Category Archives: Suicide
Voters across the country were presented Tuesday with more than 170 ballot initiatives, many on health-related issues. Among them, according to the Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California:
- Assisted Suicide: Voters in Massachusetts narrowly defeated a “Death with Dignity” bill.
- Health Exchanges: Missouri voters passed a measure that prohibits the state from establishing a health care exchange without legislative or voter approval.
- Home Health Care: Michigan voters struck down a proposal that would have required additional training for home health care workers and created a registry of those providers.
- Individual Mandate: Floridians defeated a measure to reject the health reform law’s requirement that individuals obtain health insurance. Voters in Alabama, Montana and Wyoming passed similar measures, which are symbolic because states cannot override federal law.
- Medical Marijuana: Measures to allow for medical use of marijuana were passed in Massachusetts and upheld in Montana, which will make them the 18th and 19th states to adopt such laws. A similar measure was rejected by voters in Arkansas.
- Medicaid Trust Fund: Voters in Louisiana approved an initiative that ensures the state Medicaid trust fund will not be used to make up for budget shortfalls.
- Reproductive Health: Florida voters defeated two ballot measures on abortion and contraceptive services: one that would have restricted the use of public funds for abortions; and one that could have been interpreted to deny women contraceptive care paid for or provided by religious individuals and organizations. Montanans approved an initiative that requires abortion providers to notify parents if a minor under age 16 seeks an abortion, with notification to take place 48 hours before the procedure.
- Tobacco: North Dakota voters approved a smoking ban in public and work places. Missouri voters rejected a tobacco tax increase that would have directed some of the revenue to health education.
By Matt Wray, PhD, MA, an associate professor of sociology at Temple University and an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program (2006-2008). His research and teaching interests include the social determinants of health, cultural sociology, and the sociology of race and ethnicity. This post is part of a series on the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, running in conjunction with the program’s tenth anniversary. The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program is designed to build the nation’s capacity for research, leadership and policy change to address the multiple determinants of population health.
Consider two recent suicides that made headlines around the globe: In January of 2011, after authorities confiscated his belongings, beat and humiliated him, Mohamed Boazizi set himself ablaze in frustration and protest. Boauzizi was a 26-year-old fruit vendor, scratching out just enough money to feed a family of eight, despite unchecked harassment by local authorities. His self-immolation after harassment at the hands of Tunisian authorities helped trigger the Tunisian Revolution, and in turn, the Arab Spring.
In April 2012, Dmitris Christoulis, a 77-year old retired pharmacist in Athens, shot himself outside the Greek Parliament building, in what the New York Times described as "despair over his financial problems [in] this austerity-weary country." Greek media reported that he suffered from health problems and struggled to pay for his medications. He left a suicide note saying he could not face "scavenging through garbage bins for food and becoming a burden to my child.”
Human Capital News Roundup: Soda taxes, suicide-prevention training, the environmental justice movement, and more.
Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:
Michigan Radio reports on a study led by RWJF Clinical Scholars alumnus Aasim Padela, MD, MSc, that examined discrimination against American Muslims in health care settings and what providers can do to better meet the cultural needs of these patients. Read a post Padela wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about the study.
A study co-authored by RWJF Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program alumnus Esteban Burchard, MD, MPH, finds that African American and Latino children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are much more likely to suffer from acute asthma symptoms in their teen years than are children whose mothers did not smoke, Medical News Today reports.
By Jennifer Stuber, PhD, assistant professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Washington. Stuber is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program (2004-2006). Her research interests include health policy, interventions to refute stigmatization and tobacco-related health disparities.
Health policy happens to be my area of professional expertise. But it has gotten very personal for me over the last 18 months.
It was about that long ago that my husband, Matt Adler, started having symptoms of depression and anxiety. An accomplished lawyer and a beloved father and husband, he found the illness and the stigma that came with it overpowering. We got him counseling and medication from a psychiatrist and a psychologist, but in the end, he took his own life.
I won’t try to describe the canyon-sized sense of loss my kids and I feel, or for that matter, any of the other emotions we’ve experienced since that horrible day last February. But I’ve worked hard to try to generate something positive from Matt’s ordeal and from ours.
A few months before he died, Matt asked me if I had any ideas about ways to put his legal skills to work on behalf of people with mental illness. He said he’d like to devote some pro bono time to the subject. After his death, I knew I wanted to honor that request as best I could. So I began discussing the subject with my fellow faculty at the University of Washington, and with suicide-prevention experts in the community.
Human Capital News Roundup: Racial disparities and life expectancy, colonoscopies, training on suicide risk and more.
Around the country, the news media is covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholars, fellows and grantees. Here are some examples.
In a story about the 75th anniversary of the College of Nursing at Montana State University, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle cites research being conducted by two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars who are faculty at the University: Laura Larsson, PhD, MPH, RN, and Sandra Kuntz, PhD, RN. Larsson is researching ways to reduce radon exposure among low-income people, and Kuntz is researching mercury exposure on two Indian reservations. Read a post Larsson wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog.
Medical News Today reports on a study by RWJF Clinical Scholars program alumna Nazleen Bharmal, MD, MPP, which examined racial disparities and life expectancy by state. Bharmal’s study was published in a special “Bridging the Gap between Research and Health Policy” edition of Health Services Research. The issue features studies by current Clinical Scholars and alumni. Read a post Bharmal wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog. Learn more about the special issue of Health Services Research.
WYPR-FM spoke to RWJF Community Health Leader Joanne Goldblum about the newly-formed National Diaper Bank Network, which will distribute 20 million diapers donated by Huggies manufacturer Kimberly-Clark to local diaper banks across the country. Goldblum founded the New Haven Diaper Bank in Connecticut when she realized that low-income families could not receive diapers through federal assistance programs like food stamps.
Elizabeth Wildsmith, PhD, spoke to Scripps Howard News Service and the Honolulu Civil Beat about a study by Child Trends finding that the majority of women under 30 in the United States with children are not married. Wildsmith is a research scientist with Child Trends and an alumna of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program. The New York Times also reported on the group’s findings.