Suicide Rates Among Black Youth Outpacing Other Groups in Recent Years 

On USA Today, Marc Ramirez has this recent piece addressing the factors— social media and racism included—behind the suicide surge among young Black people:

“As a kid, Kamesha Spates occasionally endured racial taunts or joking from other kids at school, knowing she could find comfort in the safety of home. But Spates, who is now a medical sociologist, worries that the rise of social media means the racism and discrimination children might experience is ever-present.

‘When we were growing up there was bullying and teasing, but at the end of the school day when the bell rang you would go home and have a reprieve from those peer interactions,’ said Spates, an associate professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. ‘Now, when kids are home, social media continues to find its way into their lives.’

That’s one factor Spates thinks could explain a troubling rise in suicide rates among Black youths in recent years, a crisis that has been simmering for two decades. Black suicide rates, among the nation’s lowest prior to 2000, have steadily climbed in the past two decades – and young Black people are most at risk: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates among those ages 10 to 24 rose 36.6% from 2018 to 2021, the largest percentage jump among any demographic. . . . 

The problem is particularly acute among girls: In 2020, suicide was the leading cause of death for Black girls aged 12 to 14, said Arielle Sheftall, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

‘We don’t know why, and that hinders our ability to prevent these deaths from occurring,’ Sheftall said. ‘That’s the scariest piece of all.’”

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