President of the Association of Black Psychologists San Diego Chapter shares thoughts on Black youth suicide
Speaker 1: (00:00)
One often overlooked part of the conversation around rising rates of suicide in this country is how youth are impacted. And in particular, how black youth are impacted a recent report from the California, nonprofit children now shows the suicide rate for black youth and young adults. Aged 10 to 24 has doubled since 2014 while rates among other groups have remained the same. So what's driving this disturbing trend and where's help. Joining me is Dr. Monica Hinton, president of the association of black psychologists, San Diego chapter. Dr. Hinton. Thanks for joining us.
Speaker 2: (00:35)
Thank you. Thanks for having me
Speaker 1: (00:37)
So much of the research out there suggests that black youth or dear with higher rates of suicide risk factors. Can you talk a bit about what those factors are
Speaker 2: (00:46)
For one, we are seeing more youth being bullied because of their ethnicity, a lot more racial statements, a lot more name calling even a lot more happening just in the classroom, even with their instructor, with their teachers. And so our children are bringing those feelings home. And then if they're coming home to families where they're so socioeconomic challenges, there's impaired family functioning and having access to lethal means that even increases those chance of our youth attempting and even following through committing suicide,
Speaker 1: (01:29)
Despite being exposed to all of those risk factors, the suicide rate among black youth has historically been low. Why is that changing now with suicide rates doubling since 2014?
Speaker 2: (01:41)
I believe it's been too changing now because we historically have had support systems in place. And I feel as though those support systems are lacking in some way, they, the, our youth are feeling as though they're not being heard, not being supported, not being seen. We do have, um, youth that are LGBTQ and they're not being heard or seen. And I believe that that's some of the problems that we're seeing our connection with each other. A lot of it, I believe unfortunately, might be social media. You know, we, we think we're most more social when actually we're not. And we really need to see our youth and our families doing more social interaction, being with each other, more, doing things with each other more so as much as we are connected, we're equally as disconnected. And so some of the support systems we've had seems to have fallen by the wayside. Um, they're not gone. They're just diminished.
Speaker 1: (02:53)
What do those support systems look like?
Speaker 2: (02:56)
So it would be the church. It would be your parents, kinship family members. So your big mama and your auntie and all of those people that typically we have around us need, we need to look at reassuring that within our families again, and really being able to listen to our children. I have a nephew and I often allow him time just to sit and talk with me even if a lot of times what he wants to talk about or video games, or he wants to be a photographer or whatever stressors are happening at school, but just allowing that space for him to have those conversations. We are often so busy working, trying to put food on the table and really don't have time to sit with our kids. And I believe having more of that would be beneficial to our children, just having a place for them to go and just be heard, even if you may not be able to solve the problem, but at least being heard,
Speaker 1: (04:08)
We know there are disparities and access to mental health services. What are some of the challenges black youth face when getting mental health care?
Speaker 2: (04:15)
There are fewer mental health providers that know how to work with African American families and some of the same types of therapy that's used for Caucasian children or other groups of children can be used with our kids. But in terms of working with our youth, you want to consider, always consider what are the intergenerational traumas that they may have experienced, um, even exploring the post traumatic slave syndrome and, and how that has exposed itself in their family and some things and behave that have occurred in their family that are still connected to those old, deep rooted, seated ways of being. And also we want to be able to really develop trust. We have a long history of being used and misused by medical systems, by healthcare systems research. And so there's this stigma and this fear that goes along with re seeking mental health services. So definitely when you are in front of an African American and especially an African American child, really, really developing trust and creating a is going to move you much further than taking on the stance of I'm the psychologist. I'm the therapist. I know what's best.
Speaker 1: (05:52)
You mentioned post traumatic slave syndrome. Talk a bit about what that is. So
Speaker 2: (05:57)
Posttraumatic slave syndrome was a theory, or is a theory that was coined by Dr. Joy Deru. And she has a book of the same title, posttraumatic slave syndrome. And she talks about how there are some things that we do as African Americans that are almost a direct descendant of our time as being slaves. Um, one example would be to diminish your child's abilities and during slavery, as many of us families were pulled apart. So if you are with your child and your slave master comes along and says, you know, your son is looking really good. He's doing really well. Well, the mother may put him down, oh, he's no good. He's a waste of time. He's lazy because she does and want her child sold off. These are behaviors that our parents still do. And that is because of that, that unconscious way of thinking that we have passed down from generation to generation over time.
Speaker 2: (07:13)
And that's not to say all families do it, but many families have any parents will make these statements or caregivers will make these statements and not really realize what they're doing. Another example is this is spanking. Spanking comes from whipping. And many parents have said, well, I want to train my child. So then when they get out in the world, they can be ready. I want break them before the world breaks them. Well, breaking them in many ways, breaks their spirit. And we wanna try and move away from those old behaviors and practices that we once held during slavery that we learned during Jim Crow, that we practice and move away from that and allow our, our children to be, and allow them to grow and be, and flourish. And even with their mistakes, cuz they're gonna make mistakes, their children,
Speaker 1: (08:12)
How can communities be more supportive of black youth and what resources are there for youth who may need help?
Speaker 2: (08:18)
So definitely in our schools, definitely, um, in our churches, it's really time for churches to accept and look at mental health as a way to help the community and teaching on mental health. And even if it's not taught in the pulpit, churches could still have space for providing support emotional support here in San Diego, a mission of the association of black psychologists. We do something called emotional emancipation circles. And these are opportunities for people to come and look at the myths and dispel the lies that have been said for about us and to us and to really help create a sense of worthiness and purpose and, and to, uh, help improve depression. So that is one resource, uh, and, and our organization is, is more than willing to come into your environment or host one where you can come and invite families and young adults and youth to share their concerns and their healing.
Speaker 1: (09:39)
And of course, for more information or to connect with those resources, you can go to kpbs.org. I've been speaking with Dr. Monica Hinton, president of the association of black psychologist, San Diego chapter, Dr. Hinton. Thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker 2: (09:54)
One often overlooked part of the conversation around rising rates of suicide in this country is how youth are impacted, and in particular how Black youth are impacted.
A recent report from Children Now, a California nonprofit, shows that the suicide rate for Black youth and young adults ages 10-24 has doubled since 2014, while rates among other groups have remained the same.
"We are seeing more youth being bullied because of their ethnicity with racial statements and name calling and a lot of it is happening in the classroom," said Dr. Monica Hinton, president of the San Diego chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists.
She says therapists and psychologists need to be culturally competent enough to address those stressors along with intergenerational trauma when treating patients.
Hinton joined Midday Edition to talk about available resources and solutions to the rise in suicides among Black youth and young adults.
For immediate help you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.