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Local research team analyzes Virginia Woolf’s writing to predict suicide





In the two months leading up to the suicide of British author Virginia Woolf, her letters and daily diary entries became increasingly forlorn.

She used negative words such as “nothing,” “last” and “never” more frequently as her bipolar disorder took her down a darkening path.

English novelist and critic Virginia Woolf in 1902
English novelist and critic Virginia Woolf in 1902  (George C. Beresford / Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

That trail ultimately led her to wade into the River Ouse on March 28, 1941, her pockets filled with stones, a suicide note left for her husband.

“I feel certain that I am going mad again,” she wrote to Leonard. “I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time.”

Her drowning death, combined with her prolific writings, have inspired a team of researchers to try to predict suicide from subtle changes in a person’s writing. Their hope is to create an app that will analyze texts, emails and social media posts of at-risk patients who have consented to participate, so their circle of caregivers can be alerted when intervention is needed.

The research is a collaboration between researchers from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, McMaster University and the University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

“We want to be able to extract the suicidality from the behaviour,” says Dr. Flavio Kapczinski, the lead psychiatrist on the project who works with McMaster and St. Joseph’s. “We could notify the circle of trust that a risk is emerging.”

The research team’s study was published Wednesday in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal. Kapczinski says it is the first step in a project the team hopes will result in a practical application for patients at risk of suicide.

Woolf, whose books include A Room of One’s Own, Mrs. Dalloway and To The Lighthouse, was one of the brightest members of the Bloomsbury Group, a set of British writers, philosophers and artists in the early half of the 20th century. Her vast achievements are even more remarkable considering the struggles of her life. She was sexually abused as a child, was conflicted over her bisexuality and had bipolar disorder (evidenced by periods of mania and of depression) that led to several suicide attempts.

For those reasons, along with the fact that she wrote — in one form or another — every day of her life, the researchers chose to focus on Woolf’s words from her letters and diary, believing they would give insight into her “mood states.”

“She was so bright and so productive and then she gave so many warnings,” says Kapczinski.

Clouds created from words frequently used by Woolf in 46 documents written in her final two months were compared with clouds created from random samplings from 54 of her letter and diary entries prior to that, says Dr. Diego Librenza-Garcia, a post-doctoral fellowship at the university in Brazil. The contrast is stark.

In the cloud compiled from happier times in Woolf’s life, frequently used words include: love, tomorrow, nice, hope and good.

In the cloud created from her final months, the words include: little, miss, war, nothing, never, can’t and don’t. The researchers write that these “negative words” may indicate Woolf’s “thoughts of lack of efficacy, self-criticism, worthlessness, nostalgia, melancholy and mainly hopelessness.”

In that final period, Woolf’s vivid prose often describes her writing frustrations: “I have written you three separate letters, and torn each of them up”; “I have been trying to write this letter in hand writing, but my hand is like the cramped claw of an aged fowl.”

The researchers created a “text classification algorithm” unique to Woolf’s vocabulary and concluded it would have been able to predict her suicide with 80.45 per cent accuracy.

“She tried to seek treatment,” says Kapczinski, but “treatment was at its beginning.” At one point, Woolf went to Dr. Sigmund Freud’s protégés for help. One treatment prescribed to her was to stop writing.

An app that would build an algorithm for each individual patient, based on their word choice as well as when they write, who they write to and in what format they write, could help predict suicide in a way that has always eluded the medical community, says Kapczinski. “This is addressing a very practical need.”

The approach to estimating the probability of an event occurrence is called “machine-learning.”

A machine, able to unlock the mind?

“My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery,” wrote Woolf. “Always buzzing, humming, soaring, roaring, diving, and then buried in mud.”


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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high





(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine





(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states





In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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