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Breathe: A Huge Step for Heart Health

Sep/02/2023 / by Team Seema

A new bill may better support South Asians in the United States

A new bill introduced to the U.S. Congress may be one of the first of its kind to protect South Asian Health. Sponsored by U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02), the bipartisan South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act would put funds toward reversing the deadly trend of heart disease among South Asian communities living in the U.S. 

“I have seen the devastating impacts of heart disease on our community firsthand,” said Rep. Jayapal, the first South Asian American woman ever elected to the House of Representative. “I’m fully committed to increasing understanding of heart disease and the unique risk factor in the South Asian community while ensuring that all those living with it get the resources, treatment, and support they need.” 

Studies show that South Asians in the United States face four times the risk of heart disease compared to the general population. Despite making up 25 percent of the world’s population, South Asians account for a disproportionate 60 percent of the world’s heart disease cases and over 50 percent of the world’s cardiovascular deaths.  Nearly two-thirds of middle-aged South Asian Americans are at intermediate or high risk for heart failure within the next 10 years, but studying accurate data remains nearly impossible because the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t disaggregate data for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

Rep. Jayapal continued to say that no community should face disproportionate health outcomes because of lack of research, understanding, or awareness. Last year, similar legislation was passed in the House, it was blocked in the Senate. But Rep. Jaypal has no plans of slowing down her efforts. “I won’t stop fighting for this legislation to make sure we have the research resources and treatments to prevent heart disease cases and deaths in the South Asian community and across the world,” she said. 

A September to Stop Suicide

More research needs to be done to study suicide in South Asian populations

Like all mental health conditions, suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, and often can be a sign of an undiagnosed mental health issue. In the United States, the prevalence of suicide among South Asians is understudied due to a lack of demographic data, but studies suggest depression is four times more likely to prompt suicidal behavior in Asian youths, and parental conflict is a much more major factor (17 times higher) in suicide and suicide attempts in Asian adolescents. 

One research study fount that Indian immagrants had higher incidences of suicide after they migrated to other countries than when they lived in India. But these sobering statistics can still be changed with awareness and advocacy. 

With September serving as Suicide Prevention Month, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) encourages everyone to be more open about mental health and stay aware of behavioral changes in their friends and family, and check in with them. 

Early Warning Signs: 

  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community 
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

Suicidal Behaviors: 

  • Collecting and saving pills or buying a weapon
  • Giving away possessions
  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

If you or a loved one is taking these steps, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 

Box: 

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-14 and the 12th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.
  • 46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition, but 90% may have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition
  • Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth.

Diversity in Dolls

New toy brands offer cultural touchstones to connect children

South Asian-owned brands are paving the way when it comes to expanding representation in the children’s toy market. Here are a handful of companies dedicated to making all children feel seen. 

Rooted. Based in Vancouver, Canada, this family-run company offers two toys, Manu and Mahi, based on the companion children’s book (free to email subscribers). The story traces the journey of the two children in the village of Anokhi and the challenges of belonging and the joys of friendship. rootedtoys.com

Modi Toys. To help foster Hindu heritage across the world, this toy shop creates Hindu deity plush toys with matching books to help tell the stories of each deity, and also play the associated audio mantras. Every toy is 100% made in India and workers are paid a fair wage. moditoys.com

Little Ladoo. With books exploring a visit to India, puzzles featuring deities, and interactive toys like the Let’s Eat Chapati Felt Food, this Canada-based company aims to showcase Indian culture in an accessible way for children. The website also has colorable free sheets for download. shoplittleladoo.com