On June 28, I received a disturbing press release from Ball State University about a recent study on #African-American #teenagers and #suicide.
Research done by Ball State University health science professor Jagdish Khubchandani found that #suicide is the second leading cause of death for #African-American youth. According to Khubchandani, the rate of #AfricanAmerican #male #suicides increased by 60 percent and for #African-American #females, the rate increased by 182 percent from 2001 to 2017. During that period, there were 1,375 male suicides and 377 female suicides.
The study, “The Changing Characteristics of #African-American Adolescent Suicides, 2001–2017,” which was published in the Journal of Community Health, found that 68,528 #African-American males and 94,760 females made #suicide attempts serious enough that they had to be treated by #healthprofessionals in 2017. #Males were most likely to use firearms (52 percent) or to hang/suffocate themselves (34 percent) to commit suicide, while #females used hanging/suffocation (56 percent) or firearms (21 percent) to commit #suicides.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
They study also found that Georgia had the highest rate in the nation, at 5.8 per 100,000 people, of #African-American adolescent #suicides from 2015-2017.
For decades, addressing #mentahealth has been a taboo topic in the #African-American community. In the past, if a #Black person was struggling with their #mental or #emotional #health, they were either ignored and deemed “crazy,” or told to “Talk to Jesus about that.”
As a person with deep faith, I believe that God can handle any problem that I’m dealing with, including struggles with #mentalhealth.
However, I also believe that God put people on earth—such as therapists, doctors, dentists, etc.—and blessed them with certain gifts that could help people survive whatever ails them. So, I can “talk to Jesus” and talk to a therapist to help me positively deal with my #mentalhealth.
Parents, especially #Black parents, should seriously consider putting their child in therapy if they’re struggling #mentally or #emotionally. #Mentalhealth is just as, if not more, important than physical health. Although I’m nearly 32 years of age, I can still remember how tough it was mentally to get through one day during my teenage years.
Adults think what children and teens go through daily is peanuts in comparison to what they deal with, and one could argue the validity of that point of view. But between struggling to stay on top of schoolwork, trying to be socially accepted, dealing with bullies at school or home and cyberbullying on top of that, the pressure could be too much for a child. Add in racism, or even homophobia, poverty or any other marginalized category they may fall in to, I can understand how a child or teen can question the value of living.
If a parent, or any adult in a child’s life, isn’t paying attention to the child’s mental or emotional well-being, it can have fatal consequences as the study showed. Khubchandani said a form of protection against suicides in adolescents is having ready access to mental health care.
“African-American adolescents are at higher risk than the general population to encounter serious forms of violence,” he said. “Schools are the leading provider of mental health services for youth. Thus, there needs to be a greater emphasis on urban public schools providing adequate screening, treatment and referral services for adolescents with mental health disorders.”
These days, therapy has become a growing topic in the Black community. People aren’t ashamed to see a therapist or share their #mentalstruggles with society. Some #celebrities and #athletes are advocating for access to #mentalhealth treatment, including Black celebrities and athletes such as actress #TarajiP.Henson, #NBA star #DeMarDeRozan and former NBA star #MettaWorldPeace.
I hope in the next decade we will see #suicide rates decline among #African-American youth. It starts at home with the parent or legal guardian.