At 30 years old, the death of Cheslie Kryst in January of 2022 sent shock waves through the Black community. An attorney, activist, entertainment news correspondent, and former Miss U.S.A,. she was successful and by all appearance, had the world at her fingertips. Up and coming DJ, musician and songwriter Ian King Jr. at 26 took his life. 19 year old Arlana Miller, a college cheerleader. Rapper Riky Rick, Actor Patrick Shai. Malik Webber a 21 year old, a son, a friend. Zoe Sozo Bethel. Each, committed suicide. Sadly, Kryst, King, Miller… these lost lives are not alone, and their alarming deaths have shed light on an ongoing issue, a crisis even, that has caused concern for professionals in the mental health field and Black Americans: increasing rates of suicide in the Black community.
• 70% of Black men will experience severe depression in their lifetime.
• The suicide rate among Black men is twice as high as those of Black women.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that although the overall rate of suicide in the U.S. decreased by 3% in 2020, the rate of suicide among people of color and young people had increased.
• The Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality revealed that although Black adults reported lower percentages of suicidal ideation in 2021, rates of suicide attempts among Black adults were higher than any other racial or ethnic group.
• The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of Minority Health found that although Whites continue to have higher rates of suicide, in 2019, suicide was the leading cause of death among Blacks between 15 and 24 years of age.
September is Suicide Prevention Month. Prevention begins with conversation. We have to talk about it. We have to fight the stigma and myths surrounding mental health in the Black community. Seeking help is often viewed as a weakness or admission of being “crazy”. There are unrealistic messages and images of resilience, emotional fortitude, even superhuman traits that many Blacks internalize and feel we need to live up to – “the strong Black woman”, “the strong Black man”. It’s important to know that mental health issues are not something that can defeat nor cripple a strong Black person.
How else can we prevent suicide?
• Check in with your loved ones and friends
• Talk about suicide and mental health concerns; spread awareness
• Promote connectedness; get involved
• Know where and how to find resources like local counselors or crisis lines
Mental health conditions, suicidal thoughts can affect anyone and in fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. There is help available. You do not have to fight these suicidal thoughts on your own. Suicide IS preventable.
It’s about getting through not getting by. You are a beautiful human and you deserve life. The first step is talking about it and recognizing that you need help. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s time to talk about it. Call, text, or email New Perspectives Therapeutic Services. We specialize in suicide prevention, PTSD, and more! We have the experience and tools to help!