Last week one of my co workers reached out to me regarding her concern of her close friend. My co worker explained how one of her friends who is an African American woman has been thinking about suicide. Of course my co worker was shocked but at the same time she was glad that her friend was able to confide in her with this serious situation. I was able to share my suggestions to my co worker who passed it on to her friend. Her friend was able to obtain professional help to deal with her depression.
Did I say that “D” word…….yes I did in fact said the word depression which brings me to the point of this blog post. The friend of my co worker told her that she was not depressed but has some personal issues that she had difficulty in dealing with. Well I have to be honest and educate everyone by saying depression can lead to suicide thoughts/attempts. There has been cases of suicides and suicide attempts in the black community…..yes this shit is real! Common signs of depression is feeling sadness, hopelessness, despair. People with depression often lose motivation and lack interest in activities they use to enjoy. Additional symptoms include changes in appetite, lack of concentration, changes in sleep patterns, and irritability. Many people do not want to see themselves as “depressed” due to the stigma of mental illness (see my previous blog article dated 5/13/16).
So what is an African American to do when facing with suicide thoughts and severe depression. First, acknowledge and understand that it is a serious problem. Second, seek professional help. Some people are able to obtain individual counseling from a therapist and consult with a psychiatrist for medication therapy. Some people may require hospital stay where they can receive intense therapy. It’s OK to seek help, and no you are not crazy. Depression is a common condition which can be brought on by unresolved issues (ex. death of a love one, loss of job, childhood trauma, health issues, violence, racial issues, etc).
Another way to deal with depression and suicide is to further educate yourself. According to US Dept of Health and Human Services, July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month which focus the stigma and education of mental health for people of color. Every state has their own suicide prevention hotline which runs 24 hrs a day/7 days a week. The hotline has trained counselors available to help those in crisis. Please review the resources listed at the bottom.
National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Long Island Crisis Center (516) 679-1111
The Samaritan NYC Hotline 212-673-3000
US Dept Health and Human Services Minority Health http://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh