World Suicide Prevention Day

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A golden butterfly in a circle, with "Support Suicide Prevention Awareness"

Today, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Being suicidal, especially if you have long-term thoughts about suicide and suicide ideation, can be a very isolating and lonely experience. Do you tell your friends and family? If you do, how will they react? What about your job? Will you be forcedly committed into psychiatric care? Will people assume that if you haven’t actually harmed yourself, you’re not really suicidal and just faking it for “attention”? If you’re happy and having a good time today, does that mean you’re not really suicidal at all? What exactly do you say, and who do you say it to?

These are the things I wish I could tell you:

Be as kind to yourself as you can. If you are having long-term suicidal thoughts, you are ill. You are not weak, you are not failing, you are not letting anyone down. You are sick, and just like if you had a bad cold, or some sort of infections, you need to take care of yourself, and let your body and your mind recover.

There is not a quick fix. Talking to a friend, or a professional, or a help line, taking medication, spending some time in short or long term care, these are all helpful but take take time, something you can take as much of as you need. I wish I could promise you that talking to someone would force your mind and your body to heal, but it won’t. This is not because you’re a failure, but because you are ill, and again, you need to give yourself time, because you are not a failure, and you are not letting anyone down.

You do not have to be perfect. Just like someone with a cold or an infection may skip their cold medication or their antibiotics, and as a result may get sicker or set back their recovery, you too can end up screwing something up. This does not make you a failure, and you have not let anyone down. You are still worthy of getting the help you need, and you can still reach out to people who want to help you. Again, there is no quick fix, and you are allowed to make mistakes.

I cannot promise you that everyone around you will be accepting. It is not unusual in my travels through the internet to find people writing about how people who attempt or commit suicide are “selfish” or “bad”. These people are wrong. You are ill, and that is not the same thing at all. But there are people who are trained to help you, and are willing to help you in the road to recovery, no matter how hard or how long it is. Some of these people will be strangers, and some of them will be friends or loved ones. I know it’s socially isolating and scary, but please try and reach out, because they want to help you. Here is a small list of resources that may be helpful to you.

Your pain, and how you feel, it is all real. You are allowed to feel these things. You are allowed to be who you are. None of this makes you bad, or undeserving, or unlovable.

I hope you find what you need.

Recommended Reading for 09 September 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

Raising my Boychick: Musings on mental health, in-patient therapy, and ableism: or, why isn’t there a “Hooha Behavioral Center”?

There is so much broken in mental health services, I hardly know where to begin unraveling it. Should I have sought this sort of care? Certainly in a less-ableist society, it would have occurred to me far sooner. But what sort of “care” would I have received, even with relative protections of being a male-partnered middle-class white woman? What sorts of traumas might I have risked acquiring through the experience? Would I even have been admitted, or dismissed as not-crazy-enough, and what would the pain of failed help-seeking have done to me?

Jack and Dilley: Thoughts on Therapy: Right Livlihood: Veteran Farms (Thanks to SavvyChristine for the link!)

Veterans Farm, an organic blueberry farm in the Jacksonville area of Florida, takes a life-affirming approach to empowering disabled veterans to heal, return to work, and reintegrate into American society. It was begun by Adam Burke, a veteran who came back from Iraq with PTSD and a closed head injury. Seeking to come to terms with his disabilities and wartime experiences, he remembered peaceful and satisfying work on his family’s farm growing up. He realized “horticulture therapy” provided an ideal environment for rehabilitation, and talked his wife into buying a small farm.

JF Activists: ‘The Closed Digital Door:’ State Benefits’ Websites Inaccessible to PWD

The report, “The Closed Digital Door: State Public Benefits Agencies’ Failure to Make Websites Accessible to People with Disabilities and Usable for Everyone,” describes barriers to access for people with disabilities when applying for cash and other benefits online, requesting an application, searching the website, or contacting the agency by email. These accessibility problems violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and many state web accessibility laws and policies.

The Globe and Mail: Caregivers suffering depression, rage

“The message here is that if we’re going to help seniors stay in the community – and we should – then we critically have to look at the needs of caregivers,” said Linda Jackson, executive director of community and ambulatory programs at Baycrest, a Toronto health-care facility that specializes in care of the elderly.

CBC News: OxyContin worries misplaced: pain experts

In Quebec, opioid use doubled over 14 years, said Kristen Reidel, a master’s student in epidemiology at Montreal’s McGill University.

When Reidel presented her findings on opioid prescribing trends in Quebec at the World Congress on Pain in Montreal this week, she said she didn’t find an increase for the youngest age group.

Rather, the highest increase in opioid use was among people over the age of 80, who tend to suffer more chronic pain.

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.

Body Image & Disability: An Entry Into The Conversation

A long time ago, I said this:

People with disabilities, especially women, have all the same pressures currently non-disabled people do to look “good enough”, with added bonus of being either non-sexualised or hyper-sexualised, as well as having people infantize them to an incredible degree.

Talking about disability and self-esteem and body image is very difficult for me. People look at me and see a woman without a disability (or a woman with a non-evident one), and I pass. I don’t get the odd looks that a woman of my age (or younger, or older) using a cane or crutches would. I don’t get the pats on the head that women who use wheelchairs report, and I don’t have people leaping out of the way when I’m using a motorized scooter.

But at the same time, women like me are often used as stand-ins for “horrible”. Whether that’s the simple of “she took off her glasses and suddenly she was beautiful!”, or the more complicated of “oh my gosh! the woman I had sex with is actually a crazy person! Quick, let us make many movies about crazy = bunny-boiler = grotesque!”, I’m well aware that women like me are bad, ugly inside, and unacceptable.

These things add a whole other layer to the conversations that many women, feminist and non, have about self esteem and body image. We are all inundated with the constant barrage of White, Long-Haired, Slender (But Not Too Slender), Tall (But Not Too Tall), Unblemished, Healthy-looking, Young women in most advertising and fashion spreads, television shows, movies, and even on our book covers.1

At the same time, though, poster children and the pity parade are a fairly common image of disabled children – whether with visible or non-evident disabilities – that present people with disabilities as weak, as undesirable, as needing of pity – and always, always, always, as children. Very rarely are images of self-possessed, happy, disabled adults shown, unless they are in one of the “he’s so brave” “look at what she’s overcome” news stories.

I don’t know how this affects other people, or how they deal with it. I know that when Don first got his cane, and then his wheelchair, his self-esteem and image of himself took a hit, and it took a while for me to convince him that yes, I still found him attractive (and I can’t tell you how much I love that wheelchair, since my sexy sexy husband now has energy!). I know for me it would be nice to see images of Actual Crazy Women who aren’t mockeries of women like me, but treated like actual people. It would be nice to see casual fashion spreads with people with evident disabilities in them, rather than only seeing “diversity matters!” posters that include maybe one (male) wheelchair user, usually white.

As I said, I find these things very hard to talk about, because in many ways I don’t even know where to start. While to some extent discussing pop culture and representations there is important, how do we, as individuals, deal with our own self-esteem issues? How do we, as a group, tackle the constant attacks on people with visible disabilities to hide parts of themselves? Make yourself more approachable by putting sparkles on your cane! Soup up your wheelchair and maybe someone will ask you a question! Hide your obvious aid-devices so that they don’t offend people! Cake on make-up so no one can see your scars!

I think there’s so much here to talk about. Please, tell me your thoughts.

  1. The last one is so ubiquitous that until just now I didn’t realise that of all the non-fiction books on my desk about disability, only one has an actual image of visibly disabled people on it. Most of them have very plain covers, or abstract-type art on them.

Recommended Reading for Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only

Today’s Recommended Reading is focusing on Service Animals!

Sharon @ After Gadget has been putting up videos of Service Animal Training. All the videos have transcripts at the source.

Level 2 Test Videos Part 1

Here’s our handling test. Test requires handling all paws, ears, and tail, without the dog fussing. On day one, I did it with him standing (because he was hyper), but that’s not typically how I do handling. I feel like he did pass it — he let my dad pick him up (twice!) so he could hold him to weigh him. I thought that was pretty good for someone he’s only met about three or four times. (For the record, Barnum weighed 64 pounds.)

Level 2 Tests Part 2

This is the first part of our L2 Crate test — the crate in my bedroom. The criterion for Level Two crate is that the dog enters the crate with no more than two cues, allows the door to be opened and shut, with no pawing or vocalizing. This is the crate we use the most. We had a false start, but I decided to consider it a fluke, because we use this behavior all the time.

Service Animal Discrimination: It’s more common than you think

Via Patient C’s: DC Cabs – No Rides for Service Animals, Change.Org has People with Service Dogs Can’t Catch a Cab in DC: (There’s an Action Item at the link)

ERC sent testers throughout the city in pairs: one blind person with a service dog and one person without. The people were “matched” according to race and age; the only difference was the dog. The person with the service dog was positioned so the cab would see them first, but a full 50 percent of the time, the driver ignored them in favor of picking up the person without the canine companion. Check out the video below — you can see several drivers pulling up the blind person, slowing down and then passing them by. In another 10 percent of the cases, the drivers added illegal surcharges for the dog.

Charles Crawford, an ERC member with a service dog, said being denied a cab is not only annoying, it’s “both hurtful and an insult to those of us who must rely upon the loving assistance of our dogs to travel independently.”

Speaker’s Corner: Shocker: DC Taxis Don’t Like To Pick Up Blind People With Guide Dogs

And one of the saddest parts of this entire thing is that the system in place for reporting problems with a taxi driver is to write down the taxi number and then call the taxi operator. Blind people can’t participate in such a system.

Brilliant Mind, Broken Body: Travel Fail

The driver said, “You didn’t mention the dog when you called dispatch. You have to mention the dog.” I told him that I didn’t have to, because legally they had to transport service dogs. He repeated himself. Then he said he wasn’t the cab who was sent for me; they would be along in a few minutes. He got into his cab and drove off.

I’m sure all of you out there in cyberland have seen through what he said. Of course he was the cab sent for me! I live on a little tiny residential street. Cabs are rare here, and I end up calling them more often than anyone else on the street, because I have the most need of outside transportation.

In the news:

More airports create areas for pets to take care of business (via The Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter)

Dogs need to go, too. So airports are adding doggie restrooms.

Airports say “pet relief areas” enhance customer service. But they’re also being nudged by a federal rule that orders airlines to work with airports to install facilities for travelers who have service dogs.

Dogged by Lawsuit After Barring Service Animal From Office, Lawyer Settles for $50K

A Colorado Springs, Colo., lawyer who refused to allow a veterinarian and her service dog to enter his law office for a scheduled deposition in a civil action has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a federal discrimination suit.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado last November against Patric LeHouillier of LeHouillier & Associates. The suit alleged LeHouillier violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when he refused to allow the woman and her dog — and the woman’s lawyer — to enter the LeHouillier law office in December 2006.

This is an older news article that Ginny Tea brought to my attention, but I think it is still relevant: Creature Comforts [7 pages long]

Jamie Hais, a spokeswoman for the D.O.J., said she couldn’t comment on why the department suggested the species restriction. But its proposal expressed concerns about public-health risks and said that when the original A.D.A. was written, without specifying species, “few anticipated” the variety of animals people would attempt to use.

“That’s simply not true,” says Frieden, who was an architect of the original A.D.A. While drafting the regulations, he said, Congressional staff members had long discussions about defining “service animal” and whether a trained pony could qualify. “There was general consensus that the issue revolved around the question of function, not form,” he says. “So, in fact, if that pony provided assistance to a person with a disability and enabled that person to pursue equal opportunity and nondiscrimination, then that pony could be regarded as a service animal.” They discussed the possibility of birds and snakes for psychiatric disorders, he said, but one of their biggest concerns was that the A.D.A. shouldn’t exclude service monkeys, which were already working with quadriplegics. Since then, however, monkeys have become the most contested assistance-animal species of all.

And, a video, courtesy of Speaker’s Corner (transcript follows):

Video opens with an image of a Golden Lab (?) in a service animal vest & harness. Text reads: “No Dogs Allowed: Discriminaition by Taxicans Against People Who Use Service Dogs”

A Report By: The Equal Rights Center (ERC), The WAshington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affiars (WLC), Hogan Lovells US LLP.

Screen image changes to a person (who appears to be a white woman to me) with long blond hair standing on the sidewalk with a black dog.

Text: More than 25 million individuals in the United States report having vision loss; approxinmately 2.5 million of those are legally blind.

Federal Law requires taxicab drivers to allow service dogs in their vehicles, and prohibits them from charging a surchage, higher fare, or extra fee for transporting a service dog.

Despite these protections, people encounter discrimination on a daily basis.

Image changes to a dynamic one of a busy street. Cars whiz by a white-appearing person signalling for a taxi with a service animal. A taxi drives by and then stops for a person just 100 yards down the road.

Text: To view the report, visit

Image changes to a still image of a person standing on the side of the road to signal a taxi – just beyond them is another person signaling a taxi with a dog at their feet – the dog appears to be wearing a service animal harness.

Text: The ERC conducted test in the District, each included two individuals, one with a service dog and one without, who stood on the same side of the block.

Image changes to a dynamic image of cars whizzing down a busy street with the two people in the above image standing just a few meters apart. A taxi slows down in front of the person with the service animal, then slowly drives up to the person without an animal, ignoring the person with the service animal entirely.

Image changes to a TAXI sign with a wheelchair symbol.

Text: In 60% of these cases, the tester with a service dog was subjected to at least one form of discriminatory treatment.

Image changes to a dynamic one of a busy street. Cars whiz by a person signalling for a taxi with a service animal. A taxi drives by and then stops for a person just 100 yards down the road. (This image is the same as the one described above.)

Image changes to a static image of a person who appears to me to be a white woman seated outside, holding a white cane.

Text: “These instances are both hurtful and an insult ot those of us who must rely upon the loving assistance of our dogs to travel independently” – ERC Member, Charles Crawford

Image changes to another service dog user signaling a taxi on the street. The taxi drives right by, but picks up another person without a service animal just a few car lengths away.

Image changes to a static image of someone holding a golden lab (?) dog.

Text: “Cabbies go whizzing by and I can’t see to know if they have somebody in their cab or if they don’t.” – ERC Member, Stan Berman

Image changes again to a taxi passing right by a person with a service animal signaling and poicking someone up just a few car lenghts away.

Image changes to a person with a service animal opening a taxi door.

Text: Help advance civil rights and learn more about what can be done to end discrimination against indivdiuals who use servive dogs.

Learn more and download the report at

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.

Weekly Events Round Up

As always, these events are things that I come across in my travels through the internet, and are not endorsed by us, nor can we answer any questions about them.

Protests (UK)US Conferences & EventsUK Events & Conferences


Join us to protest at the Tory Party Conference – Birmingham, England, on 3 October

We will have our own disabled people’s section of a legal organised march to protest against Tory Party attacks on disabled people. Please join us and ask others to come too.

When – Sunday, October 3rd, 2010.

Where- International Convention Centre, Birmingham

Rally- noon

March- 1 p.m.

If the weather is good we will meet at the fountain in Chamberlain Square at 11.30 am and walk to the ICC together otherwise, or for anyone who finds it easier, we will meet inside the ICC in the room where the rally will take place.

If anyone has any specific needs which they need to have met in order to attend this protest march please contact –

US Conferences and Events (via Disability, Law & Policy)

International Forum on Disability Management
Location: Los Angeles, California; Date(s): September 20-22, 2010.

IFDM 2010 will advance disability management knowledge and initiatives to:

  • Realize the aspirations of people with disabilities to find and maintain meaningful employment.
  • Support employers in achieving productive and stable workforces.
  • Empower human resource, workers’ compensation, and disability specialists to accomplish desired outcomes.
  • Achieve public policy initiatives that provide better social protection and economic empowerment for everyone.

2010 National Self-Advocacy Conference
Location: Kansas City, Missouri; Date(s): September 23-26, 2010.

This year’s conference is SABE’s 10th Annual Self Advocacy Conference. This year’s conference theme is “Jazz It Up: Celebrating 20 Years of Self Advocates Being Empowered,” which marks the anniversary of the ADA and acknowledges the last twenty years of the self advocacy movement in the United States! For the last decade, this conference has been the largest gathering of self advocates in the United States. The conference is estimated to bring 1,000+ self advocates together to learn, collaborate, problem solve, and celebrate the past two decades of the self advocacy movement.

Accessing Higher Ground – Accessible Media, Web, and Technology Conference
Location: Boulder, Colorado; Date(s): November 15-19, 2010.

Accessing Higher Ground is the official conference of the Access Technology Higher Edication Network (ATHEN). It focuses on the implementation and benefits of Assistive Technology and Universal Design in the university, work and public setting for people with sensory, physical and learning disabilities. Other topics include legal and policy issues, including ADA and 508 compliance, and making media and information resources – including Web pages and library resources – accessible.

UK Events:

The University of Dundee, School of Education, Social Work & Community Education will be hosting a seminar by Dr Fiona Kumari Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Disability Studies,Griffith University, Australia : “Out of the Shadows”: Resilience and Living with Ableism

James Overboe (2007) and Fiona Kumari Campbell (2008, 2009) noted that disabled people experience reality through the prism of a ‘normative shadow’ which assumes the preferability of abledness and holds that disability is inherently negative and harmful. Whilst disabled people may experience periodic acute attacks on the integrity of their person in the form of hate crimes & the denial of access to goods and services, Campbell (2009) has argued that day-to-day, business as usual experiences of ableism not only wear disabled people and their families down, but can lead to internalised ableism. This seminar extends Campbell’s work through a discussion about the strategy to promote resiliency skills in the lives of disabled people to firstly reduce the effects of ableist harms/oppression and secondly as a tactic of resistance.

13th September 2010, at 6.30 pm in the Dalhousie Building
All welcome

Further information about room details etc, contact Dr Murray Simpson, email:

As always, please let me know about events! anna AT disabledfeminists DOT com

Signal Boost: Call for Evidence of Disability-Related Harassment (UK)

Call for Evidence!

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is conducting a public inquiry into disability-related harassment. The Inquiry includes bullying and hate crime and the harassment of disabled people, their families, friends or associates.

We want to hear from anyone who has been bullied or harassed for disability related reasons, and from organisations that work for/with disabled people, including voluntary and community sector organisations, public authorities (such as local councils, police, housing, social services and education) and public transport operators.

The deadline for contributions to the EHRC Inquiry is 10 September 2010.

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