By Tan Walker | UAB Community Health & Human Services Intern
Suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans ages 15 – 24 in 2019 (Office of Minority Health, 2022). This alarming trend is very concerning, particularly because mental health professionals believe they can support these young people through their circumstances. The highest proportion of suicide deaths occurs among African Americans, ages 25-34. Why is this happening?
African Americans (AAs) may be stigmatized against seeking help from mental health professionals. This thought process may be linked to a cultural legacy where AAs endured the surviving of many cruel and inhumane circumstances within the United States. Many African Americans experience poverty at least once in their lives. This alone has negatively affected the mental health status of the black community. In fact, those living below the poverty level are twice as likely to encounter serious psychological distress (Office of Minority Health, 2022).
When encountering hardships, African Americans may work to suppress their emotions, resulting in them “doing what they have to do” to make it through each day. Taking mental breaks, seeking therapy, and expressing thoughts and feelings are not often discussed or practiced in the African American community.
Unfortunately, suicide rates among Black Americans have continued to progressively increase since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. What better time to be proactive in addressing it than now?
Suicide is one of the most preventable public health problems, and young adults are at higher risk than any other demographic. Here are a few suicides prevention tips for young African American adults:
– Know the Signs
– Practice Self Care
– Research local counseling resources
– Call, text, or chat 988 to get connected with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Office of Minority Health. Mental and Behavioral Health – African Americans – The Office of Minority Health. (n.d.). Retrieved September 3, 2022, from https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=24
Schimelpfening, N. (2020, December 8). How you can help someone one is suicidal. Verywell Mind. Retrieved September 3, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/suicide-prevention-tips-1067531