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Consumers Corner # 34


By Jim Murphy

Suicide sucks for everyone – especially for family and friends left behind. And no parent should have to bury a child, much less a child who died by his or her own hand.

No doubt parents of children who commit suicide wonder if they could have done something to prevent it. They probably spend sleepless nights thinking about what warning signs they might have missed.

And that’s a shame. The teenage years are difficult for everyone: teens, parents and the rest of the family. For some teens, though, these years are so devastating that they take their own lives before they have really lived. And I can’t even begin to imagine the pain parents feel.

Unfortunately, suicide is a fact of life today, for children of all colors. Among white children 10-17 years of age, the suicide rate is up 70%, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For black children, the rate of increase was even higher: 77%.

A 2005 study, covering two years of firearm suicides among youths, reports the Los Angeles Times, “found that 82% used a firearm belong to a family member, usually a parent.” That’s another reason to lock up your guns and keep the key on your person or wherever your kids can’t get it.

Yes Magazine offered these suggestions to help counteract a black teen suicide rate that has doubled. (I think the suggestions really apply to any color of  family anywhere.)

  • Listen to your kids and validate their emotions. Don’t minimize or downplay what they are feeling.


  • Reduce their time on social media.


  • Be supportive of your kids.


  • Take their feelings seriously.


  • Erase the stigma of mental illness in the black community. It is not weakness.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org) offers these facts …and suggestions.


  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10 – 24


  • 90% of those who die by suicide had an underlying mental illness.


  • 70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.


Look for warning signs of problems, such as:

Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks; trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so; not eating; severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships; drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits.

For more information, go to this infographic:

What you can do:

Talk with your pediatrician, get a referral to a mental health specialist work with the school, and connect with other families.

If necessary, call the NAMI Helpline at: 800-950-6264

Source: NAMI



Are you getting a lot of phish?

I’m getting bombarded lately with phish – or emails that try to trick you into giving away info that lets someone steal your identity or money.

My recent phish looked very much like email you would receive from these established companies: Docusign, Apple, Amazon, Comcast, FEDEX and Bank of America.

If you have any questions about an email you receive, don’t click on it. Instead, hover your mouse over the “from” part of the email to check what the address says. Often, you will see a strange address. If you do, just put it in your junk mail. But be aware that some companies can mimic a real company address. If you have any questions at all about the email, contact the company directly. Do not click on any link the email provides.


HomeAdvisor goes to court in San Francisco

“Good Morning America” reports that San Francisco is taking HomeAdvisor to court for misleading consumers about background checks.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón says that in many cases, these pros are not background-checked at all. Only the owner/principal of independent business is. The trial is due to start April 12.


Wells Fargo can’t seem to get it right

A recent Wells Fargo attempt to refund money to 38,000 customers it had forced to buy unneeded auto insurance went awry, says the Wall Street Journal.

“In some cases, according to two people briefed on the matter, Wells Fargo has also sent refunds to people who weren’t the bank’s customers; notified those who were harmed of incorrect amounts to be paid; and told people of coming refunds though they had never gotten the insurance,” the paper reports.


The CFPB is now a watchdog with no teeth

Forget about getting any more help from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Under current acting director Mick Mulvaney, who once called the bureau “a sick, sad joke” of an agency, the CFPB has taken no enforcement actions since Nov. 21, 2017, three days before Richard Cordray, the previous director, resigned. It’s now a case of having the fox watch the henhouse.

In seven years of existence, the CFPB returned $3.97 billion in cash to American consumers and provided some sort of reimbursement to one of every 10 Americans. That’s unlikely to happen any longer, until a different administration sees the value of real consumer protection.




Number of homes sold by owners in 2017. These are classified as For Sale By Owner or FSBO



Median sale price of owner-listed homes in 2017. That’s $60,000 below the price received for homes listed with real estate agents that year.



The percent of sellers who posted an FSBO listing on Fizber.com and ultimately hired a full-service real estate agent to sell their homes. Fizber says its average customer saves $15,000 selling their home through the Fizber platform. It’s been working with FSBO-ers since 2006.

Source: Wall Street Journal


Photo Credits


“Face IV” flickr photo by W i l l a r d https://flickr.com/photos/slightlyblurred/2622933510
shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license.



Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. Now a certified member and vice president of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides, Jim also writes historical articles for the Queen Village Neighbors Association magazine.

Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.





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