Watch: Discussion Explores Why Suicide Is More Prevalent Among Youth From Marginalized Communities
Experts held a virtual event to talk about the pressures faced by teens of color and young members of the LGBTQ+ community, and how to support those groups.
This story discusses suicide. If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741.
Suicide has become the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24 — and experts say there are disparities by race, sexuality and economic status.
To date, Native American young people experience suicide rates at almost three times that of the national average. Lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. And the rise and death by suicide for young Black people has been called a crisis by the National Institute of Mental Health.
“While all these groups differ in their risk of suicidality, this is in part due to access to culturally appropriate behavioral health treatment, experiences with, of course, discrimination and historical trauma and other factors,” said Jaya Davis, Associate Professor, the University of Texas at Arlington, on Wednesday.
Davis and other experts spoke at a virtual discussion hosted by the advocacy group called Children at Risk, a Texas-based organization. The researchers discussed their findings on youth suicide risks, featured in the current issue of the Journal of Family Strengths (JFS) — an online journal compiled by Children At Risk, Prairie View A&M University and the Texas Medical College Library.
Darius Reed, an adjunct professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, studied the factors, including environmental, faced by Black youth.
“An individual's environment plays a large role in decision making when it comes to suicidality,” Reed said. “Youth who live in poverty, go to school daily and may not have the ability to eat breakfast before they head to school or have parents who are very involved— all of that weighs on a person, heavily, mentally when you step out of your household.”
Reed and Raymond Adams co-authored the article, “Risk and Protective Factor specific to African American Youth and Adolescents: A Systematic Review.”
The two said that universal health care and greater access to mental health practitioners and social workers within the school system would help make a change in youth suicide risks.
“That would completely change the game,” Reed said.
Oregon Alliance to Prevent Suicide founding member Julie Magers said more ground-level data could help inform prevention efforts. Her article is called, “Youth Crisis and Transition Services (CATS): Incorporating Family Peer Support Specialists to Assist Families During Crisis.”
“A better understanding of what the youth and their family need in their community, where they live,” Magers said.
The panelists acknowledged the research between youth suicide and suicidal behaviors is limited by underreporting and other limitations.
But Camille Gibson, executive director at Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center at Prairie View A&M University and editor-in-chief of JFS, said the journal gives us insight on how to prevent youth suicide.
“We need to make that investment of resources, we need to pay attention to our children when they are experiencing a crisis,” Gibson said.
The full discussion is available on Facebook.
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