The Sad Truth About Suicide Rates In Young Black Boys
Statistics regarding suicide in the United States have been compiled for decades, and a recent trend indicating a rise in suicide in black elementary school children has raised alarms. A number of agencies are taking a hard look at the causes and ramifications of this data to determine what can be done to stem the tide of this troubling development in American society.
Blacks and Suicide
Statistics compiled over the decades have generally given blacks an advantage over white in the rate of suicide. Many researchers believed that blacks had a number of social supports that served to forbid the contemplation of suicide, such as strong religious background, well-defined family ties and community cohesion despite the negative influences of poverty and violence. The new statistics indicate that these structures may be breaking down, leaving young black children vulnerable to trauma and emotional distress that is expressed in despair.
Looking at New Statistics
Between 1993 and 2012, the rate of suicide for young black males of elementary school age doubled. The statistic so surprised researchers that they added another year of study to make sure their results were not somehow skewed, but still found the data supported their finding. The figures rose from 1.78 million to 3.74 million among young black children between the ages of 5 to 11. Young black males are twice as likely to commit suicide as their white counterparts.
What’s Behind the Rising Numbers
The study was published in the Journal of American Medicine and included figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It found that suicide rates had stabilized among young white children, but the numbers black boys and black girls continued to rise. Data for young, black elementary school males rose the fastest, doubling over the second half of the study’s time period. Guns and hanging were the chief causes of death.
Helping Black Children Cope
The research begs the question of why these black children are so vulnerable to the hopelessness associated with suicide. Many researchers conjecture that the emotional trauma of daily life in highly violent communities can have a cumulative effect, leading these children to give up on having hope for their futures. In addition, the crushing effects of poverty, in which children must watch their parents try to provide for them with extremely limited resources, can have a detrimental effect on envisioning a better future. Suicide by shooting has increased in this demographic, which suggests that attempts at providing gun safety for young children are not reaching the black community. Also, medical professionals must provide better recognition of childhood depression to provide interventions for these children.
Black communities around the country have seen greater opportunities for individuals, but also increased stress on their social structures. Providing the support for the children growing up in disadvantaged communities should be one of the top priorities for the society.
Rise in Suicide by Black Children Surprises Researchers| The New York Times
Suicide Trends Among Elementary School–Aged Children in the United States From 1993 to 2012| Jama Pediatrics
Study: Suicide rate of young black males rises| WTAE