Suicide rate rises among black youth

You read about it in the newspaper: A distraught student struggling with school and depression commits suicide. The scenario, he is one of 300,000 Americans who have taken their own lives.

“When people commit suicide it means that they feel powerless in a certain situation,” said Dana Dennard, a clinical psychologist. “They feel like they have no other alternatives and they don’t have any other way of manipulating their world and getting out of what they’re trying to get out of it, so they choose escape as a final option.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, America is in the throes of a largely unrecognized epidemic. Suicide has become the eighth leading cause of death in the United States today, and the third leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 24. Americans recognize that the country is widespread with violent crime, but few know that 50 percent more Americans kill themselves than are murdered.

Harold Ford, interim director at the Counseling Center, sees an increase in male attempts of killing themselves and personally knew two men who killed themselves.

“Their are a lot of people in this society who feel totally overwhelmed in their lives and that they’re not personally capable of managing their lives,” Dennard said.

“The black community in general has dissolved…many of the social cultural support systems that were inherent in the black community were broken down, so we had many more young people who don’t have the type of guidance and discipline that all human beings need in order to be successful in life” said Dennard when asked about male suicide in the black community.

Suicide rates in young African-American men are climbing. From 1980 to 1995, suicides among black youth increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There is a deterioration of social fabric in the black community and as a result we have everyday more children who have less and less of what a human being needs to be successful in life,” She explained. “We have fewer and fewer men in families taking on the role as men and the energy of men is a energy of coping with adversity.”

Ford advises students who are suffering from depression to “seek out help when you start to feel lonely, sad, desperate or helpless. If you notice friends that way tell them to go to the

Counseling Center.”