Black Men and Suicide

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

I just read a very interesting article that was published last month online by Dr. O about Black men and suicide.

There was an emotional video that accompanied it, showing the dramatized story of one young man who contemplated suicide because he thought life’s pressures were too much, and that the dream path his mother encouraged him to follow (education and career) would be easier to attain, and brightly lit, when his perception of his reality was completely different.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, you have to watch it for yourself and share with others.

This short film clip and Dr. O’s article touches on a poignant fact that mental health professionals attempt to get all of us to learn and understand; that although we may be products of our parents, we are not them.

So no matter if they abandoned us, committed suicide, were/are abusive or addicts, WE don’t have to follow their paths or the decisions they made. But many people, including Black men struggle with this (especially when outside forces are telling them the opposite) and instead fall deeper into their depression.

According to Dr. Sherry Molock, Psychology Professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and Director of Clinical Training for the University’s Psychology Department, poverty and unemployment contribute to the increase of suicide among Black men. Dr. Molock was quoted as saying, “Some of the men I work with have no hope for the future; they simply live day by day.”

To add to this point, Dr. O quoted
Reverend Cecil L. Murray, former pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles as saying, “Despair is increasing, and that despair is economic, political, educational, and social.”

Reverend Murray also spoke of the broken home in the Black community and that young adult males are, “left without a hands-on mentor. Also recall that the divorce rate is 50%; the rate of birth out of wedlock approaches 75% in impoverished communities, so the wheel of difficulty keeps spinning more rapidly.”

Dr. O posed six theories that he presented for this dilemma:

1. Learned Helplessness (major theory of depression)

2. Primitive Rage and Abandonment Anger (abandoned by either one or both parents so males give up on life)

3. Financial Stress (no jobs for uneducated Black men; which means you can’t provide for yourself or your family)

4. Unresolved Early Childhood Abuse (unresolved verbal, emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse endured by males and/or females)

5. Chronic Medical Problems
(no health insurance means no regular check ups, which means a higher probability of disease)

6. Chronic Mental Health Problems (no health insurance means no access to professionals who can evaluate and treat mental health issues including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.)

Dr. O goes into further detail what these six theories mean exactly, and then goes further into the exploration of suicide prevention, intervention, and five points to ponder about depression and suicide.

To read the article in its entirety and to view the video visit:

http://www.askdro.com/2012/03/black-men-and-suicide-enough-said/

Please share this post with others you know; depression, suicide, abuse, and other issues are considered taboo in the Black community, so many of us refuse to discuss the things that haunt and sometimes kill us.

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.

What Brought Her to Jump?

It brings me such pain to think of this young woman, any woman, any person taking their life. It hurts to think of all of the possibilities that laid before her. It saddens me to think of how far she traveled, how much she endured to reach the young age of 25, thousands of miles away from her birthplace, her home where some of her family still resides. I wonder why? I wonder where her family, friends, and mentors were while she contemplated how she would see her last day. To think of their last conversation with her is chilling. I wonder why there wasn’t ‘enough’ in life to be enough for her to want to live.

The young woman I am speaking of, the “her”, is Dr. Tosin Oyelowo, a graduate of the University of Charleston West Virginia School of Pharmacy, and a first-year pharmacology student at the Medical University of South Carolina. Tosin traveled all the way from Lagos, Nigeria with her family to attend school in the U.S. with dreams, goals, and ambitions of becoming an honorable and successful doctor.

Tosin Oyelowo--A Bright Star Gone Too Soon

Her focus was on doing good and helping others, so what shifted in her life and thinking to make her want to hijack and sabotage her legacy?

What made this young, bright light decide to jump from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in to South Carolina’s Cooper River?

The blog her family created when she first was reported missing has now been removed: http://drtosinoyelowofamily.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/hello-world/ and her pharmacy school profile is also no longer available for review: http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/pharmacy_services/residency/residents/2011_12/oyelowo.html a sign that although her body has not been found, they believe that she has already passed and transitioned on to her next level of existence.

Do we not recognize a troubled soul that needs help? Do we not stop and ask how we can help, how we can minimize the pain and the struggle that they are trying to endure? What about us? Are we letting our support system know that we are worn out, losing hope, low on faith, and struggling to get up each day? Are we effectively communicating that we need help, that we need guidance, and that we need more support?

Is our desire for success, for achieving greatness, and for doing it before old age, also a potential detonator for an emotional bomb that sets us off to harm ourselves or others? Are we trying to numb and distract ourselves with drugs, alcohol, sex, technology, and other vices? Is suicide one of the possible outcomes when numbing no longer works?

I wonder what Tosin attempted to do to help alleviate her troubles, solve her problems, and bring her joy. I wonder if the same thought she had when driving to the bridge and standing on that ledge is the same once she let go and jumped. Did it bring her peace? I pray that she is at peace. I pray that her family and friends heal from the pain they are feeling right now. I pray that any guilt they may feel dries up and washes away. I pray that their hearts remain warm with memories of Tosin. I hope that her shortened life has a legacy beyond these days, to help those who are in need the most…to help those Tosin dreamed of serving.

To read the article about Tosin Oyelowo visit:
http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/bridge-jumper-identified-as-tosin-oyelowo/Content?oid=3662179

For a listing of suicide hotlines throughout the U.S. visit: http://suicidehotlines.com

To learn more about suicide prevention and depression awareness visit: http://www.save.org

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.