Although African-Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African-Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
NewsOne has partnered with the Black and Missing Foundation to focus on the crisis of missing African-Americans.
To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile missing persons and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing.
Illinois man Antonio Little was found dead in the Rock River after being missing for weeks.
Authorities say preliminary autopsy results reveal that Little drowned.
“The preliminary autopsy report was consistent with drowning and there were no other signs of trauma,” Sue Fiduccia, Winnebago County Coroner, told NewsOne in an interview.
Little, 24, was the father of a 1-year-old son and also worked as the program coordinator of the Rockford YMCA’s Black and Latino Achievers initiative.
Several hundred people attended a memorial for Little on July 1. His body was discovered on June 23; he had been missing for about a month.
“Growing up, he was just a super-smart kid. We were like, ‘Don’t you want to play video games with us? We’re on (summer) break. Nobody is reading now.’ But he was into big words. Just a big brain. I miss him so much,” Little’s cousin Shani Thornton told the Rockford Register Star.
The memorial was held at Little’s former high school in South Beloit, where he was a top student and athlete. Others described him as a good father who also loved working with the young people at the Y.
Little was last seen leaving his aunt’s house early in the morning of May 25. Some of Little’s family members told the media that he sounded depressed.
“He may have been drinking a little bit and he may have had some talks of suicide so we are very concerned and would like to locate him,” Rockford Deputy Police Chief David Hopkins told station WREX when Little first went missing.
Fiduccia said her office was still awaiting toxicology reports before the death is officially classified.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, said it’s important for families to monitor their loved ones who mention feeling depressed, or who may be exhibiting signs of depression.
Some signs of depression include loss of appetite, apathy, self-loathing, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and a loss of interest in everyday activities.
“Depression is a real illness. When a loved one suffers from depression, support and encouragement can play an important role in his or her recovery. If a person talks about or threatens to commit suicide, it’s extremely important to take the threat seriously.” Wilson told NewsOne in an interview. “It’s okay to encourage your loved one to seek professional or medical attention and to help her follow through.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Handout