Skip to main content

Curing the Epidemic of Black Youth Suicides

WHEREAS, since 1993, the suicide rate in Black children has increased significantly, from 1.36 to 2.54 per million, and decreased in White children, from 1.14 to 0.77 per million; and

WHEREAS, the suicide rate of Black children ages 5 to 12 is roughly two times higher compared with White children of the same age group; and

WHEREAS, society has failed to act on behalf of Black youth by implementing laws to address this newly emerged health crisis; and

WHEREAS, the states of New York and New Jersey have recognized that Black youth suicides are on the rise and have made efforts to combat the alarming suicide rates by attempting to implement legislation; however, to date, legislation specifically addressing Black youth suicides has not been passed in these or any other states; and

WHEREAS, black youth are disproportionately exposed to violence and traumatic stress in their communities, which can increase the likelihood of these youth dying by suicide; and

WHEREAS, racial discrimination, poverty, and unhealthy dietary practices are also risk factors for poor mental health and suicidal ideation among Black youth; and

WHEREAS, according to the National Institutes of Health, "cyberbullying disproportionately affects youth who are already vulnerable to mental health and behavioral health disparities, including members of sexual minorities (i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual), girls, and racial and ethnic minorities"; and

WHEREAS, a lack of awareness of mental health and adequate mental health treatment within Black communities add to the adversity surrounding Black youth suicide rates; and

WHEREAS, black youth accounted for nearly 11% of 9th–12th grade students who reported having been electronically bullied during the previous 12 months. A 2011 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed 252, 000 Black youth were cyberbullied.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP call for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct extensive research regarding Black youth suicides, followed by the development of an extensively researched national plan of action for suicide prevention among all youth.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the plan of action include national policy that mandates youth suicide prevention training and awareness in states and communities.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NAACP work with community stakeholders to ensure that the trainings occurs in local communities.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the plan of action also include the creation of a suicide prevention and cyberbullying hotline for youth of all racial and ethnic groups. The hotline should be implemented to address the present racial disparities in mental health treatment and cyberbullying of youth of color.