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Monday, December 4, 2023

Suicide Awareness Month: From pain to progress

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Students at Florida A&M University recently held a walk to support suicide prevention. They walked through the campus holding up signs reading, “You Matter” and “There is Hope.” It was heartwarming to see this generation taking a stand for others to remind them that their lives matter.

Seeing these young, melanated faces walking along the pathways at this historically Black institution felt like such a triumphant moment. We have arrived at a point in history where we are acknowledging one another’s struggles openly and lovingly.

It is easier not to talk about suicide. For those who have considered taking their own life, there is shame and isolation. For those that have lost a loved one, they may feel a sense of guilt for not being able to help the person they lost.

In either case, while it may feel simpler to avoid the subject, avoidance does not make the issue go away.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in this country according to the Center for Disease Control, and it is affecting Hoosiers at an alarming rate. There were over 48,000 deaths by suicide in the U.S. in 2021 – 1,129 of those were in Indiana alone.

While it is often reported that homicides are a concern across the country, research has shown for years that more people die from suicide by gun than homicide by gun.

“Suicides by gun accounted for about six of every 10 firearm deaths in 2010 and just over half of all suicides, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” as reported by the Pew Research Center. During that year, Pew reported there were 19,392 suicides by firearm compared to 11, 078 homicides by gun.

The increasing availability of guns raises the likelihood of suicide death by gun.

“A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline,” according to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

The research indicates that suicide is increasingly affecting the Black community and our youth. In the last two years, CDC statistics show the numbers of young Black people who have committed suicide have risen while the numbers in other races have declined.

The Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide reported that suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens.

“Significant increases among young Black persons aged 10-24 years and across multiple racial and ethnic populations aged 25-44 years raise particular concern,” as stated by the CDC.

The stigma attached to mental health, especially in the Black community, has kept so many people from getting the help they needed and deserved throughout our history. Far too many people made the decision to stay unwell due to lack of resources or out of fear of what other people may say. Black people in particular carry a burden of needing to appear strong and unbothered. People do not want to appear weak or like they cannot handle the ups and downs of life.

Often the pain people are experiencing who consider suicide is hidden. Loved ones may even be afraid to approach the subject. This is why the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline recommends simply asking people if they may be considering suicide. People may fear that bringing up the subject will cause someone to consider suicide, but according to the research, simply asking can bring relief and hope.

People who are considering suicide are quite literally looking for a lifeline. Being there, asking questions and showing support makes a difference.

The brave students at FAMU marching through their campus made a statement that now we will get help and we will help one another. Now, we will be vulnerable and free. We will see someone’s pain and embrace them. Now, we will step out of the shadows of shame and into the light of hope.

For more information about getting help or ways to help someone who is considering suicide, visit 988lifeline.org.

Contact Editor-in-Chief, Camike Jones, at camikej@indyrecorder.com or 317-762-7850.

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