Cops Killing Unarmed Blacks Has Mental Health Impact

A study finds that police killings of unarmed black Americans contribute nearly two additional days a year in which a black person suffers some mental health toll. The study found no such effect on the mental health of whites, nor did blacks report this kind of distress over police killings of armed black suspects.

When an unarmed black American dies at the hands of police, the emotional impact reverberates so widely that blacks who don’t even know the victim report distress, anxiety and depression, creating a national mental health burden nearly comparable to the stress caused by a chronic illness like diabetes, reports Philly.com. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and Harvard University analyzed data from a nationally representative survey covering more than 100,000 Americans for the study, published Thursday in the Lancet. They found that on average, police killings of unarmed black Americans contribute nearly two additional days a year in which a black person suffers some mental health toll. The study found no such effect on the mental health of whites, nor did blacks report this kind of distress over police killings of armed black suspects. “I wasn’t so much surprised by the findings as I was saddened,” said Atheendar Venkataramani, a study author from Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Hearing of an unarmed person dying in a police shooting, he said, may signal to others that they, too, could be vulnerable to violence through no fault of their own. “Events that communicate to people that maybe they are worth less or their lives are not valued can influence people’s health,” Venkataramani said. For Reuben Jones, a Philadelphia native and director of the nonprofit Frontline Dads, the findings quantify his life experience. “Police killings remind you of your own mortality,” he said. “Even the most simple police stops can end your life.” In the U.S., an unarmed black person is three times more likely to be shot by police than an unarmed white person, and in the last three years, more than 70 unarmed black people have been killed by police, according to a Washington Post database that tracks fatal shootings.

from https://thecrimereport.org