Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we find out what you can do to help on World Mental Health Day, examine new findings about how multiple tattoos could raise your immunity, and cover another report urging pregnant women to get both the flu and whooping cough shots.

A day to prevent suicide

Every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide. Today, October 10, is World Mental Health Day, a day to shine a spotlight both on the scale of this heartbreaking problem – which is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year-olds – and on the roles each of us can play in preventing it and reducing its stigma so people aren’t afraid to seek help.

Each of us can play a role:

  • If you are struggling, take 40 seconds to have a conversation with someone your trust about how you are feeling.
  • If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide take 40 seconds to initiate a conversation to ask them how they’re doing.
  • If you’re an employer or manager, take 40 seconds to put together a positive message of support to employees with information about the mental health resources available to them.
  • If you want leaders to take action, record a 40-second video or audio clip telling them the action you would like them to take on mental health.
  • Lastly, help reduce the stigma of suicide and other mental health problems by sharing stories on social media, including the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255).

Pregnant? Get both the flu and whooping cough shots

Millions of women in the U.S. aren’t getting the two vaccines necessary to protect not only their own health but also that of their babies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.

Both the flu and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine are recommended during pregnancy, but only about 35 percent of pregnant women in this country are getting both, according to this report in The New York Times, and more than half receive just one.

Yet these serious infections can be deadly for babies, particularly whooping cough. The CDC report said that about 70 percent of people who died from it were infants younger than 2 months. When a woman gets the pertussis vaccine during pregnancy, those antibodies are conferred to the fetus.

These two vaccinations are the only immunizations recommended for pregnant women, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Speaking of immunity

Inked-up individuals might stand a better chance of avoiding a cold this season, according to new research from the University of Alabama covered by ScienceDaily.

Receiving multiple tattoos can strengthen your immunological responses, making you better at fighting off infection, according to the study published in the American Journal of Human Biology. However, getting a single tattoo at least temporarily lowers your resistance.

Christopher Lynn, Ph.D., UA associate professor of anthropology who led the study, said it’s easier to catch a cold after your first tattoo because your defenses are lowered from the stress. But as people get more ink, their immunity is strengthened.

“After the stress response, your body returns to an equilibrium,” Lynn said. “However, if you continue to stress your body over and over again instead of returning to the same set point, it adjusts its internal set points and moves higher.”

Saliva samples (as well as information on the number and time spent on tattoos) obtained from volunteers at a tattoo business were obtained both before and after their time under the needle. Levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that is a front line of defense against infections, and cortisol were tested. Immunoglobulin A dropped significantly in those receiving initial tattoos, as cortisol, an immune suppressor, spiked.

People with more tattoos had a statistically smaller decrease in the immunoglobulin antibody from before to after, demonstrating a higher threshold for immunological response.

Photo credit: fizkes, Getty Images