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Health & Science

Organization in Cuyahoga County Works to Combat Suicide in Black Children

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Death by suicide among Black children is increasing in Cuyahoga County and across the United States.

A warning, this next story contains mention of suicide.

A new report from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus finds that Black children between the ages of 5 and 12 are twice as likely to die by suicide than white children.

Charde' Hollins with the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, or ADAMHS, Board of Cuyahoga County says suicide rates are up in Black youth.

“In 2021 so far, there have been 72 deaths by suicide as of August. 13.9% of those deaths were people under the age of 25, and 50% of those deaths were Black youth and young adults.”

Hollins says this increase is due to stigmas surrounding mental health in the Black community and a lack of cultural competency in diagnosing Black children with mental health disorders.

She says misdiagnosis of mental health issues in Black children is also contributing to the increase.

Hollins says signs of mental illness can be different in Black and white children.

“So, it’s just that opportunity for all of us to make sure that we’re being culturally competent, that we’re doing our research, that we’re doing our due diligence to know what the signs and symptoms are for everyone including the Black and brown community, because it can look different. There are some similarities, but there are also differences.”

The ADAMHS Board is partnering with the Cuyahoga County Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation to start a public awareness campaign targeting Black adults and youth called Life is Better with You Here.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255. The Crisis Hotline in Cuyahoga County is 216-623-6888, and the Crisis Text number is 741741.