Public health officials are raising concerns as the suicide rate among young Black people continues to rise. These concerns are highlighted by a study from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry that was published on September 9. Most notably, the study found that 1,800 Black children died from suicide between 2003 and 2017. Digging deeper, the study found that the suicide rate among young girls is growing 6.6% annually. Furthermore, nearly 40% of the young women who committed suicide during this time period were between the age of 12 and 14 years old.
“That was just like, ‘Whoa’ — what’s going on with our Black girls?” Dr. Arielle H. Sheftall told the New York Times after her study was published on Thursday.
“It caught me a little off guard.”
Unfortunately, Sheftall's study is the latest in a frightening trend. In May, a study published in JAMA Network found that the suicide rate among Black boys from 15 years old to 24 years old increased by nearly 50% from 2013 to 2019. Furthermore, the suicide rate among Black girls within the same age range increased by 59% during the same six-year period. However, the suicide date among white teens and young adults during the same time period decreased.
Within American society, Black children often have to fight through racism, limited medical care, societal stigmas and much more while also battling mental health. As these societal issues worsen, the suicide rate could continue to climb.
“The experiences of the African American child are like none other in the United States. We live in a society that marginalizes us — more so probably than any other group — and has historically for years," Dr. LaVome Robinson of DePaul University explained to the New York Times.
“If experiences with racism and discrimination are increasing at a faster rate than we are increasing protective factors, then that might be related to the reported increase in suicidality among Black youth,” Dr. Kate Keenan of the University of Chicago added.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.