London Pride, Disparate Suicide Rates, Black Childbirth-Mortality and Urban Dangers.
This July, London’s Pride was particularly stirring as this year’s pride marked 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in England (see 1). Vito Ward was one attendee who recounted her experience of being ejected from the Navy after 10 years of service because she was gay. Ward commented on the importance of pride: “It’s about making sure that we do this for people elsewhere in the world who don’t have rights.”
According to a study published by the British Journal of Psychiatry, not all people are equally affected by economic recessions. Studies show that rates of suicide increase in women and men, however, “these increases are about fourfold greater among men, widening the pre-existing gap in suicide rates” (See 2). One reason for this incredible disparity is because, according to the national director of Strategic Initiatives for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Mark Henick, male sense of self-worth is often threatened by “devastating financial losses.” Reporter Erika Alini notes that when men lose their jobs, they often feel as if they have lost their masculinity. She further notes that the effect of this factor will be minimized once all genders are viewed as being equally capable of providing for themselves. According to Henick, the phenomenon that men are less likely to seek help when struggling with a mental illness also contributes to higher suicide rates. The effect of this factor would be diminished if men were not regularly expected to repress emotions. The societal expectation that is often placed upon men to be the ‘one true provider’ of a household, and to refrain from obtaining help is ultimately life threatening.
Black women, too, are dying in unequal numbers. Black women are three and a half times more likely to die during childbirth than white women (See 3). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during 2011 to 2013, the pregnancy-related mortality ratios were 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women and 43.5 deaths per 100,000 live births for black women. Reporter Najja Parker notes that “black women experience unique stress levels that white women do not” and that it is believed that “race disparities and underlying health differences between the two groups play a role.” Hope comes from North Carolina where intentional efforts were made to close this gap. In 2013, the pregnancy-related mortality ratios were the same for black and white women. North Carolina’s Medicaid program “Pregnancy Medical Home,” aims to reduce the incidences of preterm birth, and is one factor that may be helping to reduce this racial disparity.
Other forms of inequity related to mortality are those that originate from the environment. Yvette Cabera of “ThinkProgress” conducted an in-depth study, and we now know that when children in urban areas of California play outside, the soil under their nails and in their lungs may contain lead (see 4). At a rental property at Santa Ana, California, soil tests showed that “lead levels … were as much as ten times higher than what the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) considers dangerous for children.” According to Cabera, the number of children who have dangerous levels of lead-blood concentration is a whopping 64% higher than the average for the state of California. Nicholas F. Stump notes that the United States has “lagged behind” in making laws out of the fact that all people deserve clean air and water.
In North Carolina, steps have been taken to reduce the number of lead-related incidences. Greensboro won a grant to address lead problems in houses, and the Board of Health “unanimously passed an ordinance that required doctors to test all children who are younger than 6 for lead poisoning.” 37 children had already tested positive to lead poisoning in 2015. It is clear that this ordinance is supremely necessary – it is the “first and strongest of its kind” in North Carolina. Other states have established similar regulations, but in order to keep children safe, more states should be held to this standard.
Written By: Faith Lewis, LLS Contributor
(1) London’s Pride
(2) Disparate Suicide Rates
(3) Black women in danger
(4) Health is a Human Right
(5) Successful Lead Removal
Written By: Faith Lewis, LLS Contributor