Black Suicide Junior Seau and Don Cornelius, What We Missed
Black male suicide is becoming an increasingly acute issue as evidenced by the recent suicides of prominent figures like media pioneer Don Cornelius and NFl great Junior Seau. Black families and especially black men need to seriously re-examine the conflicting images of success that cause too many black men to disintegrate emotionally personally, based on the pressures of success and the inability to balance their human limitations with unrealistic expectations.
“One facet of the issue is the increasing stress associated with feelings of being insecure when black men lose out on important prospects like jobs, or we fall from economic stability. When we lose status associated with economic prowess and well being it is particularly difficult for us to overcome the stigma, especially when the rise in status and economic condition was a rapid one. … There are deep seated motives which drive us to exceed at all cost — even to the extent of hurting oneself or taking one’s life,” explains Torrance Stephens Ph.D. and author of “Predictors of Suicide Ideation and Risk of HIV in Juveniles in Georgia.”
First dispel the myth that black men don’t commit suicide. Obviously that is not true, although half the rate of their white counterparts, the rate of black and Hispanic men, is about 11 per 100,000, which is five times the rate of black and Hispanic women.
1. Depression – Many men do not understand the importance of seeking psychological and professional help to deal with depression. Culturally the stigma of mental illness or emotional ailments is considered less than masculine and men are reluctant to seek and get treatment.
2. Stress – A major value proposition that men ignore even thought indicators like insomnia, exhaustion and fatigue are present.
3. Shame/Guilt – Prohibit men from confiding in others, especially given the circumstances of being labeled “winners” and “achievers” causes them to deny or ignore problems and issues that may be mounting.
4. The little voice that gets louder and louder suggesting that you’re incomplete and not successful in the self-generated criticism that diminishes self-esteem even for such high achievers as professional athletes, business moguls, artists, celebrities and politicians.
It is important to recognize that even major cities have task forces in place to respond to those who are seriously depressed or contemplating suicide. Family and friends should also be watchful and vigilante if they suspect that someone is experiencing different difficulty and exhibits changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, disposition, and social activities, which are indicators that there may be an underlying emotional or mental issue.
Drug usage and alcohol are also indicators that a person is experiencing trouble coping and may be in need of assistance. This type of dual diagnosis is particularly dangerous for African American men who may not have access to resources to resolve or overcome the root causes of these problems.
Also be wary of medical interactions and mood changes brought on by certain medications used to treat depression and anxiety. in some cases the cure is worse than the cause.