NNPA NEWSWIRE — Researchers in the NYU study noted that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens from all demographics. They found that only accidents kill more young people than suicide.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

African American teenagers in the United States historically have had lower suicide rates than their white counterparts – until now.

A new study analyzing suicide among American teens by a team led by researchers at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University have uncovered several troubling trends from 1991 to 2017, among Black high school students in particular.

Researchers discovered that between 1991 and 2017, there has been an increase in the number of African American teens who said they had attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide rates for teenagers of other races and ethnicities either remained the same or decreased over that period.

The researchers did not cite a reason for the trend.

Bill Prasad, a licensed professional counselor with Contemporary Medicine Associates in Bellaire, Texas, cited what he believed are some reasons.

“Lack of accessibility to mental health care, the inability to pay for medications and healthcare coverage, the lack of acceptance of mental illness among some members of the black community, and the availability of firearms,” Prasad stated.

Prasad was not among the researchers involved in the study.

Frank King, the so-called “Mental Health Comedian,” called the problem a “cultural phenomenon.”

“Young people in these groups are less likely to share their issues surrounding depression and thoughts of suicide with friends and family than youth in other racial and ethnic groups,” King stated.

Among the answers is starting the conversation on depression and suicide in high-risk groups,” he said.

“A partial answer is giving young people permission to give voice to their experiences and feelings, without recrimination, such as ‘If you were stronger in Christ this wouldn’t be happening,’ or ‘What do you have to be depressed about, we’ve given you everything. Your father and I started our life with nothing,’ and so forth,” King stated.

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