Black Male Suicide Stigma:
From mental health issues to chronic health illnesses, there is a growing stream of black men choosing to end their own lives.
One of the most prevalent views within the African-American community is that we do not intentionally kill ourselves. That suicide is something only white people or spiritually-weak people do. That suicide is a cop-out, and that to even consider it is a “punk move”. However, these apparent suicides and clinical research clearly indicate that African-Americans do commit suicide.
The Sad (And Real) Facts On Black Suicide
According to the American Association of Suicidology, in 2005, 1,992 suicides were completed by African-Americans and that suicide was the third leading cause of death among African-American youth. The Centers for Disease Control reported that between 1999 and 2004, young African-American males had the highest rate of suicide. This latter finding is consistent with research that males are more likely to complete suicides whereas females are more likely to attempt suicide.
One reason for the difference is that men tend to choose more lethal means of death than women. But please do not take this to mean that African-American women do not commit suicide; the same 2005 data from the American Association of Suicidology reports of the 1,992 completed suicides among African-Americans that 371 of those deaths were by females. It is also important to note that, generally, there tends to be a underreporting of this behavior, so the numbers may be higher than those cited.
Why Are We Killing Ourselves?
So why do people commit suicide? At the heart of suicidal behavior is the strong desire to be free from suffering, whether that be emotional, mental, and/or physical pain. When we are hurting, we typically engage in behaviors to eliminate or at least lessen the pain. There are several risk factors that may suggest that a person is at a higher risk of committed suicide than others. Some of these risk factors are:
- chronic pain
- substance use and abuse
- chronic illness
- lack of social support
- poor response or an unwillingness to engage in mental health treatment
- having a friend or family member that committed suicide
- members of the Armed Forces who have had multiple deployments within a short time span
What To Do If Someone You Know Is In Trouble…
If a friend of loved one has threatened to harm themselves, do not make the assumption that they are simply seeking attention. In many cases of suicide, the victim made it known to others that they were thinking about ending their lives.
Additional warning signs include:
- feelings of worthlessness
- no hope for the future
- giving away prized possessions
- withdrawing from others
- impulsive behaviors
- feeling trapped
- significant changes in mood
If any of these are present in you or a loved one, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The Black Suicide Stigma MUST Change
One of the main differences I have observed in people who have committed or have attempted suicide and others is access to a wide range of resources and the belief they can utilize them. In treatment by a qualified mental health professional, one learns various coping skills to address the causes of their suffering and is provided the support and guidance to put these skills into practice.
The deaths of bright celebrity starts, including Seau and Cornelius are truly heartbreaking…as are the countless deaths of others in the African American community who felt they had nowhere else to turn. Until the Black community takes bolder steps to abandon this crippling suicide stigma, many of the medical community fear that these tragic statistics will only increase.
900 Champions Help Americans Understand The Health Insurance Marketplace
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has recognized more than 900 Champions for Coverage nationwide. These organizations and businesses have volunteered to help Americans without affordable insurance learn more and get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which opens for business tomorrow and will give consumers a whole new way to shop and purchase affordable, high quality health coverage.
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“A network of volunteers on the ground in every state – healthcare providers, business leaders, faith leaders, community groups, advocates, and local elected officials – can help spread the word and encourage their neighbors to get enrolled,” said Secretary Sebelius.
READ: How To Buy Insurance
Champions for Coverage include national and local businesses and organizations – bloggers, community health centers, hospitals, communities of faith, and civic organizations. They will use publicly available materials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – both digital and in print – to help members of their communities understand their new options through the Marketplace. There are many ways these organizations are helping, including providing information about the law in their office, hosting education events, or posting information on their website.
“We are both excited and thankful to have such a wide variety of businesses and organizations that want to get involved and help us spread the message about these new opportunities for people to access quality, affordable health insurance with open enrollment beginning tomorrow,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Coverage for those who enroll by December 15 will begin on January 1, 2014.”
The growing list of organizations includes:
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American Nurses Association
- Bon Secours Health System
- Men’s Health Network
- National Women’s Law Center
- Lutheran Services in America
- Thrifty White Pharmacy
In all states, there will be people trained and certified to help you understand your health coverage options and enroll in a plan. They will be known by different names, depending on who provides the service and where they are located. Using the “Find Local Help” tool, you can find information about assisters like Navigators, application assisters, certified application counselors, and government agencies.
Consumers can also find help at local community health centers and libraries. The Marketplace consumer call center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-318-2596 (hearing impaired callers using TTY/TDD can dial 1-855-889-4325), with translation services available in 150 languages. Visit HealthCare.gov or CuidadodeSalud.gov to learn more or participate in a live chat with a trained customer service representative.
Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace continues for six months. Consumers can apply and choose a plan until the end of March, with coverage beginning as early as Jan. 1, 2014.