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Sounding the alarm on black youth suicide

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Psychologists are mobilizing to address a growing crisis.

Between 1991 and 2017, suicide attempts among black adolescents increased by 73%, while attempts among white youth decreased, according to an analysis of more than 198,000 high school students nationwide (Lindsey, M.A., et al., Pediatrics, Vol. 144, No. 5, 2019). Other studies have shown an elevated risk of suicide among African American boys ages 5 to 11 (Bridge, J.A., et al., JAMA Pediatrics, Vol. 172, No. 7, 2018).

In response to these startling findings, psychologists are boosting their efforts to address suicide by diagnosing and treating its precursors — such as trauma, depression and anxiety — and raising awareness of the crisis.

“When we have people of the same racial or ethnic group experiencing a disparity for something as tragic and awful as suicide, everybody should be concerned,” says Alfiee Breland-Noble, PhD, founder and board president of the African American Knowledge Optimized for Mindfully Health Adolescents Project, a research and outreach nonprofit based in Arlington, Virginia.

Psychologists are taking action by designing interventions for schools and faith-based communities, crafting messages to encourage help-seeking and training community leaders to recognize signs of mental illness in children and teens. And in 2018, Breland-Noble and other psychologists joined a working group alongside the Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health, commissioned by U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and the Congressional Black Caucus, to probe the worrying trend. To read more click here.

Credit: APA News

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