Suicide is no joke and happens far more frequently than you know and many of us are willing to admit. In fact it was the tenth leading cause of death in 2015 behind cancer, diabetes and heart disease to name a few and has been in the top 10 for years. The aforementioned diseases are some of the most painful and debilitating illnesses that no one in their right mind would wish for. So what makes so many others inflict pain and harm upon themselves with the intention to die. In the wake of RnB singer Kehlani’s suicide attempt I was reminded of all the friends and family members since high school who have confided in me at one point or another that they either tried or thought about killing themselves. Most of these confessions came from women and whats more all of them came from a place of not feeling loved and validated or feeling alone.
No one is completely sure why Kehlani tried to kill herself but from all accounts it seems to have been a recent break up she had with her then boyfriend Kyrie Irving. Luckily it seems her new boyfriend partynextdoor was able to save her from herself. I don’t think that many of us realise just how lucky she is because far more often, no one is there to save someone from a suicide attempt as evidenced by the death of so many other celebrities. In the aftermath of her suicide she made an instagram post about wanting to leave the earth, at this point her fellow humans saw it fit to demonize, further degrade and slut shame this woman who just admitted to making an attempt to end her life. Is this who we are as people? Is this how we respond to people in a mental crisis? It’s no wonder why most people never reach out for help, with this kind of attitude it is easy to believe that no one cares and clearly no one will save you from yourself.
Contrary to popular belief people who commit suicide do not necessarily want to die, very often, it is the only solution they can find to an emotional situation that plagues them. In many other communities there are open dialogues and endless resources geared toward helping suicidal people. In the black community however, it is often thought that suicide is a white thing and that black people, particularly women don’t (or rarely) commit suicide. While it is true we are the smallest demographic of women who commit suicide the fact is we do do it. Whether the numbers are great or small comparative to other races, we do in fact kill ourselves and that is a cause for concern. The figure we should be striving for is zero.
One of the reasons why black women rarely seek help is that black people do not believe in therapy. For the black community the church is where you go when you need emotional support. While this can and does help some people, it is not a cure all for all victims. Even worse, the emotional support is very rarely the pastor or an elder it is simply God. It is a common and dangerous concept that you can pray your troubles away. Frankly, some problems require more than prayer, some cries for help needs someone who will respond with physical support and tangible help. Even if you do speak to your pastor the truth is there are some problems that require more than just verbal therapy, many of the reasons behind suicidal attempts are chemical and requires medication.
The strong black woman mantra is so often used as a dismissive tool for black female issues and has been such a burden in the black community. Honestly I hate the phrase. When people hear it it calls a to mind a woman who is used to tragedy or struggle and pain and therefore basic human exchanges are not necessary, why ? because we can “handle” it. You cannot call yourself a strong black woman and expect to be treated with empathy or sensitivity or be given a lighter load, the most burden is always given to the “strongest”people. So if you’re a black woman I urge you to give up this mantra. We are infact exposed to more trauma than other groups of women because we are more likely to be from low income homes where sexual assault, domestic abuse and early pregnancy is not uncommon. We need people to understand that we are sensitive , vulnerable, feminine and human. More importantly, we need people to understand that even when we act strong in the aftermath of a painful emotional situation or trauma that we do not heal differently from women of other races. We need the same love, support and sometimes medication as others and there should be no shame in asking for it.
If you or anyone you know is suicidal and need to speak to someone there are numerous resources available to you. Please understand that you are not alone and that there are many other solutions to your problems and many of us willing to help you find them.
Website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ Phone: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)