Study Links Racial Discrimination, Suicidal Thoughts Among African American Men

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month. (Courtesy of National Alliance to End Homelessness)

Racial discrimination is a possible contributing factor in the significant increase in suicides among African American men over the past 20 years, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan.

The study, “Everyday Discrimination, Depressive Symptoms, and Suicide Ideation Among African American Men,” shows 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.

“Experiences with discrimination do not have to be overt to be harmful toward African American men’s mental health,” lead author Janelle Goodwill said in a statement, in which all 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.”

In the research, which 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.

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