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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Researchers Sound The Alarm About Rising #Suicide Rate Among #Black Youth

(Dan Meyers via Unsplash)

#JamesDonaldson notes:

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

In the span of just two weeks, two #Black #men were recently found hanging from trees in the Antelope Valley. Some believed they were lynched, arguing that a #Black #man wouldn’t take his life in that way.

The case of Robert Fuller in Palmdale is still under investigation. The family of Malcolm Harsch, who was found in Victorville, said after reviewing footage from a nearby surveillance camera that it believes the 38-year-old took his own life.

We looked at #suicide in the #AfricanAmerican community, and found a complicated picture.

[If you or a loved one needs help, call the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Los Angeles County maintains a 24-hour bilingual hotline at 800-854-7771]

In 2017, #Black Californians died by #suicide at less than half the rate of White Californians.

Statistics like these have long contributed to the narrative that #suicide is a White phenomenon.


“For a long time it was assumed that #Black people really did not commit #suicide at the level or rate that we often think of in the general population, and that in fact it was unusual to hear about a #Black person committing #suicide,” said Dr. Altha Stewart, a dean at the University of Tennessee’s College of Medicine.

But Stewart, who’s also a former president of the #AmericanPsychiatricAssociation, said research is showing that those assumptions are wrong — at least regarding #Black #youth.

Studies have found the #suicide rate among #Black #youth ages 5-11 is increasing faster than for any other racial or ethnic group. Researchers determined that for the 10-19 age group, it had nearly doubled between 2007 and 2017.

For those under age 13, #Blacks are taking their own lives at twice the rate of #Whites, according to Dr. Michael Lindsey, executive director of NYU’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.

“It has been important for us to call out these trends and do the research to document it,” he said.

“We can no longer afford for the face of #suicide to be that of older #White #men,” Lindsey said.

He noted that he worked on a study that found that between 1991 and 2017, #suicide attempts by high schoolers decreased for #Whites (by 7%), #Latinos (by 11%) and #Asians (by 56%). But the number went up significantly for #Blacks — by 73%.


Lindsey and other experts are concerned that the current moment will have further negative #mentalhealth impacts on the #Black community. #COVID-19 is disproportionately harming #AfricanAmericans, while at the same time images of police brutality and killings of #Black people are ubiquitous.

“As a #Black #woman, I hold my breath scrolling my timeline, because there’s just so many headlines,” said Ashley Stewart, a researcher at USC. She worked on a recent study that looked at the #mentalhealth effects of exposure to traumatic events online — such as police killings — on people of color.

“Seeing these videos was in fact associated with symptoms of #depression and #PTSD,” she said.

Stewart is curious about whether seeing these events online might be a factor in young people of color considering #suicide.

Lindsey said he’s often asked why we’re seeing an alarming increase in suicidal behavior among #Black #youth in recent decades.

He doesn’t have an answer, he said, because of a lack of research on the topic.


That’s why Lindsey calls for more funding and a better pipeline to get researchers of color into the field to investigate the risk factors for #suicide among #Black #youth.

“In this contemporary context, it’s only going to make matters worse if we do not address these issues,” he said.

Lindsey served on the Congressional Black Caucus’ Emergency Task Force on #Black #Youth #Suicide and #MentalHealth. The task force found that Black scientists are less likely than their White peers to be awarded federal dollars for their proposed studies.

“The structural racism of research is not unlike the structural racism that governs clinical care and education in the health care arena,” said the University of Tennessee’s Stewart, who also served on the task force.

There are some signs of change in this area, though. Just last week, the #NationalInstituteofMentalHealth put out a call for research on Black youth #suicide, citing the task force report.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

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