Mission Critical: 5 Black Children Who Committed Suicide
Suicide rates in the United States have traditionally been higher among whites than blacks across all age groups. However, a new study from researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and collaborators published report shows that racial disparities in suicide rates are age-related. Specifically, for the first time ever, suicide rates for black children aged 5-12 were roughly two times higher than those of similarly aged white children.
“Our findings provide further evidence of a significant age-related racial disparity in childhood suicide rates and rebut the long-held perception that suicide rates are uniformly higher in whites than blacks in the United States,” says Jeff Bridge, PhD, director of the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research and lead author of the publication. “The large age-related racial difference in suicide rates did not change during the study period, suggesting that this disparity is not explained by recent events such as the economic recession.”
For older children, the trend is different. For youth aged 13-17 years, suicide was roughly 50 percent lower in black children than in white children.
But with all that said, we have to ask ourselves, what is happening to our Black youth?
Suicide deaths have been frequent stories in news reports recently. Here are just a few:
Ten-year-old son Kevin Reese, Jr. loved drawing and painting. The fifth grader at Robinson Elementary School had the biggest smile. On the surface, he was a seemingly happy kid.
“Kevin was a goofy child,” said his mom Crystal. “He’s my little goof troop, I called him.”
But on the inside, he had a deep-seated struggle, a struggle his mom says was fueled by bullying at school, according to what he told her.
“I just thought he was handling the situations. They wrote on his tablet to kill yourself, ‘You don’t belong here,'” Crystal said. “When it got physical back in November, he came home crying because he didn’t fight back and one of the boys punched him several times coming from recess.”
Then, on Jan. 21, “he just had enough. He just had enough and he felt that he was backed into a corner.”
Kevin and his 13-year-old sister got off the school bus. Mom was out of town for work. His stepdad was on his way home from work, but wouldn’t make it in time to stop the moment that would change this family forever.
Mom got a frantic call from Kevin’s sister.
“She was just screaming on the phone, and I didn’t understand and she screamed, ‘Kevin,'” Crystal said.
Little Kevin committed suicide inside their Katy home.
“He hung himself in his closet. I told her to hang on with me, if you cut him down and while you’re cutting him down, call 911,” she added.
Nigel Shelby was a 15 years old with a big personality. He was always singing and dancing, well-liked and was known as an all-around cool guy by many of his friends.
“Nigel was the sweetest child,” his mother Camika Shelby told WAFF.
Nigel was also gay, coming out to his mother two years ago. The freshman’s sexuality made him the target of bullying inside the hallways and classrooms at Huntsville High School. That abuse, combined with depression, propelled Nigel to take his own life.
Nigel’s mother told WAFF she hopes her son’s memory rises above the details that led to his death – and the controversy now surrounding the deputy’s actions.
“I don’t want him to be remembered as a kid who was bullied for being gay and who took his own life,” she said. “He was so much more than that. He was sunshine. He was just a great spirit to have around and it just breaks my heart because I feel like he had so much more love to give.”
McKenzie Adams, a “bubbly” 9-year-old fourth-grader from Linden, Alabama, took her own life, hanging herself in her grandmother’s home, reports CBS affiliate WIAT. Her family says the suicide came after McKenzie endured months of racist bullying and taunts.
McKenzie’s mother and grandmother said that they complained to the State Board of Education about the cruel taunts the little girl was forced to endure at U.S. Jones Elementary School, most of which they said centered around…