Death Be Not Proud: Suicide, Hip-Hop & Black Men In America [PHOTOS]
“Things can get overwhelming, that’s the bottom line,” Joe Budden tells Hip-Hop Wired about the steps that lead to suicide. The Love & Hip Hop New York star has been open about his battle with sobriety and spoke with us about the slow-moving issue taking down the Black male and Hip-Hop communities.
The last several months have seen the suicides of Capital Steez and Freddy E. Steez was only 19 and allegedly shot himself on Christmas Eve, while Freddy used Twitter to announce plans to take his own life. Before pulling the trigger, the West Coast rhymer sent out a series of tweets about being lonely, and apologized to his parents. Although he was 22, new studies reveal that teens are more likely to seek help through social media.
Given his own demons, Budden can empathize with both youngsters. “I can’t speak to the mental state of the people that actually do it,” he adds. “Me, I’ve spoken about it before but I was never actually brave enough to do it; because contrary to popular belief, it does take some type of bravery to actually go through with that process.”
The deaths, including the loss of Violator Management founder Chris Lighty, and Kansas City chiefs player Jovan Belcher last year, have shone a spotlight on what continues to be a taboo topic among men in general, but particularly Black men and members of Hip-Hop culture. Lighty’s death was reported as a suicide, but family and friends (like 50 Cent, who opened an investigation into the matter) have disputed the claim. In Belcher’s case, he killed his girlfriend before driving to his team’s football stadium, where he shot himself in front of his bosses.
“Those are natural feelings that we all get sometimes,” -A$AP Rocky.
A potential factor in all of the aforementioned cases may have been a level of depression that either went completely unnoticed, or wasn’t taken seriously. “Men in general don’t seek health treatment,” notes Dr. Shirley Molock of George Washington University.
Molock is an expert on mental health, and co-authored a study based around suicide prevention for Black youth. She says men aren’t more apt to talk about committing suicide, but have a greater follow through rate. “Men use fire arms, and hanging, or affixation. Women are more likely to use pills.”
According to a 2009 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report the suicide rate of Black men was nearly four times that of Black women, but 60% lower than that of White males. Failures to address mental health issues, like clinical depression, contribute to the growing figures.
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