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Montrose Voice, No. 269, December 20, 1985
File 013
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Montrose Voice, No. 269, December 20, 1985 - File 013. 1985-12-20. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. July 7, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3303/show/3290.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(1985-12-20). Montrose Voice, No. 269, December 20, 1985 - File 013. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3303/show/3290

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Montrose Voice, No. 269, December 20, 1985 - File 013, 1985-12-20, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed July 7, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/3303/show/3290.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Montrose Voice, No. 269, December 20, 1985
Contributor
  • McClurg, Henry
  • Wyche, Linda
Publisher Community Publishing Company
Date December 20, 1985
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 22329406
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 013
Transcript 12 MONTROSE VOICE / DECEMBER 20, 1985 For Black Males, Suicide Rates Peak at Prime of Life By Louis Freedberg Pacific News Service Special to the Montrose Voice Soaring suicide rates provide graphic measure of the growing despair among young black men on the margins of American society. In general, blacks commit suicide far less than whites. But in the 20-34 age group for black males, suicide rates have risen dramatically in the past two decades and are now approaching the suicide rates of white males. Of lesser concern are suicides among black females, where, like white females, rates remain much lower than among males. Figures from the National Center on Health Statistics show suicide rates for 20 to 24-year-old black males increasing from 5.8 to 16.7 percent per 100,000 between 1960 and 1983, reaching 19.1% per 100,000 among 25 to 34-year-olds by the end of that period. For white males aged 20-24, suicide rates went from 11.9 to 25.5 per 100,000 during the same period. Some psychologists say the increase among black males has come as blacks move closer to mainstream white society, but experience disappointment and despair at continuing discrimination in the labor and housing markets, and in other areas of social life. This view is reinforced when one looks at the difference in peak suicide ages between white and black males. Despite the current focus on white teenage suicide rates, whites are actually much more likey to kill themselves when they are 65 and over—the point at which they experience the loss of a job or the death of a spouse, and question whether or not they still have a productive role to play in society. For blacks, however, peak suicide rates are reached during young adulthood, as they march full-tilt into the realities of surviving in white society. Thereafter the rates decline dramatically. What this age differential implies, says Dr. Herb Schreier, chief of psychiatry at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif., is that "Whites can postpone their disillusionment until a later age, whereas blacks discover in their twenties that it's not there for them." Hopelessness, he adds, is the single predictor of suicide. Mental health workers argue that suicide rates among young black males (15-24 years of age) would be even higher if other causes of death—such as automobile accidents, drug overdoses, victim-precipitated homicides, and other violent accidents— were more accurately diagnosed or reported as accurately as among whites. Among young blacks, for example, the homicide rate is five times the rate for young white males. Many psychologists assert that suicde is simply the flip side of homicide: killing turned inwards instead of outwards. Says Dr. Craig Adams of the East Oakland Mental Health Center, "So many of these kids get into situations that involve gun play, so it would be easy to put themselves in a situation where they will get themselves killed." Among young blacks, Adams says, there is a well-defined fatalism, a widespread belief that because the future holds little promise, they may as well extract as much from life while they can. "If you plan to be dead by the time you're 30, then you may as well live life to the fullest." Asserts Dr. Bill Smith, a psychologist at the West Oakland Mental Health Center which serves primarily black clients, "Self-destrictive behavior is the most pervasive issue in the black community. In a minority of cases, it is expressed in suicidal behavior." Mental health workers speculate that traditional buffers against the effects of poverty and exclusion from the mainstream—like the extended family and the church—have eroded, leaving blacks more susceptible to suicide. Ironically, as blacks move closer to what could be regarded as a white lifestyle, many built-in protections within black culture are further weakened. "When you move from the protection of the black community, it shoots up your level of frustration," says Dr. Melanie Sweeney-Griffith, director of the East Oakland Mental Health Center. But by far the most important factor in precipitating suicide among young blacks, these professionals believe, is rising expectations that can't be met. Sweeney-Griffith finds, for instance, that many blacks experience a sense of "false assimilation"—the belief that 808 Lovett 521-1015 Get Your Holiday Bang at the Boulevard Cafe Boulevard Big Bang Breakfast Monday-Friday 2 Eggs, Bacon or Sausage Two Pancakes $1.99 We will be closed from 1pm 12/24 until 7am 12/26 Among young blacks, Adams says, there is a well-defined fatalism, a widespread belief that because the future holds little promise, they may as well extract as much from life while they can. things will get better—only to encounter such traditional obstacles as housing and job discrimination. "It's almost like a double whammy," she says. "In addition to the assimilationist stresses, there are still the basic racial and demographic factors that contribute to an increase in suicide." In fact, those very forces that held out hope for minorities in the 1960b, while opening doors for some, may have added to the total level of stress for young blacks trying to enter the job market. "All those programs gave young people some hope that there could be a better life, that we could get educated and could get good jobs," says Dr. Jewelle Gibbs of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. She contends that only those blacks already in the middle class benefitted significantly. Left behind were the "working poor" and the "poor poor." "Along with a gap between hope and aspirations, you have a group of angry, very depressed young people," says Gibbs. ' This development coincided with a surge of baby boomers entering the labor market. The net result, she says, has been "fewer opportunities at the top for all teenagers." What gives cause for hope is that, in spite of increases, black suicide rates are still below those of whites. "Historically, blacks have been copers," asserts Dr. Diane Howell, a psychologist. "Blacks have developed the ability to cope with a great deal of adversity. And that strength has been passed down from generation to generation." In addition, institutions that have helped to keep suicide rates down, like the extended family and the church, are still powerful forces in the black community, in spite of setbacks. Black ministers report a recent upsurge in young black participation their churches. And mental health workers say black families still rely on extended family members, even when they live in different parts of the country, to a much greater degree than whites. "There'B an incredible amount of pressure released with the use of the extended family, even when family members are separated by miles and miles," says psychiatrist Schreier. "Sometimes even that doesn't work. Sometimes it works dramatically well." 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