By Chanel Davis

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of deaths in the United States. It is the 2nd leading cause from ages 10-34 and the 4th leading cause from ages 35-54. Studies show that 1 in 5 individuals have either experienced depression or have had suicidal thoughts.

90% of those we have lost to suicide had a diagnosable mental condition at their time of death.

On average, there are 132 suicide deaths a day with 50% of those being carried out by use of a firearm.

The rates of African Americans dealing with suicidal thoughts have doubled in the last 10 years by 35% trailing behind Caucasians and Native Americans. Statistics show that women were 1.4% times more likely to attempt suicide whereas males are 3.6%.

However, Black males lead in account for 80% of the suicide rates in the black community. Black women are shown as the lowest among all ethnicities.

With the stigma of mental health being a falsity in the black community, many do not seek help nor listen to loved ones or peers when they show signs of potentially being suicidal. Many blacks in areas with high poverty rates and little to no access to health care are few risk factors that contribute to the diagnosis of depression and trauma which can lead to potential suicide.

Suicide is not just a “white” thing. Studies show that black children from ages 5-12 are carrying out suicide more than any other race. Further, black girls from ages 13-19 have doubled from 2001-2017.

If you are ever in the position of being notified or identifying signs of an individual who is potentially suicidal, here are a few steps to guide them to the help they need:

Follow QPR Gatekeeper protocol (question, persuade, refer).

Q: Question the individual directly or indirectly to determine if they are in fact planning to carry out suicide. Ask questions in relation to if they would like to continue living.

Either presenting a scenario such as:

– Have you ever wished that you would fall asleep and never wake up?

– Have you been unhappy? Have you been very unhappy lately?

 OR as direct questions:

– Are you suicidal?

–  If yes, do you have a plan?

If you are uncomfortable asking direct questions, please seek one who can immediately.

P: Persuade the individual that suicide is not the problem. Be sure to give them your undivided attention. Never rush or use judgement. Listening carefully can be a key factor in saving one’s life.

R: Refer the individual to a professional who can help. Try your best to get them to commit to getting the help they need. If you can, be sure to follow up with a visit to see how they are doing.

When assisting an individual who is considering suicide, be sure to never dismiss their feelings. Be persistent in showing your concern. Be sure to not pressure them into answering questions the way you would like them to be answered. If possible, avoid touching them or providing unwanted gestures.

What is most important is how you ask the questions. Always remember that one does not “commit” suicide. Suicide is not a crime. It is not something that should looked upon as selfish if an individual is considering suicide. They are mentally unwell and need assistance to help them overcome.

QPR is a way to help offer hope through positive action. If you have the time, look up local resources in your area. There are CIT (crisis prevention team) officers available in areas that are specially trained for these matters. Some areas even offer suicidal mobile units.

Suicide is the most preventable death. You can save a life if you take the time to observe and listen.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or text 741-741 for help.

Chanel Davis is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Chanel is the creator and operator of the Diary Of A Chocolate Girl podcast aiming to connect with chocolate girls all over through personal experiences and opinions with mild humor and a spiritual flare. Be sure to connect on IG and Facebook @DiaryofaChocolateGirl.

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