Unnatural Causes

We know that economic status, race and zip code are powerful predictors of health status and life expectancy. But how do socio-economic status and racism get “under the skin”?  Why do some populations get sicker more often in the first place?  How do inequalities in housing, wealth, jobs and education combine with powerlessness and lack of control over one’s life translate into bad health?

City of Berkeley Public Health Division
1947 Center Street, Second Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
Map to Public Health Division

510-981-5300 (Phone)   510-981-5395 (Fax)   510-981-6903 (TDD)

Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 5:30pm

The "Unnatural Causes" series explores how social conditions in the U.S. (in neighborhoods, communities, schools, and workplace) profoundly affect our health and longevity - even more than medical care, genes, or behavior. 

Health inequities were a central part of our 2007 Berkeley Health Status Report.  The report shows us that despite its special qualities, Berkeley is just like everyplace else in the country with respect to health inequities. The color of your skin, your home address and your income are very good predictors of whether you will have a low birth-weight baby, die from heart disease or stroke, graduate from high school, own a home, or end up in jail. 

In order to increase awareness in the community, the Public Health Department hosted a total of ten screenings of Unnatural Causes during the months of April through December in 2008, five for Public Health Staff, one for all City of Berkeley Staff and four for the community. We continue to host and facilitate screenings and community discussions. The community screenings, held at Berkeley City College and the South Berkeley Senior Center, brought in over 130 people.  The screening at the Berkeley City College in April 2008 was comprised of the City Mayor, City Council member Max Anderson, 15 community based organizations, UC Berkeley students and Berkeley residents.  The discussions at both the staff and community screenings were varied and rich.  Several key themes emerged while brainstorming for future action steps towards achieving health equity.  Click on the link below to access to the full report.

2008 Final Executive Summary of CoBPHD Unnatural Causes Screenings 

For more information on the “Unnatural Causes” Series go to www.unnaturalcauses.org.

To schedule your own screening and facilitated discussion, please contact Abraxas Seale at (510) 981-5293 or at ASeale@cityofberkeley.info.

Copies of the DVD of Unnatural Causes are available at the City of Berkeley Public Library.