Epidemic depression in young black men

An epidemic of young black men with depression

Men show and feel depression in misunderstood ways

There are so many aspects of life that have improved and yet for many, particularly black men, life is hard. Life is unfair. But life also, is forever full of possibilities. The only thing that puts an end to reaching those possibilities is suicide. As someone once said, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”.

Many people don’t understand that suicide is not a rational solution by someone who carefully weighs the possibilities. Suicide, sometimes genetic, is a flaw in mood, that leaves a person out of control of his or her thinking. Their focus and understanding narrows to such a small space that suicide seems like the only option for getting away from the pain of despair, anger and hopelessness.

Suicidal thinking happens in stages. Often it is pushed along by alcohol or drugs. Often the person’s resources are blocked by job loss, relationship loss, financial problems, overwhelming responsibilities and the lack of an objective person to talk to. Or the absence of compassionate support.

Between 1980 and 1995, there was a 233%% increase in suicide in black males from age 10 to age 14. In 2003, suicide was the third leading cause of death for African Americans. Those are years of puberty, teasing and boyish competitiveness. They are also the earliest years of self-awareness, the beginning of self-esteem, peer challenges and crossing the awkward bridge from “mommy and grandmommy’s baby” to fitting into the definition of “manliness”.  Depending on how well this foundation is built, boys will go on to have to face an endless series of  evaluations.

They will be subject to grading by teachers, rejection by girls, approval of coaches, navigating house rules and maintaining the acceptance of their parents. If they get through this, they may find themselves in a game of Russian roulette with the police and neighborhood drug dealers and gang members. If they get past them on to college, they will then be resisting the tempation of the terrible three: Sex, Drugs and Money. Only the strong survive!

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