Author: April D. Duncan, MSW, LCSW, Registered Play Therapist
One of the most effective ways to create public discourse around the rising rates of suicide among Black youth is social media. The facts are cold and hard: Black children are killing themselves and it's going largely unnoticed. It is time to debunk the myth that Black children don't commit suicide and start facing the harsh reality, starting with the facts. The statistics, simply put, are staggering.
Suicide attempts among Black children in America have increased 73% since 1991
Black children under the age of 13 are two times more likely to die by suicide then White children (2017)
Death by suicide is the second leading cause of death for Black children 10-19 years old
If these trends continue, the CDC predicts 93,264 years of potential lives lost in the Black community before the age of 65 due to suicide deaths
Awareness and education are the most important topics when leading discourse around this issue. And, in my opinion, social media will be the best way to deliver these messages. Although both awareness and education around suicide is needed for the entire Black community, the people who need this information the most are Black children. Instagram and Twitter can be used to deliver quick statistics, mental health facts, signs/symptoms of suicidal ideation and behavior, and resources such as suicide hotlines. I recall a recent conversation I had with local superintendent who said, “This is a sound-bite generation. They want information fast and in short doses”. Using social media as a platform to engage discourse around this issue will be key to addressing the epidemic of death by suicide among Black children.
How can you use your voice on social media to bring attention to this issue?