While performing you normal routine of channel surfing, flashing across the bottom of your screen is the following message….Breaking News: Robin Williams dies of apparent suicide! You immediately feel a sense of loss and compassion for his family. Then nostalgia sets in as you remember the countless movies he starred in that caused you to double over in laughter until tears escaped your eyes and wet your cheeks. And in that very moment, unbeknownst to you, there’s a 12 year old at your son or daughters school contemplating the exact same thing at that exact moment. Yet, should they succeed, his/her death won’t be breaking news followed by a succession of tweets, blogs, and posts in memoriam of a life well lived.
According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death for African-American men between the ages of 15-24. African American youth are contemplating suicide at an alarming rate. Suicide within the African American community has increased significantly over the last decade. Our youth are dealing with the same issues as generation before them but at a much greater magnitude due to social media. Bullying no longer ends with the ringing of the last school bell. There is no sigh of relief when the school bus enters the neighborhood. Bullies are now able to follow them home via facebook posts, instagram messages and twitter attacks for the world to see.
And beyond bullying, some children are dealing with an identity crisis. What could once be described as the joys of self discovery have become a kaleidoscope of confusion. The pressures of living up to standards with the latest fashion, being in the right social circles, body image, and sexuality add to the ever evolving plight of our youth.
There are far too many ills present within our communities these days. Watch for the signs of depression in our youth and don’t turn a blind eye to it. Give them an avenue to express themselves and empower them to see beyond their circumstance. Your investment in our future could be the grace that empowers them to save themselves. We face challenges everyday such as gun violence, murder by those sworn to protect, cancer, diabetes and most recently Ebola…..a personal homicide by way of suicide should not be one of them.
A Life worth living