Do You Know About Colored Girls and Suicide?

It is 3 a.m. and I cannot sleep. Although I am not contemplating suicide, the idea is on mind.

No need for anyone to pick up his or her phone right now to call or text me. No need for you to pull your travel size bible out your purse to pass on a prayer. And don’t even think about filling my email with a list of scriptures, because they aren’t needed.

So as you are starting to wonder, “Why on earth are you thinking about suicide, if you are not contemplating suicide?” Consider the headline below:

Karyn Washington: For Brown Girls Creator Reportedly Commits Suicide

Karyn Washington

The report was fact.

I have not been 23, for an entire month yet, and this giant for empowerment completed suicide at the age of 22. My heart hurts. It bleeds for Karyn. Like me she heeded the call to be a writer with purpose. She used her writing to celebrate the beauty of dark skin while promoting self-love to combat colorism. Her goal was to get girls like you and me to embrace the skin we are in, and she succeeded.

As a fellow colored girl, I know the burden of carrying the complexities she tried to free women from through her movement, but ultimately, Karyn struggled with inspiring the most important person in the world, herself. I am not writing this to make you feel bad or even really ponder suicide, because the word weighs heavy.

What I want you to understand is that she is not the only one.

Although we think brown girls are Flawless as Beyonce so eloquently puts it, we are not. Alicia Keys says we are Super Woman, but I am telling you today, that we are not. And because we are so determined to accomplish everything (something that has been engrained in us to do at an early age), we take on too much. As little girls we are taught to always take care of our families, to receive the highest education possible, work the best job that you can and be promoted, be the best friend that you can be to everyone around, while being beautiful and skinny; and the list goes on…

It is not bad to aspire for better, in fact I welcome the challenge, but “the superwoman” mentality ingrained in minority women is wearing on us. This is not the only headline of recent sharing how a woman of color has decided to take her life.

So I began to research. How many of us really have done this?

I found that there is not much data out there about women of color concerning mental illness. There exist a variety of ethnic groups, but the only racial groups I could find data on were included African American, Hispanic/Latina and Asian American women . The articles found on these women, shared that studies were being conducted, some completed, and were currently being published or yet to be published.

The information I found I will share with you:

  • A growing epidemic of suicide is happening with these women ages 9 – 29.
  • In all of the minority racial groups recently studied, women were more likely to attempt suicide than males.
  • Of the three minority groups above, suicide is either the first or the third leading cause of death amongst women.
  • Although Caucasian youth are twice as likely as Minority American youth to complete suicide, since 2003 the rate of suicide increased dramatically among Minority American youth than among Caucasian youth.

I know that there are many factors that play into suicide and for women of darker shades, colorism and the world epidemic to be lighter and thinner can have a tremendous effect. I know this post is not as empowering as most, if anything it is quite unsettling, but I want it to be.

I want you to wrestle with the fact that, brown girls commit suicide too.

But all hope is not lost, we can continue to help one another by removing the stigma and myths that suicide contradicts gender and cultural role expectations including the idea that minority women are always strong and resilient and never crack under pressure; becoming aware of the cultural differences in the expression of suicidal behavior; developing liaisons and relationships with faith communities; and recognizing warning signs and helping family or friends get professional assistance.

Okay yall, I am going to sleep now. Don’t give up, and don’t give in as I challenge you as I challenge myself daily to be brave, bold, and beautiful since God so graciously chose you to be kissed by the sun.

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