Many Black Children Are Dying by Suicide, Doctors Say: Understanding the Why—and How to Help
July 29, 2022
Experts are calling for a public health approach to preventing suicide among Black youth. Recent data show suicide attempts and deaths have been increasing disproportionately among Black children and teens compared to their White peers. Research suggests there are multiple socioeconomic factors associated with this trend, including experiences of racism and discrimination—both in the medical system and in society. While issues such as clinician bias and limited access to mental health care need to be addressed, experts say efforts to prevent early adversity, such as exposure to poverty and violence, are also critical. “We all know that those environmental factors actually change the way that people feel and the way they think, and it contributes to emotional health,” said Tami D. Benton, psychiatrist-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and president-elect of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “So I think addressing many of those social factors is really the key.” According to Benton and other experts, preventing suicide among Black youth requires a comprehensive, community-based approach that includes efforts to ensure their physical and emotional safety.
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