Mental illness is just one bone in black community’s closet

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Mental illness:

It’s not one of those popular topics in barbershop conversations, except until recently, in regards to Jesse Jackson Jr. But there is usually a punch line attached to lighten the severity.

Many of us in the black community are familiar with the abuse of alcohol, marijuana and crack, recognizing that substance abuse is classified as a disorder.

And it is difficult to measure suicide attempts or ideation versus the actual suicide.

The murder/suicide news of Kansas City Chief’s linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend made it into millions of living rooms last Sunday afternoon.

And we are once again in the throw of the holiday season. For some people it is not the happiest time of the year.

While suicides in December are at its lowest, according to the CDC, more than 36,000 people take their own lives each year. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, and about 374,000 people are treated in emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries.

Very often depression gets talked about as a fleeting emotion.

But if we are honest, we can all admit to having moments or periods of brief insecurity, uncertainty, sadness, lost of interest in activities or being socially disengaged.

Some of us can recall bad decisions and feel a sense of regret or remorse.

That is normal.

These symptoms combined with a sense of hopelessness, worthlessness or thoughts that the world would be a better place without them, and these feelings lasting longer than two weeks, warrants some help.

It’s not just the winter blues.

This sense of pride and fear is the leading cause of death in the black community.

We keep silent about everything.

And the one time when talking in complete confidence is actually beneficial, a lot of us still refuse to do it because of the mistrust accumulated throughout history.

The CDC has also reported that one in 10 Americans suffer from depression.

Research statistics published by the National Institute of Mental Health stated that African-Americans have the highest rate of chronic depression at nearly 57 percent among those suffering from depression.

I believe that mental illness is the spine holding together the skeleton in the closet of the black community.

I also understand that lack of state funding and few community resources are the issues to quality prevention and intervention in dealing with mental health issues.

Despite all of the bad news there is help for those who seek it out.

24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)





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