A SURGE IN SUICIDES

February 14, 2020 at 4:30 am

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 Print

>> 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.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019