African-American suicide: a cultural paradox

Suicide Life Threat Behav. Spring 1997;27(1):68-79.

Abstract

African-American suicide rates have traditionally been lower than White rates despite a legacy of racial discrimination, persistent poverty, social isolation, and lack of community resources. This paper focuses on four issues: (1) patterns and trends of Black suicide across the lifespan; (2) risk and protective factors in subgroups of Blacks; (3) the influence of cultural factors on suicide patterns of Blacks; and (4) implications of these patterns for prevention and early intervention of suicidal behavior among African Americans. Risk factors for Black suicide include: male sex, early adulthood, substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, family or interpersonal conflict, antisocial behavior, and homosexuality. Protective factors that mitigate the risks of suicide include religiosity, older age, southern residence, and social support. Implications for preventive policies and programs are discussed to counter the recent trend of rising suicide rates among adolescents and very elderly Blacks.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / ethnology*
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • United States