Suicide Rates Up Among Black Youth
More than 25 years of data and an analysis of 200,000 high school students turned up one alarming statistic: suicide attempts are up among Black teens in the United States.
Perhaps more concerning is that teens’ reported suicidal thinking went down overall from 1991 to 2017, except for Black youth. Their suicide attempts spiked by 73%. The findings were published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It’s not just teens, however, but also children. Black boys in particular, ages 5 to 11, are taking their lives more frequently than their counterparts. Among Black children in the same age, their suicide rate is twice that of white peers.
Several risk factors contribute to the alarming trend, including mental health concerns such as depression. Recent racist incidents only add to the problem, but systemic racism — discrimination in education, housing, labor, and at the hands of law enforcement — has long been plagued the Black community.
Suicide risk goes up when depression is untreated; as a result it’s important to know the signs. Those include:
- Feeling sad, anxious, or empty
- Feeling life is going all wrong
- A sense of worthlessness
- Being more distant from friends and family
- Losing interest in once-loved activities
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits (either too way too much or way too little)
- Concentration problems
- Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains
- Thoughts of dying or ending one’s life, or attempting self-harm
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above, reach out to a trusted adult or loved one, and sooner rather than later.
If need be, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call it at 800-273-8255.
Finding help earlier can nip many problems in the bud, including worsening depression, anxiety, and coping mechanisms (such turning to alcohol or drugs) that ultimately do more harm than good.
reuters.com – Suicide Attempts Rising Among Black Teens
pediatrics.aappublications.org – Trends of Suicidal Behaviors Among High School Students in the United States: 1991–2017
nami.org – NAMI’s Statement On Recent Racist Incidents and Mental Health Resources for African Americans
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Depression Among Black Youth; Interaction of Class and Place
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