Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cancer, Suicide, and Holocaust Survivors (Research, Video 2:17)

Question: Do you think a higher number of older adult Holocaust survivors who have cancer would commit suicide more than their counterparts who have cancer and are not Holocaust survivors? After all, many older adults were children when they witnessed and experienced the atrocities related to this part of history.

It’s easy to assume that Holocaust survivors with cancer would have more suicides. But a study of these older adult cancer patients indicates otherwise. The incidence of suicides were not significantly different between the Holocaust exposed and nonexposed groups. Past exposure to maximum adversity did not increase the suicide risk among persons with cancer.

These Holocaust cancer-suicide research results were surprising to me in a good way. Erika is my Jewish friend who was a child during the Holocaust. Her firsthand stories give history a name and face that validate the plight of those murdered during that horrific period. She attributes her current existence to a sympathetic family that hid her in their home from Nazi soldiers. Like many survivors who are older adults now, Erika continues to cope with the trauma of her childhood experiences. 

This video titled Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Menachem Frenkel showcases another Jewish child who survived the Holocaust due to the extraordinary goodwill of others who risked their own lives. Rescue attempts were made by three organizations -- the OSE (Children's Aid Society), Amitie Chretienne, and the Jewish Underground in Lyons -- to remove some 100 Jewish children from a concentration camp. Menachem and his sister were among those rescued one night. They escaped being among the 1.5 million Holocaust victims under the age of twelve. 

Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble .

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