Why Are More Black Americans Committing Suicide?
Five possible reasons behind the alarming increase and a call for more attention and research
Two devastating losses marked the beginning of this year. The death of attorney, former Miss USA, activist, and entertainment news correspondent Cheslie Kryst and up and coming musician and songwriter Ian King Jr. He was also Academy Award-winning actress Regina King’s son. Both died by suicide, and both were Black.
The deaths of Kryst and King sent shock waves through the Black community and also among their fans. Both were young — Kryst was only 30 years old, and Ian King Jr. had just turned 26 three days before taking his life. Both were successful and appeared to have the world at their fingertips. To add insult to injury, 19-year-old college cheerleader Arlana Miller committed suicide on May 5. Miller was a freshman at Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana who shared some of her feelings of severe depression on social media before taking her life.
Sadly, Kryst, King, and Miller are not alone, and their upsetting deaths have shed light on an ongoing issue that has caused concern for members of the mental health field and Blacks: increasing rates of suicide in the Black community. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that although the overall rate of suicide in the U.S. decreased by 3% in 2020, the rate of suicide among people of color and young people had increased.
Similarly, the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality revealed that although Black adults reported lower percentages of suicidal ideation in 2021, rates of suicide attempts among Black adults were higher than any other racial or ethnic group. Equally as alarming, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of Minority Health found that although Whites continue to have higher rates of suicide, in 2019, suicide was the leading cause of death among Blacks between 15 and 24 years of age.
Many in the mental health field are beginning to question what’s behind the alarming increase in suicide among Black Americans, and research has pointed to five contributing factors.