Black People Don’t Commit Suicide

One episode of the informative and engaging web series Black Folk Don't challenges the myth that Black Folk Don't suffer depression and commit suicide.

One episode of the informative and engaging web series Black Folk Don’t challenges the myth that Black Folk Don’t suffer depression and commit suicide.

I must say that I got a little turnt while watching Black Folk Don’t episode on suicide because the content was so empowering. The episode speaks to various truths that are present in our community regarding mental health. There is a cultural norm that exists, that if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts that these feelings can be prayed away. There is a notion that you “couldn’t handle it” or that you must be weak or crazy. People who fall victim to suicide are demonized within the black community but no one ever recognizes the other forms of suicide that are not classic.

A powerful point that this episode showcases is that there are so many other ways that black people kill themselves. We are dealing with our pain through alcoholism, obesity and drug abuse. This is seen as ok because it doesn’t “violate the rules of blackness” as TV personality Toure said in the episode. These “rules of blackness” can be incredibly isolating for a person who needs help during a difficult time. I think that within the black culture a common scenario for someone dealing with suicidal thoughts is this:

“You tried to do what? Child come on in to the church on Sunday and we will have the pastor pray over you.”

This thought pattern is damaging. There is this idea that exists that religion can fix everything but there has to be some kind of internal healing. We live in a very oppressive society that does not appreciate individuality. There are so many triggers around us that we see daily to remind us that we are not perfect. But we need to be told that individuality is perfection, love ourselves and we must drop role of strong black people or the strong black woman. Pain is real and pain must be embraced and recognized for healing to persist.

In health,

Korbin Miles, Master Candidate Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management, Milano New School

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  1. Tanya

     /  September 29, 2014

    Thanks for sharing this personal insight on the “rules of blackness.” I think a lot of your reflection can be said about norms for other groups as well, such as feminists, masculine men, Asian women, etc. We can all relate to this in some way or another, as being told how to act or live our lives. It is was eye-opening to read your post and see that there are rules to something even like suicide.

    Tanya N.


  2. De-Ann A.

     /  November 18, 2014

    I really appreciated reading this post because it shines the light on the reality that mental illness does not discriminate. Mental illness transcends race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, nationality and gender. Blanket statements and cultural beliefs such as “Black people don’t commit suicide or suffer from depression prevents people with mental illness from getting the medical help they need. Firstly, many Black families are blind or in denial about their love ones mental illness. Secondly, those suffering from mental illness like depression or thoughts of suicide are ashamed to seek help, because depression and suicide are not seen to not happen to “Black people.” Out of all the structures of oppression and domination in our society, a few of the most powerful weapons in that arsenal are the ones imposed on each other by people of the same race, color, gender, ethnicity, social class, etc. One solution to this problem is education. By demystifying cultural norms and beliefs that may cause harm to ones health, younger generations can create a new set of beliefs that will encourage healthier practices.



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