Public Health Of, For and By The People
National campaigns against cigarette smoking have changed lives and likely saved thousands of more lives. New Yorkers are familiar with the subway ads that memorialize the countless young lives that have ended too soon as a result of the menacing addiction. We have witnessed a reduction in the number of cigarette smokers, and national efforts on the part of the American people and government administrators cannot be understated. Just as this rallying cry for action has become effective policy, we must do the same with issues of suicide, motor-vehicle safety, and a variety of other endemic public health concerns.
The New York Times describes the necessity for similar calls to action in Aaron E. Caroll’s article, “How to Prioritize and Save Young Lives.” Caroll argues that there is a large disconnect in the United States between what we presume kills children and what in actuality does lead to premature deaths.
He states that in 2010, the No. 1 killer of people ages 15 to 24 in the United States was accidents, second was homicide, and third, suicide. These are daunting facts, and while rising mental health concerns can be difficult to grapple, they cannot be overlooked.
We must be attune to the real challenges for current generations and those to come. A collective effort to select programs aimed at reducing the mortality rate among 15-24 year-olds is the responsibility of every American. Carroll makes a country comparison between the United States and Denmark — the latter of which has implemented effective strategies to combat suicide, homicide, vehicle accident, obesity, and hypertension rates.
Youth suicide rates between the the two nations were not unalike in the 1980s, Carroll points out, but in recent years, Denmark’s suicide rate among young adults has been about half ours. Their policies and programs are working, and we must eliminate ego, and recognize that there are nations making powerful changes to alter the fate of its future generations. As the greatest country in the world, we must recognize our previous successes, examine our failures, and become vocal about the rising concerns affecting our kids.
Tomorrow, I will talk about why we should all celebrate Hallmark’s favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day.