Oct 10, 2021 Entertainment

Suicide And Young Black Men: Why The Brothers Feel So Alone

Written by Madison Jay Gray

years ago, when Mike Venue When he was 10 years old, he attempted to kill himself. He said that the pain was too much for him to bear and he just wanted to take it away. he didn’t know about Device There is something available to people today like learning to sit and talk about their feelings or deal with their inner conflict.

“One day I came home, and I said I was done,” he explained. BET.com. “And I went to the medicine cabinet … swallowed a whole bottle of pills.”

Later his mother found him and took him to the hospital where his stomach was pumped. Ironically, he says, at the time he was angry at his mother for preventing him from ending his pain. And although he survived the attempt, it was not the end of many more bouts of depression, which culminated in at least one other suicide attempt.

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Veni’s situation, while tragic, is not unique. Black male adolescents represented the largest increase of 162.4 percent in suicide attempts of any group between 1991 and 2017. according to a study by Journal of the American Medical Association. Factors such as generations-old issues of social isolation, unresolved mental health problems and institutional and systemic racism have constituted a challenge for young men of the past generation that is difficult for many to survive.

Veni, who says he has struggled with mental health challenges for years, spoke about these issues in a recent guest appearance Saving Young Black Lives: Reversing Suicide Trends, a new podcast series from Middle East Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, in partnership with Macsilver Institute of New York University Which focuses on the incidence of suicide among black youth.

Young, black women have not escaped this crisis. According to the JAMA report, suicide attempts for black female teens have also increased by 62.1 percent, and the problem actually extends to racial and ethnic groups. But the dramatic increase is evident among black men and those in the mental health community are sounding the alarm and are even more determined to provide help.

For Weenie, author of Transforming Stigma: How to Be a Mental Wellness Superhero and a certified corporate wellness specialist, the stigma of mental health problems in the African American community is the root cause of many issues.

“Even though things have gotten better over the years, it’s still a struggle to talk about it openly, especially among men,” Veni said. “So with just talking about mental health in general, there’s a real challenge among African American youth. Combine what’s happening in the world because of the Internet and social media, we’re seeing more of it.” And when you’re not able to talk about things, you have a recipe for disaster.”

unhappy boy with hands covering his face against a white background

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Challenging definitions of masculinity

There is a legend that young black men and boys find it difficult to talk about their feelings or issues they are struggling with internally. Their inability to be open only leads to further internalization of their feelings and potentially externalization of their pain.

To further explain this, Veni cited an article published on his website, titled “Depression vs. The Strong Black Man”,” in which he discusses the issue and says he ran into a roadblock.

“At the time, I typed ‘strong black man’ into Google to find the definition. I couldn’t find one, which I found very interesting.” But he says he finds the subject thrown around the African American community to be liberal, almost an archetype.

“I think this mythological image that we have in our minds makes it difficult to show our weaknesses and talk to each other,” Weeny continued, “we have to be tough on each other, showing us that Will that we’re strong. There are cultural myths that we carry in our minds about what a strong black man is and that is affecting our youth.”

The incident is deeper than this. In addition to the cultural need for young men to be viewed as Superman, a number of social factors can also lead to depression that leads to suicide attempts. Doctor. Alfie Breland-Noble, physician and nonprofit founder Acoma Project, agrees with Veni about the stigma of mental illness among black people, and insists that this is only one piece of the puzzle.

related: Mental health experts say more African Americans are seeking therapy because of images of police violence

“Because you have additional layers of racial trauma, racial tension, some other social justice issues that affect black people as well. reference to covid, as well as who can care in terms of lack of access to care and inequalities, and what quality care people get, you have this awful perfect storm of factors that really weigh on black people in unique ways. ,” Breland-Noble noted.

Watch: black men and mental health

Many black people do not see traditional forms of mental health treatment as viable, and because of the lack of access to the community and the small number of mental health professionals, fewer people seek care.

“So what do people do instead? Many people suffer silently,” she said. “That’s how you wind up with these skyrocketing rates of suicide attempts. when we look at the data (Congressional Black Caucus) ‘Ring the Alarm’ Report, you have these higher rates for boys as well, especially in terms of suicide-related attempts and injuries.

Breland-Noble said, “If these things are not being addressed in childhood, you have young people who are growing into adulthood, where many people have never received treatment for suicidal precursors. ” Some examples include traumatic brain injury, depression or even impulsive behavior.

Racial trauma is also an often overlooked cause behind the stress that can lead to suicidal behavior in young black men. Many are subject to the influence of institutional or systemic racism and this is consistently reflected in mainstream and social media images of black individuals such as George Floydhandjob Ahmed Arbery, bryon taylor and others who have lost their lives in police or vigilante violence.

related: Breonna Taylor: Turning Pain into Action

“There are too many names,” Breland-Noble said. “Seeing those things happening to black people over and over again, we can’t forget that attacks and murders and deaths like this are happening to black people, especially black men… even That even the trauma that comes from police encounters where it happens ‘doesn’t result in death, but you’re still traumatized, these things are very specific to black people, especially black men.

A man raises his hand to heaven.  Silhouette, rear view, unfamiliar person.  Additional themes include salvation, God, praise and worship, holiness, righteousness, faith, sin, forgiveness, gratitude, meditation, prayer, self, asking, intercession, hope, heaven, healing, spirituality, balance, religious and Christianity.

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finding solutions

NS (Congressional Black Caucus) ‘Ring the Alarm’ The report outlines recommendations to address the problems driving the rise in youth suicides. Among them are:

  • Increasing research through funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health
  • Increase funding for black researchers focusing on this area of ​​study
  • Institute projects that demonstrate best practice cases implemented by public and private partnerships that intervene in the youth suicide crisis
  • Ensuring engagement between lawmakers and public policy makers in communities where it will be effective for youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth as well.
  • Create a national website to collect data on the topic of suicidal behavior among youth of color.

Veni also pointed out that since many African Americans receive their health care through the public health system, a stronger effort should be made by those institutions to make mental health treatment more accessible to black men.

“I think it needs a very coordinated campaign with religious organizations in the black community because even if you’re not a religious person, you know about local churches because they have social power,” he explained. “It is important that these public health services addressing mental health do this in a more collaborative and aggressive manner.”

He encouraged men to find ways to participate in self-care, and this can mean a variety of things.

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“Self-care is anything you do for your health when you are not in the presence of a medical professional,” he said. “To take care of your health start being deliberate about things. It’s unique to everyone, there’s no prescription. Exercise is a must. I think everyone should be doing it, but it’s going to work for you.” Finding a combination of activities to help you get used to being your best and feeling your best.

In cases where a person has suicidal thoughts and needs immediate resolution, Breland-Noble suggests finding an immediate solution.

“If I’m talking specifically to black people I’d say don’t be alone. If there’s a way for you to connect, whether it’s crisis text line, or do you have these 800 numbers‘Just don’t allow yourself to be alone,’ she said. “Because if you’re alone, it’s really hard to let go of those thoughts.

“Sometimes when people are experiencing suicidal thoughts in the moment, if they can connect with another human being, whether by text, by phone, or even in person, The other person can really help bring them through the moment we call ‘hot in the moment.’ To cool off a bit. We all need to have someone we trust – our lives a safe person in the world, who if things go south, and we feel really awful, we know we can pick up the phone and text or call or go to the next room and find that person.”

Illustration of a peaceful cute little boy in yoga practice, holding fingers in mudra posture and meditating with eyes closed, feeling calm, positive and relaxed.  indoor studio shot isolated on a blue background

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month. For more information and resources on mental health in the black community, check out these links from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation

Lee Thompson Young Foundation

black girls smile

therapy for black men

Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective

If you are in immediate distress and have thoughts of suicide, contact a friend or loved one, or call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


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