Ottawa, Canada (CNN)
A Canadian teenager, who was allegedly gang-raped and bullied, has died, her family said.
Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, was hospitalized after she tried to hang herself Thursday. The high school student from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was taken off life support Sunday.
The teen was bullied for more than a year after the alleged sexual assault in November 2011 when she was 15, her family said.
In addition to the sexual assault, a photo taken during the incident was circulated to friends via text and online, and she developed suicidal thoughts as a result, according to her family.
A suicide bomber has detonated an explosive at a military base in Mogadishu, killing himself and four others but failing to enter the compound, officials and witnesses said.
“The suicide bomber tried to enter the compound but guards stopped him, when he then detonated his bomb, killing three people on the spot including himself,” Farah Barre, a government security official, said on Wednesday.
Wikipedia: The capital and largest city of Somalia, on the Indian Ocean. →
The Millard South High student who shot his principal and an assistant principal Wednesday and then killed himself posted a farewell message on Facebook.
Robert Butler Jr., 17, was found dead in a car from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at about 1:30 p.m.
About 40 minutes earlier, he shot Principal Curtis Case and Assistant Principal Vicki Kaspar inside the school. He did not shoot any students.
Case was listed early this evening in serious but stable condition at Creighton University Medical Center.
Kaspar was in critical condition at Creighton.
Omaha, NE- Two people have been shot inside Millard South High School.
Police say the suspect, Robert Butler, Jr., who was a student at the school, was found dead in a car about two miles from the school.
Butler, the son of an Omaha police officer, is believed to have used his dad’s gun in the shootings.
There are reports that Butler, Jr., was wearing a bullet-proof vest during the shooting.
Calls to 911 from the school indicate that 4-5 shots had been fired inside the school office. Two people were taken from the school with two gunshot wounds.
Millard South High School is releasing classrooms one at a time.
Students are receiving counseling before being released to their parents at Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church on Q Street just west of the school.
Students will not be allowed to go to their personal vehicles at this time.
It is incomprehensibly sad and disheartening to see anger and frustration carried out in such a violent way. Too often people fail to process the elements of their lives and account for alternative methods to defuse their anger. Whether it is therapy, medication, Buddhism, violence is a tragic nonsensical byproduct of anger.
I wish the best for the victims and their families.
A female suicide bomber has killed at least 43 people in an attack on a large crowd receiving aid in north-west Pakistan, officials say.
The blast took place in the town of Khar in the Bajaur region, in tribal areas close to the Afghan border – a Taliban and al-Qaeda stronghold.
People displaced by fighting had been getting food at a distribution centre.
Reports say at least another 100 people were injured and there are fears the death toll could rise.
Suicide attackers have targeted Afghan military bases in two cities, leaving 13 members of the security forces dead, along with at least five assailants.
Depressed Americans may not be getting needed care http://on.msnbc.com/eUpd7j
One family’s terrifying medical mystery could represent the military’s next big crisis.by Andrew BastNovember 08, 2010Video muted: click volume for sound Standing By Her Man Brooke Brown, the wife of Marine Lance Cpl. David Brown, explains how her life changed after her young husband returned home from Iraq with mild Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD.
The worst was the day Brooke Brown came home to find her husband with a shotgun in his mouth. But there had been plenty of bad days before that: after he returned from a deployment in Iraq, Lance Cpl. David Brown would start shaking in crowded places. Sitting down for a family meal had become nearly impossible: in restaurants he’d frantically search for the quickest exit route. He couldn’t concentrate; he couldn’t do his job. The Marine Corps placed him on leave prior to discharging him. Brooke quit her job to care for him and the children. The bills piled up.
It sounds like another troubling story of a war vet struggling with PTSD. But Brown’s case is more complicated. In addition to the anxiety, he suffered a succession of mild seizures until a devastating grand mal episode sent him to the hospital covered in his own blood, vomit, and excrement. There were also vision problems and excruciating headaches that had plagued him since he’d been knocked to the ground by a series of mortar blasts in Fallujah four years earlier.Maya Alleruzzo� / AP for Newsweek.comPHOTOS: Four wounded warriors share their tales of dedication and anguish, valor and intense personal victory
Brown, now 23, didn’t have any visible injuries, but clearly the man who left for Iraq was not the same man who returned. “Our middle son clings to David; he knows something is wrong,” Brooke, 22, explained late this summer. “Our 4-year-old doesn’t know what caused it, but he knows Daddy’s sick and he needs help.”
But what kind of help does Corporal Brown need? His case perplexed civilian doctors and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The headaches and seizures suggest that he is suffering from the aftereffects of an undiagnosed concussion—or, in the current jargon, mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). But some of his symptoms seem consistent with a psychological condition, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Or could it be both—and if so, are they reinforcing one another in some kind of vicious cycle? The person who knows David better than anyone, his wife, thinks it was hardly a coincidence that one of his worst seizures came on the day last year that his best friend was deployed with the Second Battalion, Eighth Marines, as part of President Obama’s surge into Afghanistan.
David Brown’s symptoms have placed him at the vanguard of military medicine, where doctors, officials, and politicians are puzzling out the connection between head injuries and PTSD, and the role each plays in both physical and psychological post-combat illness.
The military reports that 144,453 service members have suffered battlefield concussions in the last decade; a study out of Fort Carson argues that that number misses at least 40 percent of cases. By definition, a concussion is a shaking of the brain that results from a blow to the head. Typical symptoms include headache, memory loss, and general confusion. For decades, head injuries were a challenge mainly for civilian doctors, who studied the results of auto accidents and football injuries. The best treatment, it was generally thought, was rest and time. And in the great majority of these civilian cases, the brain heals by itself in as little as a week.
Concussions sustained on the battlefield are another matter, and a vexing one. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, symptoms such as vision, memory, and speech problems, dizziness, depression, and anxiety last far longer in men and women returning from combat. Why? Doctors suspect that the high-stress combat environment stifles the kind of recovery that would normally occur. More often than not, those unlucky enough to suffer a concussion in Afghanistan, or especially in Iraq, do so in stifling heat, “which can make the effects of a concussion worse,” says David Hovda, director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. Then there’s the question of reinjury before full recovery. If an injured fighter reports symptoms that match the concussion watch list, he or she is pulled from action for 24 hours. (There’s currently no test for a concussion besides self-diagnosis, though the military is actively pursuing biomarker tests that could be done on site.) But in a macho military culture, admitting unseen symptoms that can take you out of the action doesn’t happen as often as it should. “If you ain’t bleeding, you ain’t hurt,” says Brooke of the military culture around head injuries.
Blood or not, evidence is mounting that battlefield concussions from these two long-running wars could result in decades of serious and expensive health-care issues for a significant number of veterans. After all, TBI is a relatively new problem of modern warfare. Thanks to technological advances, warriors are surviving what once would have been fatal blasts–but the long-term consequences of the impact are still unknown. Two years ago, the RAND Corporation published a comprehensive study, “The Invisible Wounds of War,” which highlighted brain injuries as a massive, and little-understood, mental-health issue for returning combat veterans. This summer the nonprofit journalism site ProPublica chronicled challenges in diagnosis of head trauma and breakdowns in care within the military medical system. Around the same time, the Senate Armed Services Committee called the brass from each of the military branches and the Department of Veterans Affairs to testify on the topic, and at the hearing senators expressed concern that head trauma may be a factor in service-member suicide.
The military’s concerns have arisen during something of a boom in concussion research in civilian institutions, and new research in sustained head trauma in athletes shows that repeated concussions can lead to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This disorder, which can present 10 to 15 years after the initial trauma, is linked to depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as Parkinson’s, dementia, and even a devastating neurological condition resembling Lou Gehrig’s disease. Another study found that those who abused drugs and alcohol after a TBI had drastically increased rates of suicide attempts.
Suicide is a serious threat to the military: an August 2010 report by the Department of Defense showed that the military suicide rate comes to one death every 36 hours. In the past, suicide has been associated with PTSD—an issue armed forces across the world have been struggling with for years. “Nostalgia” afflicted Napoleon’s troops fighting his endless campaigns far from home. “Traumatic neurosis” and “shell shock” overcame British troops in the trenches of World War I. Col. John Bradley, head of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, describes today’s PTSD as the inability to dial back on the instincts necessary for survival in combat even long after one is out of danger. “If you go back to your family and you still feel like you’re in mortal danger, that creates a problem,” says Bradley. A common estimate inside the military is that 20 percent of veterans in combat experience symptoms of posttraumatic stress. Some 2.1 million service members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan—implying more than 400,000 potential cases.
Connecting the Dots
But in Iraq and Afghanistan, the symptoms of PTSD are often complicated by TBI—a condition seen as a consequence of the fact that, thanks to better battlefield technology and medical care, more soldiers are surviving blasts that proved deadly in previous wars. Figuring out what’s caused by PTSD and what’s the result of a head injury isn’t easy, especially since the symptoms of TBI overlap with those of PTSD. “You may have been injured, may have lost a buddy during an attack,” says Bradley. “Traumatic brain injury has both a physical and psychological component, and so does PTSD.” After a concussion, one is almost certain to have headaches, but headaches are also common among people with a mental-health disorder. Concussions cause trouble sleeping—and so can PTSD. Difficulty concentrating is common to both. “It’s very difficult to determine if it’s a psychological problem or the results of an organic brain injury,” says Terry Schell, a behavioral scientist at RAND.Maya Alleruzzo� / AP for Newsweek.comPHOTOS: Four wounded warriors share their tales of dedication and anguish, valor and intense personal victory
Scientists are just starting to understand if and how the two are connected. It’s been shown in animal models that a head trauma can make one more susceptible to PTSD. “Minor traumatic brain injury does not necessarily cause PTSD, but it puts the brain in a biochemical and metabolic state that enhances the chances of acquiring posttraumatic stress disorder,” says UCLA’s Hovda, who is part of a civilian task force of doctors and scientists commissioned by the military to assess how PTSD and TBI affect troops. They’ll meet in December to discuss whether troops suffering from both should receive special medical treatment. Hovda also played a key role in the development of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a military medical facility in Bethesda, Md., devoted to the care of returning vets who suffer from PTSD and/or head trauma. “When they get to Bethesda, or get home, a lot of times individuals will be suffering from symptoms related to these multiple concussions,” he says. “They don’t understand that it’s related to a brain injury, and they become very depressed and confused.”
Murray Stein, a neurologist at the University of California, San Diego, is leading a consortium of doctors and specialists through several clinical trials investigating the long-term effects of concussions mixed with high-stress situations. Stein suspects there’s more to the long-term effects of battlefield brain injuries than we now understand. “Right now it’s extremely controversial,” he says. “It’s simply too simplistic to suggest [TBI] and emotional symptoms can’t be linked.”
There’s not a lot research as of yet. Early on in the Iraq War, Col. Charles Hoge, then the director of mental-health research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, surveyed some 2,700 soldiers about battlefield concussions and PTSD, as well as the extent of their injuries and the state of their current mental and physical health (relying on self-reported measures like days of work missed). In 2008, The New England Journal of Medicine published Hoge’s findings: battlefield concussions existed, perhaps in significant numbers, but “cognitive problems, rage, sleep disturbance, fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms” that had become commonplace among service members back home resulted almost entirely from PTSD. Hoge argued that attributing postcombat symptoms to the effect of concussions, which “usually resolve rapidly,” could lead to a large number of military personnel receiving treatment for the wrong problem—treatment that could actually make things worse for the patient and put undue strain on the health-care system.
In an interview with NEWSWEEK, Hoge agreed that there was a connection between the two conditions. “PTSD and battlefield concussions are interrelated, and they have to be treated as such,” he said. But he’s also standing by his findings that one should not be confused for the other. In his new book, Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior, published earlier this year as a mental-health handbook for veterans and their families, Hoge reiterates that “concussions/TBIs have also become entangled and confused with PTSD.” Battlefield concussions, he writes, are best diagnosed at the time of injury, and the more time that elapses, the more difficult it becomes to link symptoms to the incident.
That much is true: with shoddy records of brain injuries from the early parts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many veterans who could be afflicted by the long-term effects of battlefield concussions will have little—if any—documentation to rely on in their claims for disability benefits. And as evidenced by Lance Cpl. David Brown, in some cases those men and women could require a significant amount of ongoing care.
The Path Ahead
There’s another, unsettling reality, of course: that PTSD and TBI are far from the only culprits for Brown’s mystery symptoms. “Headaches are almost useless as a diagnostic,” says Barry Willer, professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo and an expert on concussions. He notes that headaches present for a large number of illnesses. And depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping? Those are often the result of living with an unexplainable illness. In reality, the troops are coming home with myriad medical issues, some new, like TBI; some, like PTSD, as old as war itself; and some a hybrid of the two. The question is whether we have the tools and treatments to figure out which is which.
Brown finally found some respite thanks to Tim Maxwell, a fellow Marine, who was pierced in the skull with shrapnel in Iraq and later lost his leg to mortar fire. Maxwell has established a quiet network of wounded warriors and maintains a Web site on the topic, SemperMax. Earlier this year, he got wind of Brown’s struggle and helped get him back into the Marines and into the TBI ward at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. Today, Brown’s back at Camp Lejeune, readmitted to the Marines and working to get medically retired. “I spend most of my time over at the wounded-warrior tent doing rehab,” he says. He’s taking Topamax, a drug usually prescribed to epileptics to stave off seizures, and it seems to be effective, despite the side effects. “He’s lost his speech for 30 minutes a couple of times,” Brooke says, but he hasn’t had any more grand mal seizures. His wife is fighting for him at every turn. “I’m going to stand by my man,” she said in August, and then stiffened her spine. “He stood for me over in Iraq. The least I can do is stand by him now.”
Head injuries causing concern among football playersBy Jonathan Mann, CNNSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
- American football is a passion but the tackles are causing injuries
- Concussions are becoming more common after on-field clashes
- Neurologists are being called in to check players after head collisions
- Fines for fouls increased but fans won’t want clash tackles to disappear
“Our Mann in America” is a weekly column discussing the big talking points in the U.S. for an international audience. Jonathan Mann is an anchor for CNN International and the host of Political Mann.
(CNN) — The spectacle of big bodies crashing with brutal force has helped make American Football a billion-dollar industry and the country’s favorite sport. But the game is changing because its players are being crippled with the whole country watching.
“We do love the big hits,” football injury expert Chris Nowinksi told me this week. But, he said “we can’t have (former) players all coming down with dementia because we thought it was fun to see them knocked out.”
This past weekend, several particularly startling and dangerous collisions broadcast live on television suddenly reminded the country what happens when grown men get paid millions of dollars to grind each other into the ground.
Fans don’t normally dwell on that aspect of the action. An American football field is a place of choreography and chaos, astonishingly agile running and players who pluck seemingly impossible passes out of the air.
Americans watch football on the country’s biggest religious and civic holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years. They make its annual championship, the Super Bowl, the highest-rated program on TV. The world may think of baseball as the quintessentially American sport, but pollsters say this country prefers football by a margin of four to one.
And the U.S. isn’t just feeding itself football, it’s gorging on the game. During the season that stretches from early autumn to winter, it’s all weekend and more. Every community in the country draws crowds with Friday-night high-school games. College teams play to sold-out stadiums and massive TV audiences on Saturday. The big professional games follow on Sunday and Monday.
It’s beyond sport; it’s culture. A song celebrating its formative role in the lives of America’s young men, “the Boys of Fall,” is one of the top hits right now on ‘country’ radio stations nationwide.
The song’s lyrics fondly praise ‘knocking heads’ as part of the fun. In fact, it’s football’s biggest problem.
The hulking, exaggerated profile of most uniformed American football players demonstrates just how heavily protected they need to be. Over the years, the people who know the sport say players have been getting bigger, stronger and faster at a pace that protective equipment can’t match. Even under helmets as elaborate as anything built for battle, players’ brains are getting hit too hard.
Concussions are common and less obvious injuries from repeated blows to the brain are just starting to receive scientific study.
The biggest concern isn’t even for professional players. America has many more young people playing the game than pros. One study found that some high school players received more than 1,800 hits to the head during practices and games in a single season. The ‘boys of fall’ really are ‘knocking heads’ an awful lot.
Rugby players, ironically, don’t suffer the same way because they don’t wear helmets. They can’t hit each others’ heads, or hit with their heads, without immediate catastrophic injury.
In football, the hits keep coming because the really profound damage takes years to develop. A recent study of the long-term effect found that NFL players have a much higher risk of brain damage. Even players who hadn’t had concussions were still likely to develop it, with symptoms that include memory loss, paranoia and depression.
Some players are taking the medical threat seriously. Dozens have agreed to let scientists dissect their brains after they die, for signs of disease.
Critics say that the National Football League was slow to respond to the problem. They say the NFL even contributed to it by producing and distributing ‘highlight films’ — television programming that catalogues colorful and, frequently, dangerous play.
Lately the league is getting more credit, for encouraging new research, for changing its attitude and its rules.
It now says any player who gets a concussion needs a neurologist to allow them back on the field. It has banned helmet-to-helmet collisions.
Even so, there were three of them last weekend, one strong enough to leave both of the players involved unconscious. The video was replayed endlessly on the internet and television because even it startled even fans of the sport.
And so this week the league decided it would do something more: promising to suspend players for flagrantly dangerous hits in the future and imposing unprecedented fines for the ones over the weekend.
Two players will have to pay $50,000 each and a third $75,000. (By comparison, a player who knocked another one unconscious a few weeks ago was fined $15,000.)
That $75,000 fine imposed on linebacker James Harrison prompted him to threaten to quit the game because, he said, doesn’t know of any other way to play it.
Harrison has a contract worth more than fifty million dollars, so the threat, like the fine, probably won’t amount to much.
But clearly the growing caution cuts against every instinct of the game and some players aren’t enthusiastic about it.
“We feel like we’re the only gladiators left,” said former NFL-er Jamal Anderson. “I like the physicality and the toughness and that’s what the NFL is all about. We don’t want to take that from the game.”
You can bet that millions of Americans who crowd around basement and bar-room TV sets every weekend feel exactly the same way.