Coping with Suicidal Thoughts in Shanghai? Local English- and Chinese-Speaking Resources Can Help

Foreigners living in China can sometimes feel very isolated, which might make depression or other mental health challenges even worse. It’s important to know that if your or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts or the trauma of someone else’s suicide, there are resources to help. One resource is located right here in Shanghai for English speakers: Lifeline Shanghai (China; English only), phone: (021) 62798990. If calling from outside China, use the country code of +86. For Chinese speakers, a resource is HopeLine: 4001619995 (Chinese speakers; 24/7 toll-free access within China).

According to the Lifeline Shanghai website (

Lifeline Shanghai serves the English-speaking community with free, confidential, and anonymous emotional support via telephone 10AM to 10PM, 365 days a year. Our helpline offers an emotional support service that respects everyone’s right to be heard, understood, and cared for. Lifeline Shanghai helpline assistants are ready to listen and support, helping you to gain another perspective and connecting you with other support services as needed. Trained volunteers offer emotional support and assist you to clarify options and choices that are right for you. ​

This service is for those with a wide variety of difficulties, not just suicidal thoughts. Appears to be a valuable addition to Shanghai’s expat resources.

Since many of my friends and some of my readers in Shanghai are part of my LDS religious community (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints),  will also mention the excellent resources and list of external resources provided at the Church’s official page, “Suicide Prevention and Ministering Understanding and Healing from the Pain of Suicide” (

Although Shanghai is a prosperous and wonderful place, the problem of suicide is serious. Suicide rates are painfully high and is even a serious problem among children, perhaps due to the high pressure they face in school. See “Child suicides high in Shanghai” at the Christian Science Monitor (an old 2004 article). But suicide rates have been increasing in many parts of the world, including the US. Rates among young girls have actually tripled in recent years, a terrible development. See “Suicide rate triples among young girls: How can we stem the ‘silent epidemic’?,” also from the Christian Science Monitor.

If someone you know is showing signs of suicidal thoughts, take it seriously and lovingly work to support them and get help. Turning to outside expert help may be vitally important.

By | 2018-08-17T17:53:13+00:00 August 17th, 2018|Categories: Education, Health, Relationships, Religion, Safety, Shanghai, Society, Surviving|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Coping with Suicidal Thoughts in Shanghai? Local English- and Chinese-Speaking Resources Can Help

A Grieving Mom in Shanghai Learns Her Son May Not Have Pancreatic Cancer After All: Misuse of the CA-19-9 Antigen Test

A few days ago a grieving mom in Shanghai, a good friend of ours, shared some tragic news with me: her teenage son had pancreatic cancer, one of the worst cancers. Her son was likely to die soon, if the doctor was correct. Only about 20% of pancreatic cancer patients live past 5 years. She was almost overcome with grief and had been crying for a couple of days. But even though she had gone to an expensive hospital that caters to foreign clients, she wasn’t sure she should trust the doctor. The mother called me to see if I knew where she could turn for help. She didn’t know that one of my sons happens to be a doctor treating cancer at a leading US clinic.

I received a photo of the lab report for the boy and sent it to my son. The physical results reported that a scan of internal organs showed no unusual problems indicative of cancer. There were no other symptoms, just a slightly elevated CA-19-9 antigen level, 45 instead of a desired maximum of 37.

My son was greatly disappointed that the doctor would create such needless panic by telling the mom that her son probably had pancreatic cancer. My son explained that the CA-19-9 test is not supposed to be used for diagnosing cancer on its own. Absent other symptoms of cancer, its predictive power for cancer is less than 1%, he said, and when he learned that the son was just a teenager, he said it’s even less likely to be pancreatic cancer because that disease is almost unheard of in young people. The mother’s grief was turned to relief.

I later found scientific publications confirming what my son had said. For example, see K. Umashankar et al., “The clinical utility of serum CA 19-9 in the diagnosis, prognosis and management of pancreatic adenocarcinoma: An evidence based appraisal,” Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology, 2012 Jun; 3(2): 105–119; doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2078-6891.2011.021:

CA 19-9 serum levels have a sensitivity and specificity of 79-81% and 82-90% respectively for the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in symptomatic patients; but are not useful as a screening marker because of low positive predictive value (0.5-0.9%).

Other articles indicate that diabetics, such as this young man, can have inflated CA-19-9 values (this applies at least for Type 2 diabetes–I’m not sure if CA-19-9 artifacts from Type 1 diabetes has been investigated), one of many possible alternative causes of elevated CA-19-9 values. Alternative causes for the elevated test result do not appear to have been  considered by the doctor who terrified a mom by declaring that it was probably pancreatic cancer. Again, the test can be useful in tracking the progress of treatment of a known cancer, but should not be used to diagnose cancer in the absence of other evidence, as in this case.

Keep this in mind when you have your physical in China. Don’t panic if a doctor reports that you might have pancreatic cancer based on a blood test result alone. Get a second opinion and understand why that value may be high, but don’t panic. Physical testing here can often include too many unnecessary tests in search of phantom problems that may be listed in your report by people who aren’t necessarily qualified to make such proclamations.

The family still needs to be cautious and follow up on the possible causes of the inflated test result, but it was only slightly elevated unlike the much higher scores that I’ve seen reported in patients who actually do have pancreatic cancer.

I am so grateful that my son was able to help bring peace to a mother who had been crying for a couple of days over the “fake news” she received from a generally good hospital. I suggest that here or anywhere else you should be open to the possibility that some doctors don’t know what they are talking about. And of course, that can apply to what I’ve said here. Do your homework, ask questions, and be cautious about what others declare.


By | 2018-07-05T22:10:03+00:00 June 17th, 2018|Categories: China, Consumers, Education, Health, Safety, Surviving|Tags: , |Comments Off on A Grieving Mom in Shanghai Learns Her Son May Not Have Pancreatic Cancer After All: Misuse of the CA-19-9 Antigen Test

More Trouble: Challenges of Teaching English in China

Met today with someone who had come to China with a major program to teach English. Heard some pretty troubling stories. Heard that administrators of the program have not been to the majority of the schools where they place teachers, so they don’t really know if the housing is adequate, if the conditions are safe, if there is any heating, or if the food provided is edible. Teachers can be subject to grueling conditions in remote and difficult places, much longer teaching hours than promised, with random changes in schedules that wipe out personal plans.

If your program won’t tell you where you will be placed until you are here and can’t provide you references from people who have been to same place, be very worried. The numerous problems that young people face when they come to teach English in China are quite discouraging. Don’t come here without knowing what it will be like. Don’t go with a program that will put you in a remote situation without support, help, and structure.

By | 2016-10-24T05:57:54+00:00 October 8th, 2014|Categories: Education, Travel tips|Tags: |Comments Off on More Trouble: Challenges of Teaching English in China

Insanity in Seattle

I received email from a parent in Seattle about the battle many parents have been fighting with the school district there. These parents have pulled together a lot of information showing that the block schedule system in Seattle has fared poorly and needs to be changed. “The group is at an in pass with the Teachers and the District over the schedule which has been in place for 13 years. No
matter what facts we bring to the table – internal and external – they do not listen.”

Here’s my response:
Seattle? Isn’t that the school district that issued a crazy definition of racism that included “future orientation” and individualism? If so, you’re dealing with insane people that aren’t going to be persuaded by facts. But they are likely to respond to politics, so organize and get parents coming in to talk and pressure them. Get a big group to show up at a Board meeting. Write letters to them, publish letters to the editor, etc. I think the key will be getting parents to care and be involve and make their voices heard. Ditto for contacting state legislators.
Insane people don’t listen to facts. Very sorry about that!!
Jeff Lindsay
By | 2016-10-24T05:58:02+00:00 May 31st, 2007|Categories: Education|Comments Off on Insanity in Seattle

Thinking of a Career? Consider Geology

Surprising fact: there is a shortage of geologists for companies that do exploration and mining of natural resources like gold, silver, and oil. According to precious metals expert Jim Willie CB:

Don Lindsay, CEO of Teck Cominco, paints a bleak labor picture… Lindsay traced the origins of the labor shortage back to 1997. According to him, the feeder systems were disrupted by the Bre-X scandal, the Asian Meltdown, and the commodity bear market. He expects demand to remain robust from China. Keep in mind that over two thirds of geologists in the world hail from Canadian schools. So if professional shortages exist in Canada, we have a very large problem indeed. Mirroring the crude oil roughneck labor shortage is the mining labor shortage. Another parallel exists. Lindsay points out that within a decade, 60% of all Canadian scientists working the geosciences will be at least 65 years of age. The overall impact is surely that new mine deposits will take longer to find, longer to produce, and cost more.

This is great news if you’re willing to pursue a career in geology. Many of the leaders of mining and exploration companies had their start as a geologist. If you love the outdoors and believe in work that really creates wealth, consider geology.

For investing, the shortage in skilled labor for mining means lower production in the future, and that means that prices of commodities are going to face even more pressure to go up. This is a great time to be heavily invested in gold and silver bullion, energy stocks, precious metals stocks, and uranium stocks like Dennison Mines (DNN) or my favorite, Abaddon Consolidated Resources ( or ABN on the Vancouver exchange).

By | 2007-05-04T17:19:34+00:00 May 4th, 2007|Categories: Education, Investing, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Thinking of a Career? Consider Geology

Review of Brent Maxfield’s Engineering with Mathcad

Review of Engineering with Mathcad

Jeff Lindsay
Senior Scientist
Kimberly-Clark Corporation
2100 Winchester Road
Neenah, WI 54956

Title: Engineering with Mathcad: Using Mathcad to Create and Organize your Engineering Calculations
Author: Brent Maxfield, P.E.
Publisher: Elsevier, © 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-7506-6702-9
ISBN-10: 0-7506-6702-8
Number of Pages: 494

Brent Maxfield’s Engineering with Mathcad is a valuable contribution to the engineering community that may do much to help those in engineering and the sciences in general jumpstart their efforts to learn and apply Mathcad, or to help long-time users strengthen their skills. The book is accessible, engaging, and written from the perspective of one who has dealt the practical aspects of Mathcad for many years. It comes with a useful CD having a handbook and all the examples in the text, allowing the users to easily follow along and work with the material being discussed. The CD also can be used to install Mathcad 13 for PC or Mac with a 120-day academic license.

The book covers a broad scope of material effectively, and should provide useful new insights even for power users. However, the book is not intended to provide a comprehensive guide to the functions and plotting features of Mathcad. For example, there is no significant discussion of solving differential equations. Indeed, many of the engineering applications covered are relatively basic, with the emphasis being more on how to use Mathcad effectively rather than how to tackle complex engineering problems. Given the burgeoning scope of Mathcad’s tool and the many powerful features it has that experienced users may have been missing, Maxfield’s approach represents a reasonable editorial decision to cover Mathcad broadly rather than to teach engineering mathematics or dive into the complexities of any of the numerous areas of interest in engineering.

The book may be especially valuable for those who are relatively new at Mathcad or who, like myself, have Mathcad experience but may not have used it for some time and need a refresher. But a carefully selected swathe of sophisticated aspects of Mathcad are treated that may be helpful to longtime Mathcad users who simply had no idea about some of the tools and capabilities they were overlooking.

With his years of Mathcad experience, Maxfield offers many tips, sometimes subtle, to guide users in creating worksheets, preventing errors, maintaining readability, selecting useful variable names, and so forth.

While the companion CD is useful and highly appreciated, advanced engineering students who are facing challenges with differential equations or other common topics would clearly benefit from additional more advanced sample worksheets. I think future editions of the book would do well to add additional workfiles on the companion CD. When I saw the entries on the CD for chapter 24, hinting at pages on seismic loads, beams and joists, etc., I though such examples might be there, but they are just placeholder pages for demonstrating the use of hyperlinks in a table of contents.

Indeed, for the future, not only would I recommend a more extensive set of examples on the CD, but also the addition of a Website where registered owners of the book or others could contribute solutions, discuss the text, and look at more detailed and complex examples, or receive additional tips from the author.

In general, I recommend Maxfield’s book as an easy-to-read, well organized guide to help a wide range of Mathcad users learn techniques useful for engineering and many other fields as well.

A few minor quibbles: The chapters entitled “Useful Information” could use more descriptive titles, or be added as sidebars or summary sections elsewhere. I think they create a confusing table of contents.

For engineering calculations, the precision of computations may be important. I did not notice a description of Mathcad’s limitation of 15 digits. “Precision” is not an entry in the table of contents (though the term is a paragraph header on page. 98). Pp. 102-103 would have been one good place to discuss this.

Some discussion of differential equations would be helpful.

Organizationally, I also think the first chapter might well contain a rapid-fire overview of some of the features of Mathcad to give those new to Mathcad but with advanced engineering and scientific skills a strong flavor of the power of this sophisticated tool.

And perhaps a list of additional online resources would be good – most preferably a reference to a Website prepared by or for the author that can be updated with the best online resources, additional worksheet examples, corrections of any weaknesses in the text, etc.

In general, I congratulate the author for an excellent book that I think will be helpful to numerous Mathcad users.

By | 2017-12-25T06:01:28+00:00 January 21st, 2007|Categories: Education, Products|Comments Off on Review of Brent Maxfield’s Engineering with Mathcad