Exactly one year ago, a person near and dear to me passed away as a result of a suicide attempt. Their passing was’t immediately after the attempt, though. They were kept alive by surgical interventions and medical technology just long enough for everyone to manage to say good-bye. (Other victims of suicide don’t have that privilege of saying good-bye.) I was there in the minutes following the attempt, and the experience will probably live with me for a very long time.
That is one of the main reasons why my writings on this blog have been so much about social determinants of health, mental health, and suicide. From that experience — as well as from my wife’s adventure in getting her second master’s degree — I’ve learned that mental health is just as important as any other kind of health when it comes to the health and wellbeing of the public. In fact, I’m willing to bet good money that a lot of the current issues in public health have a huge metal health component to them.
For the second part of the comprehensive exams today, I was to read two journal articles and analyze them critically. When I got the envelope that was supposed to have my articles last night, I realized that only one was included. It was an article on the correlation between gun control laws and gun violence. Late in the evening, I emailed one of the coordinators of the exams and asked her if I was supposed to have to articles. I did. I also sent a message to one of my colleagues and asked her the same. She also confirmed that I did.
The second article was an article on suicide by firearm in older adults. One year to the day of that death, I’m asked to analyze the evidence on why people take their lives with guns. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. I was taken right back to that day last year when all that happened, and then to that day a month later, when they finally passed.
But all this did do one thing. It inspired me to be interested in the studies and in their findings, and it kept me interested for the 4 hours plus that it took me to answer the questions in the exam. Still, I wish I didn’t keep being “sucked back” to that day and re-living all that happened. But that’s a discussion to have on a different day.
Now the comprehensives are done (unless I didn’t pass, in which case I’ll have to retake them). So let the summer begin.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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