In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, peer support recovery specialists T-Kea Blackman and Jordan Scott launched the “Black People Die By Suicide Too” podcast on May 24. The hosts hope to normalize the conversation about suicide in the Black community and improve understanding of this complicated issue.
Particularly during the pandemic, America’s mental health crisis reached an unfortunate peak with over 90% of adults in a Kaiser study believing our country has a mental health crisis. This mental health crisis included peaks in overdoses and suicide.
Blackman, who survived her suicide attempt, and Scott, who previously struggled with suicidal ideation, will: share stories of those who lost loved ones to suicide; provide survivors the opportunities to share their recovery; pay homage to those who died by suicide; share resources and gain insight from mental health professionals. Their mission is to address suicide prevention and raise mental health awareness.
“I grew up hearing suicide and therapy is a white people thing,” said Blackman. “After surviving a suicide attempt, my 13-year-old cousin dying by suicide, and hearing stories of others in my community, I quickly learned that’s not true. While there is a stigma regardless of race and ethnicity, there is a unique stigma in the Black community.”
Blackman emphasized the importance of normalizing the conversation in preventing suicide
“Many times, people want a safe space to talk even if they have no intentions of carrying out the plan. When we become more comfortable talking about it, we also become educated on the best ways to support those who are suicidal,” said Blackman.
She also recommends taking a Mental Health First Aid or Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) class to learn how to recognize signs of potential suicide and effectively respond.
Blackman is a mental health trainer, consultant, speaker, author, certified peer recovery specialist, and the founder of the Mental Health Empowerment Agency where she develops and facilitates training for government agencies, non-profits, and community members. She also provides peer support at inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, and correctional facilities.
Scott is a mental health advocate and has experience with supporting at-risk youth in juvenile detention and inner-city schools, justice-involved adults navigating life post-conviction and incarceration, low-income families in need of social services, and individuals living with mental health and substance use disorders.
“Suicide affects people from all walks of life, Black people included,” said Scott. “This podcast is necessary because we need safe spaces to process what we’re really going through. I hope this encourages people to tap into their feelings and realize there are others who are also struggling. You do not have to suffer in silence or feel alone. Help and support are available and I hope this podcast saves lives.”
Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States and is increasing rapidly among African American. Early adolescent Black youth are twice as likely to die by suicide as compared to their white counterparts but the highest rate of death is among Black Americans aged 25-34 years of age, according to University of Houston psychology professor Dr. Rheeda Walker.