Science & Health
With teen suicides rates increasing, awareness must increase as well
Photos by Teens in Print
Teen suicide has become an increasing concern, especially quite recently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates have risen 30% since 1999. The LA Times reports that the suicide rate amongst young gay men hasn’t seen been so high since the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s, currently at an astonishing rate of 17.9 completed suicides per 100,000 young men. And as of 2016, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 30.
Vanessa Prosper is a psychologist and therapist at Boston Latin School who speaks to students dealing with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis. High school is a place where teens from all different backgrounds meet, so this conversation is important. Prosper first wanted to acknowledge a misconception: the idea that suicide is caused by one thing.
“That’s not true,” she said. “Suicide is caused by the interaction of many risk factors. So the more risk factors one has, the more one is vulnerable to suicidal thoughts.” 
Prosper then began to draw three circles, all crossing over each other and labeled as biological, social, and psychological factors. Biological factors that could contribute to suicide risk include a history of suicide in one’s family, while psychological factors could be mental illnesses such as depression and social factors could be anxiety the person has during interactions with other people. She explained that if all three of these factors are present in one’s life, that person is more vulnerable to having suicidal thoughts. 
“Why people have suicidal thoughts is the following: try to think of a time when you had a bad headache,” Prosper prompted. “How did it make you feel? ... Could you think or focus?”
She then explained how emotional pain can impact people similarly. 
“You want this pain desperately to go away, except, you can’t think clearly or problem-solve effectively,” she said. “So one thing that might first pop into your mind is to end your life as a solution to end your emotional pain.”
For teens who haven’t dealt with suicide in their own personal lives, the issue is still an important one.
“I believe suicide is a big problem,” said Issabel Goodrich, a 16-year-old student at Boston Latin School. “In the U.S.A. suicide rates are the highest they’ve ever been. It’s very scary — it’s real.”
Students believe that it’s important to discuss the issue.
“I think that suicide is a problem that definitely needs to be addressed,” said Anna Rekatas, a 14-year-old at Brooklyn Latin School. “One loss to suicide is one too many, and the least we can do is spread awareness about it.”
The thought of possibly ending one’s own life is something that a teen, or anyone, should never experience. However, research has reported that suicide is becoming an even larger contributor to young people’s deaths day by day. It affects all people, in one way or another; whether you are a parent, relative or friend of a person who took their own life, your life has been changed.
People like Prosper dedicate themselves daily to fighting suicide. Clinics and hospitals that specialize in treatment for people struggling with self-injury and suicidal thoughts are growing in number to help people who have considered killing themselves by giving them hope and aid. The suicide hotline is one of the most accessible and trustworthy places to find help. But it is also the unsung heroes that help win this treacherous battle. Friends and family members that offer their support are one of the most important things one could have; they are a reminder that someone does love and care for you, even if you think such a person does not exist. And that is how we will win: reminding each other that we love unconditionally, and through offering our support to anyone who needs it.
If you are in crisis, you can find help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1.800.273.8255 or texting “Home” to 741741. If you are looking for mental health care outside of a crisis, visit
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Science & Health
"Water is tasteless and colorless, but you can live on it longer than eating food" -African proverb
On so many corners in the city of Boston we can get clean water to drink. If you go to the store the cheapest liquid you can purchase is water. There is even access to free water as there are fountains placed across the city and many of us have refillable water bottles which means access to water is pretty easy here. But, don't think that everyone can get fresh water every day. Imagine if you didn’t have water, what would happen? No water to drink, no showers or no water to cook with. Would you be happy as you are now? 
In 2010, the United Nations officially announced water was a fundamental human right and declared that “the right to water and sanitation is contained in existing human rights treaties and is therefore legally binding.”
Water is a basic need that must be available in order for humans to survive as we need it for blood circulation, respiration and converting food to energy. After oxygen, water is the body’s most important nutrient. It’s simple, you need water to move your body. 
Africa has a serious water crisis across the continent. The World Health Organization estimates that the Sub-Saharan African (the area of the continent that lies south of the Sahara) population of 319 million still lacks access to water. According to the United Nations, lack of access to clean and safe water has complicated poverty reduction efforts greatly as Sub-Saharan African countries spend 40 billion hours searching for water. This time and energy could have been used for other productive activities.

Since water in Africa is a core ingredient for sustainable development like farming, washing food and making electricity, its availability is key to human survival. There are limited sources available that provide clean and drinkable water for the entire population of Africa. According to The Water Project, surface level water sources in Africa are not only highly polluted but creating pipes that brings fresh water to arid areas is very expensive. Furthermore, groundwater is the best resource to tap into to provide clean water to the majority of areas in Africa but this is also an expensive endeavor. Women and children in Africa walk for miles to obtain water from streams and ponds that often might contain disease causing organisms, like those that cause cholera, typhoid fever, and infant diarrhea. 
Africa also has other obstacles, one being decreased rainfall. According to the United Nations, Southern Africa is expected to face a decrease in precipitation of 20%. It is difficult for local populations in some of these areas to continue their traditional lifestyles or farm because of the decrease in rainfall. Some people are turning to cutting down and burning trees to create charcoal to sell as fuel in order to make a living. The consequences of no clean water or access to adequate sanitation are widespread. Young children die from dehydration and malnutrition because of diarrhea which is something that could be prevented by clean water.
I interviewed Miss Adelina, a teacher at Boston International Newcomers Academy . She is from one of the 10 islands that make up Cape Verde off  the West Coast of Africa. Her experience of the water crisis in Africa is that “there are so many things going on in Africa: lack of water is causing droughts because it’s dirty water. There is not enough clean water.”

Adelina says, “Well I think kids in America are very spoiled. They don't understand hardship like a youth of Africa having to walk three miles to get fresh water. That kid in Africa might not be wearing shoes or having food in their belly, so here in America we have the land and a good plenty. We can walk to the corner grocery store and get whatever we want to eat, like cake, candy and sodas. In Africa they don't have all those resources —  they might be lucky if they eat breakfast or lunch.”

How can teens in Boston help this situation? Adelina says, “first of all, make them aware of what's going on in Africa. If they don't know what's going on there, it's a low chance they’ll understand the water crisis in Africa. Second, we should teach them how water is important to human life, and maybe take some youths in Boston on an internship to Africa to see with their eyes how people are struggling to get water.”     

The issue of water scarcity in Africa is one that we all can learn from. As the water crisis in Africa becomes more widely known, more people are stepping forward to help make a difference in the lives of millions of families struggling to find water. You and I are responsible for not only reading or writing articles but we are also responsible for finding a way to help people get water even if they are thousands of miles away. Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we all can do small things with great love.” So it's time we realize that we must stop wasting water and appreciate the things that we have, and teach our children how important water is to mankind.
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Science & Health
It's time to drive less
Photo by Holger Link of Unsplash
On a cold, rainy Saturday night, I was walking to the corner store to buy milk when I saw a bunch of cars driving by me. There was a lot of smoke coming out of the engines, and I began to cough and have a horrible feeling in my stomach. The smoke was gray and looked like it carried dirt particles in it. It smelled putrid like burnt plastic. I felt like throwing up. 
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, cars pollute the air by burning fossil fuels. To better understand car pollution in Boston and the impact it is having on our environment, we need to understand the health risks. The effects of driving a car in our current environment are dangerous because car pollution affects our lungs and it increases the risk of diseases like asthma and heart disease. Car pollution can also cause cancer, breathing problems and eye irritation that damages your vision.
Cars have been affecting us for a long time, especially near highways and where there is a lot of traffic. In some cities, the pollution levels are higher, like New York City and Los Angeles. Over a 24-hour period, air pollution in Los Angeles measures PM2.5 36(µg/m3) whereas in Boston it is  8.9(µg/m3), according to an EPA air quality report from 2018. LA has a lot of pollution because there are a lot more cars than in Boston. While Boston has fewer cars than LA, car pollution still affects us. 
Cars have the most impact on air quality, and when people breathe the air coming from the tailpipes it goes directly to the lungs. According to, the exhaust is dangerous to infants and people that suffer heart disease because it affects the blood’s ability to move oxygen. Car pollution also affects the weather, according to National Geographic. Smog created by car pollution limits visibility and acid rain can damage vehicles and buildings.
We should try to help out future generations by thinking deeply about the way we use cars. One thing we can do is drive electric cars because that won’t damage the environment. Also, we can be more careful about how we use normal cars. If we all commit to not abusing cars, like using them to race, then we all have a higher chance of living a long life. Also, people can choose not to use cars at all and instead ride a bike or just walk.
At the end of the day, car pollution is dangerous for the environment because it’s smoke that we breathe. Some people might not care about the world and people in it beside themselves, but it's important to take care of the environment and people. If we don't take this seriously, then a lot of kids can get diseases or become sick.
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AJ and the Queen: it's a hit and a miss
Press photo courtesy of Netflix
At the beginning of this year, Netflix quietly released the dramedy, “AJ and the Queen,” starring the paragon of drag herself, RuPaul. RuPaul’s name carries a legacy people only vaguely understand. People hear the name and often think “Oh, the drag queen,” and don’t give it a second thought. You’ve probably seen her in a gif or heard her name as an answer to a jeopardy question. However, RuPaul is credited for heightening the drag scene by exposing people to what a drag queen is, with her charting dance songs from the eighties and her appearances on talk shows, and her fire has not died since then. Along with her Emmy award-winning reality television show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the self-proclaimed glamazon is now starring in a Netflix show. An accomplishment, of course, but it would probably be more commendable if the show was good. Maybe that’s while it was canceled on March 6.
The premise of “AJ and the Queen” is ridiculous to say the least. The viewer is forced to follow drag queen Ruby Red/Robert Lee (RuPaul) who goes on a cross country road trip to escape a crazy ex-boyfriend and, along the way, befriends a ten-year-old who snuck into Ruby’s RV with the motive of finding her father in Texas. An immediate question that should come to mind is: How is a sixty-year-old man able to get away with traveling one thousand miles with an unattended, homeless ten-year-old? Let’s not think about that.
Overall the show’s visuals are loud, assaulting, and colorful to remind us that this is a show about a glamorous drag queen. The dialogue is obviously trying its hardest to be “hip with the gay youth, okurrrr.” The plot is so simplistic it’s almost infantilizing and the acting borders on atrocious. So why is this show so fun to watch?
Despite everything it clearly does not have going for it, the show, surprisingly, carries some charm. When you’re not too busy laughing at RuPaul’s attempts at making a facial expression, the characters aren’t difficult to root for. Ruby’s elementary school-aged best friend has a compelling storyline about abandonment and the struggles of parenthood and drug use, which almost makes up for the bizarre main plot of Ruby escaping an evil ex-lover and his eye-patch wearing sidekick. The conversations about what family means are important and sweet, and the growing bond between two people who are traveling together under extreme circumstances is almost possible to invest in. Also, watching our protagonists jump from drag bar to drag bar and seeing what performers they meet along the way is fun, if you ignore the fact that a ten-year-old would never be allowed backstage at a drag show. “AJ and the Queen” does a great job showing the feel-good and entertaining parts of drag, with the glamor, the quips, and the best aspects of the art. Drag as an art form seems so taboo behind closed doors, but “AJ and the Queen” sheds light on how unique and compelling a form of entertainment it has always been.
So no, I am not going to pretend the show is good. Giving it the benefit of the doubt, it could be said that “AJ and the Queen’s” ridiculousness is tongue in cheek, referencing the campy nature drag has had since the beginning of the underground club scenes. In order to enter into the acid-trip wormhole that “AJ and the Queen” is, it is important to leave yourself a reminder to never, even for a second, look at it under a critical lens. “AJ and the Queen” is only tolerable if you realize how horrible it is, and go into it for a laugh.
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PAX East brings together game developers and fans across cultures
Courtesy of Indie Games Poland
Founded by Penny Arcade in 2010, PAX East has been Boston’s premier gaming convention for a decade now. Hosting games of all genres, platforms, and console generations, this year's showcase had something missing — Playstation developer Sony Entertainment. Sony canceled its appearance and pulled "The Last of Us 2," a game about a deadly virus, while the world grappled with the spreading coronavirus. Despite its absence, the convention floor hardly felt at a loss as smaller international studios more than picked up the slack.
The U.S. and Japan host the most prolific developers with names such as Nintendo, Rockstar Games, and Square-Enix routinely pumping out quality content. However,  there is much to be said about the smaller studios popping up across the flat earth, creating virtual worlds for us to lose ourselves in and get away from our lives for a while. 
While attending the showcase last month, I set out on a mission to explore past “Animal Crossing” and “Final Fantasy” to talk to the little guys, the international studios changing the game — of well — games.
First on my trek through the wild west of gaming was a sharp turn to the far east with Nodding Head Games’ “Raji,” an action platformer inspired by Hindu Mythology. You play as the title character, “Raji,” on a quest by the gods to slay demons and save your brother. The game possesses a traditional shadow puppet art style during cutscenes and a familiar top-down perspective during gameplay. When most people think India, they think more along the lines of outsourced work rather than game development. This is something that Art Director Shruti Ghosh is keen to change, addressing that while Norse and Greek pantheons are over-represented, you rarely see Hindi lore in gaming. “Raji” seeks to change this by combining the cultural styles of the Hindu world with game mechanics prominent in western games.
I then stopped by the Indie Games Poland Foundation, a super-booth of Polish dev’s dripping with Slavic swag. Big-name developers such as CD Projekt Red have blown minds recently with the announcement of “CyberPunk 2077,” but it's not all augments and androids up in Warsaw, as proven with Klabter’s “Help Will Come Tomorrow.” The game is set following a train crash during the boiling point of the October Revolution, you must keep a cast of revolutionaries, aristocrats, and non-politically minded survivors alive in the harsh Siberian wilderness. Though my survivors ended up considerably less alive than when I decided not to play the tutorial, there was fun to be had finding balance in the survivor's clashing personalities and managing resources to keep everyone alive to see if the game's title holds true. 
Lastly, I met with Astragon studios, a German developer who primarily makes simulator games. While most American gamers would rather mow through zombies, over in Germany, laid back simulation titles such as Astragon’s own “Bus Simulator” offers a unique experience perfect for rounding out your day. While I was skeptical going in, expecting something along the lines of the playable meme, “Surgeon Simulator,” a title in which you enact surgery while heavily intoxicated, what I found was a calming ride through metropolitan Europe as your friendly neighborhood Busfahrer. While American audiences see simulators primarily in their meme potential, European audiences see them as a mellow alternative to the chaos of titles like “DOOM” or “Battlefront.” While years of “GTA Online” compelled me to immediately try for vehicular homicide, I quickly found myself enjoying the simplicity of simulating a bus.

Video games, like literature or cinema, are an art form and like any other regional tastes and cultural ideals play a role in what we look for. That being said, there is a shared love for the craft of game design that keeps events like PAX happening so that we can come together to celebrate how similar we are within our vast differences.
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