Shawn Maxam says we need to debunk the myth that Black people don’t ever commit suicide.
For many centuries, suicides were treated like criminals by the society. That is part of the terrible legacy that has come down into society’s method of handling suicide recovery. Now we have to fight off the demons that have been hanging around suicide for centuries.
*I wrote about this several months ago when it happened. I think the suicide myth involves not just Black people but men and men of color like Junior Seau. I will blog more about this issue during National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July*
On a February 1st, 2012 Soul Train founder and music industry legend Don Cornelius died from an apparent suicide. No longer do I think we can ignore the issue of suicide in the Black community. Yes, Black people do kill themselves or at least attempt to. The passing of Cornelius is a catalyst for members inside and outside of the Black community to address the issue of mental illness and overall mental health.
Lay My Burden Down: Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis among African-Americans is a book that discusses this issue with much more depth.
Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression is a personal memoir of a woman who documents her struggle with mental illness.
Black people aren’t inherently stronger or more resilient than other races. Such myths cause individuals to suffer in silence and to feel alone and helpless when experiencing emotions and thoughts that inspire self-harm. We have to encourage folks to seek therapy, take medication if necessary and engage in other means of care that will allow them to exit the cavern of despair and hopelessness where death seems to be the only viable solution to the problems they are facing.
Suicide is a behavior. A behavior often caused by life events so life altering that your brain chemistry (serotonin) is affected. What other behavior inspired by disease would we continue to ignore? None. Let’s start the work today. R.I.P. Don Cornelius.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
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Photo: Don Cornelius in 2006. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press