Suicide among teens and young adults reaches the highest level since 2000

The rate of U.S. adolescents and young adults dying of suicide has reached its highest level in nearly two decades, according to a report published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In 2017, there were 47 percent more suicides among people aged 15 to 19 than in the year 2000. Overall, there are 36 percent more people aged 20 to 24 living in the U.S. today than at the turn of the century.

With more than 6,200 suicides among people aged 15 to 24, suicide ranked as the second-leading cause of death for people in that age group in 2017, trailing behind deaths from unintentional motor vehicle accidents, which claimed 6,697 lives.

To study the change, a team from Harvard Medical School pulled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks deaths and their “underlying cause” nationwide.

Suicide rates among females have been on the rise for several years in this time period, with the rates for 15- to 19-year-olds rising more quickly after 2009. An even more noticeable spike has occurred in suicides for adolescent and young adult males since 2014.

The researchers said that trend might be connected to the opioid crisis, because of the added stressors that come with addiction, said Oren Miron, a research associate at Harvard Medical School and one of the report’s authors.

Social media, as well as a reduced stigma for parents and coroners to report a child’s death as suicide (rather than as an accident), could also be playing a role in the increase, the researchers suggested.

But Miron cautioned that the study did not identify causes. Instead, they say that now the upward trend has been identified, more research can be done to pinpoint the factors contributing to the deaths.

The researchers found there were 11.8 deaths per 100,000 adolescents — aged 15 to 19 years — in 2017. That’s up from 2000 when there were eight deaths per 100,000.

For young adults aged 20 to 24 years old, the suicide rate was 17 per 100,000 in 2017, an increase from 12.5 per 100,000 in 2000.

A leap in the suicide rate “is not a predetermined curse that comes with modernization,” said Miron, noting the fluctuation from year to year.

The CDC has linked increased drug use to suicides and recommends a number of prevention measures, including encouraging adults to limit access to prescription drugs in the home. And experts in suicide prevention say paying attention to changes in lifestyle can help parents determine if their child is at risk.

For adolescents, using social media in a way that detracts from face-to-face interactions could be particularly detrimental to mental health. said Victor Schwartz, chief medical officer at suicide prevention nonprofit The Jed Foundation.

Yet while social media can facilitate bullying and lead to more anxiety and depression among young people, it can also be used to help those who are struggling with depression and can help loved ones pick up on warning signs early on.

“Dramatic changes are a sign,” said Schwartz. “Looking for changes in sleep, in social relationships — any of these big areas should start to raise big flags. Changes in substance use, even in the use of social media might suggest something is going on.”

 

‘Guilty as hell’ R. Kelly needed anti-libido shots to control urges: ex-lawyer Ed Gensen

The lawyer who defended R. Kelly in a decade-old child pornography case said Thursday that the R&B legend was guilty of those charges — and even received anti-libido drugs to help contain his urges.

“He was guilty as hell!” Ed Genson, 77, told the Chicago Sun-Times from his Deerfield, Ill., home.

But the former criminal defense attorney said he believes the “Trapped in the Closet” singer hasn’t done anything “inappropriate” in years.

“I’ll tell you a secret,” he said. “I had him go to a doctor to get shots, libido-killing shots. That’s why he didn’t get arrested for anything else.”

Genson, who has terminal bile duct cancer, told the paper he doesn’t feel ambivalent about getting Kelly acquitted and keeping him out of prison in 2008.

 

Suburban Chicago woman posts R Kelly’s $1 million bail. The 47-year-old woman is described as a “friend” of Kelly”

A 47-year-old woman from suburban Chicago paid the entirety of R Kelly’s bail, allowing the embattled R&B singer to be freed from jail as he awaits his trial on sexual abuse charges.

According to The Chicago Tribune, the unidentified woman — described as “a friend” of Kelly’s — posted the bail — 10% of the $1 million bond set by a judge on Monday.

Since his arrest on Friday, Kelly struggled to come up with the funds to cover his bail. His lawyer, Steve Greenberg, told the judge that the singer’s finances are a “mess” due to his ongoing legal issues.

After learning of Kelly’s financial plight, some of his female fans reportedly reached out to the county clerk offering to cover the cost of his bail.

Upon his release last night, a seemingly unfazed Kelly made a beeline to his favorite McDonald’s — a place where he previously found himself in trouble after picking up an underage girl on her prom night.

Kelly is due back in court on March 22nd. If convicted of the charges in Chicago, he faces between 40-70 years in prison.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul ‘reviewing’ Van Dyke sentence

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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office says it is reviewing the legality of the sentence handed down last week to former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke for the murder of Laquan McDonald.

“We are going to do a careful review of the record and the law and make a determination based on our review,” Maura Possley, a spokeswoman for the office, said Wednesday afternoon.

Raoul, sworn in as attorney general this month, would not say whether he believes Van Dyke’s punishment is fair.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan last Friday sentenced Van Dyke to 81 months in prison — less than half of what prosecutors had sought. Van Dyke could be released in three years.

Outside the courtroom, Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon said he was “satisfied” with the sentence.

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“We achieved our goal of justice and holding Jason Van Dyke accountable for his actions,” McMahon said.

But many police-accountability activists viewed the sentence as a setback.

A jury in October convicted Van Dyke of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one for each shot into McDonald.

Some legal experts say the best way to challenge Van Dyke’s sentence would be to seek a “mandamus” order from the Illinois Supreme Court. That court could find Gaughan violated the law by basing the punishment on the second-degree murder count, a Class 1 felony, instead of the battery counts, which carry a more serious designation, Class X.

A spokesman for McMahon on Wednesday said the special prosecutor is “still reviewing” the sentence. The spokesman would not say whether McMahon asked McDonald’s mother, Tina Hunter, for her view on whether the sentence should be challenged.

McDonald’s great uncle Rev. Marvin Hunter, the family’s spokesman, said “justice was not served” and accused Gaughan of treating Van Dyke as if the crime were a “minor drug offense.”

A staffer in Gaughan’s chambers on Wednesday said the judge declined to comment on the sentencing.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx did not answer what she thinks of the sentence or whether she would play a role in challenging it. A consideration for Foxx is her predecessor Anita Alvarez’s recusal of the office from the case after civil-rights groups accused her of pro-police bias.

Locke Bowman, an attorney who led the push for a special prosecutor in the case, said the Supreme Court has authority to toss out Gaughan’s “illegal” ruling that second-degree murder is the greater offense.

“If you turned the tables and if a young African-American man had regrettably fired 16 shots at a Chicago police officer and killed him,” Bowman said, “the judicial system would impose a massively punitive sentence.”

On Thursday, Van Dyke’s attorney slammed Raoul for reviewing the sentence.

“Another politician has chosen to exploit the tragic death of Laquan McDonald for his own political gain,” the attorney, Dan Herbert, said in a statement. “The judge in this case carefully considered the arguments made and issued the correct ruling under the law.”Van Dyke’s defense team says it is exploring its own options for challenging the sentence as well as the conviction.

Van Dyke began shooting McDonald, 17, as the teen carried a knife and walked away from officers on a South Side road in 2014. Many of the 16 shots hit the teen after he had collapsed to the pavement.

A police dashcam video contradicted reports by officers that McDonald was attacking Van Dyke.

Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson last week acquitted three officers of charges they covered up for Van Dyke

Chris Brown released after rape claim

The police are still investigating the case, the French prosecutor’s office added on Tuesday.

The arrests were first reported by Closer magazine, which said Brown, his bodyguard and a friend were detained after a 24-year-old woman alleged she was raped at the singer’s suite at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on the night of January 15.

The woman said she had met the men at a Paris nightclub earlier in the evening, according to the magazine.

 

Chicago inspectors find code violations at R. Kelly’s studio

CHICAGO — Chicago building inspectors have found code violations at R. Kelly’s recording studio, including evidence the industrial space was used as a residence.

Building Department spokesman Gregg Cunningham says the agency will list the violations during a court hearing next week. He says the inspectors were looking at plumbing, electrical systems and carpentry.

Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenburg, says no one was living at the studio and it should not be surprising that it included places for sleeping or taking breaks.

Kelly has been hit in recent weeks with sexual misconduct allegations. The Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” recently drew fresh attention to the allegations and the #MeToo and #MuteRKelly movements have held protests outside the studio demanding promoters stop booking his concerts.

Greenburg says the inspectors didn’t find anything supporting misconduct by Kelly.

Medical marijuana Super Bowl ad rejected by CBS

The company described its Super Bowl commercial as more of a public service announcement.

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A medical marijuana company said its ad planned for Super Bowl Sunday was rejected by CBS.

Acreage Holdings told USA TODAY it made a 60-second ad featuring three individuals who say their lives have improved by using medical marijuana.

The company described the commercial as more of a public service announcement than an advertisement.

Acreage said the rejection came after its ad agency sent storyboards to the network.

The company told USA TODAY it received a return email that said: “CBS will not be accepting any ads for medical marijuana at this time.”

A CBS spokesperson confirmed to USA TODAY that it does not currently accept cannabis-related advertising.

According to USA TODAY, the spot focuses on a Colorado boy who suffers from Dravet syndrome, a Buffalo man who was on opioids for 15 years after back surgeries, and an Oakland veteran who lost part of his leg during military service.

At the end of the commercial viewers are then asked to call on their congressional representatives to call on change.

Acreage said it expects to post the ad online once it’s finished.

CBS is reportedly charging around $5.2 million for a 30-second ad during this year’s Super Bow

Jason Van Dyke, ex-Chicago officer, sentenced to 6 years, 9 months for killing Laquan McDonald

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The former Chicago police officer convicted in the murder of a black teenager who was shot 16 times as he walked away was sentenced Friday to 6 years, 9 months.

Jason Van Dyke’s punishment was far less than the minimum of 18 years that prosecutors were seeking, although state sentencing guidelines allowed for as many as 96 years or more — the equivalent of six years served consecutively for each shot.

A jury in October found Van Dyke, 40, guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the death of Laquan McDonald, 17.

On the night of the shooting in October 2014, Van Dyke and other officers were responding to reports that McDonald was carrying a knife and breaking into cars in the city’s Southwest Side. Van Dyke at his trial testified that he feared for his life when he encountered the teenager, who was holding a folded knife.

But dashcam footage showed that Van Dyke was moving closer toward McDonald, while the teenager was veering away from officers in the middle of the street.

McDonald’s death sparked racial tensions, a federal investigation and political upheaval in the city, and the video was released following intense public pressure and calls from activists for police accountability.

The last time a Chicago police officer was convicted of murder for an on-duty killing was more than 50 years ago.

Van Dyke’s defense team had requested probation for the 13-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, and submitted more than 100 letters from family, friends and co-workers who noted he had no prior criminal record and deserved leniency.

At the sentencing hearing, the Rev. Martin Hunter, McDonald’s great uncle, spoke on behalf of the family and read a letter that was written as if McDonald had penned it.

“Please think about me and about my life when you sentence this person to prison,” Hunter read. “Why should this person be free, when I am dead forever?”

The prosecution also highlighted complaints against Van Dyke for allegedly using excessive force and featured testimony from minorities who claimed he abused their civil rights during arrests.

Edward Nance, who won a $350,000 civil judgment after his arrest by Van Dyke and his partner during a 2007 traffic stop, cried on the stand as he explained how he was manhandled and remains “in constant pain, every day” from the incident.

Despite about 20 complaints against him, Van Dyke was never disciplined during his career.

His sentencing came a day after three Chicago police officers were found not guilty of conspiring to protect him following the shooting — a case that drew attention to a “code of silence” that has long plagued the department.

Was J. Edgar Hoover really Black???

Genealogy Records May Indicate that J. Edgar Hoover Was African-American

Was founding FBI director J. Edgar Hoover an African-American man?

Nearly 40 years after the death of founding FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, research may reveal that the crime fighting bureau chief was actually African-American according to “The Washington Post.”

“My grandfather told me that this powerful man, Edgar, was his second cousin, and was passing for white,” says Millie McGhee, an African-American relative of Hoover’s. “If we talked about this, [Edgar] was so powerful he could have us all killed. I grew up terrified about all this.”

McGhee began to uncover facts about the possibility of Hoover’s Black ethnicity after she dug through altered court records, conducted oral interviews with both white and Black Hoovers and enlisted licensed genealogists who determined that Hoover was indeed a relative of hers.

The mystery of Hoover’s genealogy has become a topic of interest recently due to the the Clint Eastwood film “J. Edgar” released earlier this month. In the film, Eastwood makes no mention of Hoover’s race, much to the chagrin of his Black relatives such as McGhee.

“Since the movie has come out, so many people have asked me why my information about Hoover’s black roots was not included,” said McGhee who has authored two books on the topic, “Secrets Uncovered: J.Edgar Hoover-The Relative” and “Secrets Uncovered : J. Edgar Hoover Passing For White?”

Do you think McGhee’s research on J. Edgar Hoover’s genealogy should have been included in Eastwood’s film?