Why is Suicide a Growing Problem in the Black Community?

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent | 9/22/2019, 11:29 a.m.
It’s no secret that African Americans – particularly teens – are committing suicide at record levels
Depression/mental health Rawpixel.com photo

Sam Gertsmann, the founder of Opinion-Lounge, a website for discussing politics, said he’s had extensive experience working suicide hotlines.

“While suicide is a complicated topic, it’s clear that the rise of social media is one of the main causes of the recent jump in suicide rates,” Gertsmann said.

“Social media show users pictures and videos of everyone living better lives than they are; even though these pictures are often staged and paint an inaccurate picture, the brain isn’t able to differentiate and simply sees that everyone else is better off,” he said.

“Social media also puts numbers on your popularity – your followers, your likes, your replies. And, no matter how many you have, you’ll always want more,” Gertsmann said.

Kevin Darné, the author of “My Cat Won’t Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany), believes that the suicide rate among young African Americans is due to the growing list of black millionaires and billionaires.

“Today, we have Oprah owning a TV network, Tyler Perry owning his own studios, Shonda Rhimes owning her night of television on ABC, Jaz-Z becoming a billionaire, Dr. Dre selling ‘Beats’ to Apple for $3 billion, and a few Fortune 500 black CEOs, black doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs,” Darné said.

“Although racism is still alive, it’s impossible to deny the fact that the rise of a black upper middle class and an increase in black millionaires [contributes to others having lower self-esteem],” he said.

“The irony is the more black success that someone sees in various industries could make a person start to wonder about what’s wrong with themselves. Depression and lack of fulfillment can cause people in a rich country to consider suicide … when there’s a huge gap between one’s expectations and their reality, life can seem miserable,” Darné said.

Next in this series: Possible solutions for those contemplating suicide