Comedians and mental illness – is there a link?

The coroner has now released preliminary findings confirming that Robin Williams died by suicide. Mixed with the eulogies and grief over the loss of such a talented comedian, his family, friends, fans and admirers are starting to ask why? In particular, we are trying to understand how a man who could be so funny and…

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When AIDS came to town

Next week the 20th International AIDS Conference comes to Melbourne (starting July 20). This will be the biggest medical conference ever held in Australia. President Bill Clinton and Sir Bob Geldof are attending. So are about 12,000 advocates, consumers, carers, scientists and health care workers. The ramifications of big events usually take decades to become…

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Political lies, white lies and damned lies

Lying has been in the news this week. Apparently some politicians, somewhere, made all sorts of claims prior to an election, and then did the opposite after the election. Go figure. Lying is ubiquitous. According to this study humans tell about two lies per day. Women are more likely to lie to protect someone’s feelings…

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Aiding and abetting suicide in terminal illness

It is illegal in Australia to aid or abet suicide. Despite this Dr Rodney Syme publicly announced this week that in 2005 he provided a lethal drug, Nembutal, and advice to a patient who two weeks later used the drug to end his life. The police have re-opened the case, and will now decide whether…

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Digital love

I recently saw the movie Her. Without giving too much away – it’s the story of a recently heart-broken guy who gets a new operating system (or OS) for his computer. The OS uses voice, not a keyboard and screen. The OS is clever and has the ability to learn, and the voice of the…

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Suicide – the disclosure dilemma

In my time as a public hospital psychiatrist, I’ve seen many suicides. It is the most common cause of death for those aged under 45. Despite this statistic and suicide’s undeniable presence in our society, it remains for the most part, the elephant in the room. beyondblue – http://www.beyondblue.org.au flickr/David Wallace The founding chairman of…

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Airbrush my life

Vanity fascinates me – partly because I’m a victim myself. It’s mostly frowned upon but permeates so many aspects of our everyday life. Recently I brushed up against my own vanity, and it wasn’t completely comfortable. I won a gift certificate for a professional family portrait. I headed along with my son, had the photo…

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A grain of salt

Human behaviour is intriguing – from understanding what we do and why we do it to the bigger questions of human nature and our quest for meaning. It seems we are all amateur psychologists of sorts. There’s an old gag in psychiatry about answering a taxi driver who asks what you do for a living.…

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