September is National-Suicide Awareness month, a month to not only recognize suicide as a problematic epidemic but also to remember the people we have lost to it. This article comes a little late being that we're currently in the beginning of October, but it's still a topic that needs to be addressed. Over 350 Million people are affected by depression yet no one believes that it's a serious issue. But one thing people fail to realize that depression, of course, plays an important role when it comes to stopping suicide, an act of self-violence that claims 800,000 people every year.
Depression is listed as a faux-illness for some people. It isn't taken seriously because it is an "emotion-based" illness. When victims of depression explain what depression is some people perceive it to be something that you can simply just get over because it's an illness that disguises itself as nothing more than just "Human Emotions". This common way of processing the idea of Depression is very common amongst the general populous, but affects African Americans perhaps the worst.
"Adult Black/African Americans are 20 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites" (Mental health America).
African Americans face a hard time expressing their emotions with family members and friends for various amount of reasons. Some African Americans simply don't believe in depression even though we have to face discrimination, profiling, and negative stereotypes, things that can influence these emotions that drive Depression. To face such racism or inequality every day would take a toll on anyone being that it's basically inescapable. Everyday, we have to walk into stores and make sure we're not a target, make sure we look "friendly" or "non-violent," and also make sure that someone isn't judging them for just being who they are. To live under these conditions daily, one would soon be overwhelmed by paranoia, which can lead to a sort of mental exhaustion or to simply put depression. Because of this stigma, African Americans are denied a support system to vent their grievances and find the help they need.
African Americans are also given seemingly "positive stereotypes." For example: "black people are always strong-willed." It's said in movies, music, narratives, and other forms of creative mediums. This type of thinking closes any chances for African Americans to speak about what's bothering them mentally; it's almost the common reaction when a little boy is upset; "Why are you crying?"
Of course, expressing sadness when a family member passes is mostly accepted because it's "human." and it's widely accepted and expected to feel. Death of a loved one is the removal of someone in your life, whether family or not; you bond with this person and create memories, but when it comes to facing a hardship, like "failing at something" or facing some sort of financial problem, African Americans have to remain strong because that's what we're "supposed to do." And even when we're shown to be weak we're told to pray to God for strength.
This leads to an unhealthy way of facing these abandoned emotions. Some Afr. Americans will use self-harm, drugs, and alcohol to deal with these emotions or simply just do whatever they can, no matter how destructive. To go back to the topic of self-harm, a majority of black people believe to think that self-harming is a "non-African American" thing to do because of the common way people self-harm, which is with scissors, blades, and knives, and because of how the topic is perceived. But unknowingly African Americans commit self-inflicting wounds on themselves but do not see it that way. Self-harming is just the destruction of oneself; people can cause pain to themselves by punching walls or either getting in fights when unnecessary. As long as the person harms themselves, almost purposefully, then it counts as self-harm.
To face depression in the black community is to face the stigmas that live over us every day. We have to come together and realize that it's okay to not only recognize that we are susceptible to mental illnesses, but to talk about the everyday emotional burdens and inner-turmoils we face. We have to recognize it is not weak to feel sad.
This video titled "Be Happy" is a collaboration with famous youtube/vine stars. It was written by Demetrius "Meech" Harmon and was directed by Caleon Fox. This video doesn't specifically target African Americans but leaves it open for everyone. The video takes an unconventional way of talking about depression but the final message in the lasts message is perhaps the most important part.
If you or if anyone you know is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts please call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255 and if you have a friend that you believe is suffering from depression, please lend an open ear to them and just talk to them.