DISCLAIMER: If you’ve never read any of my blogs before, I have to tell you that I like to be 100% honest in expressing my feelings about mental health, suicide prevention, and people’s thoughts and actions… especially my own. It’s necessary for me to be as transparent as possible. Doing this in my social life gets me in all kinds of trouble, which is part of the reason why the You’re Not Finished blog/website was created… so that other people like myself… other survivors.. can be transparent without getting in trouble for it.
I have been wanting to write about this for a while, but have been apprehensive because of the stigma attached to it. Since the only way out seems to be through, I decided to talk about African-Americans and suicide in order to help in efforts to make sure the topic doesn’t get swept under the rug any longer.
Being an African-American myself, who has contemplated suicide on NUMEROUS occasions and attempted twice, I know for a fact that anyone one of us who is saying that “We don’t do that!” is highly misinformed or just flat out lying/in denial. The former is likely to be the truest answer to that for reasons I’m about to explain.
There seems to be this belief in the black community that we are above mental illness or that we are completely unaffected by it… and that those who are tend to be weak or cowardly; a detriment to the culture. Stigma is high everywhere in this nation and the world, but I believe the stench of it is much thicker in the African-American community.
The thing that helps perpetuate the “we don’t do that” myth is the numbers. Every article/research study I have come across has a comparison of how many of each race are committing suicide, or is overshadowed by the fact that the highest cause of death amongst African-Americans is homicide (a topic for later, I’m sure), or is just an old study. After the suicide of Don Cornelius (TV show host and creator of Soul Train) people talked about it for a short time, then it was swept right back under the rug.
Maybe I understand why. I mean suicide is a terrible thing, and what group of people wants to be associated with it? That will never excuse the fact that this just isn’t being addressed at all. It is being ignored.
Exhibit A: “Epidemiological surveys suggest that the
rate of mental illness among African-Americans is similar to that of Caucasians. However, there is evidence to suggest that higher rates of mental illness among African-Americans might be detected if researchers surveyed individuals within psychiatric hospitals, prisons, and poor rural communities.”
AKA researchers are ignoring people most likely to live with mental illness and/or commit suicide.
Exhibit B: “African American beliefs about suicide may act as a protective factor. Religious communities condemn suicide while secular attitudes regard suicide as unacceptable and a behavior of white culture, alien to black culture.”
AKA African-Americans disbelief of the fact that we ARE killing ourselves.
I can’t be the only one who’s irritated (understatement) with the stigma of suicide and mental health; not only in the African-American community but EVERYWHERE. This is just an example of how the needs of hurting people are being ignored on a daily basis. Let’s start talking about it and find solutions to keep people alive, survivors. Let’s start helping each other to make this world better.
Additional sources for research: http://www.nopcas.com/epidemi.html