More people die by suicide than homicide each year

More people die by suicide than homicide each year

It would surprise me to find a person who hasn’t been impacted by someone dying by suicide. It’s that prevalent.

With September being Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month, we should be talking about this issue now. We should be talking about it every day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47,500 people in the United States die by suicide every year.

According to the World Health Organization:

  • More than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year. (For comparison, homicides total about 400,000 worldwide each year.)
  • For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-olds.
  • 77 percent of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.

“While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness,” WHO says on its website. “In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behavior.”

The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline reports, “For every one person who dies by suicide annually, 316 people seriously consider suicide, but do not kill themselves.”

From the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness each year
  • 1 in 20 adults in the U.S. experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 youth ages 6-17 in the U.S. experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14 and 75 percent by age
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.

All of these statistics are sad, sobering and overwhelming.

Someone I know died by suicide last month. Another family shattered, asking questions that may never be answered.

In California, the Legislature last month passed a bill that would create the CARE Court. People with severe mental illnesses who end up in the judicial system would be provided treatment plans.

The New York Times recently published an article about the importance of reaching out to friends.

“To be functioning at our best, we need to be in a connected state,” Marisa Franco, a psychologist and assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland and author of the forthcoming book Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — and Keep — Friends told the Times. “Just like you need to eat, like you need to drink, you need to be connected to be functioning well.”

Life is short even under the best of circumstances. Hug the ones you love.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800.273.8255 or dial 988. The three digit code has been available to everyone in the U.S. since July 16. It’s also possible to text 988.

Conflicted about used books

Conflicted about used books

Authors want people to buy their books. Even better is if people read those books and then write five-star reviews so more people will be inclined to buy a copy.

But what happens when the reader doesn’t want to keep that book? Many end up at used bookstores, thrift shops, or sold at garage sales for pennies on the dollar. I even thought it a good thing environmentally.

However, no money from that reselling of the book goes into the author’s wallet. It goes into the cash register of the seller.

Before becoming an author I never gave used bookstores much thought. I suppose I was looking for a deal, or something older. Long ago I stopped “needing” to buy new.

I also didn’t think much about borrowing or lending a book. When it came to sharing books I thought it was merely a nice thing to do. Same theory goes for using little free libraries in neighborhoods. I didn’t consider it taking money from the author.

I’m rethinking that philosophy now that I am an author. It’s a lot of work to write a book. I think that person should be paid for their efforts whether I like the book or not.

Authors only make money from that first sale.

They can be paid a few ways. When working with a publisher an advance is often paid. Royalties from actual books sold don’t come in until that advance is paid off, so to speak. It’s also possible to get a flat fee. Self-published authors get money each time a book is sold—this could be online or at a brick and mortar outlet. It all depends how the distribution has been set up.

But that $20 book isn’t $20 in the author’s pocket. It is much, much, much less. Publishers and retailers (including Amazon) take a big chunk. After all, they are in the business of making money, too.

For those who self-published, they also can (and should if it’s going to look professional) have the expense of the book being edited, covers designed, the book being formatted, and it being put on various platforms. So, it takes a lot of book sales to break even, let alone make a profit.

But it’s not so simple for me to say I will never read a used book or to tell someone not to. I’m too much of an advocate of reading to say that. Plus, I know plenty of people cannot afford new books, especially printed ones.

It just seems like the author ought to be able get a percentage of used book being sold. But then again, it’s not like Chrysler would benefit if/when I sell my Jeep to a private owner or trade it in to another dealer. Furniture manufacturers and the like haven’t gotten another dime when I’ve sold something on Craigslist or through Facebook Marketplace. I could sell artwork in my house that the creator would never benefit from. That list of items that can be resold without compensation to the originator is seemingly endless.

I don’t know the answer to the question of how to get the original creator of something compensation from the reselling of their product. That’s probably because there isn’t one. One and done. That’s how it is.

I suppose in the end I’m just happy people are reading, whether it’s a new or used book. It’s a heck of a lot better than burning or banning them.

At 150-Years-Old, Chico Continues To Grow

At 150-Years-Old, Chico Continues To Grow

Each day it seems like another vacant parcel in Chico is being turned into a construction site for homes or commercial development.

In the short time I’ve been here (going on 18 months) the growth has been amazing. Coming from Tahoe where new construction was limited, I’m just not used to this. From what I see being built near my end of town (the southeast) it doesn’t seem like city staff or electeds put a lot of thought into what got approved. The roads were not designed to handle the density of housing and commercial enterprises being built.

We all know water is a precious resource. At least most of the landscaping does not include grass.

Chico is 150-years-old this year. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Chico was incorporated 150 years ago on Jan. 8, 1872, after being founded by John Bidwell in 1860. I wonder what all the people who inhabited this 33.5 square mile city in the 1800s would think of it today.

While I’m a newbie to Chico, I have been coming here since 1974 when my oldest sister started college at Chico State University. She returned more than 30 years ago and started a family here, so I’ve been coming nearly every year before I moved here. She’s in a more established area of town so I didn’t see the growth as a visitor.

I know we need more housing. We are an example of a city with a homeless problem gone wrong—though it’s gradually being addressed thanks to lawsuits, judges and people who care.

Chico had a population of 101,475 as of the 2020 Census. It’s been on a steady growth pattern, with the largest influx coming after the 2018 Camp Fire that wiped out the town of Paradise. Those people needed somewhere to land; Chico was it and many have never left.

Chico is the biggest city in the state north of Sacramento. Driving around the sprawl makes it feel big. But the political shenanigans make it feel small—in a bad way. The downtown makes it feel small in a good way.

One of the best things about Chico is the university, which brings an energy to the area—especially since it is right downtown. All of those red brick buildings, many dating to 1887 when the college first opened as the Northern Branch of the State Normal School, gives it a bit of an East Coast feel. Or maybe brick just makes me think of the East.

Hopefully, when the city celebrates its next milestone all of the land will not have been completely paved over. After all, it is known as The City of Trees.

No Regrets 20 Years After A Life-Changing Decision

No Regrets 20 Years After A Life-Changing Decision

We all have life-defining moments we can point to. One of mine occurred 20 years ago this month.

I moved to South Lake Tahoe in August 2002. This was my second time to live in this mountain town. The second time to work at the Tahoe Daily Tribune. I thought I would live there forever. I thought I was taking my dream job; one I would retire from.

Life had other plans for me, as is often the case.

I had been working at the San Francisco Chronicle as a copy editor and news editor. It was the easiest job I had and the one that came with the biggest paycheck. I was so unfulfilled. I wanted out of the Bay Area. I was tired of commuting an hour from the North Bay. I was living alone after a 10-year relationship went south. I needed a change in so many aspects of my life.

When I left Tahoe the first time I said I would come back 10 years later as managing editor of the Tribune. It took me 13 years.

Would I do it again knowing the outcome? Absolutely.

Kae Reed hiking in the Sierra mountains in 2015. (Image: Susan Wood)

Would I take that job knowing that I would get fired as managing editor 17 months later because I refused to blur the lines between editorial and advertising? Yes.

One of my favorite memories is telling the publisher my news hole was not for sale and then being told it was not my news hole. It was one of many nails I helped drive into the coffin of my career at the Trib. At least I walked out the doors that fateful January morning with my integrity intact and a solid grip on my journalistic ethics.

I had a staff of 13. The paper was a broadsheet that came out five days a week. We weren’t afraid of writing stories that ruffled the powers that be. We weren’t afraid to publish stories when there were drug busts/ABC infractions at restaurants that were also advertisers. (All acts that shortened my tenure at the Trib.) We were doing good work, trying to make the paper better with each issue. Ninety-nine percent of those who worked for me were incredible people, many of whom I still call friends to this day.

It’s never been a great paper because of upper management and ownership. It’s the residents who are losing the most. I still say South Lake Tahoe and the entire basin (and Truckee) are a journalists’ gold mine. There are so many stories to unearth, some sitting right out in the open. It still frustrates me knowing all of the news I know that is not getting written and I don’t even live in the area. But that’s another story.

Being fired is scary. It tests you in ways you don’t want to be tested. Someone, if not several people, is telling you that you can’t do the job. That does a doozy to your self-confidence. That makes you question how you go forward. They have taken your income away, but the bill collector still comes knocking.

A lot of people showed they cared. Del came over with a copy of Writers Digest, saying I needed to get out there and freelance, and not leave town. My friend Julie offered me a job at The Appointment Biz, the company she still owns, for which I will always be grateful. It’s not on my resume because it’s not relevant to my career as a writer, but that job is so relevant to my life. It is what allowed me to stay in Tahoe until I figured things out. The Tahoe Mountain News became my outlet for local writing. I will forever be thankful to Taylor (who I had worked with at the Tribune in the late 1980s) and Heather for letting me write for them even though I came from the Trib and was living with someone who was still a reporter there. They knew my journalistic integrity and trusted me. It was the start of rebuilding my confidence.

Being fired changes you. At least it changed me. Work took on new meaning. After that I never worked for anyone again outside of being a freelancer or doing contract work. It’s liberating. It’s also daunting not having a regular paycheck every other week. I haven’t had employer health care or a company-sponsored retirement plan since then. I also don’t have to show up to work every day, don’t have a work wardrobe, don’t have to commute, can say no to an assignment, and multiple days of the week I play tennis in the middle of what would be a traditional workday.

If I hadn’t been fired, I presumably would have kept working 50-60 hour weeks and still gotten paid for 40. Such are the hazards of management. I would not have grown as I did. I would not have enjoyed so much in life that I have. So, in many ways, getting fired made my life better. It just took a while to realize it.

Being fired showed me who my friends were and weren’t. It was eye-opening. I was no longer in a position of power, such as it were. For the non-friends, that meant something. I could no longer do something for them. Of course they probably still haven’t figured out I wasn’t doing anything for them, I was covering a story because it was the right thing to do. This was another lesson, realizing how many users there are in the world, or least in a small town.

It was also a lesson in true friendship. That’s what I hold on to. Too many people to count who were there for me. They lifted me up at one of my lowest points. They didn’t ask me what I could have done differently to not be fired. (Not much and still be able to look myself in the mirror each day.) They didn’t tell me how I brought this on myself. (Which I had because of what I believe in.) They didn’t judge me. (Plenty of others did.) They knew I didn’t need judgment because I was being hard enough on myself. (Others didn’t seem to understand that.)

My friends checked in on me. They helped with job leads. They took me out for a drink. They made me want to stay in Tahoe.

Stay I did. My roots grew deeper, my friendships stronger. I took up tennis again—with so many lasting friendships from the court. I started hiking more. I started making peace with the past. I started dreaming again. My writing took off in different directions—including starting an online news site. I also resumed massage, first working for others and then starting my own business. Writing and massage have always brought me great balance, and continue to today.

Eventually, I got tired of the cold and the snow. Winters were no longer fun. In an ideal world I would have spent the winters one place, and summers in Tahoe. I made that work for my last three years. It was perfect. Those years also allowed me an opportunity to connect with Tahoe without working there full time, without being immersed in the politics, in the strife and the crap. It made me appreciate the area in a different way that is hard to do as a full time journalist. It brought me a sense of peace and a renewed love for the area.

There is something special about Lake Tahoe. It will always be home even when I’m not there.

Surrounded By Joy In The Cancer Free Zone

Surrounded By Joy In The Cancer Free Zone


Joy and AJ in the cancer free zone on April, 30, 2012. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A cancer free zone. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if something like that existed for people battling this insidious disease?

Joy found one. On occasion I would go there with her. Almost always with AJ, her dog. Sometimes it would be just me and AJ, as I was the official dog walker when Joy was battling cancer. After Joy died in August 2012 I couldn’t go there. It was too sad.

But I went back in July. It was too important not to. Fortunately, our mutual friend Lisa accompanied me on my journey to put some of AJ’s ashes along the north edge of the Upper Truckee River near the mouth of Lake Tahoe.

AJ had become my dog after Joy’s death. It seemed only natural the two should be together in this way. The river is where Joy’s ashes were placed by her sister.

The cancer free zone was where Joy went to escape all things having to do with her cancer treatments. I doubt she ever could. But she tried. When I was with her in the CFZ there was no talk of cancer. Not a problem. We had so many subjects we could cover, mostly political in nature—local and national. I miss those talks. I miss our email exchanges. And I miss our dog.

A search of CFZ (cancer free zone) in my emails turned up 17 between me and Joy, as well as others who were on some of the string of correspondence.

One from April 30, 2012, by Joy says, “… instead of waiting for the call from Barton, I looked at the dog, she looked at me, we both put on our raincoats and said screw it, we’re going for a long walk. We went back out to the lake to the point where Trout Creek empties – my original Cancer Free Zone – and enjoyed the solitude, the drizzle, the bird songs, and the scenery.”

An email from me to Joy on March 18, 2012, said, “And it’s because of you I like going to Trout Creek/LT … since you are the one who first took me there. AJ and I talk about you (in good ways!) when we are there. I feel connected to you there … I think that’s why I like to take AJ there. I don’t ever go without one of you.”

South Lake Tahoe failing residents, visitors who play tennis

South Lake Tahoe failing residents, visitors who play tennis

South Tahoe Middle School tennis courts are in horrible condition. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It is nearly impossible for the public to play tennis in South Lake Tahoe because the four courts that are available are dangerous.

I did not feel comfortable last month running on the courts at South Tahoe Middle School. While the nets are better than the last time I played there, the surface is horrific. Large cracks are a broken ankle waiting to happen.

These courts in the center of town were once in great condition. In fact, Lake Tahoe Community College used to use them for its tennis classes.

It’s unfortunate the college several years ago removed covered tennis courts from its master plan. Equally sad is how when the city of South Lake Tahoe was putting its recreation plan together a few years back tennis was not part of the equation.

What’s probably even worse is Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s approach to the sport. LTUSD owns the 10 public courts in the city. There are the four dilapidated ones at the middle school and six playable ones at South Tahoe High School.

The problem with those six taxpayer-funded courts is they can only be used by non-taxpayers—students and their opponents. At all other times the courts are locked.

Tennis courts at STMS are in lousy condition. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I grew up playing on public courts in the Bay Area; the same courts where I eventually would play four years of varsity high school tennis. I play on public courts now in Chico, which are in even better condition than the private club in town. South Lake Tahoe is a big enough city that is should have decent courts open to the public.

When those courts at STHS were first resurfaced they were supposed to be open to everyone.

A Sept. 2, 2010, article in Lake Tahoe News quotes then LTUSD Superintendent Jim Tarwater saying, “Those will be open to the public, just like at the middle school. Tennis is big in South Lake Tahoe. I could see tournaments coming up here. My dream would be to cover the six at the high school.”

His other dream that never came to fruition was partnering with the city and LTCC to build two more courts at STMS.

The courts cost about $350,000 to overhaul in fall 2010. From that same LTN story, “While the project wasn’t originally part of the Measure G facilities bond, a line in the contractors’ contract made it logical to repave the courts. The contract said if the workers could not park at STHS, they would be paid an additional 15 minutes at the start and end of their day to compensate for the time to get to the work site. This was going to add about $400,000 to the nearly $25 million project going on at that time. The district decided it would be more prudent in terms of time and money to have the workers use the tennis courts as a staging area, lose access to them for a season and then have them rebuilt.”

South Tahoe High’s courts have never been open to the public and that’s a shame. Tennis is such a wonderful sport for all ages. I can’t even imagine if I had not had the opportunity to play on public courts way back when and even today.

Come on South Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe Unified, you both can do better when it comes to providing residents and visitors an opportunity to play tennis.

Everyone should watch Jan. 6 congressional hearings

Everyone should watch Jan. 6 congressional hearings

The Jan. 6 hearings are definitely must-see TV.

Everyone should be watching them. It doesn’t matter one’s party or lack of one, if you consider yourself political or not, or who you voted for in the past or expect to vote for in the future.

This is about understanding what happens when there is not the peaceful transfer of power in the United States. This is about one man going rogue and what those around him did. It’s about one man having control over people in a cult-like following.

Bottom line—it’s about the future of democracy in the United States.

The testimony from people is astonishing. So much is coming out that has not been made public until now. During the last hearing we were told how Secret Service agents protecting the vice president that day feared for their lives so they called loved ones to say goodbye.

This mob was sent to the Capitol by the president. The president didn’t care the rioters were chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.” The president’s lack of action that day spurred the insurrectionists. That, too, has been well documented during the hearings.

If you missed the hearings, they can be found online and they will resume in September. According to Nielsen ratings, at least 20 million people watched the first prime-time hearing of the House Select Committee’s hearings. More than 23 million in the U.S. watched when Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified. During last week’s hearing more than 17.7 million people tuned in. These are the kind of numbers that major NFL match ups get.

Will Donald Trump and Mike Pence testify? Those are questions still to be answered. Will an indictment or charges be leveled against Trump? Again, time will tell.

No matter the answer to the above questions it is important for the public to understand what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, and for voters in November to mark ballots for people who believe in and will uphold the U.S. Constitution.

People need to understand this isn’t merely about your guy or gal winning or losing. This is well beyond Democrat v Republican. This is about the future of the United States.

Watch the hearings and tell me this was not an insurrection led by Donald Trump.

Appreciating friendships made at a young age at the workplace

Appreciating friendships made at a young age at the workplace

There is something extra special about friendships made at your first job or jobs in your 20s.

I’m a firm believer your 20s are some of the most critically formative years, even though at the time I thought I was fully formed, so to speak.

How can there be office romances in your 20s (or any age) if there is no office to go to? Kae Reed interning at the Bend Bulletin in Oregon in 1987.

The friends I made working during college and after I graduated were more than my work family. These people helped create the foundation of my adulthood. They were instrumental in putting me on the path to who I am today. Because of all of this there is a bond we have that I won’t have with others.

I have friends from various time periods of my life—from childhood to today, where I’m still making friends. I don’t want to disparage the friendships I have made post age 30 or pre-20 because so many of those are just as special.

In my 20s I still had a lot of growing up to do, a lot of boundaries to figure out, and a lot of fun to share with these people.

Today I wonder if those freshly out of college will create a similar bond to the ones I have with Kele, Penny, Patty, Stephanie and others. How can they when they are working remotely? How do you make friendships when you only know someone as a face on a computer screen?

You can fake it on a Zoom call if you are tired, frustrated, angry, even excited, or happy. You can hide your emotions and just get through the call. In the office, though, it’s near impossible to be even keeled for eight or more hours. This is when people get to know you—when you allow them to share your highs and lows.

It’s about going out to lunch and for drinks at the end of the day; seeing people outside of work and talking about something other than the job.

It’s about learning how to socialize, how to interact with people of dissimilar backgrounds, various ages, and different skill levels. It can take some time to get used to people essentially being in your space 40 hours a week or more. These are important aspects of adulting.

I can’t imagine starting my career being isolated; or having any part of my education being virtual.

Don’t get me wrong, I love not working in an office. I was doing it long before the pandemic hit. I can’t imagine ever working in an office again; nor do I intend to.

But if I were to ask my twentysomething self: Hey, do you want to work at home your entire career and not have the friends you will have in your 50s? I would tell her: Go to the office. There is so much to learn besides how to do your job. There is so much more to work than work. There are so many experiences at the office and outside of it that will help make you be you. You will create so many life-long memories that you won’t have if you stay at your home office. Most important, the friends you make will be some of the most special people for your entire life.

It makes me sad to think the young remote workers of today won’t forge the lifelong bonds with colleagues like I did.

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