• As U.S. Suicide Rates Rise, Hispanics Show Relative Immunity
    (Maria Fabrizio for KHN) This story also ran on The Texas Tribune. This story can be republished for free (details). The young man held the medication in his hand — and considered using it to end his life. But then he “put it down and said, ‘No. I need help,’” before heading to a Laredo, Texas, emergency room, said Kimberly Gallegos, who at the time earlier this year was a mobile crisis worker for a local mental health center. Gallegos was helping evaluate whether the patient, a Latino in his early 30s, should be immediately hospitalized or could go home safely until seeing an outpatient... Read more »
  • Must Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
    The Friday Breeze Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend. Just in case our ever-decreasing anonymity in this tech-driven world hasn’t scared you enough, new studies find that within a few years 90 percent — 90 percent! — of Americans of European descent will be identifiable from their DNA. If you fall into that group, it doesn’t even matter whether you’ve given a DNA sample to one of the popular gene-testing sites (like 23andMe). Enough of your distant relatives have, so there’s a good chance... Read more »
  • Dementia And Guns: When Should Doctors Broach The Topic?
    Some patients refuse to answer. Many doctors don’t ask. As the number of Americans with dementia rises, health professionals are grappling with when and how to pose the question: “Do you have guns at home?” While gun violence data is scarce, a Kaiser Health News investigation with PBS NewsHour published in June uncovered over 100 cases across the U.S. since 2012  in which people with dementia used guns to kill themselves or others.  The shooters often acted during bouts of confusion, paranoia, delusion or aggression — common symptoms of dementia.  Tragically they shot spouses, children and caregivers. Yet health care providers across the... Read more »
  • Black Market For Suboxone Gives Some A Glimpse Of Recovery
    Months in prison didn’t rid Daryl of his addiction to opioids. “Before I left the parking lot of the prison, I was shooting up, getting high,” he said. Daryl had used heroin and prescription painkillers for more than a decade. Almost four years ago, he became one of more than 200 people who tested positive for HIV in a historic outbreak in Scott County, Ind. After that diagnosis, he said, he went on a bender. But about a year ago, Daryl had an experience that made him realize he might be able to stay away from heroin and opioids. For several days,... Read more »
  • Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
    The Friday Breeze Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend. Tucked away in an obit on a physicist’s death this week was the latest reality check-slash-gut punch on the state of spending in our health system. Leon Lederman, aka the man who coined the phrase “God particle,” died Wednesday at 96. A few years back, he auctioned off his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to help pay for his health care costs. What happens when you don’t have one of those lying around? Do... Read more »
  • Managing Your Mental Health While Managing A Newsroom’s Social Media
    Like many people in society today, we know we spend too much time online — but as social media managers it is our job to be there. Social media managers, a position that was unheard of a decade ago, experience tremendous stress. Social media can be a toxic place — especially for those of us who work in that space. Angry users on social seem to forget that a human being is behind the brand’s account they are screaming at or the story they are criticizing. At the most recent Online News Association conference in Austin, Texas, I asked social media editors,... Read more »
  • Judges In California Losing Sway Over Court-Ordered Drug Treatment
    SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Dressed in jailhouse orange, with hands and feet shackled, Jimi Ray Haynes stood up in a Santa Cruz County courtroom and pleaded guilty to a felony weapons charge. Haynes, then 32, had spent the previous two weeks in jail detoxing from methamphetamine and heroin. The judge told Haynes he could serve part of his yearlong jail sentence in a drug treatment program rather than locked in county jail. Eileen Jao, an assistant district attorney, quickly interjected: “It has to be residential, not outpatient,” she said. “It’s residential or jail.” Jao wanted the terms to be crystal-clear. Because of a... Read more »
  • Buried In Congress’ Opioid Bill Is Protection For Personal Drug Imports
    WASHINGTON — The final version of the massive opioid bill Congress released Wednesday would grant the Food and Drug Administration new powers to crack down on drug imports, but it also includes a provision — nearly killed in the Senate — to shield people who are just trying to buy cheaper, needed prescription medication from other countries. Broadly, the bill seeks to enlist the FDA in combating the opioid crisis by mandating that the agency take steps to accelerate development of non-opioid painkillers and to limit the supplies of the drugs, both illegal and legitimate, that claimed the lives of more... Read more »
  • Readers And Tweeters Slice And Dice Precision Medicine, Step Therapy
    Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. Precision Medicine: The Full Picture Thank you for publishing Liz Szabo’s piece, “Much Touted For Cancer, ‘Precision Medicine’ Often Misses The Target” (Sept. 13). In calculating the pluses and minuses of precision medicine, please add attention to “side effects,” which can be more like full-frontal assaults. In my sweetheart’s four years of living with a terminal diagnosis, she had two experiences with precision medicine. The first probably extended her life, even though it brought a disabling side... Read more »
  • Parents Are Leery Of Schools Requiring ‘Mental Health’ Disclosures By Students
    Children registering for school in Florida this year were asked to reveal some history about their mental health. The new requirement is part of a law rushed through the state legislature after the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. On registration forms for new students, the state’s school districts now must ask whether a child has ever been referred for mental health services. “If you do say, ‘Yes, my child has seen a counselor or a therapist or a psychologist,’ what does the school then do with that?” asked Laura Goodhue, who has a 9-year-old son on the autism spectrum and a... Read more »