Young Black People Are Killing Themselves: The Numbers are Shocking
New York Times Opinion

Publication Northwestern University

Inger E. Burnett-Zeigler, PhD

New York Times Opinion published December 16, 2019


“A November 2019 Pediatrics study found the rate of suicide attempts for black youths shot up an alarming 73 percent from 1991 to 2017, while suicide attempts decreased 7.5 percent for white adolescents. Black boys also had a significant increase in the injuries they received from the attempts, which suggests that they are engaging in more lethal methods.

Overall suicide deaths increased by 33 percent in the United States from 1999 to 2017, with rates increasing in all age groups, races, and ethnicities, and among men and women. However, the greatest rates of increase have been seen among adolescents and young adults.

Black youths present cause for concern. This year the Journal of Community Health published a study showing that from 2001 to 2017, the rate of death by suicide for black boys ages 13 to 19 rose 60 percent, while the rate for black girls skyrocketed an astounding 182 percent.

In my clinical and research experience working with black women, I have found a history of childhood abuse and neglect, as well as feelings of rejection and abandonment, have led to suicide attempts during their youth. This history can also cascade into myriad behavioral and academic problems in school, sexual victimization in adulthood and difficulties keeping a job.”