But could this be a good thing? A few months ago, I wrote a post showing that black women really had nothing to show for their “relationships” with God. But I had an epiphany. In just the last month, we heard about at least three young celebrities who took their own lives, including one young black male actor. Unfortunately, suicide rates among blacks have skyrocketed in recent years. A full 80% of black suicides are males:
Although Black suicide has historically been low when compared to other groups, don’t be fooled. From 1981-1994, Black suicide rates grew by a ghastly 83%. Today suicide is the third leading cause of death among young African American men. In 2010, over 80% of all Black suicides were males. Women of most all ethnicities attempt suicide at a higher rate than men, yet men complete the task at a higher rate; a stomach pump does nothing for a gun-shot wound to the head. Black women are less likely than any other American demographic to commit suicide.
Is it a coincidence that black women are the most religious but the least likely to commit suicide? Let’s say it’s not a coincidence but a direct correlation. I can suggest a few theories based on my history with the church. Suicide as an unpardonable sin was a popular sentiment in my denominational circles as well as many others. When a person takes the concept of sin seriously, she wants to avoid any and all sin as much as possible. So if she knows that she would spend an eternity in hell, she would avoid committing an unpardonable sin no matter how emotionally drained she feels. I should add that many churches have abandoned the idea that suicide is unpardonable because of no real biblical support. Only one sin is classified as unpardonable according to Christianity and it’s not suicide.
Another reason, Christianity is a faith that emphasizes overcoming feelings of depression and thinking good and positive thoughts, etc. It’s not unusual to find such messages preached in churches and we know that a good percentage of black women attend regularly. BUT, there’s always a counter argument. Just because black women aren’t dying by suicide doesn’t mean many of us aren’t attempting it. It’s no secret that women are more likely to attempt suicide while men are more likely to succeed at it. So it’s possible that black women are in fact attempting suicide more often than black men. But where does the church fit into all of this. Recently, I read a piece by writer, Jenee Darden and a couple of things stood out:
” There was this notion that somehow your mental health problems were a result of you not being prayed up enough or having a weak connection to God. They also assumed depression was a choice.
Whether you believe in a higher power or not, anyone can have a mental health problem. Life happens. So does recovery from a mental illness.
I’ve met people similar to those Darden speaks of. Based on what I know about depression, they are doing much more harm than good. Sometimes depression isn’t just a case of the occasional blues but a clinical illness. Under that circumstance, you need professional help.With the Affordable Care Act—as well as numerous Obamacare exemptions—making strides in U.S. healthcare, seeking out and receiving help for mental health ailments has become significantly easier.
So is the church the reason why black women are less likely to commit suicide than all others? Are there other ways to overcome depression?