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Black children are dying by suicide. It’s time to talk about it

by Sydney Anderson
Published: Last Updated on
Black children are dying by suicide at higher rates
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Since the 1990s, suicide attempts among Black teenagers have increased 73%, while attempts by white youth dropped 7.5%, according to the Journal Pediatrics.  However, this research was conducted in 2019 and has most likely risen given the circumstances and situations of the world today.

A recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released in 2019, found a rise in the suicide rate among Black youth, along with the number of suicide attempts and severity.

The report, which tracked suicide trends among students ages 14-18 over the previous 10 years, found that 11.8% of Black youth reported attempting suicide, the highest rate among populations. On the contrary, white teens accounted for 7.9% of those noted attempts, while 8.9% of attempts were made by  Hispanic youth.

Moreover, there was an even higher difference in documented attempts by race among female students. Black female students accounted for 15.2% of those failed attempts, Hispanic female students made up 11.9%, and white female students accounted for 9.4% of that population.

There are many reasons for the rise in suicidal rates, such as lack of access to mental health care, absence of awareness of symptoms of mental illness, social stigma, and medical and structural racism.

Racism is a contributing factor in high suicide rates

According to Crawford, mental health services among Black youth are drastically lower than in other groups because of “clinician bias and racism,” which can affect diagnosis as it becomes an obstacle to receiving treatment. 

Structural and systemic racism are factors since the Black youth attend schools and live in under-resourced communities with limited mental health resources. A study from the CDC showcases the connection between students experiencing racism and terrible mental health.

Acknowledging historical circumstances

Not only do social factors impact mental health challenges for Black young people, but they can also be dismissed by health care providers, especially white clinicians. 

Many health care physicists have a history of disregarding mental health struggles endured by Black people, explaining how they were unaware of African Americans having depression due to the presumption of their lack of intelligence.

“We do know that depression was a condition that was not diagnosed in Black people because the field didn’t think that Black people’s minds were sophisticated enough to experience an abstract condition such as depression,” she proclaimed.

Depression is not always prevalent.

When it comes to depression, it is not always noticed, as many children can obscure it. Even those with the brightest smiles and happiest moods can suffer from poor mental health and depression but do not make it recognizable.

Depression symptoms for children are usually different than for adults, as they are generally misinterpreted by family and friends, resulting in children not being able to receive proper help, lashing out, and continuing to experience sadness.

1 comment

PlantLady August 29, 2022 - 1:24 pm

I can understand how kids can hide their depression. Since behaviors at that age can also be mistaken for bad conduct, the terrible two’s, being “spoiled,” and all sorts of other milestone labels, it is difficult to spot the telltale symptoms, especially in preschoolers.

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