Metrofocus: April 14, 2022

Encore: July 14, 2022

A MENTAL HEALTH CONVERSATION: BLACK YOUTH SUICIDE

The recent deaths of former Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst, and Ian Alexander Jr., the son of actress Regina King, have put a spotlight on the recent rise in suicide rates in the Black community, and the disturbing trends show that Black children are also being impacted more than ever. From 1991 to 2019, self-reported suicide attempts among Black adolescents rose nearly 80%. Though in the past suicide was historically viewed as a “White problem,” Black children are now twice as likely to lose their lives to suicide as White children. Stigmas surrounding mental health, a lack of professional resources, online cyberbullying, racial injustice, and the isolation caused by the pandemic can all be to blame for this troubling phenomenon. Tonight, Shana Pinnock, a journalist with lived suicide experience as she had attempted to take her life, Dionne C. Monsanto, a mental health advocate who is a suicide loss survivor who lost her daughter, and Dr. Michael Lindsey, the executive director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University, discuss how we can best support these struggling young people.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, A CONVERSATION ON MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE.

YOUNG BLACK AMERICANS ARE TAKING THEIR LIVES IN GREATER NUMBERS THAN EVER BEFORE.

WE LOOK INTO WHY.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

TONIGHT, WE'RE TAKING A LOOK AT MENTAL HEALTH WHICH, ONE OVERLOOKED, CAN HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES ON OUR EMOTIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, AND SOCIAL WELL-BEING.

NOW, THAT'S THE FOCUS OF OUR NEW CONVERSATION SERIES THAT CONTINUES TONIGHT WITH A LOOK AT BLACK SUICIDE.

THE RECENT DEATHS OF BLACK FORMER MISS USA CHELSIE KRYST AND IAN ALEXANDER JR., THE SON OF ACTRESS REGINA KING, HAVE PUT A SPOTLIGHT ON THE RECENT RISE OF SUICIDES IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY AND THE TRENDS THAT SHOW THAT BLACK CHILDREN ARE BEING IMPACTED MORE THAN EVER.

NOW, FROM 1991 TO 2019, SELF-REPORTED SUICIDE ATTEMPTS AMONG BLACK ADOLESCENTS ROSE NEARLY 80%. HISTORICALLY, VIEWED AS A WHITE PROBLEM, MANY BLACK CHILDREN ARE NOW TWICE AS LIKELY TO LOSE THEIR LIVES TO SUICIDE AS WHITE CHILDREN.

STIGMA SURROUNDING MENTAL HEALTH, A LACK OF PROFESSIONAL RESOURCES, ONLINE SUBER BULLYING, RACIAL INJUSTICE, AND NOW THE ISOLATION CAUSED BY THE PANDEMIC CAN ALL BE TO BLAME FOR THIS TROUBLING PHENOMENON.

JOINING US TO DIG DEEP ENTIRE THOSE REASONS AND DISCUSS WHAT WE CAN DO TO BEST SUPPORT THOSE STRUGGLING YOUNG PEOPLE IS DR.

MICHAEL LINDSEY.

HE'S THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE McSILVER INSTITUTE FOR POVERTY, POLICY, AND RESEARCH AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY.

DR. LINDSEY, WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

WE ARE ALSO JOINED TONIGHT BY SHANA PINNOCK.

SHE'S A JOURNALIST WITH LIVED EXPERIENCE WITH SUICIDE.

SHANA, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

AND WE ARE ALSO JOINED TONIGHT BY DIONNE MONSANTO.

SHE IS A MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE AND SUICIDE LOSS SURVIVOR.

DIONNE, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

THANK YOU.

SHANA, YOU HAVE YOUR OWN LIVED EXPERIENCE, BUT YOU ARE ACTUALLY FRIENDLY WITH, OR AT LEAST YOU KNEW THE FORMER MISS USA WHO MADE HEADLINES WHEN SHE ENDED HER LIFE.

SO, FIRST, CAN YOU TAKE US BACK TO NOT ONLY HOW DID YOU KNOW HER, BUT HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT HOW HER LIFE ENDED?

SO, CHESLEY, WHILE I WAS WORK ING AS A SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR, MAYBE MY FIRST YEAR THERE AND CHESLEY, AS WELL AS -- I CANNOT REMEMBER THEIR NAMES RIGHT NOW, BUT THE OTHER TWO YOUNG LADIES WHO WON MISS AMERICA AND MISS TEEN USA, YOU KNOW, ALL BLACK WOMEN, YOUNG BLACK WOMEN AND THEY CAME TO THE OFFICE FOR AN INTERVIEW, WE WERE ABLE TO, YOU KNOW, JUST HAVE A GREAT DIALOGUE WITH THEM, CHESLEY, I WROTE IN MY ARTICLE, YOU KNOW, WHICH I TITLED 'THOUGHTS OF A COLORED GIRL WHO HAS CONSIDERED SUICIDE OFTEN' CHESLEY WAS SWEET AND POISED AND GRACIOUS AND I REMEMBER P -- THE CRAZY PART IS, WHEN CHESLEY'S DEATH HAPPENED, IT WAS ABOUT A WEEK FULL OF HEARING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, DEATH BY SUICIDE FROM NUMEROUS SOURCES, YOU KNOW, IAN ALEXANDER JR., WHO WAS REGINA KING'S SON, THERE WAS A POLITICIAN WHO -- HE DIED BY SUICIDE AND IT JUST -- IT WAS A VERY TRIGGERING EVENT AND AS A SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR, YOU KNOW, YOU ARE NEVER -- YOU NEVER SLEEP, IT'S A CONSTANT GO, ALL THE TIME, AS IT RELATES TO SOCIAL AND SO WHEN I GOT THE NEWS, I BELIEVE IT WAS A TMZ ALERT FROM AN APP LETTING ME KNOW THAT CHESLEY HAD PASSED AWAY AND WAS A SUSPECTED SUICIDE AND I WAS IN THE CAR WITH MY BOYFRIEND, WE WERE DRIVING HOME AND I READ THE NEWS AND I IMMEDIATELY WENT INTO WORK MODE, I'M TEXTING MY TEAM AND, YOU KNOW, THE REST OF THE EDITORIAL TEAM, LIKE, WE NEED TO JUMP ON THIS STORY, LET'S MAKE SURE WE HAVE A POST UP ABOUT HER, AND ONCE ALL OF THAT HAD SETTLED AND I'M SITTING IN THE CAR IN COMPLETE SILENCE AND I BURST INTO TEARS, BECAUSE I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER FEELING THE WAY THAT I'M SURE CHESLEY FELT WHEN SHE DECIDED TO MAKE A DECISION, A PRETTY PERMANENT DECISION AND IT'S -- IT'S HEARTBREAKING TO SEE ANOTHER YOUNG BLACK WOMAN, SHE WAS ONLY 30 YEARS OLD, MY SUICIDE ATTEMPT WAS AT THE AGE OF 28, SO, I KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON IN OUR HEADS AT THAT POINT IN TIME AND THEN TO HAVE TO THEN BRACE MYSELF BECAUSE, AGAIN, SOCIAL MEDIA, TO HAVE TO BRACE MYSELF FOR A LOT OF THE IGNORANT AND SOMETIMES UNEMPATHETIC RESPONSES TO SUICIDE, A LOT OF PEOPLE TRY TO TURN IT INTO SOME KIND OF MORAL ISSUE OR, YOU KNOW, SAYING, OH, HOW COULD THEY BE SO SELFISH AND, OH, I DON'T BELIEVE SHE DID IT, JUMPING OFF OF A BUILDING, THAT'S NOT WHAT BLACK FOLKS DO.

AND IT'S -- IT'S INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING AND FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED THE DEEP, DEEP, DEEP DEPTHS OF DEPRESSION AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, LUCKY YOU, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE CHOSEN ONE?

BUT I KNOW WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE AND IT'S -- IT'S A DARKNESS.

YOU CAN'T PRAY IT AWAY.

NO ONE CAN LOVE YOU OUT OF THAT.

YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO TRY TO PULL YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND UNFORTUNATELY, NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO DO SO.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S ALWAYS THIS IDEA OF, OH, IT GETS BETTER.

WHEN YOU'RE IN THAT DARKNESS, THERE IS NO BETTER.

YOU CAN'T -- YOU'RE FEELING THIS PAIN, THIS DESPAIR AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE -- I MEAN, WHICH A LOT OF YOUNG BLACK WOMEN DO, OUR DEPRESSION DOESN'T OFTEN LOOK LIKE OUR WHITE COUNTERPARTS.

MAYBE WE'RE NOT CRYING AND JUST SAD AND, YOU KNOW, STUCK IN THE BED ALL THE TIME, SOMETIMES THAT DEPRESSION CAN LOOK LIKE BEING OVERWORKED.

SOMETIMES THAT DEPRESSION CAN LOOK LIKE, I'M MOVING AND I'M GOING AND I'M GOING AND I HAVE THIS SMILE ON MY FACE SO THAT EVERYBODY THINKS THAT I'M OKAY, BUT WHEN I AM BY MYSELF, IN THE DARK AT NIGHT, IT IS NOT THAT WAY.

IT IS INCREDIBLY PAINFUL TO BE IN THAT ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE AND STILL FEEL SO ALONE, BECAUSE YOU CAN'T -- YOU CAN'T EXPRESS TO OTHERS HOW YOU'RE FEELING, BECAUSE THEN THERE'S ALWAYS THE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU'LL HEAR, WELL, YOU HAVE ALL THESE THINGS, THESE GREAT THINGS GOING FOR YOU AND, YOU KNOW, WELL, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO BE DEPRESSED ABOUT, OR PRAY IT AWAY.

IT'S -- IT'S A REALLY HARD REALITY FOR A LOT OF FOLKS AND, YOU KNOW, MY HEART AND MY LOVE AND CONDOLENCES AND DEAR SYMPATHY GOES TO HER FAMILY, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO MAY NOT BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND WHY SHE TOOK THE STEP THAT SHE DID.

OF COURSE.

OF COURSE.

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE CORRECT PRONUNCIATION OF HER NAME.

SAYING HER NAME CORRECTLY, WE ARE REMEMBERING HER.

DIONNE, I WANT TO TURN TO YOU, THOUGH, AND GET YOUR TAKE ON NOT JUST HOW YOU FELT WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT, OF COURSE, THESE HIGH PROFILE INSTANCES OF SUICIDE, BUT WHAT YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IS WITH IT, BECAUSE YOU HAD A VERY, VERY INTIMATE LOSS.

YES.

THANK YOU FOR THAT.

AND THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING SO BEAUTIFULLY, SHANA, BECAUSE I FELT WHAT YOU SAID AND I REALLY FELT IT FROM THE MOTHER PERSPECTIVE, FROM HAVING LOST MY DAUGHTER ALMOST 11 YEARS AGO, SHE WAS 15 WHEN SHE DIED BY SUICIDE, AND WHAT YOU SAID IS EXACTLY WHO SHE WAS IN TERMS OF BEING THE BRILLIANT CHILD AND THE PERSON THAT WAS ALWAYS THE BEST IN HER CLASS, WITHIN THE TOP FIVE, MAYBE TOP TEN AND ALWAYS DOING THE BEST AND THE MOST AND THE MOST AWARDED, SO IT IMMEDIATELY BROUGHT ME BACK TO A REFLECTION OF WHO MY CHILD WAS IN THE WORLD, AT SCHOOL, AT HER DANCE SCHOOL, WITH HER MUSIC, YOU KNOW, BEING MUSICALLY INCLINED, BEING A WRITER AND SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS AND HOW DEPRESSION CAN HAVE A BEAUTIFUL SMILE ON ITS FACE.

DEPRESSION CAN HAVE As AND A-PLUSES AND CAN HAVE HIGH ACCOLADES AND SEEING THAT WITH CHESLEY AND I IMMEDIATELY THOUGHT OF HER MOM AND SAME THING WITH IAN, MY HEART GOES OUT TO THE MOTHERS AND I GENERALLY DO A LOT OF WORK NOW AS A MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE IN REACHING OUT TO THE PARENTS AND THE SIBLINGS AND THE COUSINS AND MAKING SURE PEOPLE KNOW IT'S NOT THEIR FAULT, BECAUSE IT'S REALLY HARD TO UNDERSTAND ON THE OTHER SIDE, PEOPLE FEEL LIKE, WHAT DID I DO WRONG?

WHY DID I NOT SEE IT?

AND THAT WAS A BIG PART OF THE INTERVIEWS, AS YOU KNOW, BEING A JOURNALIST, ABOUT, WE DIDN'T SEE IT.

THIS PERSON, RIGHT THERE, OTHER INTERVIEWS I'VE DONE WITH LIVED SURVIVORS SAYING, THE CLOSEST ONES, YOUR LOVED ONES, NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE THE SIGNS, AND WHAT DOES THE SIGN LOOK LIKE, AND WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE, IN PARTICULAR, FOR OUR COMMUNITY?

AND HOW DO YOU CHECK IN ON YOUR STRONG FRIENDS, AS THE PHRASE BECAME, AND HOW DO YOU CONNECT TO YOUR JOY AND HOW DO YOU KNOW YOURSELF WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW WHEN YOU'RE DOWN AND WHO CAN CHECK IN ON YOU?

AND THAT'S SOMETHING I WORK A LOT WITH, WITH MY CLIENTS, AND TALKING TO PEOPLE ABOUT SELF-REFLECTION AND WHEN THEY ASK ME HOW I GOT THROUGH GUILT AND I SAID, QUITE HONESTLY, I DID EVERYTHING I COULD, KNOWING MY DAUGHTER WAS DEPRESSED, TO HAVE SUPPORT WITH HER.

I'M GLAD YOU HAVE A DOCTOR HERE, BECAUSE SHE WAS ABSOLUTELY IN THERAPY AND WORKING WITH THEM, SO, FAMILY THERAPY, INDIVIDUAL THERAPY, AND MAKING SURE WE KNOW OURSELVES WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW WHAT YOUR TRIGGERS ARE.

LIKE, I REALLY APPRECIATE YOU SAYING THAT THE MEDIA, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS YOUR JOB, KNOWING THIS, IT WAS A TRIGGER FOR YOU, AND YOU DID YOUR JOB BUT THEN YOU SAT BACK IN TEARS AND ALLOWING YOURSELF TO PROCESS YOUR GRIEF.

WE, AS PEOPLE OF COLOR, DON'T ALWAYS GIVE OURSELVES SPACE TO GRIEVE OR TO EVEN EXPERIENCE JOY, BECAUSE THERE'S A LEVEL OF GUILT ABOUT BEING A SURVIVOR AND DO WE DESERVE TO BE JOY-FILLED AND HAVE A HAPPY LIFE AFTER THIS LEVEL OF LOSS?

SO, IT BROUGHT UP ALL OF THAT, AND MORE, AND, YOU KNOW, FOR ME, MY DAUGHTER'S BIRTHDAY JUST PASSED, SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN 26 THIS YEAR.

HAVING DIED AT 15.

AND ONE OF THE THINGS IN FINDING WAYS TO LIVE FOR MYSELF, FOR MY OTHER SURVIVING CHILDREN, AS WELL AS TO CREATE A PATH FOR OTHER LOSS SURVIVORS.

ONE OF THE THINGS I DID WAS WRITE A BOOK IN MY DAUGHTER'S HONOR, AND THAT LAUNCHED ON HER BIRTHDAY, SO I TOLD PEOPLE, I GAVE BIRTH TO TWO THINGS ON MARCH 8th, MY FIRST BOOK IN HER HONOR, BECAUSE SHE WAS A WRITER, AS WELL AS MY DAUGHTER, WHO IS NO LONGER, YOU KNOW, WITH US.

SO, THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT HELPED ME MOVE FORWARD AND SOMETHING I LEAN INTO, SUPPORTING OUR PEOPLE AND PEOPLE IN GENERAL IN KNOWING THAT JOY IS THEIR BIRTHRIGHT AND CREATING A PATH FOR THEM TO GET BACK TO JOY AFTER SUCH TRAGIC LOSS AND GRIEF IN THE WORLD AND IN OUR PERSONAL LIVES.

WELL, DR. LINDSEY, I WANT TO BRING YOU IN, BECAUSE I'M SURE FOR OTHER PEOPLE THAT ARE IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY, PERHAPS THEY ARE HEARING THINGS AND HEARING THE SUBTLE UNIQUENESS THAT MAKES THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA SO VERY SPECIFIC.

BUT FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN'T IN THE COMMUNITY, WHAT IS UNIQUE THAT BLACK YOUTH ARE EXPERIENCING THAT PERHAPS -- AND NOT JUST WHITE YOUTH, BUT JUST OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR AREN'T EXPERIENCING IN THE SAME WAY THAT MAKES THIS CRISIS OF SUICIDE SO DANGEROUS?

YEAH, THAT'S A REALLY, REALLY GREAT QUESTION.

AND I WANT TO THANK YOU AND 'METROFOCUS' FOR CONVENING THIS CONVERSATION.

SHANA, DIONNE, I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORIES OF -- OF JUST YOUR ENCOUNTERS WITH THE CHALLENGES RELATED TO SURVIVING, AS WELL AS WHATEVER CHALLENGES ONE MIGHT GO THROUGH THAT MAY LEAD THEM TO ENGAGE IN SUICIDE BEHAVIORS.

AND I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR COURAGE IN TELLING THE STORIES, BECAUSE I BELIEVE IT'S GOING TO HELP SOMEONE.

I THINK ABOUT YOUR QUESTION A LOT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE WORK WE'RE DOING WITH -- WITH -- TRYING TO RING THE ALARM, QUITE LITERALLY, AND WE FRAMED OUR WORK AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, WORKING WITH CONGRESSWOMAN BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS TO RING THE ALARM ON BLACK YOUTH SUICIDE.

I THINK A COUPLE THINGS ARE REALLY, REALLY -- LET ME OUTLINE, THREE, ACTUALLY, THAT ARE REALLY UNIQUE FOR BLACK YOUTH.

ONE, YOU KNOW, WE TALKED ABOUT STIGMA OR THE LACK OF CONNECTION TO TREATMENT IS REALLY HUGE AND IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND CERTAINLY IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

YOU HEARD SHANA SAY THERE'S A LOT OF NORMATIVE KINDS OF SENTIMENT AROUND PRAYING ABOUT IT, TALKING TO GOD, GO TO CHURCH, TO TRY TO FIGURE IT OUT AND WE DO THAT DISPROPORTIONATELY MORE THAN WE WILL GO TO A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL, RIGHT?

SO, THAT MAKES IT REALLY NUANCED AND UNIQUE.

THE SECOND THING, I THINK, IS -- THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT IS THAT WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE DISPRO PORTIONALTY MATTERS RELATED TO SORT OF THE BEHAVIORS AND BEING SUSPENDED FROM SCHOOL FOR BEHAVIORS THAT OTHER COMMUNITIES MIGHT HAVE THE BENEFIT OF BEING THE RECIPIENT OF MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS AND SERVICES, BUT BLACK AND BROWN KIDS GET SUSPENDED.

AND OFTENTIMES, THERE'S A MISINTERPRETATION OF THEIR BEHAVIORS.

SHANA SAID IT BEAUTIFULLY.

DEPRESSION LOOKS DIFFERENT IN OUR COMMUNITY, AND SO, FOR SOME BLACK KIDS, THEY MIGHT EXPRESS THEIR DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS IN VOLATILE WAYS OR ANGRY OR EXPLOSIVE WAYS.

ONCE I HAD A KID WHO I WORKED WITH IN THERAPY AND INTERVIEWED FOR SOME OTHER WORK WHO SAID THAT WHEN HE WAS DEPRESSED, HE WANTED TO GO AND KNOCK SOMEONE'S HEAD OFF, BECAUSE HE WANTED THEM TO FEEL THE SAME PAIN THAT HE FELT, RIGHT?

AND SO, OFTENTIMES, AGAIN, IT IS THE CASE THAT BLACK AND BROWN KIDS ARE BEING SUSPENDED AND EXPELLED FROM SCHOOL IN LIEU OF RECEIVING FORMAL MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT TO ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES.

AND THEN THE THIRD THING, I THINK, THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT IS THAT WE KNOW THAT IN THE LAST 10 TO 15 YEARS, 20 YEARS OR SO, THERE'S WELL-DOCUMENTED STORIES OF BLACK FOLKS WHO ARE DYING AT THE HANDS OF VIGILANTE OR PERHAPS UNFORTUNATELY RELATED TO LAW ENFORCEMENT ENCOUNTERS AND I THINK THOSE EXPERIENCES SORT OF ENGENDER A SENSE OF TRAUMA.

IT MIGHT ALSO LEAD TO A SENSE OF HOPELESSNESS OR HELPLESSNESS WITH RESPECT TO WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BLACK OR BROWN IN AMERICA.

AND SO, I THINK KIDS ARE -- KIDS OF COLOR, BLACK AND BROWN KIDS, ARE INCREASINGLY FEELING THAT SENSE OF HELPLESSNESS OR HOPELESSNESS THAT MAKES THEM FEEL LIKE LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING, UNFORTUNATELY.

SO, PERHAPS THEN, THOSE COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCES ARE WHAT WE SEE IN MORE NUANCED WAYS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY THAT WE MIGHT NOT SEE IN OTHER COMMUNITIES.

SO THEN, THAT BRINGS ME BACK TO HOW TO REACH OUT AND HELP, BECAUSE DIONNE AND SHANA, AS YOU BOTH TO ELOQUENTLY POINTED OUT, PARTICULARLY FOR YOUNG BLACK PEOPLE AND YOUNG BLACK WOMEN, YOU KNOW, DEPRESSION CAN HAVE A BEAUTIFUL SMILE ON ITS FACE.

AND OF COURSE WITH THE PRESENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA, WHICH IS JUST PRESENT IN EVERYONE'S LIFE, YOU SEE A LOT OF FOCUS ON, YOU KNOW, AS THE KIDS WOULD SAY, DOING IT FOR THE GRAM, THERE'S A LOT OF FOCUS ON PUTTING YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD AND LOOKING YOUR BEST AND SHINING IN YOUR BLACK EXCELLENCE.

HOW DO YOU, IF SOMEONE -- HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO TELL WHEN SOMEONE IS DOING THAT TO OVERCOMPENSATE OR WHEN THEY'RE JUST GENUINELY JUST PROUD OF THEMSELVES AND JUST EXPRESSING, THAT THEY'VE ACCOMPLISHED?

HOW DO YOU BALANCE THOSE TWO, AND DIONNE, I SEE YOU NODDING YOUR HEAD, SO I'LL GIVE YOU THE FLOOR.

THANK YOU.

WELL, I DEFINITELY WOULD LOVE DR. LINDSEY TO INTERJECT IF HE DISAGREES, BUT I THINK THERE'S SUBTLETIES WITH TALK, MOOD AND BEHAVIOR.

AND THOUGH YOU'RE SEEING ALL THE POSITIVE THINGS ON THE GRAM, THERE IS ALSO THIS LEVEL OF KNOWING.

EACH ONE OF US HAVE BEEN ON THE PLANET LONG ENOUGH TO HAVE THIS INTUITIVE KNOWING IN OUR GUT AND OUR GUT FEELING.

SO, IF I'M LOOKING AT YOU GOING, EVERYTHING'S GREAT, I'M SO HAPPY AND YOUR GUT GOES -- HMM, SOMETHING'S WRONG.

YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO YOUR GUT.

AND YOU SHOULD ALSO THINK IN YOUR -- IN YOUR KNOWING, THAT YOU'RE THE ONLY PERSON THAT'S GOING TO REACH OUT TO THEM.

YOU'RE THE ONLY PERSON THAT'S GOING TO SAY, SHANA, THAT GRAM POST LOOKED GREAT, BUT IT JUST SEEMED A LITTLE OFF, HOW ARE YOU REALLY, WHAT'S GOING ON?

AND TO ASK THEM DIRECTLY, LIKE, I'M CONCERNED ABOUT YOU, I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON WITH YOU, AND YOU CAN TALK TO ME, SO, IT'S LISTENING TO YOUR GUT AND IF THEY SAY LITTLE THINGS.

MY DAUGHTER GAVE ME A PRIZED POSSESSION, SO, IF SOMEBODY SAYS, I HAVEN'T SPOKEN TO YOU IN AWHILE, I REALLY LOVE YOU, I WANT TO GET TOGETHER AND GIVE YOU SOMETHING, SOME OF THOSE REALLY NICE CALLS ARE FAREWELL CALLS.

AND DIDN'T DAWN ON ME.

SO MUCH I LEARNED AFTERWARD IN TRAINING WITH THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION THAT PEOPLE GIVING AWAY THEIR PRIZED POSSESSIONS IS A BEHAVIOR THAT'S LETTING YOU KNOW.

THEY ARE HAPPY, THEY CLEANED UP THEIR ROOM, THEY ARE GIVING AWAY THEIR THINGS, THEY'RE PURGING -- THEY'RE CLEARING THE WAY TO LEAVE.

AND SO, JUST CHECK IN AND BE LIKE, WOW, THIS IS SO GREAT, I LOVE THIS, YOU KNOW, IF SOMEBODY IS GIVING YOU THEIR PURPLE HEART, WOW, THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU, WHY WOULDN'T YOU WANT TO KEEP THAT?

WHAT'S GOING ON?

SO, IT'S DIGGING DEEPER THAN WHAT'S AT THE SURFACE.

SHANA, IS THAT SOMETHING YOU WOULD AGREE WITH AND SAY, YOU KNOW, THAT WOULD BE A CLUE?

PARTIALLY.

SO, FOR ME, I -- I DIDN'T GIVE ANYTHING AWAY, BUT I WAS VERY COMMUNICATIVE.

I'M ONE OF THOSE FRIENDS WHO -- YOU MAY NOT HEAR FROM ME EVERY SINGLE DAY, BUT YOU KNOW WHERE THE LOVE IS, BUT THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN I WAS REACHING OUT TO, YOU KNOW, CERTAIN FRIENDS WHO -- WE ONLY CHECK IN EVERY COUPLE MONTHS, UNLESS WE'RE PHYSICALLY SEEING ONE ANOTHER AND I WAS LIKE, NO, I JUST WANT TO SAY HI, HOW YOU DOING?

I -- SO, THE HOUSE THAT I LIVED IN, A BROWNSTONE, AND MY PARENTS WERE LIVING IN A TWO BEDROOM UPSTAIRS AND I WAS ON THE FIRST FLOOR, AND MY THOUGHT PROCESS AS I WAS CONSIDERING TAKING THE STEPS, WAS -- I NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS HOUSE IS CLEAN SO AT LEAST MY MOTHER HAS, LIKE, NOTHING TO CLEAN UP AFTER ME.

SO, I CLEANED MY HOUSE, LIKE, IF IT WAS A NEW YEAR, IT WAS CLEAN.

I WAS HIDING THINGS THAT I WOULD NEVER WANT MY PARENTS TO FIND, YOU KNOW, SOMEWHERE IN THE HOUSE.

AND WHAT'S SO CRAZY IS, I THINK AGAIN, EVERYONE HANDLED DEPRESSION VERY DIFFERENTLY.

FOR ME, MY MISERY DOES NOT LOVE COMPANY, SO, WHEN I'M IN THAT SPACE, I TEND TO GO INWARD A LOT.

AND AFTER BEING ABLE TO KIND OF TALK ABOUT MY FAILED ATTEMPT, I'VE HAD SO MANY OF MY FRIENDS WHO -- THEY ARE NOW, LIKE, PUSHY, ALMOST, IN ORDER TO FIND OUT HOW I'M ACTUALLY DOING AND IN ALL HONESTY, THAT HELPS, ON TOP OF THERAPY, ON TOP OF, YES, I AM A CHRISTIAN, I AM A PRAYING PERSON, BUT I ALSO RECOGNIZE THAT GOD MADE THERAPISTS AND GOD MADE MEDICATION AND GOD MADE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS, BECAUSE IT CAN'T JUST BE, LET ME GET ON MY KNEES AND PRAY ON IT, WHEN THINGS ARE NOT CHANGING FOR ME MENTALLY.

I AM INCREDIBLY BLESSED TO HAVE A MOTHER WHO -- SHE -- SHE HEARS WHEN SOMETHING'S OFF, SO, IF I PICK UP THE PHONE, YOU KNOW, I LIVE IN ATLANTA NOW, MY MOM IS IN NEW YORK WITH MY DAD, AND IF I PICK UP THE PHONE, HEY, HOW YOU GUYS DOING, AND MY MOM IS LIKE -- WHAT -- WHAT'S GOING ON WITH YOU?

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN YOUR VOICE?

AND IT HAS BECOME A LOT MORE FREQUENT SINCE, AGAIN, SINCE I ACTUALLY SPOKE ABOUT WHAT I TRIED TO DO IN 2015, WHICH MY PARENTS WERE NONE THE WISER.

AND IT HADN'T BEEN UNTIL I FELT COMFORTABLE ENOUGH TO, YOU KNOW, TO DISCUSS, AT LENGTH, YOU KNOW, WHAT I WAS THINKING ABOUT DOING, MY PARENTS KNEW THAT I HAVE HAD A HISTORY WITH DEPRESSION FOR YEARS.

BUT IT NEVER WAS THAT SERIOUS UNTIL IT WAS.

AND YEAH, IT'S JUST A MATTER OF -- ALWAYS CHECK IN.

IT IS -- AND ON YOUR STRONG FRIENDS AND THE WEAK ONES, TOO.

YOU KNOW, DON'T THINK THAT ANY OF THAT MATTERS.

IF YOU -- IF THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD THAT YOU CARE ABOUT, THAT YOU KNOW, THAT YOU LOVE, THAT SOMETIMES YOU'RE LIKE, OH, I DON'T KNOW HOW THEY DO IT -- ASK THEM.

BECAUSE THAT ANSWER COULD BE THE THING THAT SAVES SOMEBODY'S LIFE THAT DAY.

YEAH.

DR. LINDSEY, I WANT TO BRING YOU IN AND GET YOUR TAKE, BECAUSE ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT I WANT TO BE CLEAR ON IS, HOW -- I GUESS TRADITIONALLY, HAD THINGS LIKE DEPRESSION AND MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

HOW DID THIS BECOME SEEN AS A WHITE PROBLEM AND, BEAR IN MIND, WE HAVE ABOUT TWO MINUTES LEFT, BUT IF YOU COULD GIVE US A QUICK HISTORY LESSON!

U.S. TO LAY SOME BACKGROUND FOR US.

WELL, I THINK HISTORICALLY, AND IT'S BEEN UNFORTUNATE THAT NOT JUST IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY, BUT A LOT OF COMMUNITIES HAVE TURNED TO SUBSTANCES, ALCOHOL OR DRUGS, WE CALL THIS PHENOMENA SELF-MEDICATION, IN TERMS OF ADDRESSING THEIR PAIN.

I THINK THAT WE HAVE HAD A TRADITION, AS IT HAS BEEN SAID, OF GOING TO CHURCH AND PRAYING ABOUT IT, AND I THINK THAT THERE WERE MESSAGES, CERTAINLY OUR CLERGY HAVE COME A LONG WAY AND ARE DOING A MUCH BETTER JOB OF ACKNOWLEDGING THAT PROFESSIONAL HELP IS WARRANTED IN TIMES OF -- OF NEED.

AND ENCOURAGING PARISHIONERS TO GO TO A PROFESSIONAL FOR HELP.

BUT FOR YEARS, THERE'S BEEN THIS SORT OF NOTION THAT NO ONE CAN HELP YOU LIKE THE PASTOR OR GOD OR HAS BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES.

SO, AGAIN, MORE INFORMED NOW AND CERTAINLY HOPEFULLY LESS AND LESS THOSE MESSAGES ARE BEING CONVEYED TO PEOPLE IN THE BLACK AND OTHER COMMUNITIES.

SHANA, ABSOLUTELY.

COULD I INTERJECT REALLY QUICKLY?

I THINK ALSO, TOO, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE WE ARE A ZOOM ROOM FULL OF BLACK FOLKS, YOU KNOW, I DEFINITELY HAVE HEARD, ESPECIALLY, LIKE, FROM MY OLDER FAMILY MEMBERS, LIKE, I'M BLACK, I DON'T GOT TIME TO BE DEPRESSED.

I DON'T GOT TIME TO --

THAT'S TRUE.

TO CARE ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH.

WE'VE SEEN, YOU KNOW, RACIAL JUSTICE RECKONINGS IN THIS COUNTRY AND, YOU KNOW, WE'RE COMBATTING RACISM AND SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION AND EVERYTHING, EVERY SINGLE DAY, WHERE IT'S LIKE, DO I ACTUALLY HAVE TIME TO SIT OVER HERE AND TALK ABOUT MY FEELINGS AND UNPACK AND UNLEARN AND ALL THAT OTHER STUFF?

THAT SOUNDS LIKE WHITE PEOPLE MESS.

THAT'S -- IT FLOWS VERY FREELY.

YEAH.

THAT'S AN EXCELLENT POINT.

YEAH, I WAS GOING TO SAY, THAT WAS AN EXCELLENT POINT.

WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

I WANT TO THANK ALL THREE OF MY GUESTS.

THIS IS A CRITICALLY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION THAT WE CONTINUE.

DR. LINDSEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE McSILVER INSTITUTE FOR POVERTY, POLICY AND RESEARCH AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, SHANA PINNOCK WITH LIVED EXPERIENCE WITH SUICIDE AND DIONNE MONSANTO, MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE AND AUTHOR, WHO IS ALSO A SUICIDE SURVISURVIVOR.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON 'METROFOCUS.'

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