Many of us in the black community think that we are “too strong” or have been through to much to kill ourselves—statistics show otherwise: suicide is the third leading cause of death among black youth, after homicides and accidents.
But you can help. How? Recognize the warning signs:
- Talking About Dying -- any mention of dying, disappearing, jumping, shooting oneself, or other types of self harm.
- Recent Loss -- through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, loss of job, money, status, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of religious faith, loss of interest in friends, sex, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed
- Change in Personality -- sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive, apathetic
- Change in Behavior -- can't concentrate on school, work, routine tasks
- Change in Sleep Patterns -- insomnia, often with early waking or oversleeping, nightmares
- Change in Eating Habits -- loss of appetite and weight, or overeating
- Diminished Sexual Interest -- impotence, menstrual abnormalities (often missed periods)
- Fear of losing control -- going crazy, harming self or others
- Low self esteem -- feeling worthless, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, "everyone would be better off without me"
- No hope for the future -- believing things will never get better; that nothing will ever change
Other things to watch for- Suicidal impulses, statements, plans; giving away favorite things; previous suicide attempts, substance abuse, making out wills, arranging for the care of pets, extravagant spending, agitation, hyperactivity, restlessness or lethargy.
REMEMBER: The risk of suicide may be greatest as the depression lifts.
If you or a person you love is in crisis, seek help. Contact family, friends, your pastor, a counselor/mental health professional, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.