaths in 2016
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for adults
- The rise in suicide rates was highest in the central, northern region of the U.S.
- North Dakota saw a 57.6 percent increase since 1999
- Nevada was the only state that saw no increase
- Delaware saw the smallest increase which was 5.9 percent
- Guns were the most common method used for suicide
- 54 percent of the people who killed themselves didn’t have a previously known mental health issue
This is obviously an epidemic that needs more attention. The way we are looking at these trends and attempting to solve the problems people are having is not working. What else can be done? Well, that is exactly what we are exploring here.
How Hormones Operate Inside Your Body
Hormone-disrupting chemicals are chemicals that impact hormones within the body. Most of the time, these chemicals are synthetic in nature like pesticides or fire retardants, but there are some natural ingredients like lead that have a similar impact. The best resource to learn more about hormone-disrupting chemicals and see ALL the suspected ingredients you come into contact with are our friends at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). If you go to take a look you’ll find chemicals like bisphenols BPA & BPS found in plastics & thermal receipt paper, nonstick chemicals found in your pots and pans, pesticides, water repellant chemicals found in your furniture and food packaging, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in processed foods, artificial dyes & preservatives, phthalates found in “fragrance” in your personal care products, among other things.
Most people think of hormones as sexual in nature, but they are so much more than that. Your hormones basically work as air traffic control telling other parts of your body how to work. They send messages through the body by traveling on a train of receptors in and on top of different cells. A disruption in normal hormone function can happen at teeny tiny levels, especially to babies in utero, at concentrations comparable to one drop in 20 Olympic sized pools. And when that happens it impacts metabolism, reproduction & sexual development, production of insulin & utilization of glucose, neurodevelopment, cognition, intelligence, behavior, development, sleep patterns & blood pressure. Basically, almost everything is impacted by your hormones so they are important to take care of.
Links to Depression, Impulse Control & Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals
Hormone-disrupting chemicals are linked to all sorts of health problems you don’t want to have like depression, anxiety, infertility, weight gain, heart defects, early puberty, diabetes, complications during IVF treatments, organic damage, breast and prostate cancers. But when it comes to symptoms that can impact suicide, we are looking at depression, impulse control and decreased levels of dopamine in the brain as precursors to a potential suicide attempt. There are other things that can affect depression like gut health, but we will explore that in other posts. But note that endocrine disrupting chemicals can also affect the health of your gut. So there’s that.
Bisphenol A(BPA)—BPA is found in plastic bottles, plastic kitchen appliances, and thermal receipt paper. In numerous independent studies, rats exposed prepubertally to BPA had increased hyperactivity, decreased impulse control, decreased habituation, and decreased dopamine function in the brain.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)— PAH are found in polluted air and created by burning fossil fuels. Exposure in pregnant mothers was associated with internalizing behaviors (i.e., anxiety, depression) and attention problems in 4-7 year old children.
Phthalates—Phthalates are found in “fragrance” from personal care & cleaning products and plastics. Prenatal phthalate exposure was associated with increased ADHD behaviors (e.g., aggression, attention problems, conduct problems, depression, and externalizing behaviors) in children 4-9 years old.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—PCBs are found in modern kitchen cabinets, animal fat, industrial dirt, etc. Children exposed prenatally and early postnatally (i.e., 4 months old) to PCBs had increased impulsivity, depression, hyperactivity, inattention, decreased concentration, increased errors of omission, poorer working memory, and increased diagnosis and symptoms of ADHD.
Organic Solvents—Organic solvents are commonly used as cleaning solutions, paint thinners, adhesives and insecticides. Children whose mothers were occupationally exposed to organic solvents during pregnancy had increased hyperactive behaviors, impulsivity, and internalizing and externalizing behaviors at 3-9 years of age.
Why Isn’t This Being Covered By the Mainstream Media?
A report was just published by the Journal of Public Health Policy with some insights as to why the mainstream media doesn’t cover the chemical industry as they should. Court-released discovery documents released from the Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIA) between Monsanto, who produces the most popular herbicide in the world called Roundup, and regulatory agencies and public universities found evidence of interest to the public. These emails are of public interest because it paints the picture of who is quoted in journalistic stories and relied on for background information on scientific issues surrounding chemicals. The study found striking evidence of corporate malfeasance & undisclosed conflicts of interest with respect to issues surrounding scientific integrity. Basically what they found was evidence of Monsanto ghostwriting papers and statements that were submitted to the media, interference in journal publication, and undue influence of federal regulatory agencies. In other words, these “independent” sources aren’t as independent as they are saying. They actually have a vested interest in chemical companies being reported in a positive way. I’m sure most of you felt like this was happening, but now there is proof of this happening and that doesn’t bode well for faith in the mainstream media’s coverage about synthetic chemicals like glyphosate and other hormone-disrupting chemicals. It’s probably safe to assume this is happening not only in the pesticide industry but other industries as well.
Use of Anti-Depressants & Other Pharmaceutical Medication
If you are depressed and feel like you need to take anti-depressants, I’m very supportive of that. Some of you may be surprised, but hear me out. This generation of humans has never dealt with the amount of endocrine disrupting chemicals in their environment before…EVAH. These chemicals are obviously impacting us in ways that were never expected. And until we clear up our environment so that we are not impacted at a hormonal level, anti-depressants are going to be needed by people to maintain balance.
So please stop shaming people when they decide to get help. It’s cruel and unneeded and frankly makes the wellness industry look like a bunch of assholes. I’m not going to shame you for your use of anti-depressants. I understand they could potentially be saving your life. I’ve had several family members on anti-depressants and have seen the very positive impact they can have. There are side effects as well to be aware of, but overall without giving love to the pharmaceutical industry (which I mostly can’t stand) this particular drug I find of great value in the modern world.
Natural Methods of Fighting Depression & Anxiety
If you are looking for natural means before you start prescription medication, there are lots of options. Most depression is situational, so it’s very possible it will pass with time and some focus on other methods. But I just wanted to preface this paragraph with an understanding that these options are NOT created to shame you if you are on anti-depressants. But these are methods that I’ve implemented in my own life that I’ve found are very successful if you are not clinically depressed.
- Curbing the amount of hormone-disrupting chemical in your environment
- Earthing and spending more time in nature
- Getting more activity
- Gut health improvement
- Spending more time with people who make you happy
- Checking for food allergies and sensitivities
- Meditation and prayer
- Cutting down on the things that bring you bad stress like toxic people or too much responsibility
How to Help Someone You Love
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says that people need to learn the warning signs of suicide in order to help people who are at risk. One resource is the website: www.BeThe1to.com. To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). So here are the steps from Bethe1to.com that can help save a life:
Step One: Ask
Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. In fact, studies suggest the opposite: findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
Step Two: Keep Them Safe
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes that reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal means (or chosen method for a suicide attempt) is an important part of suicide prevention. A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline. Research also shows that “method substitution” or choosing an alternate method when the original method is restricted, frequently does not happen. The myth “If someone really wants to kill themselves, they’ll find a way to do it” often does not hold true if appropriate safety measures are put into place. The Keep Them Safe step is really about showing support for someone during the times when they have thoughts of suicide by putting time and distance between the person and their chosen method, especially methods that have shown higher lethality (like firearms and medications).
Step Three: Be There
Being there for someone with thoughts of suicide is life-saving. Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting their isolation (both in the short and long-term) has shown to be a protective factor against suicide. Thomas Joiner’s Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide highlights connectedness as one of its main components – specifically, a low sense of belonging. When someone experiences this state, paired with perceived burdensomeness (arguably tied to “connectedness” through isolating behaviors and lack of a sense of purpose) and acquired capability (a lowered fear of death and habituated experiences of violence), their risk can become severely elevated.
Step Four: Help Them Connect
Helping someone with thoughts of suicide connect with ongoing supports (like the Lifeline, 800-273-8255) can help them establish a safety net for those moments they find themselves in a crisis. Additional components of a safety net might be connecting them with supports and resources in their communities. Impact of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline found that individuals that called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful by the end of calls handled by Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training-trained counselors. These improvements were linked to ASIST-related counselor interventions, including listening without judgment, exploring reasons for living and creating a network of support.
Step Five: Follow Up
After your initial contact with a person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and after you’ve connected them with the immediate support systems they need, make sure to follow-up with them to see how they’re doing. Leave a message, send a text, or give them a call. Studies have shown a reduction in the number of deaths by suicide when following up was involved with high-risk populations after they are discharged from acute care services. Studies have also shown that brief, low cost intervention and supportive, ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention.
How Do I Remove the Hormone Disrupting Chemicals In My Home?
For more information on how to lessen the amount of hormone-disrupting chemicals you have in your home, pick up a copy of Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!). This book helps you detox your home step-by-step while laughing all the way. Less hormone-disrupting chemicals inside your home is a step you can take to safeguard your family. And to stay up to date on our tips and tricks, product investigations and news sign up for our FREE newsletter here.