10 Famous Black Men Who Committed Suicide: Resources For Help

10 Famous Black Men Who Committed Suicide: Resources For Help


Stephen "tWitch" Boss in New York on May 16, 2022. (Photo by Christopher Smith/Invision/AP, File)

The suicide rate for African Americans has increased dramatically over the past decade, with Black men seeing the highest spike. There is a myriad of reasons, expert say, for the increase, from social pressures to lack of mental health support.

Suicide deaths occur across the lifespan and have increased for Black youth as well, along with other racial and ethnic minorities, according to Rheeda Walker, professor of psychology and director of the University of Houston’s Culture, Risk and Resilience Lab.

The highest rate of death is among Black Americans age 25-34, said Walker, who recently conducted research on the suicide rate by Black people.

Yet suicide is a preventable public health problem, Walker said during an interview with the University of Houston. “It’s time we get proactive in addressing it,” she said. She is the author of the book “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health.”

The study found that Black males had the highest increase in suicide attempts compared to any other race in the group, increasing nearly 80 percent.

“Unfortunately, Black men often suffer in silence,” said therapist Nettie Jones, MS, LPC. “They don’t seek the help that sometimes women will reach out to get. We’ll call our girlfriends, let them know that things are not okay. But, unfortunately, Black men tend not to do that. They hold things in, they self-medicate, they are workaholics. The kind of do stuff that’s not very healthy.”

“Other barriers to help seeking have been mistrust of the medical system and gatekeeping by the Black church,” said therapist Logan Wilson, who specializes in treatment of Black males. “Many still believe that there’s no need to go and sit on a stranger’s couch when they can find what they need in the safety and comfort of a pew, or in prayer with the pastor.”

Here are 10 famous Black men who have committed suicide.

1. Mayor of Hyattsville, Maryland, Kevin Ward committed suicide amid impending embezzlement investigation

Kevin “Scooter” Ward, 44, the mayor of Hyattsville, Maryland, who took his own life on January 25, 2022. After his death, he was accused of having embezzled $2.2 million from KIPP D.C., the city’s largest charter school operator. A civil forfeiture filing by the U.S. Department of Justice alleged that Ward, who worked as the senior director of technology for KIPP’s eight campuses in D.C., created a network of front companies that he then used to produce invoices for tablets and laptops that were never ultimately provided, The DCist reported. The plot was uncovered in Dec. 2021 and federal prosecutors claim that Ward, allegedly used the proceeds to purchase a $169,000 property in West Virginia, at least nine vehicles (including two Teslas worth $218,000 and a Ford F-450 worth $120,000), art and sports memorabilia.

2. Ian Alexander, Jr., musician and son of actress Regina King committed suicide on birthday

Ian Alexander Jr. was the only child of Academy Award-winning actress Regina King. On Jan. 19, 2022, on what would have been his 26th birthday, Alexander committed suicide.

Alexander was a musician and DJ who performed by his artist name Desduné. He released a new single, “Green Eyes,” on Jan. 7 and had upcoming performances scheduled in Los Angeles.

3. Stephen “tWitch” Boss left home and committed suicide at hotel

Beloved entertainer Stephen “tWitch” Boss committed suicide on Dec. 13. He was 40 years old. The former DJ and sidekick for “The Ellen Show” left a note before he died of a gunshot wound to the head, The Los Angeles Times reported. The death was ruled a suicide by the L.A. County Coroner.

Boss was also an executive producer of “The Ellen Show.” He rose to fame more 10 years ago as a contestant on the reality TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” He met his wife, who was also a contestant on the show, when they both returned as “All-Star” dancers on the dance competition show. They married in 2013.

The TV star died at Encino, Calif., motel not far from the home he shared with his wife, Allison Holker Boss, and three children.

4. influencer and social media star Etika was found dead

Etika (born Daniel Desmond Amofah) was a popular content creator, influencer and social media star. The 29-year-old was found dead when his body was pulled from New York City’s East River in June 2019, reported the New York Post. His death has been ruled a suicide.

5. ‘Soul Train’ legend Don Cornelius took own life at age 75

On February 1, 2012, Don Cornelius died from a self-inflicted gunshot. The founder of the breakthrough and long-running music/dance TV show “Soul Train,” was 75 and suffering from health problems. He had also recently gone through a divorce, after being arrested in 2008 for felony domestic violence against his estranged wife, Victoria Avila-Cornelius. In 2009, Cornelius pleaded no contest to one count of “corporal injury resulting in traumatic condition of a spouse,” was given probation for 36 months, ABC News reported.

Cornelius created “Soul Train” and hosted the show in national syndication from 1971 to 1993, with stars like James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson performing on the show.

6. Charles Johnson: Former pro football player’s death ruled a suicide

Former National Football League wide receiver Charles Johnson was found dead in a hotel room in Raleigh, North Carolina, July 17, 2022, after he was gone missing, Marca reported.

Months later, the North Carolina medical examiner’s office made their report public, stating that he had acute toxicity positive for “oxycodone, hydrocodone and mirtazapine.”

Johnson played for nine seasons in the NFL and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1994 NFL Draft with the 17th overall pick out of Colorado. 

7. Influential hip-hop manager Chris Lighty

Chris Lighty worked with hip-hop stars like 50 Cent, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott and Diddy. He was found dead on August 30, 2012, at his home in the Bronx, New York City. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 44.

Lighty, who founded the company Primary Violator, was one of the most powerful figures in the hip-hop business, The New York Times reported.

8. Jovan Belcher, NFL player, died by suicide

Jovan Belcher was a star linebacker in the NFL and played for the Kansas City Chiefs. He died by suicide after he killed his girlfriend on Dec. 1, 2012. Belcher was 25 years old and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, was 22.

9. Shakir Stewart, record executive shot himself

Respected record executive Shakir Stewart, who worked at the record label Def Jam, died by suicide on Nov. 1, 2008, after he shot himself. He was 34 years old. 

10. Actor Lee Thompson Young, suicide at 29

Lee Thompson Young, who starred in the kids show “The Famous Jett Jackson” and had a recurring role on the popular television program “Rizzoli & Isles,” was found dead at the age of 29 from an apparent suicide in 2013.

The young actor, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager, took his own life and died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Black Doctor reported.

Resources for help

  •  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org
  • Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective: www.beam.community
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a suicide prevention network of over 200-plus crisis centers that provide 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress
  • Black Men Heal: Blackmenheal.org

Stephen “tWitch” Boss appears at the FOX 2022 Upfront presentation in New York on May 16, 2022. Boss, a longtime DJ and co-executive producer on the talk show “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and former contestant on the dance competition show, “So You Can Think You Can Dance” has died at the age of 40. (Photo by Christopher Smith/Invision/AP, File)