One reason for the difference is that men tend to choose more lethal means of death than women. But please do not take this to mean that African-American women do not commit suicide; the same 2005 data from the American Association of Suicidology reports of the 1,992 completed suicides among African-Americans that 371 of those deaths were by females. It is also important to note that, generally, there tends to be a underreporting of this behavior, so the numbers may be higher than those cited.
Why Are We Killing Ourselves?
So why do people commit suicide? At the heart of suicidal behavior is the strong desire to be free from suffering, whether that be emotional, mental, and/or physical pain. When we are hurting, we typically engage in behaviors to eliminate or at least lessen the pain. There are several risk factors that may suggest that a person is at a higher risk of committed suicide than others. Some of these risk factors are:
- chronic pain
- substance use and abuse
- chronic illness
- lack of social support
- poor response or an unwillingness to engage in mental health treatment
- having a friend or family member that committed suicide
- members of the Armed Forces who have had multiple deployments within a short time span
What To Do If Someone You Know Is In Trouble…
If a friend of loved one has threatened to harm themselves, do not make the assumption that they are simply seeking attention. In many cases of suicide, the victim made it known to others that they were thinking about ending their lives.
Additional warning signs include:
- feelings of worthlessness
- no hope for the future
- giving away prized possessions
- withdrawing from others
- impulsive behaviors
- feeling trapped
- significant changes in mood
If any of these are present in you or a loved one, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The Black Suicide Stigma MUST Change
One of the main differences I have observed in people who have committed or have attempted suicide and others is access to a wide range of resources and the belief they can utilize them. In treatment by a qualified mental health professional, one learns various coping skills to address the causes of their suffering and is provided the support and guidance to put these skills into practice.
The deaths of bright celebrity starts, including Seau and Cornelius are truly heartbreaking…as are the countless deaths of others in the African American community who felt they had nowhere else to turn. Until the Black community takes bolder steps to abandon this crippling suicide stigma, many of the medical community fear that these tragic statistics will only increase.