Psychology in the News
Arlington, Virginia—Friends and relatives of the late James Spencer, who took his own life on his twenty-second birthday, now see his cry for help as a cry for help.
“He called us all and said he was depressed and felt like killing himself,” said his cousin Philip Spencer, spokesman for the family. “We should have recognized that as a sign.” Gary Stevens, long time friend and James Spencer’s bandmate in local punk rock band, The Anarchist Support Group, agreed. “Sometimes a cry for help can be a little thing, like someone refusing to eat or maybe you just see it in the way they carry themselves or whatever, but none of us was expecting it to come in the form of a cry for help.”
Psychologist Carrie Henson, who has been working with the family, echoed Stevens’ thoughts. “With a young man like James, who had a history of depression, we tend to watch for subtle changes in behavior—maybe he’s staying up all night , or drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes excessively, pacing. Maybe he’s not as meticulous about his grooming. All these subtle signs can indicate the onset of depression. Sometimes, though, as vigilant as we are, we miss something. James Spencer’s cry for help was just one of those missed signals.”
In the wake of James Spencer’s untimely death, the National Association of Psychologists has installed “cry for help” at number seven on its list of warning signs for young people with suicidal tendencies.