A SURGE IN SUICIDES

Suicide attempts among black teens are increasing at alarming rates. What’s driving this heartbreaking trend and how do we stop it?

Aired on February 13, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

WE MUST FIND OUT WHY BLACK CHILDREN ARE TAKING THEIR LIVES AT AN ALARMING RATE AND WE MUST CONTINUE TO COULD THAT TOGETHER AND DEVISE SOLUTIONS THAT WILL PUT AN END TO IT.

GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THE STATISTICS ARE STARTLING.

A NEW STUDY SHOWS THAT SUICIDE ATTEMPTS AMONGAN ADOLESCENTS SU.

IT ROSE BY BY WHITE TEENAGERS DROPPED 7.5%. SO WHAT IS DRIVING THIS HEART BREAKING REALITY?

JOINING US, THE STUDY'S LEAD AUTHND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

TNK YOUORGME.

SO DOCTOR, YOU RECENTLY SAID THAT THESE KIDS ARE TELLING US SOMETHING WITH THESE HEART BREAKING SUICIDE ATTEMPTS.

ASIDE FROM THEM TELLING US THAT THEY'RE IN DEEP EMOTIONAL PAIN, WHAT ELSE ARE THEY TELLING US?

THE FIRST THING THAT I LOOK AT IS, A PRECURSOR ISSUE LIKE DEPRESSION.

WHAT I MEAN BY IS,ID ATTEMPTING SUICIDE MAY ACTUALLY HAVE UNTREATED DEPRESSION.

WHAT WE KNOW IS THAT BLACK UTOR DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS ARE OFTEN EXPRESS IN THE DIFFERENT WAYS THAN WE MIGHT NOT SORT OF BE, YOU KNOW, WISE ABOUT.

A STOMACH ACHE OR A HEADACHE, OR THEY MAY HAVE INTERPERSONAL CHALLENGES IN TERMS OF RELATIONSHIP QUALITY.

AND OFTENTIMES WE CAST THOSE SITUATIONS ASIDE.

WE DON'T CONSIDER THEM TO BE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.

SYMPTOMATIC, FOR EX DEPRESSION.

AND SO WE MIGHT IN SCHOOL, SUSPEND KIDS AS OPPOSED TO TREATING THOSE ISSUES.

SO I THINK THE KIDS ARE TELLING US THAT THEY WANT TO BE HEARD AROUND THE THINGS THAT MATTER TO THEN THE MOST OF THE.

WHAT DID YOURESDISCOVER ABOU THIS INCREASE IN DEPRESSION?

AMONG BLACK ADOLESCENTS, THAT IN TURN IS LEADING TO THE SUICIDE ATTEMPTS?

WELL, OUR STUDY WAS NOT ABOUT LOOKING AT WHATDSE IT WAS MORE ABOUT LOOKING AT THE TRENDS, ENGAGE NYPD SUICIDE BEHAVIORS OVER TIME.

SO AGAIN, AS YOU STARTED OFF WITH WITH RESPECT TO THE 73% RISE IN SUICIDE MP ESSENTIALLY, WE BELIEVE THAT IN PART, IT COULD BE RELATED TO THE FACT THAT KIDS ARE, PARTICULARLY BLACK KI A ENGAGING IN MORE IMPULSIVE DECISION MAKING AROUND SUICIDE BEHAVIOR.

BECAUSE AT THE SAME TIME, WE SAW THAT SUICIDE IDEATION, IN TERMS OF THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE AND S DOWNWARD WHILE ATTEMPTS WERE GOING UP.

WHAT WE'VE ALSO SEEN, ONE MORE THING HERE.

WHAT WE'VE ALSO SEEN IS THAT BLACK KIDS TEND NOT TO BE CONNECTED TO TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION.

AND SO WE HAVE IN TERMS OF MY REAR IE L UP IN OF THINGS OVER THE YEARS THAT MAY BE RELATED TO UNTREATED DEPRESSION, INCLUDING STIGMA RELATED TO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE IS FR NOT BEING ABLE TO GET ALONG WITH THE MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER, OR THAT THE PROVIDER WON'T UNDERSTAND THEIR UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES.

AND GOING BACK TO WHAT YOU SAID, THESE TEENS, THESE AD LESS ENLTS, AREHIESBO COMMITTING SUICIDE AND ABOUT HOW TO GO ABOUT IT BUT THEY'R DOING IT MORE.

WHICH MEANS THAT IT IS MUCH MORE OF AN IMPULSE THING.

WHICH MAKES IT MORE TRAGIC, RIGHT?

IF IT IS AN IMPULSE THING, IF CAUGHT, YOULD SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

YEAH.

YOU KNOW, I WANT TO BE CAREFUL.

BECAUSE IT IS MY SPECULATION AND THAT OF MY FELLOW COLLEAGUES ON THE STUDY THAT IT COULD BE RELATED TO IMPULSEIVITY.

WE NEED TO DO MORE RESEARCH TOC.

IT IS SORT OF SCARY TO ME, RIGHT?

THAT KIDS ARE ACTUALLY, PARTICULARLY BLACK G TO AN ATTE WITHOUT PLANNING OR THINKING ABOUT IT.

SO IT REALLY BEGS THAT WE NEED MORE RESEARCH TO TRULY UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING.

NOW, THE REPORT ALSO FOUND THAT AMONG AFRICAN-AMERICAN ADOLESCENTS, BLACK TEEN GIRLS ARETT HIGHER RATES THAN BLACK TEEN BOYS.

WHY?

I CAN POINT TO A NUMBER OF THINGS AS POTENTIAL REASONS.

ONE IS, WE KNOW ABOUT GIRLS TEND TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA ATHELEXP INTERPERSONAL STRESS-RELATED TO THE SOCIAL MEDIA USE.

IT HAS BEEN WELL DOCUMENTED THAT GIRLS ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE HIGHER LEVELS OF DEPRESSION.

IF SO, THAT MIGHT BE A CONTRIBUTING OR.

DHE IMBALANCE COULD BE A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR.

WE KNOW THAT GIRLS TEND TO EXPERIENCE HIGHER LEVELS OF TEEN DATING VIOLENCE.

I ALSO THINK, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT BLACK GIRLS, THERE COULD BE A DOUBLE JEOPARDY GOING ONWI DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RACE AND GENDER.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE I FOUND VERY INTERESTING.

IN YOUR STUDIES.

THAT EVEN THOUGH BLACK TEEN GIRLS ARE COMMITTING, MAKING THESE ATTEMPTS AT HIGHER NUMBERS, WHEN BLACK TEEN BOYS ATTEMPT IT, THEY USE MORE LETHAL METHODS.

WHAT ARE THOSE METHODS THAT THEY USE AND WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS

I CASE.

WHAT THE FINDING ACTUALLY SUGGESTED WAS THAT BLACK BOYS ARE ENGAGING IN MORE, OR HAVING MORE INJURY BY ATTEMPT.

WHICH MEANS THEY COULD BE ENGAGING INOTET AN WHICH TO ATTEMPT SUICIDE.

YOU KNOW, I THINK A UP IN OF THINGS COULD BE GOING ON THERE.

ONE IS THAT WE'VE SEEN ACTUALLY OR ATTEMPTING SUICIDE BY HANGING OR ASPHYXIATION, AND SO I THINK WE NEED TO EXPLORE WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THAT.

WE'VE SEEN SOME DECREASES WITH RESPECT TO WEAPONS, LIKE FIREARMS, AS A METHOD OF SUICIDE AMONG BLACK YOUTH IN THE LAST COUPLE DECADES.

BUT I THINKORE RESEARCH NEEDS TO BE UNDERTAKEN TO TRULY UNDERSTAND WHAT'S HAPPENING.

SO ONE O AC Y LIKELY BE ADISTRIBUTE UTSD TO GREATER STRUCTURAL ISSUES AND I THINK WE CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS.

ALONG WITH THE DECLINE IN COPING MECHANISMS.

ONE OF THOSE COPING MECHANISMS THEY HAVE, AND WHY ARE THEY IN DECLINE?

I THINK SUICIDE ATTEMPTS, THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE, PLANNING SUICIDE, ARE COPING MECHANISMS THAT COULD BE IN PLAY INSTEAD OG CONNECTED TO TREATMENT.

SO I THINK THAT UNDERSTANDING WHAT FACTORS ARE CONTRIBUTING TO WHY KIDS ARE NOT CONNECTED TO TREATMENT, AND YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS I'VE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR, MY COLLEAGUES, WE NEED MORE MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELLORS IN SCHOOLS TO GIVE KIDS GREATER PROXIMITY TO MENTAL HEALTH TR OFTEN, RAFAEL, WHAT WE FIND, IS THAT IN POOR COMMUNITIES, BLACK AND BROWN COMMUNITIES, KIDS ARE NOT ABLE TO ACCESS A MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELLOR, OR IF THEY HAVE A COUNSELLOR, THAT COUNSELLOR IS THERE ONE DAY OUT OF THE WEES SAY TUESDAY.

SO THAT MAKES NO SENSE IN TERMS OF WHEN PROBLEMS ARE LIKELY TO MANIFEST.

WE NEED MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELLORS IN SCHOOLS PROPORTIONATE TO THE NUMBER OF KIDS IN SCHOOLS.HI REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT FACTOR HERE.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT YOU THINK MUST BE DONE THAT IS NOT BEING DONE NOW?

I THINK THAT WE'RE DOING, AND I APPLAUD THE WORK THAT IS HAPPENING IN NEW YORK CITY.

I'VE BEEN AROUND THE COUNTRY TO RECOGNIZE THAT WE NEED MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELLORS IN SCHOOLS.

I THINK THAT IS THE ONE THING THATNDO.

GET KIDS CONNECTED TO MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELLORS, AVAILABLE IN SCHOOLS, PROPORTIONATE TO THE NUMBER OF KIDS IN THAT SCHOOL.

AND I THINK THAT COUNSELLORS HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO ACTUALLY HELP TEACHERS UNDERSTAND THE NDO MAY BE STRUGGLING.

THEY CAN HELP PRINCIPALS AND OTHER ADMINISTRATORS IN THE SCHOOL UNDERSTAND.

THEY CAN WORK FAMILIES TO HELP PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS UNDERSTAND THE SUBE SIGND PRESENTATIONS THAT WE SHOULD BE PAYING GREATER ATTENTION TO.

SO I STRONGLY ADVOCATE, AND THAT OF MY COLLEAGUES, WE STRONGLY ADVOCATE T PROON SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES THROUGH THE AVAILABILITY OF COUNSELLORS TO KIDS WHO ARE IN NEED OF THOSE SERVICES.

WITH, DR. LINDSEY, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AT EIGHT GLOK THIS AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR RK.

OUR TIME.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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