Depressed black students at high risk for suicide

Suicide is a growing epidemic among young blacks.

According to the American Association of Suicidology Web site,, suicide is the third leading cause of death for black Americans.

James Simmons, a counselor at Sunshine Manor, said the idea of blacks committing suicide has historically been considered a “no-no.”

“In the past, you never thought of black people killing themselves,” Simmons said.

Simmons warned students may be more at risk, and said low self-esteem is one of the biggest reasons why students contemplate suicide.

Merlin Langley, a psychology associate at Psychological and Family Consultants Inc. said he sees about half a dozen patients a year who are suicidal.

“Most of them are students,” Langley said.

Langley said there are three main reasons why students contemplate suicide.

“The No. 1 reason is a recent break up. Number two is the adjustment to the demands of college. The third reason is having a bad drug trip.”

Ultimately, suicide leaves more than one victim. Simmons said suicide victims do not realize they leave behind loved ones and friends wondering “why.”

“My brother was devastated,” Sara Bennett said. “He was in the eighth grade when his best friend committed suicide.”

Bennett, a junior early childhood education student from Tallahassee, recalled how the family was affected.

She said the victim’s family members were surprised, and they did not understand what went wrong.

“He had planned it out. He left the house and said he was going hunting.

He shot himself with the gun, and the police ruled it a suicide,” Bennett said.

According to, eight out of 10 suicide victims have given a warning signal they had an intention to commit suicide.

“They leave it on others to save them,” Simmons said. He explained that people who seriously contemplate suicide are often crying out for help, but no one notices.

Simmons said another reason people commit suicide is because they are feeling some kind of pain emotionally or mentally, and they just want the pain to end.

Jaida Thomas, an 18-year-old sophomore, said she remembered a girl from high school who attempted suicide.

“Her parents died in a car crash, and she was responsible for taking care of her younger siblings,” Thomas said.

The biology/pre-medicine student from Fort Lauderdale said the acquaintance tried to kill herself in the bathroom at school by overdosing on anti-depressant pills.

“The stress and depression took over,” Thomas said about her 10th grade classmate.

Simmons said whatever the reason for those considering suicide, if a friend can get them to talk about it, they have a good chance of survival.

“Many of them cannot see past their situation and think there is no hope,” Simmons said.

Simmons said some warning signs of suicidal behavior are: giving away valuable items, poor hygiene, self-isolation and often talks of how they would carry out the suicide.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide visit the campus’s Center for Human Development at Sunshine Manor.

Contact Tesia Poulos at