Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-06-26
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS The stigma of Black suicide is killing us
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2014-08-20

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


When the first news reports of Robin Williams' death hit the media, few questioned the report that the country's most beloved comedian had committed suicide.

This reaction stands in stark contrast to the reaction to the 2012 news of the death of Soul Train creator Don Cornelius. Cornelius was found dead in his home after committing suicide with a firearm. Many African-Americans believed Cornelius must have been murdered by an intruder, even after the official report.

Although one death involved a firearm, and distrust of the government runs deep in our communities of color, the myth that "Black folks don't get depressed, we get the blues" persisted. And, unfortunately, an opportunity to talk about suicide in the African diasporic communities was missed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Black suicide is not only on the rise, but that suicide claims at least one African-American every four and a half hours. And Black males have a higher suicide rate than their counterparts.

I can identify at least five factors contributing to suicide in communities of African descent which, for the most part, go unaddressed: untreated mental illness, homophobic bullying, religion, "Cop-Assisted Suicide," and the "Strong Black Woman Syndrome."

Untreated mental illness

The leading cause of suicide in African diasporic communities are not only the cultural stigma about mental illness, but also the barriers to mental health treatment. While health care disparities undoubtedly contributing to the problem, so, too, the dearth of mental health professional—therapists, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. According to the 2010 data from the American Association of Suicidology, "Just 4 percent of the nation's psychiatrists, 3 percent of the psychologists and 7 percent of social workers are Black."

Anti-gay bullying

LGBTQ African-Americans residing in Black communities are frequently the subjects of bullying, which often times lead to their death by suicide or gang violence.

In 2009, Sirdeaner Walker found her 11-year-old son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hanging by an extension cord on the second floor of their home after he endured endless anti-gay taunts by schoolmates, although Carl never identified as gay.

When I went to speak that year at the Anti-Bullying Community Forum and Vigil in reference to Carl's death some kids in the Black community of Springfield I spoke with about the incident said Carl's gender expression was queer, implying that there existed sufficient rationale to taunt him.

In 2010, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick signed landmark anti-bullying legislation, cementing the state's commitment to changing the culture of bullying in schools.

Religion

Not surprisingly, sisters of African descent are one of the largest religious demographic groups. A 2012 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey disclosed that 74 percent of African American women revealed that" living a religious life" was very important to us.

But our very religious life can also contribute to a cult suicide, as Sikivu Hutchinson points out in her article "Jonestown Massacre: How Religion Kills Black Women." And because suicide is such a taboo subject and kept on the "down low" in the community very little research among African American religion scholars and theologians have probed into just how conservative Christianity not only harms our LGBTQ brothers and sisters but also our grandmothers, mothers and sisters.

"About 75% of Peoples Temple members were African American, 20% were white and 5% were Asian, Latino and Native American," writes Hutchinson.

"Cop-assisted suicide"

Most Black males in the United States feel they reside in a police state. The hopelessness it engenders among this demographic group has created a cop-assisted suicide culture.

And, sadly, it's a suicide method very common among African-American urban young males. It's when a young brother deliberately engages in a life-threatening unlawful act that provokes a cop to shoot to the point of killing. Social stressors such as police profiling, constant images of unarmed Black males being shot by police, high unemployment, incarceration and dropout rates, and family and community violence, to name some, contribute to Black male suicide.

"Strong Black woman syndrome"

In July 2010, a groundbreaking study titled "Black Lesbians Matter" examined the unique experiences, perspectives, and priorities of Black LBT communities. And, sadly, little was known about it.

The report revealed that LBT women of African descent are among the most vulnerable in our society and need advocacy in the areas of financial security, healthcare, access to education, and marriage equality. The study is akin to a census conducted over several months in 2009-10, when 1,596 LBT women participated. The study focused on five key areas: health, family/parenting, identity, aging, and invisibility. One key finding of the survey revealed there is a pattern of higher suicide rates among us. Scholars have primarily associated these higher suicide rates with one's inability to deal with "coming-out" to their faith communities.

When news hit that 22-year-old Karyn Washington, creator of the uplifting and empowering online site For Brown Girls, committed suicide, even Ebony magazine had to ask "Is 'Strong Black Womanhood' Killing Our Sisters?"

With the Black community focusing primarily on the "endangered Black male" and the dominant culture also not seeing, and hearing African-American voices on this issue, unfortunately, our humanity is distorted and made invisible through a prism of racist and sexist stereotypes. And so, too, is our suffering.

It time to acknowledge that the stigma of suicide is killing us.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Looking back ... and forward 2019-06-26 - As we look forward to the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and celebrate PRIDE month, I think about progress made—but also about work ...


Gay News

Trevor Project gala raises more than $2M 2019-06-26 - On June 17, The Trevor Project hosted its 2019 TrevorLIVE New York gala at Cipriani Wall Street. With actress/comedian/writer Nicole Byer and actor/director/digital ...


Gay News

We remember, we celebrate, we believe 2019-06-18 - There is a lot of remembering, celebrating and believing going on right now. The "uprising" at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago represents ...


Gay News

LETTER Respecting elders 2019-06-18 - Dear Editor: No one likes to talk about it, but it happens every day. However, this crisis remains vastly underidentified and underreported. ...


Gay News

CONCERT REVIEWS X and The Damned, Gogol Bordello, Bettye Lavette and more 2019-06-17 - If the concert scene in Chicago this past May was characterized by gloom, dampness and a scarcity of choices, the shows in June ...


Gay News

Trevor Project survey shows link between suicide, conversion therapy 2019-06-11 - The Trevor Project released a new survey showing that 57 percent of young people who experienced conversion therapy attempted suicide in the last ...


Gay News

New report reviews laws, policies affecting LGBTs in U.S. territories 2019-06-11 - ( Boulder, CO ) June 11, 2019—Progress towards full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) people in the United ...


Gay News

Vatican publishes anti-LGBT document 2019-06-10 - The Vatican has released the document "Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender in ...


Gay News

Trans deaths are real deaths 2019-06-05 - In a suburb just outside of Dallas, and to the disbelief of many—straight and LGBTQ—across the country, a transgender mural is painted on ...


Gay News

Five reasons the Gilead deal is a steaming pile of Truvada 2019-05-22 - Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical that makes Truvada, the only FDA-approved drug for PrEP, is having a great week in the public relations department. ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.