Police Killings of Unarmed Blacks Affect Community Mental Health

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There were no mental health effects among white respondents.
There were no mental health effects among white respondents.

HealthDay News — For black U.S. adults, police killings of unarmed black Americans have adverse effects on mental health, according to a study published online June 21 in The Lancet.

Jacob Bor, Sc.D., from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues combined novel data on police killings with individual-level data from the nationally representative 2013 to 2015 U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to estimate the causal impact of police killings of unarmed black Americans on self-reported mental health of other black adults in the United States.

The researchers found that in the three months prior to the survey, 38,993 of 103,710 black American respondents were exposed to one or more police killings of unarmed black Americans in their state of residence. An additional 0.14 poor mental health days were seen among black American respondents in association with each additional police killing of unarmed black Americans. In the one to two months after exposure the largest effects on mental health occurred, with no significant effects estimated for respondents interviewed before police killings. There were no mental health impacts among white respondents; the mental health impacts were only seen in association with police killings of unarmed black Americans, not unarmed white Americans or armed black Americans.

"Programs should be implemented to decrease the frequency of police killings and to mitigate adverse mental health effects within communities when such killings do occur," the authors write.

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