More U.S. blacks attempt suicide than previously thought, according to a landmark study that could help explode the myth that black suicides are rare because of a mind-set that took hold during slavery.
The first nationally representative study to look at attempted suicide among blacks found that about 70,000 of them try to kill themselves each year and 4 percent, or roughly 1.4 million, attempt suicide at least once in their lives.
Also of note:
[…] suicide rate in whites is about twice as high as in blacks, though rising rates among young black men have narrowed the racial gap.
The reasons why blacks were believed to rarely commit suicide?
Historically, suicide was taboo in the black community going back to slavery times, at least partly because “it was really frowned on by the black church,” said Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a Harvard University psychiatry professor and race relations specialist. “It was a stigma and it brought shame to your family.”
Blacks “thought life was supposed to be hard for them,” and that may have helped protect them from suicide, Poussaint said.
You know, I do see a bit of truth in that. I was raised to believe that suicide would ruin your chances of getting into heaven. The influence of the black church has been pervasive in the African-American community for a very long time, and these are its teachings. Our fear of disappointing (or angering) God is deep-seated. Many black folks will stick out life on the strength of that fear alone.