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In reading the first few pages about health in The Covenant with Black America I was absolutely shocked by a statistic listed by Dr. David M. Satcher - former Surgeon General under President Clinton.

He said that there are more suicides than homocides in our community by an order of 5 to 3. That is for every 3 murders, there are 5 suicides in the black community!

Is anyone else shocked by this number? Does this lead anyone else to believe that we need to direct much more energy and attention to this problem? Honestly, I was completely ignorant of the size of this issue.

© MBM

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MBM, this is a subject that gets little discussion in our community. I know some time ago on the now defunct Africana.com, Amy Alexander discussed the suicide of her brother in a very moving article. I didn't know that so many black folks committed suicide. I personally know of no one who has committed suicide. But it could be because no one really talks about that kind of thing.
However, I'm wondering what would cause this many suicides among our young people?? And what can be done to stop it?
This is very disturbing to me. But, I admit, it's not all that suprising. The Struggle takes it's toll on all of us. It's easy to see how so many of us snap under the pressure. sad

To be honest, I think we're already doing everything we can. Anything that we do to lessen the pressure, while still striving toward goals, will assist the ones that are on the edge. Other than that, I don't know what can be done. I don't know what can be done to bring someone back from the brink. In my experience, they have to bring themselves back. Frown
I'm very shocked by the number, but I've never really imagined a number because I have nothing to base it on. It's so taboo that I haven't discussed suicide much with other Blacks.

Asked to compare the suicide rate with the murder rate, I would have guessed that murder had it beat by a long shot, though.

I know Black people who have been murdered, but I don't know any who have actually killed themselves.

Only one Black person has admitted to me that she has attempted suicide before, but I don't think she would have said a thing if she knew that I didn't hear the rumor for others, yet.

Many of my acquaintances of other races have been very candid, so I assumed the hush within my own race might have had a cultural basis.

I never imagined the problem to be to this degree.

We really need to discuss suicide more. Not only the cutting of the wrist type of suicide, but also slow suicide where people constantly do self-destructive behaviors because they no longer give a damn whether they live.

We need to take it upon ourselves to educate ourselves on the signs of depression and be willing to listen to others without judgement or giving out of place advice.

I hope Blacks who are willing to talk about their attempts discuss the issue more so that our community can learn what more we can do.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
In reading the first few pages about health in The Covenant with Black America I was absolutely shocked by a statistic listed by Dr. David M. Satcher - former Surgeon General under President Clinton.

He said that there are more suicides than homocides in our community by an order of 5 to 3. That is for every 3 murders, there are 5 suicides in the black community!

Is anyone else shocked by this number? Does this lead anyone else to believe that we need to direct much more energy and attention to this problem? Honestly, I was completely ignorant of the size of this issue.

I was shocked as well when I read it in the book. When I was doing my counseling training years ago, the numbers that we had showed that AA youth hardly ever committed suicide, that this was definitely more of a white thing. The conventional wisdom was that if a black youth died of non-natural causes or accident, it was most likely due to black youth killing one another. Yet, there was always a sense with respect to the latter, that such violence was rooted in self-hatred/self-destructive tendencies.

Again, this was very disturbing to me and is something that needs to be talked about much more.
I did remember one teen guy who committed suicide because he gotten this underage girl pregnant, or so the story goes. He was like 16 or 15, and the girl was younger. Granted, that's not an excuse to get out of being a father, but there had to have been something that made him panic to take his own life. Maybe fear of prison for fear of being a deadbeat dad. I just don't know.

Plus, didn't Phyllis Hyman committed suicide? She left a note and everything.
these are very sad statistics.

Can I ask are there counsellors in American high schools? Someone 'neutral' to go and talk with? And does anyone know the percentage of African American teachers in primary and college ed?

In Australia, there is a volunteer Reach Out website which has information for teens about handling various issues from conflict, to family issues... if it only saves one person, or gives someone the right 'tools' at the right time, it is successful. Is there anything like that online specifically for African American youth?
I don't think these numbers would be as shocking if we truly cared about one another........ In addition to many of us in our community being wrapped up in our own pain and struggles or in an environment where we're surrounded by those who are relatively healthy enough not to consider suicide..... there are those of us who will never know.... because the pain of wanting to take your own life can be hidden very well.....

and since we don't have a habit in our community of deep sincere probing, time and solution finding..... (you know the "suck it up" or you're too weak mentality or my--or starving children in Africa's--pain is worse than your pain so be grateful....mentality)many of us are forced to struggle internally alone, unless we're economically able to afford a strange man/woman who has gone through a decade of training and research to spend a daily hour with us for $100.00 an hour to "analyze" the "us" that's been forming for decades.... an "us" we ourselves may not even know.....

sorry the bitterness coming through....

Peace,
Virtue
This is a dreadful statistic.

I don't know what it will take for us to realize we are failing our children.

I can still hear my mother commenting on news of a suicide.

'Must be somebody 'white'. We don't to that.'

Clearly, that was a belief.

I am one for solutions where there is one to be had.

It still offer self-determination of identity as a good beginning.

We've tried everything else.

Why not lift ourselves mentally and spiritually?

It is the beginning of all self-worth.

PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
Originally posted by virtue:
many of us are forced to struggle internally alone, unless we're economically able to afford a strange man/woman who has gone through a decade of training and research to spend a daily hour with us for $100.00 an hour to "analyze" the "us" that's been forming for decades.... an "us" we ourselves may not even know.....

sorry the bitterness coming through....

Peace,
Virtue


I too was once highly skeptical of "therapy". yes it is maybe a luxury that not everyone can afford. But with good insurance it's actually much cheaper than $100/hour.

A good therapist does not analyze your self. A good therapist helps you to analyze your self. Half the value is just having someone as a sounding board. You'd be amazed at how much better you feel precisely as a result of just getting stuff off your chest to someone who doesn't take it personally, who doesn't get bored, or overwhelmed by what you're saying. The fact they're a stranger helps - there are no emotional attachments to complicate the relationship.

I'm not trying to win a "debate" here but this issue is an important one. It's also traditional in our community to mistrust doctors, experts, and (especially) mental health workers. Hence people don't seek the help they need, instead dealing with it on their own.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
quote:
Originally posted by virtue:
many of us are forced to struggle internally alone, unless we're economically able to afford a strange man/woman who has gone through a decade of training and research to spend a daily hour with us for $100.00 an hour to "analyze" the "us" that's been forming for decades.... an "us" we ourselves may not even know.....

sorry the bitterness coming through....

Peace,
Virtue


I too was once highly skeptical of "therapy". yes it is maybe a luxury that not everyone can afford. But with good insurance it's actually much cheaper than $100/hour.

A good therapist does not analyze your self. A good therapist helps you to analyze your self. Half the value is just having someone as a sounding board. You'd be amazed at how much better you feel precisely as a result of just getting stuff off your chest to someone who doesn't take it personally, who doesn't get bored, or overwhelmed by what you're saying. The fact they're a stranger helps - there are no emotional attachments to complicate the relationship.

I'm not trying to win a "debate" here but this issue is an important one. It's also traditional in our community to mistrust doctors, experts, and (especially) mental health workers. Hence people don't seek the help they need, instead dealing with it on their own.
It's a natural mistrust from a people who historically have had familial roles fulfill this position....

family....

friends....

no longer exist as sounding boards.....

we have professionals we pay to do this....

and even if this wasn't on a large scale....

I now have friends who simply listen and care about me deeply that have helped me far better than the 20 (random number for emphasis)psychologists I have gone through before I was comfortable.......

and in a country where most hard working folks don't have insurance......

the cost is still too high.... for the risk.....

a life....

a mind....

a soul....

Peace,
Virtue
I've been touched personally by a family suicide. After years of depression, we lost someone very dear. The pain of depression is serious in the black community, and often times when people seek help, they are given drugs (such as Zoloft) that seemingly increase the problem. I know of 2 girls who tried to commit suicide, and fortunatley they were saved. One girl a year after her 1 year old baby died, and another after a boyfriend left her after her baby was born. The girl with the 1 year old baby shot herself, and the other girl overdosed on pills. If the hospitals hadn't saved them, they would 100% be dead. And its hard to even say, or admit publicly because of the scrutiny and judgement that comes from people afterwards. Suicide victims are usually instantly condemned to hell.. I hope this doesn't turn into that discussion, b/c its not our job to judge. But, its very hard to constantly hear other people judge someone you've loved based on one act. The main victims of suicide are the family remaining. No one but the family can imagine such pain!
This dreadful stat became a reality in the lives of my family last year when my cousin committed suicide only days after his 26th birthday. I question why each and every day and wonder, what else could I have done. I ask myself "Why didn't I see it coming, and what words didn't I say that would have prevented this tragedy?" I truly didn't know the depth of his pain. I have been gravely ill for several years, and fighting for my own life. I just wish that he left more concrete signs so that I could have fought for us both. When we last spoke, he talked of depression, and I told him that if he had given up on rainy days, he wouldn't see that the sun will indeed shine again tomorrow. He never once told me his intent was to die, he never informed us that he'd make death a permanent solution to a problem that was just temporary ( Well, in my eyes). I just wish now that I could have seen. I don't know what stage I am in with my grief, some days are harder than others, but everyday, I find myself still in search of answers to the question why? When I first noticed this dread immediately the intense pain came about, and I fled from posting, but tonight I inform all that in my life there did exist a handsome and kind African American male who now is a part of this heartbraking statistic.
Rest In Peace Jason.
quote:
Originally posted by LYNN:
This dreadful stat became a reality in the lives of my family last year when my cousin committed suicide only days after his 26th birthday. I question why each and every day and wonder, what else could I have done. I ask myself "Why didn't I see it coming, and what words didn't I say that would have prevented this tragedy?" I truly didn't know the depth of his pain. I have been gravely ill for several years, and fighting for my own life. I just wish that he left more concrete signs so that I could have fought for us both. When we last spoke, he talked of depression, and I told him that if he had given up on rainy days, he wouldn't see that the sun will indeed shine again tomorrow. He never once told me his intent was to die, he never informed us that he'd make death a permanent solution to a problem that was just temporary ( Well, in my eyes). I just wish now that I could have seen. I don't know what stage I am in with my grief, some days are harder than others, but everyday, I find myself still in search of answers to the question why? When I first noticed this dread immediately the intense pain came about, and I fled from posting, but tonight I inform all that in my life there did exist a handsome and kind African American male who now is a part of this heartbraking statistic.
Rest In Peace Jason.


You have my condolences, Lynn... Thank you for sharing...And I wish you the best in your own fight for life.
Frenchy, THANK YOU...
LYNN, the grieving process for this is strange. This happened to me in 2001, and the word "suicide bomber" might as well have been a knife in the heart. I just tried to keep moving, becuase I know that's what he would have wanted. Then, one day you wake up and realize, OMG, he's not here. I still turn TV shows, like SVU, if the topic is suicide. I just can't handle it. I can remember watching the movie John Q, and nearly having a heart attack during the movie, I wanted to walk out, I couldn't take it. Thankfully he never shot himself. I almost can't believe I'm posting this right now. I run faster than a track star when the topic comes up. I was really in denial... Publicly, I'm still in denial. I sometimes lie about the cause of death, just because. I know that sounds awful, but its so true. And its helped me get through it. This person was my best friend, so I don't know how close you and your cousin were but this is going to be difficult. Its important to keep praying and over time, your pain will ease. Don't forget your cousin in your daily life. Like I said, TV and people potray these problems in a different way. I just really believe in the power of depression now, and the seriousness of it. But, what leads to it? In the black community, it ranges so much. Jobs, drugs, and relationships seem to be a big factor. I think men are alot deeper than we think, and unlike women don't always show their pain. I think sometimes its easier to see the issues in women. I'm here for you Lynn.

To the community: has anyone had thoughts of suicide, and if so, at what point in your life? This is important to quietly ask yourself, just because it may help you recognize the problem in others around you.
Texas Star and LYNN, my brother killed himself March 28, 2000. It always feels like just yesterday. I've been through the lygin about the cause of death and avoiding the topic and all that. I had a similar experience with the movie "The Sixth Sense." Shortly into the movie a man shoots himself in the head (which is how my brother died). I never made it past that point in the film.

I was in college when it happened and when I returned to school I was in a support group led by a chaplain. The best thing she ever said to me was that greiving for a suicide is a neverending cycle. There are good days, bad days, up and down, for as long as you live. It doesn't get increasingly better with time, so don't pressure yourself into thinking that it should or that you shouldn't still be feeling certain things or asking yourself certain questions by now.

There is a really great organization called SOLOS (Survivors Of a Loved One's Suicide). It's a wonderful way to remember your loved one and hear from people who understand why your grief is not like any other. And that's important, because once someone in her family or your circle has committed suicide, you're at a much higher risk of becoming suicidal. It becomes "a real option" in your mind.

There was a thread a while back about whether or not you've ever contemplated suicide that everyone might find interesting: "Raise Your Hand If..."

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