On Saturday, September 29th, the walk to end suicide was held to help prevent suicide. I attended this event to understand the importance of preventing and providing resources to stop suicide.
According to a report that was released by the Center for Disease Control last month, suicides in America are on the rise. The report shows the increase in suicides for Americans, which often seems to be a male-dominated tragedy in this country, had a 30% increase in the United States since 1999. When one looks at the mental well-being of this country, many issues people face often draw back to wealth. Could it be possible that there might be some sort of correlation between the wealth gap and the mental health of Americans living in poverty?
“The challenges that adults face are made more difficult if they are living in poverty,” a report by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states regarding the mental health of Americans below the poverty line in 2015. The report shows that adults 26 or older living below the poverty line were more likely to experience serious mental illnesses. When race and ethnicity are brought into play, the situation becomes even more disturbing.
Socioeconomic status plays a huge role in one’s ability to survive and when one looks at statistics in regards to who is affected by their status in this country, the correlation between wealth and happiness. In 2014, 39% of Black youth and 33% of Latino youth were below the poverty line as opposed to white youth whose percentage was 12, according to the American Psychological Association.
“Communities are often segregated by (socioeconomic status), race, and ethnicity,” says the APS. “These communities commonly share characteristics: low economic development; poor health conditions; low levels of educational attainment; Low SES has consistently been implicated as a risk factor for many of these problems that plague communities.”
Low-income neighborhoods that have little access to the opportunities found in wealthier communities, often do not have the ability to obtain healthy lifestyles or tend to their mental health because they are trying to escape poverty. The New York Times found that for every white family that holds $100, black families just hold $5.04.
Whites make up more than 70% of the U.S. population, yet, suicide rates among black youth are on the rise. African-American children are now twice as likely to commit suicide compared to white youth, according to the May article in the Washington Post.
What can society do to demolish the wealth gap and remove the minorities of this country from poverty? In 2009, the University of Michigan found that one in every three African American children and one in every four Latino children live in poverty in the U.S. That is twice the rate for white children in the United States. As a nation, how can we stay happy?
Doctors would treat a heart attack with immediate care. Most would not let their patient suffer silently and die. However, despite the fact that about half of all Americans will experience mental health issues, many will not get any help until they reach a critical state.
Conditions such as depression and bipolar disorders have early signs of warning but are often overlooked. Many mental health illnesses stem from childhood trauma that is left unchecked. Whether it may be abusive parents or just overloaded school workloads, adolescence is a prime time for mental health illness to take roots. This could lead people to develop serious illnesses that will stop them from being productive citizens of the world. It gets even worse when they see themselves as weak and do not get treatment. Most cases of suicide resulted from people suffering silently with their mental health condition. Fortunately, there is a developing culture that fosters acceptance about mental health illness.
“You have more of a connection to your peers than an adult and sometimes it’s more comfortable to talk to someone around your age.” says Andre Davis, a student from John F. Kennedy High School. Adolescences sometime can only talk to people around their age because they have no connection to an adult. There is a need to raise awareness about the early signs of incoming mental health illness.
May is the month of mental health awareness throughout America. During this time, there are widespread campaigns through social media in an attempt to get attention to the mental health crisis. Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness emphasis on the fact that people do not suffer alone and they do not have to endure mental health conditions by themselves. Outreach programs encourage people to look for early warning signs before it’s too late. In fact, that was the goal for 2016 mental health awareness month, summarized in their slogan B4STAGE4.
Mental Health issues are one of the main contributing factors to suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in America. Heart attacks cannot be ignored, so why should mental health issues?
“The worst part was the fear,” says Alex C., a transgender youth. “Feeling so completely alone with no one else to turn to. I tried to get used to it – to the idea that my body was messed up. I only felt worse. Depression. Anxiety. Suicidal thoughts. When you’re trapped like that, you don’t feel like yourself. You don’t feel like anyone. No dreams, no future, and a past you can barely remember. You detach from yourself. It’s no longer your own life that you’re living.”
2-years of community based research was used to create this report. The research was used to pinpoint areas that community members felt needed to be changed.
The organizations recently published three fact sheets that breakdown the report into easy-to-read infographics:
“When a child is shunned or bullied by their peers for other reasons… the solution has not been to ask the child to change, but to find interventions which remedy the social oppression,” states the fact sheet.
This fact sheet has extensive information and statistics on youth who identify as LGBTQ. It also states information on transgender youth and their mental health issues. The fact sheet has information on recommendations for improving student mental health outlined in the original report.
This fact sheet focuses on suicide rates and suicide prevention among all age groups in the LGBTQ community. This fact sheet also has links to websites with information on the intersection of racial identities and sexual orientation.
This fact sheet tackles information on the LGBTQ community and mental health stigma within different ethnic communities.
The recommendations in this report range from the standardization of sexual orientation and gender identities, to creating safe spaces for LGBTQ people. This report will help smaller organizations to receive government funding for their programs.