I fought so hard with myself to write about this topic. I kept saying, “this is too grave of a subject to blog about,” but God just wouldn’t let me sleep without speaking on it. Suicide among young black men is on the rise. It’s a hard truth that no one wants to face, but it is happening and someone has to talk about it.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am an August Alsina fan. I listen to all of his music no matter how depressing (others think) it may be. One day, I was in the car listening to his song, “Song Cry” and one part in particular stood out to me. He says,
“This moment [is] mines for the taking
for all them nights I thought of suicide, contemplating”
Now, I’ve heard this song and that particular part plenty of times, but for some reason it really spoke to me today. I have heard one too many young black men say that they have had thoughts of suicide.
In fact, suicide rates among black youth is the highest it has been in the past 50 years, with nearly a 30% increase. And that’s not even the kicker, suicide rates among black children (ages 5-11) rose from 1.78 to 3.47 per 1 million between 1993 and 2012. Can you even fathom what those numbers would look like for teenagers or college aged males? This is a serious problem.
The black community has always frowned upon suicide. We have been brought up thinking that suicide was a “white people” thing. That is not true. Regardless of skin color, we are all human. We all think, we all feel, we all hurt, and sadly enough we could all commit suicide. Nothing is more infuriating than the notion that black people don’t commit suicide.
Another thing I believe contributes the spike in suicide rates is emotional detachment. We tell our young black men that having emotions is weak. We train them not to have emotions. But, there is nothing wrong with feeling.
When you tell a boy that he can’t cry or he’s acting like a punk if he tries to voice his feelings then you are hindering him. We are human, we’re designed to feel. When someone feels like they can’t express themselves without being called out they retreat into themselves. They feel as if they have no one to turn to, no one to understand them; they are all alone. In the end they feel as if the only option is suicide.
It’s a sad fact that a mother would rather cuss her child out and tell him that, “suicide isn’t a black people thing” rather than actually hear him out and get him proper help. We have to change. It’s okay to cry! It’s okay to feel! There is nothing wrong with expressing your emotions. There is nothing about your feelings that makes you less of a man.
Black men are already being criminalized, gunned down in the streets, and robbed of their youth. Do we really want them taking their own lives as well? Suicide in the black community is a serious issue, and we need to stop sweeping it under the rug.
If you’ve had suicidal thoughts or have actually attempted suicide please seek help! This is not the end. Always remember it’s a bad day, not a bad life. God has a purpose for you!
Don’t try to take matters into your own hands. Call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit their website.
It does get better from here.
Until next time…
stay classy stay true,