Depression is a very serious thing. In the Black community it has often gone untreated because of the negative stigmas associated with it. While some people advise those dealing with depression to “get over it,” others’ solution is to “just pray about it.” However, disturbing new statistics show Black youth have succumbed to depression and committed suicide at alarming rates over the last few decades.
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Dr. Inger E. Burnett-Zeigler, a clinical psychologist, recounted the staggering findings of a Pediatrics study done in November. According to the study, suicide rates among Black youth rose 73 percent from 1991 to 2017.
In another study in the Journal of Community Health, findings show suicide rates rose 60 percent for Black boys ages 13 to 19 and 182 percent for Black girls from 2001 to 2017.
In Burnett-Zeigler’s article, she noted, “From 2011 to 2017, deaths by suicide outpaced deaths by homicide among all people ages 10 to 24, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control.”
These statistics are cause for major concern because this harmful epidemic is literally taking the lives of Black America’s future.
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Burnett-Zeigler said in her “experience working with Black women, a history of childhood abuse and neglect, as well as feelings of rejection and abandonment, have led to suicide attempts during their youth.”
She added Black youth are more prone to have a “history of trauma, emotional distress, hopelessness, experiencing a significant loss, substance use, impulsivity, isolation, rejection and access to lethal weapons;” thus leading them to suicide.
The problem is exacerbated because people “minimize symptoms of mental illness, think the problem will get better on its own or be reluctant to seek treatment because of the stigma and shame,” Burnett Zeigler wrote.
“Black youths too often receive the messages that their lives are not valued and that they are less deserving of support, nurturing and protection than their peers of other backgrounds. Compared with white kids, they receive more detentions, suspensions and expulsions in school, have higher rates of arrests and incarceration, and fewer options for high-quality education and stable employment,” the op-ed states.
“Many Black youths are often fighting for their lives in a system actively working against them, which can be exhausting and feel like a pointless, uphill battle,” Burnett-Zeigler continued.
She decried the “dangerous false narrative in the black community” that “Black people don’t kill themselves.” Obviously, statistics show otherwise. The Black community must wrap its arms around its youth and look beyond the surface to help them overcome the trauma and depression stealing their lives in large numbers.