Recently a young lady wrote a suicide note and then jumped in front of a train. She survived the attempt but died from complications a few days later. During the times that she was alert she described the event as a “crazy moment” and discussed a plan to get her life back on track. Her family and friends were stunned by the attempt and later devastated by her death.

We have all experienced crazy moments when our actions or behaviors are unusual for us, resulting in harm to ourselves or others. Crazy moments can wreak havoc .on our emotions and our lives, our plans and dreams.

Do such moments always indicate an underlying depression? Or is it just a catastrophic response to a moment of vulnerability? Sometimes there is a trigger for the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that may push someone over the edge. Family and friends may fail to recognize that their loved one is in a crisis state.

No one can understand the events that will result in a crazy moment of self-destruction. No one can feel the emotional pain that the person is experiencing. Many people are experiencing high levels of stress in their daily lives. Even those who appear to be very successful may be struggling with feelings of inadequacy and helplessness.

How can we help? It may be difficult for family and loved ones to know what is going on unless there is a previous history of depression. However, each day we should make an effort to reach out to those around us. Try to become more aware of what is going on in their lives. Let them know that we are there as sources of support and strength.

Harriette Barker, PH.D, RN



HIV does not capture much media attention these days, but it has not disappeared. According to New York State Department of Health, there were approximately 3,000 new cases of HIV infections in 2013. Their goal is to reduce this number to about 700 cases by the year 2020. To do so they are encouraging the PrEP program to at risk HIV negative persons

What is PrEP?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a new program in the fight against HIV.  It is a preventative approach that reduces the risk for HIV infection. The program consists of taking a daily drug – Truvada, HIV education, use of prevention methods, and medical oversight.

How Does It Work?

Unlike the morning after birth control pill, Truvada is used as a prevention measure before the person is exposed to an unsafe sex encounter.

NYS Dept. of Health designed a six item PrEP program for HIV negative persons:

  1. Persons should be regularly tested for HIV – at least every six months
  2. The pill should be taken daily for the prescribed period
  3. Condoms should be used to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  4. Persons should be screened periodically for these infections
  5. Ongoing education on risk prevention in relation to HIV and STIs
  6. Supportive counselling and support to reduce non-compliance


  • The drug is effective if taken consistently.
  • It prevents the virus from finding a home
  • It eliminates or reduces panic for those who do not practice safe sex
  • It decreases the number of new HIV infections


Harrriette Barker,PhD, RN, CHC

Rethinking Stress

I looked at some pictures recently from high school days, and just wondered where did those “happy years” go?  Now we are  in our sixties and have lived through many technological, social and political changes and challenges.  The buzz word today is stress and for many young people  overstressed.  So life is stressful, but stress is not new in our lives.  Growing up I did not have any awareness of this term stress. I guess that there were stressful situations but they did not directly impact on me.

What is stress and is it a positive or negative event in our lives? Why are we so consumed by it?  Often we focus on the bad stress, but yes there is good stress or eustress that gives us a positive response.  So good events such as getting married, a promotion or finally taking that long anticipated vacation in Tahiti can trigger a positive stress response in our bodies.

Negative or bad stress does get more attention from mental health experts, and indeed people also focus more on this aspect. We can turn this negativity  around  for more favorable outcomes -e.g. failing grades in college? maybe it is time to reexamined your chosen major.  Stressed out over that elusive promotion? although it may not be easy it may be time to move on.  The wedding is over but the marriage is stressful-(pray – LOL) -careful examination to determine the source of stress.

So stress either good or bad will be a part of us like the air that we breathe.  How we cope with it will determine its impact on our daily lives.