In fact, the headline does not represent what is actually happening. Once upon a time, short-sighted commentators considered youth suicide mostly a “white problem”. The reason for that was that the rates for white youth were significantly higher than other groups, but this kind of increase shows just how short-sighted that was.
“Calling black youth suicide a “crisis,” the Congressional Black Caucus issued a report in December showing suicide attempts by black adolescents of both sexes rose 73% from 1991 to 2017. Injuries from attempted suicides increased 122% for black boys during the same period. White youth still die by suicide at a higher rate,but the rate of black youth suicide is increasing faster than any other racial or ethnic group. Black youth under 13 were twice as likely to die by suicide than their white counterparts.”
You can write off the percentage increase because the numbers were so much lower years ago, but again, that doesn’t solve the problem. When rates have been going up across the board, we are failing. When rates are increasing this much for one group we are obviously missing something, and missing something big. Despite the headline of the article, this isn’t new. That increase I’m quoting from the article here is from 2017. It’s been going up for years. It has been a risk, and now with a pandemic and police violence in the news, there’s probably even more of a risk.
And it’s not like we can say “well we lowered the rate for other groups so we just need to refocus those resources on Black youth.” We haven’t been successful making much of a dent in the rates anywhere. Until we have found better resources for mental health treatment, and made them available widely, across location and socioeconomic status, and also eliminated the stigma that prevents young people from trying to get to those resources, we are failing all youth. Right now, we can see clearly in the Black community what happens when we don’t have a solution to offer, and I see no reason to think continuing to do the same thing will bring the rates down.