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Call 988 for a suicide emergency

By Veita Bland, M.D. / July 21, 2023

The reasons for suicide are many and complicated. A report from the CDC points out that suicide is related to relationships, job issues, school problems, financial problems and mental health.

Life certainly has its ups and downs, and we are all certainly in the mix, trying to live our best lives and provide the best we can for the people in our lives and in our communities.

Suicide is a very serious public health issue in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-P) issued a report in February of this year that focused on this problem. According to the report, the United States has experienced two years of declining rates of suicide. In 2019, the suicide numbers were 47,551 and in 2020 the numbers dipped to 45,979 lives lost. Unfortunately, in 2021, the number increased to 48,183. This was almost as many lives lost as was seen at the peak in 2018 of 48,344.

Two decades ago, the Black or African American suicide rate was considered low in the United States. Over the last two decades, the Black suicide rate has steadily risen to the dismay of many. Black people just did not kill themselves but now that rate has risen and alarmingly so. Today, we see an increase in suicides among young people, those who carry our future. These young people are our seedlings off the tree. They are the pride of our lives.

One CDC report noted that before the year 2000, Black suicide rates were among the lowest in the country. The most recently released report showed that there was a 36.6 percent increase in suicide rates among Black youth ages 10-24 between 2018 and 2021. This was the largest increase in any of the demographics that are measured in this country.

Even more alarming was that there was a particularly acute increase in the suicide rate among Black girls. The CDC report stated that in 2020 suicide was the leading cause of death in Black girls ages 12 to 14. This data is quite shocking, to say the least.

The reasons people commit suicide are many and are indeed complicated. The report from the CDC points out just how complicated suicide is. It is often related to complications in relationships, job issues, school problems, financial problems and mental health. The report further states that substance issues, social isolation, historical trauma, barriers to health care and easy access to weapons are lethal contributors for people who are at risk of self-harm.

We must stay alert and vigilant as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The long-term effects that this pandemic brought chaos among people already disproportionately affected and it has affected the suicide rate of our country’s most vulnerable populations: poor working-class people, African Americans, our youth and the elderly.

Suicide can be prevented. It is indeed a tough road that will include mental health interventions in the home, the schools and in employment. We must be culturally sensitive to the needs of the individuals affected. Addressing the issue of suicide will not be easy, but it must be addressed and addressed now.

If you know someone at risk, do NOT remain silent. You must get help. The suicide prevention helpline is available and has seen an increase in its usage since the beginning of the pandemic. Phone or text 988. Contact may also be made online by visiting: www.988lifeline.org. Help is available and we must be proactive. We all know to call 911 for an emergency. We all must now remember to call 988 for a suicide emergency, 988. This will save lives.


Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at ideas@blandclinicpa.com.




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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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