Why is America’s Teen Suicide Rate Rising While Other Nations’ Rates are Falling?

The United States is in the grips of a deadly and disastrous trend: growing suicide rates among teens and young people. The number of teen suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and self harm continue to increase, more than doubling from less than half a percent in 2008 to 2 percent in 2015. In 2016, suicide became the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10-24. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted a spike in suicide rates among 10-14 year olds, and, distressingly, among females in that age group, self-inflicted injury rates have gone up 18.8 percent between 2009 and 2015.

new study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology concludes that since the late 2000s mental health for teens has declined dramatically, stating that in 2017, one in eight Americans aged 12-25 experienced a major depressive episode. The study also found a 63 percent increase in young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 reporting symptoms of depression between 2009 and 2017.

There are many theories as to why these numbers have taken a sharp uptick in the U.S. even as other developed countries have not seen a similar spike. In fact, according to the World Health Association, suicide rates fell in 12 of 13 Western European countries between 2000 and 2012. In many places this drop was 20 percent or more.

Stress is potentially a major contributor and teens are under more of it than ever with noted increases in academic, athletic and social pressures. Stress can lead to depression and mood disorders, cited as the leading causes of suicide. Additionally, since there is a growing awareness of mental health and behaviors associated with suicide among teenagers and their parents, as well as more reporting of incidents, these may be contributing to the recorded increase.

The most common cause health professionals point to when discussing the growing rates of suicidal behaviors in teenagers is the increased use of technology, specifically social media. The rise of social mediahas been linked to an associated increase in negative communication, poor self image and cyberbullying. Another outcome of teenagers constantly being on their phones and video game consoles is a lack of face-to-face interactions, which can also lead to isolation and depression.

However, many mental health professionals believe social media usage is only one factor in a complex situation. They cite the lack of availability of affordable mental healthcare professionals and have even gone as far as calling the situation a systemic public health crisis. Following the 2008 financial crisis, mental health budgets nationwide were cut by $4 billion. This lack of social welfare spending compared to other developed countries as well as the well-documented growth of income inequality in this country have both been found to be related to higher suicide rates. The U.S. spends 18.8 percent of GDP on social welfare compared to 25 percent for most developed nations.

Additionally, many insurance companies only cover a portion of an office visit to a therapist, leading health professionals to require payment up front. As a result, there is not enough affordable help to meet demand.  To combat the growing phenomenon, teenagers need access to affordable mental health professionals and support services. Talking to an adult can also help – studies show that talking about suicide does not encourage the behavior, and people shouldn’t be afraid to address it.

If you or someone you know needs help, or you want to do something to help the cause, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) for free, confidential support or contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Originally published on DanNeiditch.org

The Future Of Real Estate Investment: Smart And Climate-Resilient Buildings

Climate change has created a huge demand for sustainable and resilient design and construction. Climate-resilient design focuses on the design of buildings, landscapes, communities and regions to respond to natural disasters and the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, increasing heat waves and regional droughts. For real estate professionals, climate-resilient strategies ensure that capital doesn’t fail and continues to perform at a net positive rate, even during catastrophic events.

The interest in climate-resilient design is no surprise given the $300 billion in residential and commercial real estate damage caused in 2017 by natural disasters. Exacerbated by the climate epidemic, natural disasters will crush real estate values for underprepared investors. After all, failing to invest in climate-resilient designs and strategies can render properties obsolete and illiquid.

In major cities that sit on or near the shoreline, like my hometown of New York City, it’s no surprise that plans have been introduced to fight the destruction of our most iconic and beloved boroughs and buildings. In March, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $500 million climate-focused project that helps protect the shoreline and infrastructure.

As an early investor in sustainable design of my own properties, I agree that climate-resilient principles are necessary to ensure the safety and strength of future investments. To mitigate climate risk, here are some strategies real estate pros can use to ensure their properties stand the test of time.

Review For At-Risk Properties

Investors are starting to explore how to incorporate climate-mitigation strategies by including seawalls, increasing elevation and adding supplementary cooling systems into their existing properties, reducing the risk of loss and major business interruptions. After Hurricane Sandy, New York City building owners and managers began to move backup generators to higher floors and modify their water pumping systems. In high-risk markets, it’s worth projecting for these kinds of resiliency expenses during your due diligence process.

How at-risk is your market? Some companies have made use of environmental risk tools to create a climate change risk index that answers that question. The index assigns scores to areas vulnerable to climate change over the next 20 years. Often, these models consider the ability of property owners to manage these risks and the ability of the country to deal with recovery. The composite area is scored from low to extreme. Considered part of the due diligence process, this index allows companies to start thinking ahead on how they’ll mitigate the risk if and when that time comes.

Increasingly, environmental, social and governance (ESG) agendas or sustainability indexes suggest that they can present a more nuanced consideration of property values and climate risks. One investment manager I know of included a “catastrophe score” in the company’s ESG checklist to identify necessary insurance coverage to protect against loss. Using this data offers more accuracy during the due diligence process.

Adapt Your Assets

Physical building adaptations to mitigate climate risk are numerous and varied. Real estate owners and investors should “harden” their assets to guard against extreme weather. Doing so reduces this risk, improving asset efficiency and the tenant’s comfort by creating energy efficient options and other mitigation measures.

The Urban Land Institute reports that some real estate investors involved in markets with extreme heat focus on improving the cooling capacity of their properties while ensuring outdoor spaces remain welcoming and sheltered from intense sun exposure. Other real estate pros use features like the use of native plants to absorb high heat and reduce air-conditioning costs.

Like any investment, acquiring new properties must make sense within your broader investment goals. At the beginning of the process, acknowledge climate risks as part of the due diligence strategy, rather than considering them separately. While mitigation measures are important, it’s equally important to strike a balance between making capital investments and remaining practical with return expectations.

Investments in climate change reduction are becoming more commonplace, but often need to have additional purposes to justify the expense — like reduced operational costs or improved tenant experience — for insurers to cover damages.

Invest With Proptech

Across the sector, tools and tech are emerging to help real estate pros mitigate, and plan for, the impact of climate-related damage. Several startups couple advanced mapping capabilities with risk analysis for buildings using potential extreme weather and long-term climate risk scenarios. Some companies focus on different aspects of climate risks, while others cover certain geographies.

For example, a company called Four Twenty Seven offers scientific analytics to examine the current and future impact of climate change on properties, equity and fixed-income portfolio, and teams up with private and public partners to mitigate risk. Then there’s GeoPhy, an AI-based CRE valuation platform that provides insights into the physical risks of REITs, along with other calculations. As these innovative proptech companies help the industry evolve, it’s likely more competitors will emerge.

Ultimately, real estate investors should only invest in resilient design if and when it helps their business. In the near-term, investing in resilience can be costly, especially if risks are low. However, it can create numerous co-benefits in the right situations: minimizing damages, stabilizing operating expenses, reducing utility prices and enhancing the tenant experience.

Real estate pros wishing to attract large-scale capital and institutional investment should expect to demonstrate their assessments and climate prevention strategies to pass investment screenings. The inevitable effects of climate change are upon us, and with these steps, at least we’ll be able to better forecast environmental concerns — and revenue projections.

Originally published on Forbes

Four Ways To Prepare For The Coming Real Estate Downturn

With property prices skyrocketing nationwide over the last several years — especially in my hometown of New York City — it’s only logical for real estate professionals to begin shoring up protections for the inevitable downturn. Don’t call it pessimism; over the past several decades, the down times in real estate have always come in response to unprecedented rises, and it’s only natural that recent drops are indicative of a larger, nationwide slump in the housing market.

While it hasn’t swung the rest of the economy, the real estate business is in a decline cycle at the moment. While there’s no reason for real estate operators to panic, adequately addressing a down market is an essential part of business survival. Without a plan in place, you may find yourself out of work before the next boom happens.

Having learned much during previous downturns in 2001 and 2008, I can safely say my group is prepared for what’s about to come. If you aren’t so certain you’ve got the right plan in place, these and other proven strategies can prove incredibly valuable for ensuring that dips in the market won’t have your real estate business taking a dive.

Avoid doing anything rash …

First of all, the bad news of a recession is a tempting reason to act quickly, but acting rashly is nearly always a mistake. The phrase “patience is a virtue” should be engraved in every real estate manager’s desk as a constant reminder. In an industry that’s shown such incredible volatility, acting too fast often yields worse results than stepping back and letting things shake out before making your next move. When the downturn hits, you should be waiting for opportunities to present themselves rather than making purchases of shaky provenance just so you can say you did something. By keeping capital available, you’ll maintain the necessary readiness for the moment when worthy properties arrive at the market at a discounted rate.

… but stay moving.

While making impulsive moves is a big no-no, it’s imperative to stay in the game while the score is stacked against you. Don’t forget that downturns are empowering for buyers — they’re more able to score the properties they want when the market is leaning in their favor. While this may seem like it puts you at a disadvantage, by staying active and visible in this buyer’s market, you’ll attract more of these interested buyers than your competition does. Putting a small slice of your capital into extra marketing can keep your name visible in the midst of all the action, and you’ll keep business coming in to maintain the bottom line.

Fill low- to mid-tier vacancies.

For city-based agents like myself, rental properties are our bread and butter. They’re a reliable source of income at any time, but during slumps, their value is especially obvious. Collecting rent in these times is a steady paycheck, and every unit that’s full means another month we can keep on operating to the best of our abilities. This also means that whatever vacancies you have in a down market are a problem to be dealt with. Even if it means lowering rent somewhat to fill a long-empty apartment, having a regular tenant writing you checks every month is an absolutely necessary asset. With the value of the property going down, it’s imperative to hold onto existing tenants while bringing in new ones to occupy your empty apartments.

High-tier properties can be reworked.

Of course, as with any hard rule, there are exceptions. Vacancies in a high-end location aren’t the end of the world, as they can be turned around to provide even greater value down the road. If there’s anything luxury clients love, it’s the new and improved. If you decide to renovate, that untouched quality combines with the existing positives of the unit to provide a major increase in value. It’s not unheard of for a new renovation to add large amounts to monthly rent or sale prices, so this is an investment that’s often worth it even in lean times. Don’t forget that such units are catered to a crowd that can afford to stay picky, especially in a buyer’s market. Rushing to fill a property that could potentially be improved into a more valuable one is a mistake that’s easy to make but will cost in the long run.

Downturns are only natural, and while they deserve to be handled with the utmost seriousness when they occur, the temptation to overreact to them will, more often than not, make a bad situation worse. A rash decision can be hurtful even in times of plenty, so as we stare down the upcoming real estate recession it’s important to stay confident and stay steady. It’s the best way to ensure that we stay in business and come out on top.

This article was originally published on Forbes

Lift Yourself Up With a Strong Peer Network

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Good teams are crucial to any expanding business, but employees are only part of the equation. Another oft-ignored set of compatriots are the people you might call competition — the peers in your field who’ve climbed the ladder alongside you. Many coworkers or friends who leap onto the entrepreneurial path see one another as obstacles to be overcome, gunning for the very same success that you’re reaching for.

In reality, seeing peers as confidants rather than competitors is crucial to a business’s success. The relationships like-minded entrepreneurs establish with each other can both inspire and help them both on their paths. No matter where you find them, forming strong connections with like-minded business leaders can help launch your company to the top.

Here are some of the most compelling reasons you’ll want to establish and nurture peer connections on your entrepreneurial journey.

A better education than school

Business school case studies can’t always teach you about what’s happening in the ‘now.’ Peers who share their experiences give an education that can’t be obtained in any classroom. Likewise, getting peer advice on your own problems in real-time is a highly valuable asset, one that often goes underappreciated.

Honest feedback

The boundaries between employers and employees can make it difficult for leadership to receive honest feedback from those who they work closest with. Confidants who understand the position you’re in can be a help in handling the most challenging parts of leadership and offer new insights into your most difficult problems. Constructive criticism from trustworthy peers can dramatically improve your leadership style, offering new ideas and refinement of your older ones.

Strengths to fill your weaknesses

The larger a business becomes, the less likely it is that one person can do all things equally well. Giving up control can be a great challenge, and that’s where peers come in. If you struggle with certain management tasks, the strengths of your peers can help supplement your own with advice and mentorship. Doing the same for them in your areas of proficiency similarly extends your network and strengthens that entrepreneurial bond. When peers bring skills that you lack and vice versa, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

The best way to get new clients

Peer connections can improve more than just your internal operations. They can also be crucial to getting new business opportunities. Your peers’ connections are equally valuable, if not moreso, than the ones you establish on your own. Networking events can be great but not everyone always has the time to attend them, especially early stage entrepreneurs. Drawing on your personal network can yield much greater results than shuffling around a room full of strangers, so grow it any way that you can.

No matter what drives you to be an entrepreneur, forming positive peer relationships is a crucial element of your eventual success. How do you find peers that are a good fit? Previous professional experience, personal connections, and networking are a few ways. As with many things, it’s a matter of trusting your gut. Reach out to them like your success depends on it, because a great deal of it does.

This article was originally published on ScoreNYC

First to Market Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Being first to market always introduces a product but it doesn’t always getting it sold.
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Being a successful entrepreneur means standing above the competition. You want your product or service to be the one that people think of when they need what you’re selling. But being the first name people think of in your industry is much different than being the first one to hit the shelves. In fact, there are some serious disadvantages to being first to market before anyone else.

While it makes for great motivational speeches, achieving something before everyone else comes with its own complications. When you’re first to market, that’s simply not enough reason to immediately start scaling upwards. There are absolutely advantages to being first, but it’s not an instant ticket to success. There are many more variables that go into creating a successful product, and while novelty can be a benefit, it’s far from a major one. The research bears it out.

For those of us who aren’t business professors, there are plenty of illuminating examples of companies and products that didn’t thrive when they were first to market. Here are the major reasons to consider before rushing to be the first.

Refinement, not speed, makes for a good product.

For one thing, being first means all your cards are out on the table. Yes, you’ve got a product or service that nobody else has, but now that it’s in the market there’s nothing stopping your competition from replicating it, and even improving on what you’ve made.

Henry Ford didn’t make the first car — he made the one with the best manufacturing process and reliability. The iPod wasn’t the first mp3 player with a hard drive — it was the one with the best design, ease of use and marketing. Their predecessors failed to deliver the best form of the product, and did little more than provide proof of concept for a better plan to take over their market.

First was a novelty, but novelty won’t bring reliable sales. A great product will.

Innovation never ends.

Another thing to consider is that the cutting edge isn’t a finish line that you and your competition are running towards–it’s a constantly evolving state of being. Today’s groundbreaking development, no matter what it is, will end up being a jumping off point for something even better down the line.

And “down the line” may not be as far away as you’d think. Competitors can take your great idea, build on it and end up beating you at your own game. One example is the once-ubiquitous Palm Pilot. Palm, Inc., its manufacturer, owned the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) game for several years. Their brand was synonymous with the product. Today, you might only find one in a landfill. Smartphones came around, utilizing all the abilities of the PDA plus much, much more. Only three years after the first iPhone was introduced, Palm was toast.

Jumping the gun can mean shooting yourself in the foot.

Even before the competition can improve on what you’re selling, you’ll need to ensure that it meets your own standards. Rushing it to market can fail for the same reason many rushed things do — it’s simply not ready. Your product or service isn’t a major musical composition — it needs to generate money from satisfied customers or your entire company will be in jeopardy.

You may not have heard of Scanadu, and there’s a reason for that. The health tech company’s smartphone-connected medical sensor was promoted as a revolutionary piece of equipment: a way for everyone to keep tabs on their vitals without making appointments or filling out doctor’s paperwork. The only issue? It didn’t work. When they failed to get FDA approval for their $200 Scout units, early adopters were left in the cold. The devices already sold were remotely deactivated by regulatory decree, and #ScanaduScam hit social media. Not an ideal product rollout.

In any industry, there are hazards to hitting the market first. That’s why many experts agree that you’re best off taking the time to ensure that your product is as good as it can be. Better to be a little late to the scene than to be here today and gone tomorrow. You want to capture imaginations, yes, but being the most-talked about without being the best-selling isn’t going to keep your business afloat. What matters more than being first? Being the best quality. And that doesn’t happen overnight.

Originally published on Entrepreneur 

Staying Calm Is the Best Response to a Down Market

Sometimes, the best you can do is just not making the situation worse.

No matter how tightly you have control over what happens within your company, there are many outside factors that can take you in unwanted directions. Probably the biggest of these is the greater market you’re operating within: if it’s on an upswing, hopefully, you’re poised to take advantage. If it isn’t, you better know how to deal. The times when market conditions aren’t so favorable is when good leaders are separated from the rest. It’s all about how you choose to react.

A crucial part of leadership (some may argue the most important) is being able to handle problems as they arise. A down market is a special kind of problem in that you can’t take ownership of it, or correct it yourself: you can only respond to it. The way you choose to respond defines you as a leader and your business as a whole. What will you do?

Fortunately, there are ways to keep your head above water during major sea changes. It all comes down to your own response, and crafting the right one will ensure you and your business don’t sink.

Keep your head on straight

First and foremost — don’t panic! The greatest misstep you can make in these situations is acting on irrational impulses. Panicking in downturns can take many forms: drastic decisions, poorly thought-out layoffs and other actions that will likely hurt you more than they help. When your car pops a tire, do you throw your hands up and decide to start walking? Or do you pull over, get down in the grime and do the work to get moving again?

There will always be leaner times and fatter ones. Rather than a disaster, think of the tough times as an opportunity to make the most of the resources you already have: your experience, your team, your attitude and your principles. Even when times are good, shore up the strong foundation so that you’ll be able to lean upon it when things take a turn downward. Because they will.

Draw on your experience

For one, you can take stock of how you responded the last time it happened. Go through your records and really think critically about what you did during the previous downturn that you and your business survived. Did you just make it by the skin of your teeth, or did you come out nearly unscathed? There are lessons to be gleaned no matter what the result was.

Even if you’re pretty new to entrepreneurship, think back to any point in your life when the odds seemed stacked against you. Maybe in school you had tough classes and a packed schedule with deadlines looming. How did you respond? Just as we’re always learning, we’re always given opportunities to use what we’ve already learned.

Leverage your network

Another way to stay afloat is by reaching out to those you trust most. The importance of a strong professional network can never be overstated: it’s how you grow your business, bar none. Making connections isn’t just a growth requirement, either. In down times, your contacts in other industries may be doing just fine and can throw you some crucial business.

Friends and family members are always there to help if you need it as well. Don’t think of it as begging for charity — you’re making use of one of the best resources you have. There’s no shame in reaching out to others to help you and your business make it through the storm. For extra help, advice, or just a thoughtful ear to vent to, never underestimate those closest to you. They understand what you’re going through better than you might think.

Embrace the challenge

Successfully overcoming a downturn is all about how you choose to approach it. No matter what your business does, a steady hand goes a long way towards survival. Never lose sight of that attitude that you had starting out, the fearless mindset that every entrepreneur has. It takes guts to set out and build something new in an often unforgiving business world, and holding onto that fearlessness is how you’ll weather every subsequent challenge.

You need to embrace challenges, not shrink from them. Starting your company in the first place was a risk, and you had to know the dangers wouldn’t end there. That stress you feel from knowing the markets aren’t where you’d like them to be? Use it, harness it, let it sharpen your focus. It’s out of your hands, so there’s no use stressing over it and overreacting when you should instead be planning your next steps.

Panicking, losing sight of your principles, thinking you can take it all on your shoulders — these are the ways to lose sight of success when the market stumbles. If you can avoid panicking, you’ll make it through the troubling times into a better future. Once the ship rights itself, you’ll want to be ready to hop right back on.

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur

5 Things You Can Do Today to Help Stop Teen Suicide

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Teen suicide has reached almost epidemic proportions, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noting a 70 percent rise between 2006 and 2016, the most recent year statistics were available. Suicide is an issue with no easy answers; the reasons it happens can almost feel impossible to fully understand. But there are action steps any of us can take to help make sure the young people feeling isolated and depressed don’t make that terrible choice. Here are five actionable steps you can take today to help stop teen suicide.

Understand the depths of the problem

It’s not an exaggeration to say that suicide is a more crucial problem now than it’s ever been before. Recent studies have found that suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people, more than cancer, heart disease, birth defects, AIDS, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and lung disease combined. Only automotive and other accidents take more young lives on a yearly basis. In short, it’s something to be taken extremely seriously. Taking it seriously means taking action when necessary, and knowing when to do so means being able to identify the early signs that a young person may be thinking about harming themselves.

Learn the warning signs

Whether it’s your own children or those you interact with through family or friends, there are frequently subtle and unsubtle warning signs that indicate the potential for self-harm. Sudden changes in personality, like a shift from friendliness to withdrawal may be a sign a teen is in danger. Risky behavior and isolation from society often foretell dire things as well. Mood swings and dispositional changes happen in many otherwise healthy teenagers, but once-happy young people who begin to dwell on negative thoughts and feelings of worthlessness are showing major red flags that may require action.

Volunteer at a local crisis center

Absent these kinds of warning signs in the teens in your life, there are still ways to personally help those afflicted with suicidal thoughts. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline consists of a national network of crisis centers, operating both the well-known suicide hotline and in-person counseling. You may not be a certified crisis counselor, but there is a multitude of ways the SPL can help empower you to get involved in fighting the good fight against teen suicide. Answering phone calls or texts is just one of the many support jobs you can do to help out. If you truly are interested in becoming a full-time counselor, there are many resources to learn about doing just that.

Reduce teens’ access to guns

While it’s not the only method through which teens end their lives, firearms account for 40 percent of such suicides, double the amount of gun-related homicides in the same age group. Without delving into a touchy political topic, it’s a proven fact that access to firearms increases the risk of being harmed by one. It’s also a fact that suicide attempts carried out by guns are more certain to be completed, putting a shattering certainty on the misguided choice to self-harm. It’s a simple choice that can save a life. If you’ve got guns, lock them up.

Talk openly with your children

For parents who have teens of their own, even ones who show no outward signs of depression or hopelessness, a candid conversation about suicide can help them better understand the futility of such an act. Even if it might not always seem like they’re listening, a serious talk can go a long way in letting them know that they’re not alone. Put their problems into perspective, and remind them that the weight of the world on one’s shoulders is lessened when we share it with those closest to us. The despondency of a suicidal mind can only be cured when they know they’re not alone. If the idea makes you uncomfortable, do it anyway. Their lives may depend on it.

This was originally published on DanNeiditch.org