Rise in suicides among Black youths fuels concern among Milwaukee psychologists, counselors – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2021-10-22 07:00:40 –

Dr. Leanox sits inside Nō Studios, the host of Black Space. This program provides group therapy for black and brown residents. (Photo by Matt Martinez)

With the rise in suicide among young black people, Milwalky counselors and psychologists are working hard to raise awareness and prevent more deaths.

In Wisconsin, about 1 in 10 black youths report suicide attempts. According to a brief explanation from the Wisconsin Department of Child and Mental Health.. From 2016 to 2019, the national suicide rate for black men between the ages of 15 and 24 increased by 47%. For black women, there was a 59% increase.

Dr. Stephen Dixtra, director of the Milwaukee County Child Mobility Crisis Team, said the numbers were probably higher than they were ten years ago.

“For every child trying to kill himself, dozens, if not hundreds, have attempted suicide,” Dixtra said. “For every attempt, dozens, if not hundreds, suffer from thinking about it. We need to think about those children.”

Since 2011, 50 black youths under the age of 24 have died of suicide, according to data from the Milwaukee County Medical Inspector’s Office. Twelve were teenagers and two were young.

The black and Latin populations have historically had lower suicide rates than the white population, but the group has begun to pull in recent years. Suicide rates among black youth are increasing faster than any other racial group, According to the 2019 Congressional Report.

Difficult conversation

Dr. Leanox, a behavioral health consultant and psychologist at Milwaukee and a contributor to Blackspace, a mental health space of color, said stigma and shame are difficult topics to discuss about suicide. ..

“It wasn’t spoken in our black community. It was wiped out under the rug,” Knox said.

Another challenge arises when a child is reluctant to share their feelings with their family because they need parental permission to receive counseling and treatment.

Knox also added that some children are reluctant to express themselves because they are often punished for acting and cheating. This may actually be a cry for help.

Finally, she said, these problems could be exacerbated if young people feel unsafe or live in an environment that lacks stable housing.

Dr. R. Kweku Smith, president of psychological consulting firm BLAQUE SMITH, said this situation makes many young people believe that they cannot achieve their goals in life.

“Suicide is always the result of despair,” Smith said. “When someone said,’Tomorrow can’t be a good day’ and’Today was the worst day’.”

Eddie Cannedy, a community health advocate who uses pronouns, knows first-hand how it feels. They were thinking of suicide when they were young.

Kanedy said he grew up in Harambi and was exposed to poverty, food insecurity, the criminal justice system and quarantine.

“I felt I couldn’t pull my way from now on,” Kanedy said.

Cannedy said they are now practicing fundamental autonomy, the act of surviving despite these barriers.

“You can’t let it destroy you,” Kanedy said. “You can’t get it to win. You can’t prove it’s right. I think I have the right to exist.”

Kanedi, who now lives in the Amani district at the age of 26, said that those who are struggling, especially members of the LGBTQ + community, have more power than they think.

“It’s enough to stand in your presence,” Kanedy said. “Some of the others may just need to see transgender people living their lives. It may inspire them to continue. . “

Call for action

Addressing the root causes of income inequality and social injustice is one way to combat suicide, Smith said. He called on everyone in the community to take action.

“This is a conversation we need to have 24/7,” Smith said.

And he has a message to the struggling young man.

“I encourage them to believe in those dreams,” Smith said. “What would you be if things were good? Where are you going?”

Knox emphasized the importance of adults paying attention to young people and gaining their trust.

“Tell them that you are looking at them,” Knox said. “They feel very invisible. That’s how our society has treated our black youth as if they were invisible.”

Available resources

For suicide hotlines across the country, call 800-273-8255 or 800-273-TALK.

The Milwaukee County Crisis Line is 414-257-7222.

For text-based resources, you can send a text message to Hopeline at 741-741.

Call 866-488-7386 for the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ + youth suicide prevention resource.

See previous NNS reports for a complete list of mental health services for children...

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