Advertisement

Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 106–109 | Cite as

The Epidemiology of Finding a Dead Body: Reports from Inner-City Baltimore, Maryland US

  • Carl LatkinEmail author
  • Cui Yang
  • Britt Ehrhardt
  • Alicia Hulbert
Original Paper

Abstract

In the US, there are no national statistics on encountering a dead body, which can be viewed as a measure of community health and a stressful life event. Participants for an HIV prevention intervention targeting drug users were recruited in areas of inner-city Baltimore, Maryland. Nine hundred and fifty-one respondents, most with a history of drug use, were asked “have you ever found a dead body?” and 17.0% reported they had. Leading causes of death were: violence (37%), natural causes (22.2%), drug overdose (21.6%), accidental death (3.1%), and suicide (2.5%). In multivariate logistic models, respondents with longer history of drug use and more roles in a drug economy were more likely to be exposed to a dead body. The study results suggest that this population has a high level of experiences with mortality associated with violence and drugs. To obtain a better understanding of community health, future studies should assess not only morbidity and mortality, but also how death and illness is experienced by the community.

Keywords

Urban health Mortality Drug use Violence Mental health 

References

  1. Delahanty, D. L., Dougall, A. L., Craig, K. J., Jenkins, F. J., & Baum, A. (1997). Chronic stress and natural killer cell activity after exposure to traumatic death. Psychosomatic Medicine, 59(5), 467–476.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Doubeni, C. A., Schootman, M., Major J. M., Torres Stone, R. A., Laiyemo, A. O., Park, Y., et al. (2011). Health Status, Neighborhood Socioeconomic Context, and Premature Mortality in the United States: The National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. American Journal of Public Health. Aug 18.Google Scholar
  3. Greene, C. (2001). Human remains and psychological effects on police officers: xcerpts from psychiatric observations. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies (2001;2001:n.p).Google Scholar
  4. Hser, Y. I., Hoffman, V., Grella, C. E., & Anglin, M. D. (2001). A 33-year follow-up of narcotics addicts. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58(5), 503–508.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Jones, D. R. (1985). Secondary disaster victims: He emotional effects of recovering and identifying human remains. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 142(3), 303–307.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Latkin, C. A., Sherman, S., & Knowlton, A. (2003). HIV prevention among drug users: Outcome of a network-oriented peer outreach intervention. Health Psychology: Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology American Psychological Association, 22(4), 332–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Milloy, M. J. S., Kerr, T., Mathias, R., Zhang, R., Montaner, J. S., Tyndall, M., et al. (2008). Non-fatal overdose among a cohort of active injection drug users recruited from a supervised injection facility. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 34(4), 499–509.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1(3), 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. (2007). Bethesda, Maryland, US: US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Office of Applied Studies.Google Scholar
  10. Selner-O’Hagan, M. B., Kindlon, D. J., Buka, S. L., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. J. (1998). Assessing exposure to violence in urban youth. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 39(2), 215–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Smyth, B., Hoffman, V., Fan, J., & Hser, Y. I. (2007). Years of potential life lost among heroin addicts 33 years after treatment. Preventive Medicine, 44(4), 369–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Latkin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cui Yang
    • 2
  • Britt Ehrhardt
    • 3
  • Alicia Hulbert
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health, Behavior and SocietyThe Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health, Behavior and SocietyThe Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Institutes of Health Clinical CenterNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  4. 4.Department of OncologyJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations