Suicide deaths among African American men have risen dramatically during the last 20 years, and racial discrimination may be a contributing factor in many cases, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Michigan. The study found that various forms of discrimination are associated with increased rates of depression. When it involves racial discrimination, the risk of having suicidal thoughts among African American men becomes particularly concerning, according to the study.
The study used data from a large group of African American men from the National Survey of American Life. Participants were asked if they experienced discrimination in their everyday lives, which included being insulted or harassed, being treated with less respect or being perceived as incompetent. Participants also reported if they had ever seriously considered ending their own lives. The results indicated that the link between racial discrimination and thoughts of suicide was statistically significant.
Lead author Janelle Goodwill adds that “experiences with discrimination do not have to be overt to be harmful toward African American men’s mental health.” The authors recommend “expanding current mental health interventions to include culturally relevant suicide prevention resources that also offer strategies and techniques for dealing with discrimination.”
Goodwill is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint program in social work and psychology at the University of Michigan. She holds a master of social work degree from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University.
The full study, “Everyday Discrimination, Depressive Symptoms, and Suicide Ideation Among African American Men,” was published on the website of the journal Archives of Suicide Research. it may be accessed here.