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Helpful Resources for Racial and Gender Disparities in Suicide Prevention


Helpful Resources for Racial and Gender Disparities in Suicide Prevention

  • Mental Health

Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death among all ages, genders, and races. However, suicide prevention resources aren’t as available across the same groups.

September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, including National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10. Understanding the gender and racial differences in suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and deaths by suicide are essential for accurately directing and equalizing suicide prevention efforts. While American women are more likely to attempt suicide, American men are more likely to die by suicide. 

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, about 73% of the U.S. didn’t have enough mental health providers in 2020 to serve local residents based on federal guideline requirements. More than 12 million Americans have seriously contemplated suicide in their lifetime, and in 2019, 1.3 million acted on that consideration, resulting in 47,511 deaths that year.

Luckily, suicide is preventable with proper resources for education and prevention nationally, regionally, and locally. 

How Do Gender and Race Affect Suicide Prevention?

One major barrier to mental healthcare resources is cost, and people of color have faced long-standing disparities in necessary coverage. 

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, nearly 1 in 3 people of color were lacking healthcare coverage compared to just 13% of their white counterparts. Large increases in access to coverage were reported across all racial groups from 2010 to 2016, but the disparity between white coverage and that of communities of color continued.

Since 2017, coverage has declined again, reopening the cavern between white Americans with coverage and people of color without it. While only about 8% of white people 64 and under in 2019 were uninsured in the United States, about 20% of Latinx people and 22% of Asian people faced healthcare coverage gaps.

In order to access suicide prevention resources, people have to be comfortable with opening up about their feelings and, often, including therapy in their self-care regimen. Women are much more likely to visit a psychiatrist or psychologist than men — about half of American women are currently or have been in therapy, while about 30% of men have sought the same mental health services

Psychologist Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice-president of research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told BBC News the disparity between men and women has excited: as long as we’ve been recording it.” With the masculine stereotype of being “too strong to need help” mixed with the stigma of mental health, men often bottle up their feelings until it’s too late. 

“We tell boys that boys don’t cry,” Colman O’Driscoll, former executive director of operations and development at Lifeline, said of the disparity. “We condition boys from a very young age to not express emotion, because to express emotion is to be ‘weak’.”

Breaking down the Numbers: Suicide Rates by Gender and Ethnicity

Mental health illnesses don’t discriminate by gender, race, or creed, but some populations are more likely to attempt suicide, have suicidal ideations, or die by suicide. 

Overall, men die by suicide about 3 times as often as women in similar groups, and white men alone accounted for nearly 70% of the deaths by suicide in 2019. Women, however, were nearly 2 times more likely to attempt suicide than men with non-lethal actions.

Though the overall suicide rate in 2020 declined for the first time in decades, some early studies show it increased among communities of color. The pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color, including Latinx, Black, and Native American communities across the United States. According to the New York Times, 2 in every 5 Black and Latinx Americans have lost a close friend or family member to Covid-19.

Historically, white Americans are the majority of deaths by suicide annually, followed quickly by Native Americans. Black, Latinx, and Asian rates of suicide are much lower. As suicide rates have increased nationally, the statistics have increased across all races equally. 

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The one statistic that stays constant year after year across all groups: At least 90% of those who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death.

Contact Us Today

When it comes to mental health, no one can fight an uphill battle alone. If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, we’re here to help. Contact us to set up an appointment, and stop the stigma of being “too strong” to need help.

If you’re considering suicide, or are worried about a loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 for free, confidential support 24/7. We can all help prevent suicide. 

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.