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Expert warns of rising suicide rates among Black children

Glodi Meissi

For more than a decade, the suicide rate has been increasing among Black children. Now, a new study says the greatest rise is among young Black girls.

Arielle Sheftall, Ph.D., recently published the study through the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It found more than 1,800 Black children died by suicide between 2003 and 2017. Most of the deaths were among boys, but the suicide rate of girls increased an average of 6.6% each year - that's more than twice the increase for boys.

Dr. Sheftall recently spoke during a news conference hosted by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in which Brown addressed the mental health challenges affecting young Black girls.

“We know that because of racial disparities in our health care system, too many young people of color – especially young, Black girls – are not getting the care they need," Sen. Brown said. "Warning signs are being missed.”

Brown discussed his Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act, which he says will bring increased funding and attention to suicide prevention for children and young adults.

Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss the study and the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act are Nationwide Children’s Hospital Abigail Wexner Research Institute Center for Suicide Prevention and Research principal investigator Arielle Sheftall, Ph.D.; and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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