The suicide rate among children and young people ages 10 to 24 jumped 56% from 2007 to 2017, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released this week, with suicide becoming the second leading cause of death in that age group (after deaths due to unintentional injuries). The Washington Post reports that, “while suicide has steadily become more common across the population, the increase among youths has outpaced all other age groups… “Just looking at these numbers, it’s hard not to find them completely disturbing. It should be a call to action,” said Lisa M. Horowitz, a pediatric psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health. “If you had kids suddenly dying at these rates from a new disease or infection, there would be a huge outcry. But most people don’t even know this is happening. It’s not recognized for the public health crisis it has become.” … The report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also showed homicides among ages 10 to 24 increasing 23 percent from 2014 through 2017 after a long period of decline. This trend mirrors a similar uptick in homicides across other age groups, said CDC statistician Sally C. Curtin, who compiled the new report. Firearms are one factor looming over both worrisome trends. The United States has more guns per capita than any other country. It also has by far a higher rate of gun deaths than any other wealthy country. And while violent homicides often grab headlines, more gun deaths every year are attributed to suicide.”
With the first federal trial to determine responsibility for the opioid epidemic set to begin on Monday, the New York Times reports that the three largest drug distributors and two drug manufacturers have reached a tentative settlement with multiple states totaling approximately $50 billion. “According to people familiar with the talks, the combined value of the deal breaks down as follows: $20 billion to $25 billion in cash to be divided among the states and localities to help pay for health care, law enforcement and other costs associated with the epidemic; and another $25 billion to $30 billion in addiction-treatment drugs, supplies and delivery services… The drug distributors are not nearly as well known as some of the other corporate players implicated in the opioid crisis, like Purdue Pharma, whose misleading marketing of the drug OxyContin is thought to have set off the epidemic. But the distributors are bigger and richer than the manufacturers — all three are among the top 20 companies in the United States by revenue — and numerous lawsuits have pointed to evidence that they routinely evaded regulators and helped pharmacies and manufacturers circumvent limits on orders of opioid painkillers. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the trial starting Monday have said that the distributors conspired through their trade organization to flout the federal law, which obliged them to monitor sales and report outliers. They said that the distributors not only cast a blind eye on extraordinary orders, but lashed and rewarded their teams to sell greater volumes of opioids.”
The US Census Bureau announced this week that it has requested states turn over driver’s license records, which typically include citizenship status. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross previously instructed the Census Bureau to develop citizenship data that states could use in redistricting. “Given the potential inaccuracies in the data and the dramatic implications for redistricting, [the ACLU’s Dale] Ho said that states should reject the administration’s attempt to harvest their administrative data as a “scheme motivated by an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose to dilute the political power of communities of color. The Census Bureau should drop this latest distraction and instead focus on the important work of ensuring a full and accurate count.”
Vox reports on workers’ rights activism to make scheduling practices more predictable and livable for workers who often struggle to balance family responsibilities and cover bills on shifting schedules with unreliable wages. “Policymakers are starting to pay attention to this problem. Over the past three years, Oregon and a wave of cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York City have passed “fair workweek” legislation that aims to make schedules more predictable (or compensate workers when they are unpredictable). The laws require that certain companies — most often, large retail and food service companies employing several hundred people or more — take steps such as posting schedules two weeks in advance, compensating workers if there are last-minute scheduling changes, and allowing sufficient rest time between shifts… For workers, these laws are of huge importance. Both firsthand accounts and recent systematic research suggest that unpredictable scheduling is extremely stressful for workers and their families. Regardless of industry, people should have the ability to balance their family and work lives, and to plan ahead. By requiring advance notice (and compensation for last-minute changes), fair workweek scheduling can significantly raise quality of life for millions of people. For the last several decades, many companies have shifted to “just-in-time” scheduling, in which managers schedule shifts with little advance notice. A national survey in 2014 showed that 41 percent of early career workers with hourly wages reported seven days or fewer notice on their schedules. The rates in the food service and retail sectors are even higher, as is the rate for workers of color.”
This week, Madison, Wisconsin, declared racism a public health crisis. “I’m glad that someone is recognizing it as a health issue, because then maybe now we’ll take greater measures in addressing the issues.” said Alexander Gee Jr., the president and founder of the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership and Development… “It’s now been proven that the stress caused by the pressures of racism is a leading indicator of health disparities for African Americans,” he said. “We now know that because of stress, we, African Americans, are contracting diseases faster than our white counterparts and then dying sooner.”
Singapore became the first country in the world to ban sugary drink advertisements. “In addition to an ad ban, the ministry announced that sugary drinks would also be required to display a color-coded, front-of-pack nutrition label to list nutritional quality and sugar content… [Edwin Tong, Senior Minister for Singapore’s Ministry of Health] said the two measures were only the first steps in the city-state's efforts to combat diabetes. Two other proposals, including the possibility of introducing an excise duty or even an outright ban on high-sugar drinks, are still "on the agenda." "We intend to study them more carefully," he added. "We want to find measures that are sustainable in the long-term, that shape not just market consumption behavior but also on the supply side to drive reformulation."