Suicide rates among young black males have recently shown a significant increase compared to other races.
According to statistics provided by Florida A&M University’s counseling services, suicide is the third leading cause of death among black youth after homicides and accidents.
A firearm is the primary weapon used in 65 percent of all black male suicides between the ages of 15 and 24 and 58 percent of those between the ages of 25 and 34.
Yolanda Bogan, associate director of FAMU’s Counseling Center, said there are early signs of someone that is considering suicide.
“Telling others that [the person is] thinking about suicide, giving away prized possessions or isolating [themselves],” are major clues, she said.
People who contemplate suicide make comments about death a lot as well, Bogan said.
Seward Hamilton, Jr., associate professor of psychology, said the socio-economic conditions black males may contribute to the increased suicide rates.
“When we consider some of the factors that African-American males are faced with right now, [like] rampant unemployment in the community,” she said, “we will find that many of our men are experiencing lack of hope.”
The U.S. Suicide Statistics show white males are more than twice as likely than blacks to commit suicide.
Yet blacks who contemplate suicide are less likely to seek treatment because of insecurities with expression.
“I think there are certain issues black men face that they need other black men to help them with,” said Bogan. “One of the things we’re trying to do at the counseling center is to make ourselves more available for males. We do have some black males that come in for counseling, but with any other counseling center, overwhelmingly, the sex of the people who come are female.”
Merlin Langley, associate professor of sociology and chairman of the Department of Social Work, said the rise in suicides among young black men is unique to their positions in society.
“Males in this society are socialized to be the providers and yet in this current economic climate, it is increasingly difficult to be a provider,” she said. “
If you or somebody you know is thinking about suicide, please consult the counseling services at Florida A&M University at 101 Sunshine Manor, Tallahassee, FL 32307 or contact (850) 599-8481 or www.famu.edu/counseling.