If you or a loved one is dealing with a mental health crisis and/or having thoughts of self-harm/suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Text HOME to #741741
Earlier this year several Black people in the public eye committed suicide. The deaths of former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, Ian Alexander Jr., son of Regina King and Kevin Ward, Mayor of Hyattsville Maryland shocked many as they did not fit the stereotype that is often associated with suicide. What people didn’t realize is that death by suicide amongst Black Americans has been increasing at an alarming rate over the past decade. Research from the CDC shows that among all racial groups “there is one [suicide] death every 11 minutes and the number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher.” Rates among Black Americans specifically are also concerning with suicide being the second leading cause of death among Black youth ages 15-24 years. CDC reports that in 2019 a higher percentage of Black youth attempted suicide than youth from other racial groups. These tragic numbers highlight the need for us to talk more about suicide prevention and make it a priority to support our friends/family members who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
Oftentimes, the Black community people consider mental health challenges including thoughts of suicide as taboo. But the facts are Black people, including Black women can feel immense emotional pain and sometimes resort to thoughts of taking their own life. Black women may feel they must keep up an image of being role models to debunk stereotypes by taking on perfectionist behaviours. They are sometimes forced to keep up the ‘Black women are strong’ persona. Relishing our beauty is a cultural gift that we treasure as Black women. Thus, even in the depths of depression some Black women will still walk in style and elude those closest to her of what’s going on inside.
Black women may struggle in silence because conversations about mental health have been frowned upon. Even if things don’t feel right, they will keep pushing. For some, it can feel like there is nowhere to turn. Sharing mental health challenges can be difficult, especially for Black women who are often told to stay strong. This is why mental health advocates focus on bringing awareness to the forefront.
So, check up on your loved ones. Ask them how they are feeling. Give them the space to share their feelings without judgement or trying to shut them down. When we break the silence and stigma of talking about mental health, people will feel freer to talk about their concerns and reach out for help. We have compiled a list of resources to help you learn how to support your mental health and that of your loved ones.
1. Crisis Hotlines/ Mobile Unit
Text HOME to #741741
The Steve Fund has created a special keyword, STEVE, that young people of colour can text to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor 24/7
2. Online Resources
Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith by Monica A. Coleman
Checking In: How Getting Real about Depression Saved My Life and Can Save Yours by Michelle Williams
Self-Care for Grief: 100 Practices for Healing During Times of Loss by Nneka M. Okona
Recorded Webinar about Suicide Prevention in the Black Community hosted by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The Faith and Wellness Podcast with Brittney Moses