Rare eastern black rhinoceros born at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo

(Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo) An eastern black rhinoceros named Kapuki gave birth to a calf at Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, May 19, 2019.(CHICAGO) — Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo recently welcomed the birth of a critically endangered black rhinoceros after more than a year of waiting.

A 13-year-old eastern black rhino named Kapuki went into labor Sunday, after 15 months of pregnancy, and gave birth to a healthy calf in her enclosure that evening. The zoo has not yet named the newborn or announced its sex.

The calf began to stand on its own after just 53 minutes and has been seen nursing several times, which are “important milestones,” according to the zoo.

Animal care and veterinary staff are giving Kapuki and her calf privacy while closely monitoring them from afar via video cameras. The pair will not be visible to the public until further notice.

“The first 48 hours of a calf’s life are critical and we remain cautiously optimistic,” Lincoln Park Zoo said in a Facebook post on Monday.

The eastern black rhino, also known as the East African black rhino, is a subspecies of the black rhino and is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

“The potential of a successful calf means much more than a cute face at the zoo,” Mike Murray, curator of mammals at Lincoln Park Zoo, said in a March 20 statement. “A birth represents preservation of a critically endangered species that faces a lot of challenges.”

The global population of black rhinos has declined by more than 97% since 1960, mainly due to poaching and the soaring demand for their horns in Asia, where they are coveted for their perceived healing properties, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population has steadily increased since bottoming out in 1995, but the numbers are still 90% lower today than three generations ago.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Man graduates with nursing degree from same university where he started as a janitor

Kate Lord/New York University(NEW YORK) — Frank Baez was a teenager when he started working as a janitor at New York University’s Langone Tisch Hospital, cleaning patient rooms, bathrooms and hallways.

On Monday, Baez, now 29, graduated with a nursing degree from the same institution where he started as a janitor.

“I could barely speak English at the time when I started working at NYU,” said Baez, who moved to New York from the Dominican Republic with his mom at age 15. “Now I reflect on it and I feel very proud of how much I accomplished.”

Baez got his first job in housekeeping at the hospital because he wanted a job that would help support his family.

Once he started working, he became intrigued with the medical field and applied for and got a job as a patient transporter, taking patients to and from their rooms for surgeries and tests.

He eventually left the job to finish his bachelor’s degree at nearby Hunter College, becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college. But Baez said he always knew he wanted to return to where he started: NYU.

“While working [at NYU] with the nurses, I realized I wanted to be one of them,” he said. “I learned how much they advocate for their patients and the passion they have for their job.”

Baez was encouraged by the nurses he worked with to apply to NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. He entered an accelerated program that allowed him to graduate with a nursing degree in just 15 months.

“Our program is extremely rigorous,” said Natalya Pasklinsky, director of simulation learning at the college of nursing. “Frank didn’t just kind of make the program, barely getting through. He flew through it with flying colors.”

Pasklinsky worked as a nurse in the same unit where Baez worked as a janitor while in high school. She saw him be promoted to patient transporter and remembers the thoughtful care he gave patients.

“The way he interacted with patients, to me showed a lot of compassion,” she said. “In my mind, he’s a star. I think he’s going to be a fantastic nurse.”

Baez, who graduated with a 3.6 GPA, has already set his next goal of becoming a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit.

“I was never an A student. I just studied a lot and worked a lot,” he said. “Of course there were times I doubted myself, but then I felt that I wanted to do something more for myself, that I deserved better, that I wanted to continue to move forward and grow and go on with my life.”

“What I did was, I never gave up,” Baez said.

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How these two moms each lost more than 100 pounds

Courtesy Victoria Brady/Laura Rosenthal(NEW YORK) — Being a mom is hard enough but being a mom who struggles with weight can be devastating.

For Victoria Brady, it was a pediatrician expressing concerns about her 1-year-old son’s weight that spurred her to make a change for herself too.

“I decided I was tired of failing and it was time to break the cycle of obesity in my family,” Brady said. “I wanted my sons to live a healthier lifestyle than I did so they wouldn’t have to endure what I did growing up overweight.”

Since that pediatrician appointment in June 2017, Brady, 31, a mother of two, has lost 125 pounds, dropping from a size 22 to a size 6.

For another mom, Laura Rosenthal, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, it was her 40th birthday that was all the motivation she needed to lose weight.

“I turned 40 and was very unhappy with my life,” she said. “I decided to get healthy so that I did not waste the next 40 years of my life feeling miserable.”

Rosenthal, mother of an 8-year-old daughter, joined Weight Watchers in December 2017 and has lost nearly 120 pounds.

Both Brady and Rosenthal are among the weight loss success stories featured in People magazine’s annual 100-pound weight loss feature, available in the newest issue of People on newsstands this Friday.

Here is how Brady and Rosenthal said they lost the weight:

1. Creating healthier versions of comfort food

Rosenthal, now 41, said she grew up on a “meat and potatoes diet.” She has found healthier ways to make the foods she loves, rather than subsisting on quinoa and kale.

When she makes tacos, Rosenthal now uses chicken instead of beef and salsa instead of sour cream. She uses fat-free cheese so she can still have tortilla chips on the side, but dips the chips in black beans instead of a cheese sauce.

“I make choices every day, like would I rather have beef in my spaghetti or a piece of garlic bread?,” she said. “It allows me to still choose what I want the most and I never feel deprived.”

Brady said she has also found ways to make her favorite dishes healthier, using low-carb tortillas to make pizza, for example, and making banana protein pancakes instead of the more indulgent option.

2. Having a cheat meal, not a cheat day

Rosenthal enjoys a “cheat meal” every Tuesday night, but keeps it to that versus an entire day of eating whatever she wants. She also tries to incorporate all foods into her diet to help avoid cravings.

“I personally don’t believe in excluding anything from my diet, be it carbs, fat or whatever, so that’s another reason Weight Watchers works for me,” she said. “God put all those elements into food and it’s about balance, not deprivation.”

3. Fitting in exercise after diet

Both Rosenthal and Brady are now avid exercisers but they focused on their diets first.

Rosenthal lost 100 pounds before she started to really work out. She started out walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week on a treadmill at work, then added in three days per week of a circuit-training workout.

Brady also fit in exercise at work, participating in group fitness sessions at her job’s gym and walking four days per week. As she lost weight, she started “exploring more intense workouts” like high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting.

4. Staying committed

Brady admits there were days during her weight loss journey that she was “depressed and discouraged” but said she never let herself get defeated.

“For a while I believed that I would need weight loss surgery or that I would always be obese,” she said. “However, this journey has taught me that nothing is impossible until God says it is.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Everything to know about kombucha: Is it worth the hype?

andipantz/iStock(NEW YORK) — No longer relegated to health food stores, kombucha has made a big splash in the world of beverages.

The fermented tea drink can now be found on the shelves of grocery stores and even convenience stores.

Kombucha typically comes with a hefty price, usually $4 or more per 16-ounce bottle, and a lot of questions about what it actually is and whether it’s health benefits are real.

There can also be confusion about what is actually in kombucha since ingredients and nutrition information, like grams of sugar, tend to vary by both type and brand.

ABC News’ Good Morning America is here to help with kombucha confusion. We tapped two registered dietitians — Heather Bauer and Maya Feller — to answer the biggest questions surrounding kombucha.

What is in kombucha?

Kombucha is generally produced from a mixture of sugar, brewed tea (typically black) and symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, or scoby.

Some kombucha drinks also have fruit juice added to them.

How is kombucha made?

The process of making kombucha starts with steeping tea leaves or tea bags in boiling water. The scoby plus a small portion of previously-fermented kombucha are then added to the sweetened tea.

That mixture is then placed into a jar, covered and left to ferment, usually for seven to 10 days. The kombucha is then ready to drink, either unflavored or juices, herbs or fruit can be added.

What are the health benefits of kombucha?

Kombucha is touted as doing everything from helping with weight loss to lowering blood pressure and helping to prevent cancer.

Research on the health benefits of kombucha though has been conducted mostly on animals, not humans, according to a 2019 review published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Kombucha does contain probiotics, live bacteria that are considered good for the body. Probiotics come in any type of food that is fermented, from yogurt to sauerkraut and kimchi.

Both Bauer and Feller recommend probiotics in a diet for overall gut health, but pointed out that they should come from a variety of foods, not just a drink like kombucha.

“If you’re looking for the nutrition benefits, I don’t counsel to get them solely through a drink,” said Feller. “What really maintains healthy gut flora for the average person is paying attention to what you eat on a regular and consistent basis, having a good mix of prebiotics and probiotics and if there’s an unwanted change in your gut health, getting individualized attention from a qualified healthcare provider.”

Does the sugar in kombucha matter?

The sugar in kombucha is a by-product of the fermentation process, but there will be additional sugar if the kombucha is sweetened with a fruit or fruit juice.

The amount of sugar in kombucha depends on the brand and the ingredients. While the sugar is naturally-occurring, dietitians advise consumers to still pay attention to it.

“I would say be mindful of which brand you get and make sure you get the lowest sugar one,” advised Bauer, creator of The Food Fix weight loss plan. “If you pick a brand that has 20 plus grams of sugar and you’re having four bottles a day, it can add up.”

Both Feller and Bauer noted that consumers should be smart about reading the nutrition labels, especially noticing if one bottle contains more than one serving.

“Do the math and multiply it so you understand what you’re actually taking it in,” said Feller, who has a cookbook coming out this fall. “Read the ingredients. It’s best to be an informed consumer who’s making a mindful choice.”

Are there any risks with drinking kombucha?

Kombucha is not advised for pregnant women or children, according to both Bauer and Feller. The reason is that the drink carries with it a small amount of alcohol because it is a fermented drink.

Alcohol is a by-product of any fermentation process but alcohol levels in kombucha can vary depending on how the drink is made.

Kombucha sold in stores must have less than .5 percent alcohol in order to be sold as a non-alcoholic beverage, according to U.S. government regulations.

Final verdict

Both Feller and Bauer see kombucha as an acceptable drink for people who like the taste and want to drink it, but not a drink that people must have in order to be healthy.

In other words, drink it if you like but don’t blow your budget thinking you have to buy $4 bottles of it daily to have good health.

“If you’re drinking it because you’re looking for the purported health benefits associated with kombucha, I would urge you to think twice,” said Feller. “If you want to have it, have it and enjoy because it was an intentional beverage choice.”

Bauer said the phrase “moderation is key” applies to all foods and drinks, including kombucha.

“People go crazy on things and nothing is designed to be consumed excessively,” she said. “You can’t drink coffee or Diet Coke all day either.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Here’s what this 7-year-old thinks about having Down syndrome

Lauren Ochalek(NEW YORK) — If you’ve ever wondered what a kid with Down syndrome thinks about it, Ellie Ochalek has your answer.

Turns out, she thinks it’s a pretty good thing, if you consider the words “powerful,” “loving,” “kind” and ” grateful” — all positive personality traits.

In a video shared with ABC News’ Good Morning America, the 7-year old’s mom, Lauren Ochalek, asks her what makes her extra special. To which she responds “powerful,” “extra kind” and “gratitude.”

Ochalek said she talks with Ellie about Down syndrome frequently.

“While our lives do not revolve around Down syndrome in the least, we often talk about Down syndrome so that Ellie is familiar.” she said. “We embrace the fact that she is more like her typical peers than not, but we also want her to be familiar with Down syndrome and what that means for her as a unique individual. We love watching her come into her own as a confident self-advocate.”

Sometimes Ellie tells her mom that she, Lauren, also has Down syndrome.

“She does often debate that I too have an extra chromosome,” her mom chuckled.

“We have also talked a lot about her extra chromosome meaning that she may have to work extra hard to achieve things, however, she also understands that she is bright, talented, and no less capable than anyone else, and that she can achieve anything that she puts her mind to,” she said.

“Thus far, she has always proven us right in that regard. She is confident, competent, and blows outdated stereotypes about Down syndrome out of the water,” she added.

In addition to being kind, loving and grateful, Ellie said that an extra chromosome gives her the “power to run.”

Ochalek called her daughter a “devoted daughter, sister, and friend.”

“She is a dancer, a swimmer, a bookworm, a spelling bee whiz, and a Girl Scout. She is also a talented student who could not be more excited to start second grade in the fall,” she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Misinformation around abortion bills causing confusion and fear for patients

jetcityimage/iStock(NEW YORK) — Dalton Johnson knew that his phone would be ringing off the hook.

Every time Alabama lawmakers or courts move on a bill that chisels away at abortion rights, patients call in with questions for the Alabama Women’s Center, one of the three clinics that provide abortions in the state, which is owned by Johnson.

That happened in 2013, when lawmakers required that abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals, and again in 2016 when they banned a second trimester method known as dilation and evacuation, and barred abortion clinics within 2,000 feet of public elementary and middle schools. All of those laws — which are known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws — were later blocked in court.

“It happens every time one of these TRAP laws happens,” Johnson told ABC News. “There’s always a flood of calls: ‘Are you guys still open?’ ‘Can I get my procedure done?'”

Since the state Senate passed a bill last week that would criminalize providing abortions, without exceptions for cases of rape or incest, the “phone’s been ringing nonstop,” Johnson said, especially since Gov. Kay Ivey went on to sign it.

The signing of that Alabama bill came a week after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a so-called “heartbeat” ban. This week, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’d sign a “heartbeat” ban in Louisiana should it pass the state legislature.

None of these bills have gone into effect, and the Georgia and Alabama bills are both facing legal challenges. Abortion remains legal in all 50 states, and no state has a functioning six-week abortion ban.

The sometimes convoluted procedures for how laws are approved and then challenged in court, coupled with the charged language used by politicians and advocates on both sides of the issue, has at times left patients misinformed.

Employees at abortion clinics in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana told ABC News they are receiving non-stop calls from patients, mostly with the same concerns: has abortion been outlawed, has the clinic closed its doors, should appointments made for the future be pushed sooner? One Alabama clinic got a call from someone asking “will they get locked up, will they be charged of a crime” if they got an abortion.

The sometimes convoluted procedures for how laws are approved and then challenged in court, coupled with the charged language used by politicians on both sides of the issue, has at times left patients misinformed. It is not the case, for example, that any state has passed an outright abortion ban, or that abortion has been outlawed once a “heartbeat” is detected, around six weeks of a pregnancy. IF NO THAT, WHAT HAS HAPPENED???

Amanda Kifferly, vice president for abortion access at The Women’s Centers, told ABC News she’s concerned about how these laws are potentially raising the stigma around abortion, and making patients feel like “it’s actually a criminal experience.”

“We don’t want people to feel like they have to break a law in order to get safe care,” she said.

Staci Fox, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said that after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a so-called “heartbeat” ban, “there was a lot of media headlines speculating about the impact of the bill and speculating about criminalization of women, and what we started hearing was a lot of fear.”

It got to the point where Planned Parenthood Southeast set up an automated message on their call line just to say abortion is still legal and their doors are open.

“We want to make sure everyone in this country knows what’s going on,” said Fox. “But at the same time, I don’t want a single person to be feeling scared and alone and abandoned, and thinking about doing something, when they can come in and get something safe and legal.”

Some health care providers are putting information on their websites and on social media, and they’re also relying on advocacy groups and funds, like the Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama and the Southeast division of Access Reproductive Care (ARC), to help educate the public with accurate information.

While employees at clinics and other health care providers say they are happy to answer questions, they worry about the patients who are not calling. Providers worry about what patients will do to attempt to self-manage if they think they can’t come in for an abortion, which is a safe medical procedure with a very low rate of complications when performed under proper conditions.

“I’m not sure what we can do beyond educate when we have them on the phone,” said Kathaleen Pittman, who runs the independent clinic Hope Medical Group for Women in Louisiana.

Advocates also worry that the bad press generated by the restrictive laws could impact recruitment of qualified doctors to states like Georgia and Alabama, which have among the highest rates of maternal mortality in the country. Dr. Lisa Haddad, who is affiliated with the Emory University School of Medicine in Georgia, told ABC News she knows of one doctor who held off on making a decision to take a position in the state because of restrictive laws.

“We know that it’s going to influence attracting individuals from coming to the state — a state that has huge gaps in maternal care,” Haddad said. For her part, Haddad has noticed she’s been “more self-aware” recently, especially since anti-abortion protesters at George’s capital were carrying guns.

Johnson, in Alabama, said the bill there is “just one more thing to discourage physicians coming to the state, especially physicians in women’s health,” on top of an overall health care system that is generally lacking. Alabama is ranked 46th out of the 50 states in health care, according to U.S. News.

Add to that, Johnson said, “When you’re [discussing] placing jail time on physicians making health care decisions that are best for their patients, that’s scary.”

Chad Jackson of the West Alabama Women’s Center told ABC News that he sometimes wonders if he will still have a job in six month. But he said he is even more concerned about “what the women will do once the doors close,” should the Alabama ban actually go into effect.

Still, Jackson said the clinic has no plans to close.

“We are still open, we are still providing safe and secure terminations,” Jackson said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How much is too much? Test could show effect of gaming on your kid’s brain

Courtesy Andrew Newberg(NEW YORK) — Cash, a 10-year-old boy who lives in Los Angeles, is obsessed with the game Fortnite, his mother Rusti says.

Fortnite represents the current pinnacle of game theory and player engagement. It’s filled with bloodless violence, intensity and it’s peppered with random surprises.

It’s constantly being updated with pop-culture add-ons and it’s filled with silly victory dances that delight the player. Because it can be played on a console, a tablet or a phone, it can travel with a player anywhere they get cellular data or Wi-Fi.

It is one of the first totally social, play-everywhere video games, with 250 million players. Its creator, Epic Games, is reportedly valued at $15 billion.

Makings of a habit

“He asks me to wake him up 20 minutes early on school days so he can play,” Rusti says of her son, Cash. “He doesn’t want playdates at other kids’ houses anymore … he just wants to be in the house so he can play.”
 
Cash plays with friends from school, his cousins in Costa Rica and random strangers, and is allocated an hour of playing each school night. Rusti doesn’t limit him on the weekends, and estimates he plays four to five hours each Saturday and Sunday.

Watching Cash play Fortnite on his iPad can be dizzying as he manipulates the weapons in his arsenal. He has colorful adornments on his various avatars and when asked how he earned those skins, he says his allowance is now paid to him weekly in V-Bucks, the currency used to buy items in Fortnite.

Rusti confirms that Cash has spent close to $2,000 in the game.

“I can get him to do any chore I want if I pay him in Fortnite money,” she says.

Is there is anything he’d rather be doing than playing Fortnite?

“That’s a good question … but … no!” he says.

His mom says he often screams with joy at events in the game and Cash admits he “rages.”

“When someone kills you or you die of fall damage and you get angry at that, and you just go insane on your tablet and you throw it,” he says.

He admits there are times when he forgets to eat and times when his body tells him he’s played too much.

“When you’re just lightheaded and you can’t get enough Fortnite, but it hurts inside,” he says.

Effects on the brain

Andrew Newberg, M.D., a neuroscientist at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson Health, has devised a way to illustrate some of the physiological and structural changes happening to gamers. He wants to compare a gamer’s brain to a non-gamer’s brain to see how the response to different stimuli affects them.

Amado, a 12-year-old fellow student at Cash’s school who loves music, basketball and watching movies, fits the profile of a non-gamer, occasionally playing car-racing games but who overall isn’t into video games.

For the experiment, Cash settled into an MRI machine while game footage was played in a monitor bolted above his face. First a control: Newberg contrasts a minute of non-Fortnite gaming video (from an older shooting game that doesn’t have the neon colors, social integration or fun dances) with a minute of neutral video (birds at sunset). The neutral video is colorful and moving, so it will stimulate some of the visual regions of the brain. By playing video the older game on the monitor, Cash will see violence, action and many of the same stimuli that he sees in Fortnite, it just won’t be his favorite game. After 10 minutes, Newberg stops the imaging and gives Cash a chance to move his arms and legs.

Now for the Fortnite portion: To most accurately simulate the experience of playing the game, video was recorded from Cash’s iPad of his actual gameplay, complete with his avatar and favorite skins.

Within a few minutes, Newberg sees the pleasure centers of Cash’s brain light up. The presumption is that dopamine is firing into his frontal lobes. After 30 minutes Cash is done.

Amado goes through the exact same process. When Amado is done, Newberg analyzes the scans and meets with Cash’s mom, who wants to know what’s going on in Cash’s brain when he’s playing the game.

Newberg brings up an image contrasting both boys’ brains, and points to the one on the left that has big red and orange blooms of color that Newberg says represent blood flow and stimulation. Cash’s brain had much greater activation than Amado’s in an area called the anterior cingulate cortex, a structure that can be involved in focus, emotional regulation and addiction.

“These are areas that are very involved in our reward system of the brain,” he explains, noting game play delivers dopamine hits to the brain’s reward center.

Newberg explains that brain scans of people with internet gaming disorder, an addiction classified in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” show these rewards centers are enlarged. It takes more and more dopamine for people with this problematic gaming behavior to experience the same levels of euphoria.

The data on gaming and addiction varies widely: a meta study done by Mass General in 2017 examined 116 different gaming studies summarized their findings with the reality that there’s a lot we still don’t know.

“We are still working out what aspects of games affect which brain regions and how. It’s likely that video games have both positive (on attention, visual and motor skills) and negative aspects (risk of addiction), and it is essential we embrace this complexity,” says a report in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The reward centers of the brain in people with internet gaming disorder look different than those of non-gamers. They are smaller. In layman’s terms, the physical structures that signal happiness or satisfaction to the brain are robust compared to people without the disorder. One possible theory for that difference is that gaming produces so much dopamine on such regular intervals, that the part of the brain that makes us happy about little things, gets lazy or out of shape.

To quote another study published in Substance Abuse & Misuse on “reward deficiency theory,” “the modified reward system leads to lower enjoyment from the same level of rewards that excited a person in the past, and hence propels people to seek additional rewards; in this case, possibly also from substance use.” This physical change is consistent across studies that look at other addictions specifically alcohol and drugs.

Despite all this data, Newberg’s exercise comparing the brain scans of a gamer and a non-gamer is only an illustration of how the brain’s dopamine centers are is being stimulated. And, he clearly states, this is in no way predictive of Cash’s future.

“Just because we see a dopamine area lighting up in the gamer that we saw today, that doesn’t inherently mean that the person has an addiction,” he says. “What it means is that it’s affecting the areas of the brain that are involved in that. We ultimately have to find out how they’re doing as a person.”

Newberg goes on to reiterate that these images are in no way predictive of any addictions, but may help explain Cash’s resistance to putting his iPad down and going out to play in the park. He also points out something obvious: addictive disorders are not diagnosed by brain scans but by obsessive and destructive behavior, which Cash is not exhibiting. By all accounts he is a well-adjusted kid with good grades and healthy family relationships.

What now?

How does all this make Rusti want to alter or adjust Cash’s playing?

“[It’s] a long time for that brain to be doing that,” she says. “I think everything in moderation … I don’t know what moderation is with Fortnite.”

“I know it’s gotten to be too much lately,” she adds. “Even if I just break it up on the weekends and don’t let him go for four or five hours at a time.”

If only Fortnite makes Cash this happy, what else is there for him? Where does he go from here? What other joys is he going to seek? And will they compare?

Rusti hopes so, but she knows the change will be hard.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Life after suicide — for an ABC News correspondent

ABC News(NEW YORK) — James Longman, a successful foreign correspondent for ABC News, is in a club no one wants to belong to: suicide survivors.

“There’s been a lot of secrecy in my family about it. This is not something that people want to talk about now, let alone all these years,” Longman told Dr. Jennifer Ashton on her podcast, “Life After Suicide,” discussing his family’s history and his own depressive episodes.

“It’s kind of this looming tragedy that has really marked my family for now three generations. I’m hoping, obviously, to buck the trend,” he told Ashton.

Longman’s grandfather died by suicide when his father was in his 20s, and his father decided to end his own life 20 years later.

Longman revealed how he would question himself again and again while growing up.

“Well, my dad did it. My grandfather did it. Am I destined for this?” he said he would wonder.

His family’s history made it hard to know for sure.

Longman knows that losing a parent to suicide makes children more likely to die by suicide themselves, but he always wondered why that is.

“Is the fact of me knowing that my dad killed himself more powerful than the genes he gave me?” he told Dr. Ashton. “I’ve always wanted to know the answer to that question.”

It’s also what sparked him into action. Since his father’s death, he’s made it his life’s mission to understand whether serious depression and the potential for suicide is genetic.

“It’s what I’ve wanted to do, to ask questions, because I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to research, and to ask the questions that my father wasn’t able to do — and certainly his father didn’t seem able to do — and to really talk about it so much more than either of them were able to,” Longman said.

So Longman began interviewing mental health experts and geneticists as part of a documentary.

While at a research facility at King’s College University in the U.K., he learned that certain genes are present in people who not only have depression, but also schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. As satisfying as that discovery was, he said he’s continued to wonder about the role of nature versus nurture — a question for which there still is no answer.

And yet Longman has found that being able to talk about the issue with like-minded people has been amazingly therapeutic.

“Talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, just talking,” he said. “I mean, it’s been the saving grace for me to spend time talking. You don’t have to write in the newspaper. You don’t have to make documentaries. Talk to your friends. Talk to people you love. It’s like a magic trick. I can’t explain it. It doesn’t even matter what the thing is you’re saying. That, for me, has been the thing.”

But it isn’t always an easy ride.

Longman recalled one day when he was particularly down and felt he’d hit rock bottom. He was at work in the U.K., so he tried calling a non-emergency number and then went to the nearest clinic.

When he arrived, he was told the clinic had shut down six months ago. So he sat down on the curb in the center of London.

“I seriously contemplated walking out in front of traffic. In that moment, I wanted to stop feeling the way I was feeling,” he recalled. “I really didn’t think that anyone was going to be able to help me. I didn’t think that anyone could possibly have the answers to how I was feeling … it just seemed like the easiest thing to do.”

A friend reached him in the nick of time.

Longman is a young, successful journalist, and he’s aware that many might wonder how someone so privileged could ever think of ending his life. Longman wondered the same thing, but he explained that in that moment he felt numb to everything and all alone. He said it made him realize that if he could feel that way, it could happen to anyone.

That’s the reason behind organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, according to Dr. John Draper, the organization’s program director. Draper, who has spent 25 years in crisis intervention and suicide prevention work, reminds people to be hopeful and to share stories of hope. After all, he says, for every person who dies by suicide, there are another 280 people who consider it.

Sharing stories of hope and teaching people how to help each other are equally important, Draper says, because in the end, we will all be stronger for it.

Longman agrees.

“If you are able to talk, then people will know that you’re feeling the way you’re feeling,” he told Dr. Ashton. “Then, hopefully, you’ll get the help that you need.”

If you or someone you care about needs to talk, contact the free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-273-8255.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Parents tackle common football injury that took their son’s life

The Taylor Haugen Foundation(NEW YORK) — For one Florida couple, their life’s work to prevent injuries among young athletes is motivated by the loss of their son, Taylor.

Every parent’s worst nightmare came true for Kathy and Brian Haugen when they lost their son when he was just 15 years old. He died while doing what he loved most: playing football.

“He was very proud to be a starting wide receiver on the JV squad [at Niceville High School],” Brian Haugen shared with ABC News’ Good Morning America.

During the season’s opening game, Taylor jumped up in the middle of the field to catch a pass when he was hit by two defenders.

“He got hit simultaneously while catching the ball from the front and back in a way that it basically crushed his liver,” Brian Haugen said.

“This is an injury that does happen and it needs to be out in front just like every other injury out there,” Kathy Haugen shared with GMA. “These are vital organs just like the brain that you can’t live without.”

After learning that this type of abdominal injury is not rare among athletes like football players, the Haugens felt compelled to create a foundation that would honor their son and bring awareness to this issue.

With the help of their friends, family and the community, Kathy and Brian Haugen created the Taylor Haugen Foundation.

“I didn’t want another parent to have to go through what we have gone through, go through every day,” Kathy Haugen said. “I can’t sit back and watch this happen to another child.”

“Our son had a big heart and a big community service belief,” Brian Haugen said. “In many ways, we are trying to continue his legacy by living up to his legacy because this is is what he would want us to do.”

The foundation is committed to educating athletes, coaches, schools, trainers and players about how to protect athletes from abdominal injuries.

Kathy and Brian Haugen have even learned about protective tactics such as proper blocking and tackling, which the organization speaks about.

In 2011, the couple expanded their efforts even further by creating a Youth Equipment for Sports Safety (YESS) program under their foundation to help provide young athletes and schools with high-tech equipment to help shield them against deadly abdominal injuries.

The Haugens have helped provide protective gear to more than 5,000 football players in middle and high schools across 14 states.

The couple has heard from other parents who have children that play other sports, such as soccer, where abdominal injuries are also common.

“Kathy gets phone calls and emails from people all the time across the country, from parents who have a child who sustained an abdominal injury from athletics, because there’s nothing else out there that covers this,” Brian Haugen shared.

“We just felt like that was our calling, like that was our time to step up and do something,” he added.

The players themselves also tell the Haugen family how much they love the equipment.

 “They tell us they feel like Superman and it gives them confidence and support,” Brian Haugen said.

The Taylor Haugen Foundation has even received support from professional athletes such as former NFL player Matt Stover and Drew Stanton, quarterback for the Cleveland Browns who wears abdominal protective gear.

“We receive several phone calls a year from players or former players,” Brian Haugen said. “[They’ll say,] ‘I’m familiar with your foundation. What can I do to support?'”

The foundation likes to call its work with players “protect it forward” as a form of “pay it forward.”

The Haugen family also started #PledgeToProtect in 2018 as another form of awareness for coaches and parents. These are things that can be done to “better protect young athletes.”

“Don’t be afraid to talk to your coach, ask questions,” Kathy Haugen said. “You are your child’s best advocate.”

“A lot of people out there are astounded that we would support football after losing our son in a football game, but it’s so much more than a sport for so many,” she said. “For many, it’s the only avenue that they have to a better life.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mediterranean diet may help protect against symptoms of depression

IGphotography/iStock(NEW YORK) — The Mediterranean-style diet, long associated with longer life and reduced risk of cancer, may also help protect against depression, new research shows.

Researchers in Greece found that a diet rich in vegetables and lower in poultry and alcohol — two hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet — was associated with a decreased likelihood of developing symptoms of depression or a diagnosis of depression later in life.

The study was presented over the weekend at the American Psychiatric Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

It is the latest example in a surge of recent research showing how what we eat can affect our brains and mental health. Another popular diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, has also been found to reduce the risk of depression later in life.

Researchers have even said that diet “is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.”

Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets are consistently ranked at the top of U.S. News and World Report’s annual diet rankings. The Mediterranean diet was named the top overall diet this year for the first time.

Here is what you need to know about the diet and the connection between diet and brain health:

The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is an eating pattern that emulates how people in the Mediterranean region have traditionally eaten, with a focus on foods like olive oil, fish and vegetables.

U.S. News and World Report calls the diet a “well-balanced eating plan” and pointed to research that suggests the diet helps prevent some chronic diseases and increases longevity.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil and flavorful herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation, according to U.S. News and World Report.

It also emphasizes getting plenty of exercise and enjoying meals with family and friends.

How diet affects the brain

Most people experience occasional, “situational” depression, or what doctors call an adjustment disorder, when losing a job or experiencing a difficult breakup, for example.

Depression is a persistent loss of enjoyment in things you used to love, a slide into lethargy and despair, sleep problems and disinterest.

Since what people eat -– the nutrients available to the body -– affects various bodily functions, it seems logical that diet would affect chemistry and mood as well.

Diet decisions that improve the rest of the body may improve the brain’s outlook on the world.

“When people are feeling better by dieting and losing weight or resolving symptoms that they’re having, that could have an impact on mood,” Dr. Sherry Pagoto, a licensed clinical psychologist and University of Connecticut professor, told ABC News last year. “When people do engage in healthy lifestyle changes, we do see improvements in depression.”

Nutrition also influences the immune system, which has been shown to impact the risk of depression.

It could also come down to inflammation, research shows.

A study published last year gave more support to the theory that increased inflammation in the body could play a role in depression. The study, published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that people who had depression had 46 percent higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammatory disease, in their blood.

Diets like DASH and the Mediterranean Diet are both rich in anti-inflammatory foods.

Foods like white bread, margarine, red meat, processed meat and fried foods can cause inflammation in the body and should be eaten minimally or avoided, according to Harvard Medical School.

Tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fish like salmon and sardines and fruits like oranges and strawberries are all foods that fight inflammation, according to Harvard’s list.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.