SOUTHERN COLORADO — For nearly two decades, suicide rates for Black children and teens have been rising.
Earlier this month, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry revealed that suicide rates of Black children and teens continue to increase. While the highest numbers were among Black boys, the number of Black girls who have committed suicide has increased doubled. Also, around 40% of these victims were between the ages of 12 and 14-years-old.
Lauren Carson is the Executive Director and Founder of Black Girls Smile--an organization focusing on black female mental health awareness--says that there are two main factors behind the increase in suicides among Black girls. The first is adultification--which is the act of treating Black girls as adults. And the second is violence and trauma.
"They are not always understanding what's going on, and why they are being treated differently," Carson explained. "Many of them feel like they had a lot of pressure, at very young ages."
Though it cannot happen overnight, to reverse the statistics Carson says there needs to be a conscious effort from adults who work with Black children--such as teachers, and mentors--to understand and recognize the warning signs and symptoms of mental health difficulties.
"Seeing things like racial trauma, gender trauma, these are things that impact our mental health and well-being," she said. "It can definitely lead to warning signs and risk factors associated with."