Black children are particularly at risk of suicide – the rate of suicide among Black children under the age of 13 is two times higher compared to white peers. Improving mental health services for Black youth requires a culturally responsive approach from parents, teachers, medical providers, and other adults in a child’s life. Adults must be able to understand a child’s culture, know how to engage and support them, and be willing to establish a trusting relationship. It’s also important to understand that in general, children may display mental health problems in different ways from adults including misbehavior, lack of interest in schoolwork or social activities, and social withdrawal and isolation. Any big changes in the way a child is acting should be cause for concern and understanding the risk and protective factors can help you assess whether a child may need support.
- Mental illness
- Family stress/dysfunction
- Environmental risks, including presence of a firearm in the home
- Situational crises (e.g., traumatic death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, family violence)
- Bullying and cyberbullying
- Media exposure, especially to racial violence
- Lack of cultural competency by medical providers
- Family support and cohesion, including good communication
- Peer support and close social networks
- School and community connectedness
- Cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide and promote healthy living
- Adaptive coping and problem-solving skills, including conflict-resolution
- General life satisfaction, good self-esteem, sense of purpose
- Easy access to culturally competent medical and mental health resources
Crisis Call Lines
- National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Call or Text 988
- Youth Crisis Hotline: Call 1-800-448-4663
- Parent Hotline: Call 1-800-840-6537
- STEVE line for young people of color: Text STEVE to 741-741
- The Trevor Project for LGBTQ+ Youth: 1-866-488-7386
Strong positive ethnic identity
Support from family members and the community
How to be a friend
Factors as to why suicide is on the rise for children.
- Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that happens online or through text messages or emails.
- There are things you can do to protect yourself.
- Always think about what you post. You never know what someone will forward.
- Being kind to others online will help to keep you safe.
- Do not share anything that could hurt or embarrass anyone.
- Keep your password a secret from other kids. Even kids that seem like friends could give your password away or use it in ways you don’t want.
- Let your parents have your passwords.
- Think about who sees what you post online. Complete strangers? Friends? Friends of friends? Privacy settings let you control who sees what.
- Keep your parents in the loop.
- Tell them what you’re doing online and who you’re doing it with.
- Let them friend or follow you.