I-Search: What I Learned

•May 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

    My first research question is what causes some veterans to commit suicide. I have found a lot of answers to this question regarding why veterans commit suicide. I have found that this issue can be caused by untreated mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and uncontrollable anger. Other causes for veterans’ suicide include survivor’s guilt and substance abuse. The two main sources this information comes from are articles from a GALE database. The first article is titled Suicide Rate Reflects Toll of Army Life. This article has given me some insight about mental illnesses and how they affect soldiers. The second article is titled Shocking Suicide Toll on Combat Veterans. It has expanded my knowledge of depressed veterans and how depression leads to suicide in many soldiers. The answers to this question have sparked deep thought in me. Before this project, I assumed that veterans would commit suicide because of the stress of having to protect a country or the guilt of killing other humans. I never thought that there was more to it such as substance abuse or mental illnesses. Now I know not to make assumptions because there is often more to an issue than what is on the surface. This first research question is the most important and thought-provoking to me and I think it has been answered well through my research.

    Next, I wanted to find out  what the statistics of veterans’ suicide are. The answers to this question amaze me. I have found out that close to 17 veterans commit suicide daily and, over a year, that number adds up to over 6,000 suicides. I have also discovered that half of veterans with suicidal thoughts and tendencies do not seek help for their problems out of fear of being judged. Perhaps the most shocking statistic I found was that during the Vietnam War, the number of veterans’ suicide greatly exceeded the number of deaths caused during combat. The two main information sources I used to answer this question are my expert interview and a GALE article titled Growing Public Health Crisis of Domestic Violence and Suicides by Returning Veterans. I asked my expert specifically about the statistics of veterans’ suicide and she gave me a lot of insight on the issue. The GALE article contains a lot of statistics such as the daily number of veterans’ suicide. My thoughts about the statistics of veterans’ suicide are mainly about how shockingly high they are. I was surprised when I found out that 17 service men and women commit suicide every day. I was even more surprised when the article said that over 6,000 suicides occur every year and I calculated that number myself just to make sure. My findings on the statistics of veterans’ suicide are both shocking and twistedly accurate.
    For my third research question, I wanted to know what efforts are in place to iron out this issue. I found that there are many active endeavors working to reduce the number of veterans’ suicide. There are Veterans’ Affairs hospitals that offer therapy and medications to help veterans deal with suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Also, there is special training that soldiers can go through that educates them about the warning signs of potential suicide and how to help someone who shows these signs. This training also teaches soldiers how to better cope with anxiety, guilt, depression, and loneliness so they can reduce the risk for suicide in themselves and ask for help if they feel they need it. The two main sources this information comes from are my expert interview and an article from a GALE database. Since my expert is a psychologist at a VA hospital, she is fully qualified to give me all the information I need about therapy and medication. The GALE article is titled Army Plans New Training After Record Number of Suicides and it is about the new training that soldiers go through to recognize signs of suicide. Although I think that these efforts were a great start to reducing the rate of veterans’ suicide, I know it isn’t enough and more has to be done. I think the awareness of the issue should be raised so that family members and friends of soldiers also know when someone is on the verge of suicide. Also, society should be more accepting of people with mental illnesses so service men and women are not afraid to step forward and seek professional help from a psychiatrist or therapist. The efforts that are already in place such as therapy and special training are a start, but more should be done.
    There are several things I think I did well in this project. Fist of all, I think I did very well with selecting images for my Presentation Zen. I did not use literal representations of veterans’ suicide and instead looked for a deeper meaning in other images. Also, I have a good variety of images. I did not repeatedly use images of soldiers, depressed individuals, or therapy sessions. Another thing I think I did well was interviewing my expert. With help from Ms. Hamilton, I was able to locate an e-mail address I used to contact Dr. Daniella David. I got a quick response from her and she was happy to answer the thorough and well-thought questions I had. Lastly, I think I did well on the playlist I put together as a multigenre artifact. I put a lot of time and thinking into selecting the songs I thought fit best with this issue. The songs fit around a variety of themes associated with veterans’ suicide including homesickness and fallen soldiers. All in all, I think I did well on this whole project, but those three aspects were the best in my opinion.
    There are a few things I would have done differently if given the chance. First, I would have used more class time for this project. I found myself doing a lot of this project during my lunch or at home. I feel like if I had used my class time more wisely, I would not have had to use as much time outside class to get this project up to par. Another thing I would do differently is my Netvibes page. I do not think I used Netvibes as well as I should have. If I had put more effort into finding good elements for my Netvibes page, I think I would have had a better learning experience. Lastly, I would have my presentation on time. I did not pay attention to the date for which I signed up to deliver my presentation and ended up being a day late. If I had written down the date and realized that I was a day short on time, I would have finished my presentation that night and had it on time. If I had done these things differently, I think I would have had a much better learning experience and an outstanding final product.
    Overall, I would give myself an A on this project. Even though I think I could have used my class time more wisely and my presentation was a day late, I think I did my best on every other aspect of the project. All of my research reflections and reading blogs were well thought out and posted on time. I had an analytical and thorough approach to my reading blogs and I did my best to choose specific passages from the book on which to reflect. My Google Site is complete and has been kept up on a daily basis. I updated the daily log and had my I-Search elements posted on time. Also, I improved my research skills from last semester. Last semester, I only used articles from GALE databases for my sources. This semester, I have sources that include podcasts, videos, and journals. I improved my business letter writing skills as well. Since we did the expert interviews, I was able to greatly enhance this skill and ended up with an exceptional, informative interview. Another reason I would give myself an A is because my multigenre artifacts and notes were very well-done. I put a lot of thought and effort into all of my artifacts and made sure that they fit well around veterans’ suicide. Also, I have thorough notes on all of them, which is an improvement from last semester when I failed to make any notes. One last thing I think is deserving of an A is how well I answered my research questions. I used good research skills to find information sources that gave the best insight on what I wanted to learn. I think my deep interest in veterans’ suicide is one reason I was so thorough in my research. I really wanted to make sure I covered every part of all my research questions. All in all, I think I did exceptionally well on this project, even with a few faults.
    My Netvibes and Google Site say a lot about me as a learner and a researcher. My Google Site informs the audience that I am researching veterans’ issues and, as one digs deeper into my site, my research further unravels. The I-Search pages tell the most about my researching experience. The What I Know section tells about how I got interested in the topic and it portrays how little I knew about veterans’ suicide at the beginning of this project. My research questions section tells about what I wanted to know about the issue and how deeply I thought about almost every aspect of veterans’ suicide. The works cited page on both digital elements tells about the kind of sources I have used to gain information. One can easily see what databases and pathfinders I used to find the articles, podcasts, and journals. Finally, the information I found was portrayed in my final presentation and the multigenre artifacts. As for my Netvibes page, I think it also tells a lot because my blog posts are on it. My blog posts and research reflections tell so much about how I have progressed as a learner by expressing new research skills and triumphs. My Google Site and Netvibes page tell the whole story about this learning experience and how I have advanced as a researcher. 
    
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Research Reflections 5

•April 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I found my expert through an article I found on a GALE database. In the article, it described a Veterans’ Affairs hospital in Miami, Florida and how they specialize in helping veterans cope with mental and physical disabilities. One of the therapists at the hospital is Daniella David. Her name was in the article itself. Dr. David specializes in helping soldiers with suicidal tendencies and is herself a veteran of the Israeli army, so I thought she would be a wonderful candidate for this interview. I also wanted to interview her because there were a lot of quotes from her in the article and she was talking about the statistics of veterans’ suicide, which is one of my research questions.

I had no idea how to go about getting in contact with Dr. Daniella David. I thought about searching her name on Google and hopefully finding an email address, but I found nothing, so I asked Ms. Hamilton for help. Ms. Hamilton told me to go to the VA hospital’s website and search for her email address through the staff page. All of her information was there, including her email address. I wrote her an email explaining that I was a student at Creekview doing a research project over veterans’ suicide. I explained to her how I found her name and why I thought she would make an excellent candidate for the interview. Dr. David said that she would love to answer my questions, but wanted more information about the project first. I told her all about the project starting in February when we read All Quiet on the Western Front. She then answered my interview questions. 

I learned so much from Dr. David. I learned that there is more to veterans; suicide than just stress or guilt from war. She told me that sometimes, veterans commit suicide because of untreated mental conditions such as PTSD and depression. She also said that suicides can happen because of substance abuse or problems that occur at home after the soldier has returned from a tour. I also learned that there are a lot of efforts in place trying to solve this issue. There are VA hospitals like the one Dr. David works at that offer different types of therapy from family counseling to substance abuse therapy to acupuncture. There are also military training courses that are designed to teach soldiers about the warning signs of suicide and show them how to better deal with stress and anxiety/depression. One more thing I learned from her is that there are two definite age peaks where suicide becomes more predominant (18-24 and 65+) and that white males are at a greater risk for suicide, especially if they have a history of substance abuse or mental illness.

As far as finding and contacting experts goes, I think I learned a lot. I learned that I can find out about potential experts to interview just by reading an article-I do not have to search an actual name. I also learned how to find a way to get in contact with experts. I found out that their workplace’s website may have the contact information I am looking for and that I don’t have to type a person’s name into Google to find an email address. This was extremely helpful because I did not have to waste time looking at different websites hoping to find a way to contact my expert. I also learned a lot about writing a business letter. I learned which phrases and terms are best to use and how to identify myself and the project better.

If I was advising someone on using an expert interview as a source, I would tell them about how to find an expert’s name and how to contact them. I would also let them know to be very thorough when asking questions in order to get as much information as possible. Additionally, I would tell them to be patient when waiting for replies and to thank the expert they found for their responses.

Multigenre Musings

•April 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment
For my multigenre projects, I am planning on making a Glogster, a playlist, a found poem, and a character recipe card. For the Glogster, I want to make it all about the issue of veterans’ suicide. I would like to include facts like how many veterans commit suicide, why it happens, and what can be done to treat veterans with suicidal tendencies. In a way, I want to make it look like a poster trying to raise the awareness of this issue. It will have to be eye-catching and have interesting information that I will include to the best of my ability. For the playlist, I want to find songs that are about war, suicide, and maybe veterans’ suicide if I can find any. I think it would be very interesting to find a song about veterans’ suicide. The found poem will explain what happens to make veterans want to commit suicide. I think it is very important that we understand why this issue is happening and find new ways to prevent it and keep the people fighting for our country alive. The character recipe card will be about Jessica Lynch. I want to include all of the qualities she has that kept her alive and strong while in the hands of the enemy. For example, she had courage and hope which helped keep her from breaking down and giving up in her severe time of need. It doesn’t seem like Jessica’s story relates to my topic, but I think I can make it relatable because the torment that Jessica went through is enough to make even the strongest of soldiers want to die.
 

Research Reflections 4

•April 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The two main sources I am using are an article I found on a GALE database and a journal post I found from the sites Ms. Hamilton listed as helpful sources. The article is called Veterans Meet for Group Therapy. It is about a veterans’ affairs hospital in Miami, Florida and how the staff there has set up therapy groups for veterans with mental illnesses (such as PTSD, depression, and/or anxiety) that put them at risk for suicide. The article explains how the hospital treats all ages of veterans from World War II to today’s War in the Middle East. This article has been extremely helpful to me because it answered almost all of my research questions. Through this article, I found out what can be done to treat veterans who have suicidal tendencies, some of the statistics of veterans’ suicide, and what is being done to diminish this issue as much as possible. I even found the name of my expert I am interviewing through this article. The journal is about a CBS News team who wanted to know the statistics of veterans’ suicide, but ended up discovering so much more. Through their investigation, they found that the government had been covering up the actual number of veterans who had committed suicide and were not keeping accurate records of the issue. This source has helped me because it gave me some statistics while at the same time letting me know that the statistics I will find for this project will not be completely accurate. It also had some personal stories of soldiers who had committed suicide and why they did so.

One new research skill I have learned over the past couple months is using different types of sources. In our fall project, I only used articles I found through GALE databases, but in this project, I have used articles not found through GALE, journals, and a video. I think I can do more to refine this skill by using even more types of sources like books and podcasts. This research skill is helpful to me because I am not limiting my information sources. I can get a lot more information through other types of sources that I never thought would be helpful before now.

I Am A Soldier, Too Chapters 24-29 Response

•April 22, 2010 • 2 Comments
Jessica’s parents, Greg and Dee Lynch, must have had a very hard time through all of what happened to Jessica. As parents, I am sure they were scared half to death when they heard that their daughter was missing in action. They must have been even more unsettled when they found out that she had been taken captive by Iraqis. If I were a parent, I would not settle until I either knew my child was safe or his/her body had been found because without a body, there is always a chance that he/she can be alive. However, I can not imagine the parents’ happiness when they found out that she was alive and being treated in a hospital. Of course, they must have been appalled to hear what actually happened to her. They heard from her doctors in Germany that she had been shot more than once, which would be disturbing to find out.
 
A quote from these chapters that stood out to me the most was, “She believes that Jessi would have fought back and that she was terrified of being taken alive…after all they had been through, almost anything seemed possible…And because they wanted to believe their daughter had hurt the enemy before they hurt her. And there was satisfaction in that” (Bragg 158). This passage shows how much Jessica’s parents believed in her and how they knew deep down that she would make it out alive because of how strong she is. Jessica’s parents found comfort in imagining that Jessica had fought her hardest before being taken captive. Jessica did not give up, just like her parents knew she wouldn’t.

Netvibes Check 1 Narrative

•April 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Netvibes has not been a particularly useful or necessary tool for me. I understand that bookmarking sources is helpful to some people, but it is not for me. I personally would rather just stick to using Evernote by itself and not have to worry about adding content to my Netvibes page. Netvibes has not been of any particular help to me and I do not really use it. The only things I have on there are the bare essentials from the checklist handed to us. Netvibes to me is like Diigo was last semester. It was not of any particular help and I did not use it at all. I do understand that people can share their sources easily by using a bookmarking tool like Netvibes, but as I said, I would rather not use any bookmarking tool because Evernote is enough for me to keep track of my sources and get the information I need to do this project.

However, one thing I do like about the features I have added to my Netvibes page is the easy access to the GALE databases. I can easily get to them from my Netvibes page without having to go through the school website and into the library’s research pathfinders. The GALE databases are where I get most of my information and it is very useful to not have to go through several different websites before being able to open one of them.

Research Reflections 3

•April 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment
Through a GALE database, I found an article about a veteran’s therapy group in Florida. In the article were the names of two psychologists-Dr. Maria Llorente and Dr. Daniella David. Both psychologists are therapists who specialize in working with veterans who have mental illnesses or are at risk for suicide. Dr. David is actually a veteran of the Israeli army, so I think she would know a lot from experience about the effects of war on soldiers and what makes soldiers want to commit suicide. Both doctors know a lot of the statistics of veterans’ suicides, which is one of my research questions. In the article, Dr. Llorente was talking about the number of veterans that committed suicide in different global conflicts like World War II and the Persian Gulf War. Llorente was also commenting on the age groups that are at a greater risk for suicide, which is part of my statistics question. Both of these people are MDs who work for the Miami Veterans’ Affairs Health Services System. I am interested in interviewing one of them because they are experts in what they do and they actually work first hand with veterans who are at risk for suicide. I am very interested in interviewing Dr. Daniella David because she is a veteran herself and would know more about suicide risk from personal experience. As for my interview questions, I have thought about asking about why they think veterans commit suicide, what is being done about it, and more about the statistics of veterans’ suicide.