A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that African American children and young adults are two times as likely to commit suicide than white children and young adults.
Jeffrey Bridge and Lisa Horowitz conducted the study in Columbus, Ohio, at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and released their findings on May 21.
Horowtiz, a clinical psychologist working for the NIMH Intramural Research Program at the National Institutes of Health, focuses on suicide prevention and detection.
The study failed to find a reason behind the different suicide rates.
“This study is incredibly sad,” said Carolyn Dawson, a senior majoring in psychology. “Ideally, this isn’t something that should be happening anywhere. I would imagine that no matter the race, everyone has a chance to know that there is help for them.”
Horowitz said that the second leading cause of death among college-aged students is suicide. Being away from home, lack of sleep, academic pressure and juggling various extracurricular activities can make college extremely stressful for students.
“One of the main points of the study is that young people are at risk for suicide, and we need to take talk of suicide seriously, even when it’s a young child,” Horowtiz said.
Horowitz and her team of colleagues are concerned about access to mental health care and decreasing the “stigma” around mental health concerns, especially for black youth who may have less access to care and may be less likely to seek help for mental illness. They hope their data will spur further research that ensures that suicide interventions are culturally sensitive and reach everyone effectively.
“It is imperative that trusted adults continue to foster resilience in young people, and teach and equip young adults with coping skills in order to manage the ups and downs that … they will inevitably experience in life,” Horowitz said. “It is also important to educate college students on the risk factors and warning signs of suicide so that they can help look out for peers who may be struggling.”
Jerikah Weatherston, a sophomore majoring in marriage and family studies, said her main concern is the upbringing, the type of environment they are being raised in, if the mother and father are present in their lives and if they have healthy attachments from infancy.
“They generally … come from a family where both mom and dad are working,” Weatherston said. “And so from a young age, they are already being cared for, like people who aren’t their father and mother and that can lead to unhealthy attachments. And so I’m wondering if … just from having a lack of deep authentic connection with their mom and dad that leads to unhappiness and feeling isolated.”