Robin Williams’ death linked to rise in copycat suicides

Robin Williams
Updated 08 February 2018

Robin Williams’ death linked to rise in copycat suicides

LOS ANGELES: Suicide rates in the United States spiked almost 10 percent following the death in 2014 of actor Robin Williams, and spiked even more among men and those who ended their lives, like Williams, by suffocation, according to a study published on Wednesday.
The study, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, found that in the five months from August to December 2104 some 18,690 deaths by suicide were recorded — an increase of 9.85 percent from the expected number of cases for the period.
Williams, the Oscar-winning star of “Good Morning, Vietnam” who was beloved for his humor, died in August 2014 at age 63 in a suicide that shocked fans worldwide. Authorities said he died of asphyxia after hanging himself at his home in northern California. An autopsy found that Williams was suffering from Lew body dementia, which causes a progressive decline in mental ability.
Suicides following Williams’ death rose by 12.9 percent in men aged 30-44, and the study found a 32 percent increase in the number of deaths from suffocation.
Although the study could not prove a definitive link, it said there appeared to be a connection. Extensive media coverage of Williams’ death “might have proved the necessary stimulus for high-risk segments of the US population (e.g. middle-aged men in despair) to move from suicidal ideation to attempt.”
While the effects of widely reported celebrity suicides have previously been linked to increases in the wider population, the study said media coverage of Williams’ suicide was particularly detailed and sensational and was amplified through social media.
The suicide in 1994 of Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain, for example, appeared to have a minimal impact on suicide rates in his Seattle home town, partly because of more restricted reporting, the study said.
“The media industry can positively or negatively influence imitation suicides,” the study said. “Popular news media headlines suggest that media guidelines for suicide reporting were not followed in the case of Mr. Williams.”
The study used data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Patois: Beirut’s first taste of Jamaican flavor

Updated 19 May 2018

Patois: Beirut’s first taste of Jamaican flavor

BEIRUT: After opening its doors almost five months ago, Patois holds its title as the first Jamaican restaurant in Beirut. Located on a solemn street in Saifi village, a residential upscale neighborhood on the outskirts of the city center, Patois reflects a serene island feel: blocking out the incessant car-honking of Lebanon’s ceaseless traffic jams.

Guests are welcomed by Patois’ contrasting interior: a ceiling striped in Rasta colors, a checkered black-and-white tile wall, a graffiti-sprayed mural, and a gleaming disco ball give the place a free and easy feel.

Patois – defined as informal speech influenced by multiple languages – is an experience that is true to its name. Jamaican food is a fusion in itself, and Patois takes a step further by blending in recipes unfamiliar to the historical culinary conquests of Jamaican food culture.

“We wouldn’t call the food at Patois authentic Jamaican food. We had to create a menu that accommodates Lebanese customers,” the manager explained as he introduced the menu.

The executive chef had carried out extensive research to create a “something-for-everybody” menu that meshes well with a culture that usually rejects the tendency to try novel dishes.

After we’d been welcomed by warm, house-made tortilla chips and a fresh pico-de-gallo dip, the meal began with the a jerk corn appetizer, a Jamaican-style grilled maize bowl mixed in rich and savory jerk-spiced mayonnaise, balanced with sweetened shredded coconut.

Next came the jerk-spiked hummus doused in a garlic, onion and coriander lime oil dressing, which confirmed Patois’ adaptation of Jamaican taste in recipes that boldly appeal to its audience’s taste buds.

More entrees were expected, but unfortunately some items were not available on the menu that day.

A starring section on the menu was the tacos of a variety of meats: chicken, beef, shrimp and lobster.

The shrimp tacos — looking mouthwatering with the combination of a soft shell with jerk-marinated shrimp lying on a bed of lettuce and avocado, drizzled with the homemade Caribbean-style mayonnaise — were served cool, which made them taste as though they never really reached their true potential.

The anticipated Jamaican dish was saved for last. Jerk chicken was served with a side dish of sweet, pickled cucumber and acidic mango vinaigrette dipping sauce. The chicken was cooked just right, but the smoky flavor of the charcoal grill masked the jerk marinade that did not come until several bites later.

For dessert, opt for the fried ice-cream, an impressive way to conclude, but for us the meal ended in disappointment.

After we’d waited a while for these crispy fried scoops, the waiter gave the second round of unfortunate news — no ice-cream owing to “a difficulty the chef faced in the kitchen.”

Overall, Patois presents a blend of food from different cultures with a tang of Jamaican flavor, best enjoyed for meal-sharing between friends.

But as it shares a wall with another popular nightlife establishment, Patois’ tranquil spot may turn into a rowdy street party late in the night. So maybe come for the drinks instead.