In the past few years there have been several high profile suicides of people who have achieved celebrity and a high amount of visibility. Many of us mourned their losses because their art moved us or they made us laugh and because we empathized with their struggle. For some of us we felt frustrated by the lack of attention given to the losses happening in our own communities, to those we care about and whose losses we had to bear.
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New research, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests the suicide rate is roughly two times higher for black children ages 5-12 compared with white children of the same age group. Suicide rates for Native youth is at a crisis level with some communities death rates at 5 to seven times the average. Every other day someone dies of suicide in Hawai’i. A teen in Hawai’i is nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide as a teen elsewhere in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 youth high-risk behavior survey released in 2015, 15 percent of Latina adolescents in the U.S. have attempted suicide….the highest rate of attempts at the time. There are also large disparities when examining suicide rates in the Global South.
People do not want to stay in this world. The disparities tell me that there are factors that lead to this kind of despair. The traumas are carried across generations and the wounds are deep and need healing.