*Researchers claim that suicide rates among Black males are rising.
“Unfortunately, Black men often suffer in silence,” said therapist Nettie Jones, MS, LPC, as reported by The Observer in February.
“They don’t seek the help that sometimes women will reach out to get. We’ll call our girlfriends, let them know that things are not okay. But, unfortunately, Black men tend not to do that. They hold things in, they self-medicate, they are workaholics. The kind of do stuff that’s not very healthy.”
According to a study from the journal JAMA, suicide attempts started to rise before COVID-19. Black males reportedly had a nearly 80% increase in suicide attempts, the highest of any race in the study, per The Observer.
“My son was 25 when he took his life. His father and I had no idea he was struggling mentally. And to this day, we have no idea what led him to do something so drastic. He had a new job. He had a girlfriend. As far as we could tell, everything was fine,” Cheryl Jackson said, whose son left a suicide note, as reported by The Observer.
“He just asked us not to hate him and that he was just tired of the day-to-day struggle. I must’ve screamed at that note for days, ‘what struggle???’ We later learned he had been having bouts of depression but never told anyone except his best friend,” Jackson said.
Jones said family members often miss signs that their loved ones are suffering from mental issues, hardships, and distress.
“People know how to mask. Everybody knows how to put that mask on. When you walk out, you put it on. When you come home, for some men, you put it on. And everything is fine until it’s not,” Jones said.
According to the study, Black men face a myriad of stressors, such as financial hardship, and the lack of Black therapists for them to speak to means that their mental issues often go untreated.
“Other barriers to help-seeking have been mistrust of the medical system and gatekeeping by the Black church,” said therapist Logan Wilson, who specializes in treatment of Black men. “Many still believe that there’s no need to go and sit on a stranger’s couch when they can find what they need in the safety and comfort of a pew, or in prayer with the pastor.”
Jones said there are some things to look for if you suspect a friend or family member is suicidal.
“Notice habits that change. Noticing hygiene, mood shifts, increased irritability or agitation or decrease in activity. Not wanting to go or do anything, sleeping more, just having a low mood. Sometimes you have to ask the hard questions and just not saying things like, are you okay?”
This content was originally published here.