Since the pandemic started, mental health experts have worried that the emotional and mental stress created by COVID would lead to a rise in suicides. It’s a trend suicide prevention advocate Tonja Myles has kept a close eye on, especially in the black community. According to a recent study, African American boys between the ages of 5 and 12 are more likely to die by suicide than any other age group. Nationwide, suicides among Black children under 18 are up 71 percent in the past decade.
“So, in the last couple of years we saw the uptick of suicide by African-American males, and during COVID it went off the roof,” said Myles. Lysha Best is the Louisiana Director for RI International. She said conversations about mental health in the black community was considered taboo for years.
Lysha Best is the Louisiana Director for RI International. She said conversations about mental health in the black community was considered taboo for years.
“When we talk about stigma, I think that’s the biggest thing for us. It’s always like we don’t want anybody to know what’s going on in our household,” said Best.
Myles said these talks must start young if we want to see the trend change.” A lot of times, African-American men are told that you have to suck it up, you cannot show your feelings and you can’t cry. That’s not healthy for anyone. So, we have to change that when we’re talking to our babies, our young boys that it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to feel, you’re going to be ok,” said Best. Both Myles and Best said it’s imperative we continue to have these types of open talks on a more consistent and comfortable basis. From there, they believe they can save countless amounts of lives.
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