There’s an epidemic happening in the United States right now – and no, I’m not talking
about COVID-19. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. That’s over 2.5 times deadlier than homicides, yet we never talk about it, especially in the Black community. Even if someone we know succumbs to suicide, we brush that aside, letting it become just another family secret that we don’t want to bring out into the open. All too often, these secrets manifest as trauma, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
I’ll be honest: I’m worried that the ongoing isolation and difficulties from the coronavirus shutdowns have led to even more deaths. We already know that more adults and children suffer from depression than ever before, and I don’t want to see that translated into higher suicide rates. That’s why I want us to have an honest conversation about suicide in the Black community: it’s becoming an epidemic.
Being able to share and open up is imperative. Thankfully, I’ve started to see more people discussing the subject of suicide and mental health. Even celebrities have started opening up about their own experiences with mental illness. We now know more about Kanye West’s struggles with being bipolar. Celebrities like Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson have admitted they’ve dealt with depression. And now Taraji P. Henson is coming out with a new show that spotlights the Black community’s mental health. By recognizing that everyone needs help from time to time and that many are struggling and need support, we can help reduce the number of people who suffer in silence.
I hope these examples will encourage you and those you care about to have more dialogue about this subject. Even if you’re uncomfortable talking about it with your family or friends, I encourage you to at least seek out a professional counselor to talk things over. Again, no one should be suffering in silence.
Do you know anyone who has died by suicide? Have you ever considered it yourself? It would help if you talked about what you’re going through with someone who will understand and help you seek help.
Also, if you’re in an emergency and need help right away, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.