Why is the suicide rate increasing among black men? Jet interviewed several experts across the country who cited a number of reasons for the increase of suicide. Theories included drug and alcohol abuse, the easy availability of guns, poverty, the high unemployment rate, and the pressures of young middle class Blacks fighting racism in corporate America.
Reverend Cecil L. Murray, pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles notes, “Despair is increasing, and that despair is economic, political, educational, and social.” He also notes that the breakdown of the family leaves, “the young adult male without a hands-on mentor. Also recall that the divorce rate is 50%; the rate of birth out of wedlock approaches 75% in impoverished communities, so the wheel of difficulty keeps spinning more rapidly.” Murray adds, “America is getting angrier and meaner, and those who are without an economic base find an outlet in self-destructive behaviors more than those who have the other options.”
Dr. Sherry Molock, Psychology Professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and Director of Clinical Training for the University’s Psychology Department suggests that poverty and unemployment contribute to the increase of suicide among Black men. Dr. Molock also notes, “‘Some of the men I work with have no hope for the future; they simply live day by day.”
Dr.O has a couple of theories that he would like to present for this new dilemma:
- Learned Helplessness-This is a age-old and tried theory of depression. No matter how hard the Black Man may try, without sufficient education and training-he will be slapped down. Many of them have found this out too late.
- Primitive Rage and Abandonment Anger–How often do we see young Black males that have been abandoned by the father (mostly) and or mother. Yes, sometimes it is both. They will simply throw their hands-up in despair and seek suicide as a way out. I see this a lot in my own clinical practice.
- Financial Stress–There are no jobs for the”Uneducated Black Man.” Moreover, what if you are just up-in-age and the possibility of going back to school just is NOT an option for you. Then guess what, you can’t provide for your family or for yourself. That can be a noose-around-the-neck within itself.
- Unresolved Early Childhood Abuse-This is becoming a more and more common finding in therapy. A lot of inappropriate verbal slandering and in the worse case, touching (both physical and sexual) is taking place with young “Black Males.” The culprits are fathers, uncles, cousins and even mothers. yes, I do have patients that revealed to me that their mother’s sexually abused them. What happens with this unresolved anger? It becomes turned-inward-that leads to depression-that could lead to suicide.
- Chronic Medical Problems-Imagine being Black with no healthcare in America. This in itself is a cry of desperation. We are prone to a number of diseases to include, hypertension and diabetes. Both are silent killers. Let’s be sure to give HIV/AIDS an honorable mention here also.
- Chronic Mental Health Problems– Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Attention-Deficit Disorder are fulminant in the African-American male population. Having any mental illness automatically predisposes you to higher rates of suicide completion. This is just a fact-enough said!
Is Suicide a Way Out?
This act is not a way out! No matter how much you may be in despair, there is help out there for you. A lot of people don’t want to face the realities surrounding this real dilemma, but I have decided to confront this problem head-on. If you know a young man, or better yet a young woman, in mental distress-please take them to the appropriate mental health professional. There are a lot of qualified persons out there to help. We are here for you!
This is what you should do.
- Query and ask them if they have an actual plan; If they have a plan-call 911 immediately.
- Query to see if they are on psychiatric medications. If so, see if they have taken their medications today. Withdrawal “Dysphoria” is a difficult feeling.
- Query to see of they own a gun or have a method of carrying out this wish-suicide. Remove the object or agent immediately.
- Talk to the person while help is on the way. Don’t leave them alone.
- Be empathetic-This is NOT the time for tough love; Maybe later but NOT right now.
- Call their physician-Let them know what is going on. They may have a technique for you to use while EMS is en-route.
I will not sound off on this issue any further but I will close with 5 points to ponder;
1. Do you know anyone who is depressed?
2. Did you reach out to help them or offer support?
3. Do you feel that “mental illness” is a sign of weakness?
4. Is the church ALWAYS protective against depression and suicide?
5. Do you have to be a therapist to help someone in trouble with depression?
I hope that this post and video have been helpful for you.
Also, if you are having relationship difficulties, pick-up my e-book-“Am I in a Bad Relationship?” http://amzn.to/AcFViO.
Thanks for listening,