Number of African American Suicides on the Rise

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that after declining in 2019 and 2020, suicide deaths increased approximately 5 percent in the United States in 2021 and the number of suicides in the United States increased by 2.6 percent in 2022 compared to the prior year. Nearly, 50,000 Americans took their own life in 2022.

In 2022, 3,825 African Americans committed suicide. Thus, Blacks were 7.7 percent of all suicides. This is significantly less than the Black percentage of the U.S. population. However, there was a 3.6 percent increase in the number of Black suicides in 2022 compared to a 2.1 percent increase among Whites.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, African Americans often receive poorer quality of mental healthcare and lack access to culturally competent care. Only one-in-three African Americans who need mental health care receive it. Despite recent efforts to improve mental health services for African Americans, barriers remain regarding access to and quality of care. The barriers include stigma associated with mental illness, distrust of the health care system, lack of providers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, lack of culturally competent providers, and a lack of insurance coverage for mental health care

“Nine in ten Americans believe America is facing a mental health crisis,” said Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “One life lost to suicide is one too many. Yet, too many people still believe asking for help is a sign of weakness. We must continue to eliminate the stigmatization of mental health and make care available to all Americans.”

“Today’s report underscores the depths of the devastating mental health crisis in America. Mental health has become the defining public health and societal challenge of our time. Far too many people and their families are suffering and feeling alone,” said Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General of the United States. “These numbers are a sobering reminder of how urgent it is that we further expand access to mental health care, address the root causes of mental health struggles, and recognize the importance of checking on and supporting one another.”

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