Volunteer Perspective: Suicide and African Americans

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african_american_womanI have always known that suicide is among the leading causes of death for minorities. I have seen it in my family, I have seen it in my school growing up, and I am definitely seeing much more of it since relocating to the southwest. The August 2010 CDC report on the epidemiology of suicidal behavior among African Americans further demonstrates this point.

According to the 4-year study completed from 2003-2007, African Americans had the third highest rate of suicide, especially for those between the ages of 15 and 39 (young Native Americans had staggeringly high rates as well). The data also showed that while African American males completed suicide more frequently, African American female high school students reported suicidal ideation at higher rates.

It is important to remind ourselves that not talking about suicidal ideation and leaving depression untreated can lead people to believe that taking their lives is the only way out.  Until we truly erase the stigma of depression, many may not feel comfortable coming forward for help.  I am hopeful that mental health educators and advocates of all races will join the fight to destigmatization mental illness.

--Kimberly Feng-Nielsen, Families for Depression Awareness volunteer

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