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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Contrary to Popular Belief, Suicide Is The 3rd Leading Cause of Death for Black Males

Black man suicidal

There is a myth that only white people commit suicide, but nothing could be further from the truth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide among blacks, particularly young males, is increasing at an alarming rate.

Not just a white man's thing

The suicide rate among black males age 15-34 is higher now than it has been in 50 years, according to an article written by Roberta Kimmel, University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 114 percent increase in suicides among black males aged 10-19 from 1980 to 1995, and a 233 percent increase among blacks aged 10-14 during the same period, about twice as high as for whites in the same age group.

Why is the number increasing?

There are many theories as to why the number of suicides among blacks is on the rise. Suicide is not an act that is talked about in the black community. Taking one's own life is a sign of weakness. Suicidal behavior among African Americans received little attention for many years because of the belief that very few African Americans committed suicide. Even in the early 1990s, African American scholars did not believe suicide was a problem in the black community. Recognizing that suicide is not just an act committed by whites and including blacks in suicide data may account for the increase.

In addition, African Americans are more reluctant to admit and seek help for depression and other mental illnesses. Research indicates there is more pressure on blacks arising from society, family beliefs, and the historical mistreatment of mentally ill minorities that cause them to hesitate to seek the help they need. But the truth is that suicide is not a sign of weakness but rather a cry for help. The sooner society can overcome any misconceptions based on race, the sooner we can get help for anyone and avert suicidal behavior.

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