Remember the days when suicide used to be coined a “white person thing” and we never really had to worry to much about it happening in our black communities as much as whites did in theirs? Historically, suicide rates in the white community were higher across the board in all age groups. Well, we no longer can assume this to be true anymore, specifically for black kids ages 5- 12 where the suicide rates are at their highest. However, for age groups 13-17 suicide rates still remain higher in white kids, but still shouldn’t be overlooked among-st black kids.
What has caused the shift that has taken place? Researchers seem to be at a lost at what has caused it, however, according to the Chicago Tribune “Some speculate that those affected by racism might be at greater risk. Another factor according to researchers, suggest the notion that suicide hasn’t been a problem in the black community, hindering prevention efforts.” Also, Psychiatrist Samoon Ahmad thinks a number of reasons could account for the disparity. He stated the following: “To me, the 5-12 range is more related to developmental issues and the possible lack of a family network, social network and cultural activities.” The possibility here could also be a great factor that contributes to the downfall of our children. As times get tougher and an “everyone for themselves” mentality develops many of us have lost the concept of it takes a village to develop the family and/or social networks for the kids in our families and neighborhoods. Also, with a lack of funds circulating in the black community, there has been more difficulty in getting our kids to cultural activities or even hosting them.
While no one knows exactly why young black kids are becoming victims of suicide, we do know this is becoming a major issue that needs to be looked into. So, what exactly are the risk factors of suicide? There are a few, such as; abuse, head trauma, chronic pain, addiction, mental illness and a family history of mental illness or suicide can all raise the risk of suicide. Although, many of us believe that our children would never commit such an act its important to keep an eye on them. Experts suggest keeping an eye on eating habits (more eating or less eating), consulting with teachers to see if they’ve overheard what other kids may be saying about your child; since there are so many things hidden from us as parents, that may never make it back to us until its to late, Monitoring social media, and the most important thing to do with our children is to open up lines of communication about everything. Including talking about suicide. Years ago doctors suggested that we never mentioned the word suicide. Today they are suggesting we talk about it.
New Orleans Suicide resource list from the New Orleans Advocate
- Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, (504) 523-3755, www.ccano.org
- Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, (504) 525-2366, www.childrens-bureau.com
- Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse for GNO, (504) 362-4272, www.cadagno.org
- Family Service of Greater New Orleans, (504) 822-0800, www.fsgno.org
- Healing Hearts for Community Development, (504) 833-4673, www.healingheartsnola.org
- Jewish Family Service, (504) 831-8475, www.jfsneworleans.org
- Kingsley House, (504) 523-6221, www.kingsleyhouse.org
- New Horizons Youth Service Bureau, Inc., (985) 345-1171, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Odyssey House Louisiana Inc., (504) 821-9211, www.ohlinc.org
- Plaquemines Community C.A.R.E. Centers Foundation, Inc., (504) 393-5750, www.pcccf.org
- VIA LINK/211, 211 or (800) 749-2673, www.gno211.org
- Youth Service Bureau of St. Tammany, (985) 893-2570, www.ysbworks.com.
Moms of NOLA