Associate Professor Mia Smith-Bynum on suicide rates among black children
Family Science Associate Professor Mia Smith-Bynum was quoted in an article in the Atlanta Black Star entitled “Why Are Black Children Committing Suicide?” The article reports on a disturbing increase in suicides among black children, particularly black males. The author breaks down the possible reasons for this increase, particularly depression caused by exposure to violence, trauma, and discrimination.
Dr. Smith-Bynum has devoted her career to researching African American mental health, and also has expertise in adolescent mental health and racial identity. She is the Director of the department’s Black Families Research Group.
In speaking about the ways racism influences identity formation, Dr. Smith-Bynum had this to say in the article: “There is a type of racism for Black men and boys that is particularly harmful. It’s not that Black women and girls don’t face racism, but the stereotype of Black men as criminal and violent places amplifies threats to their personal safety. Black boys have less room to define themselves and their identity on their own terms and this can lead to significant mental health problems.” She continued on to speak about the contributing emotional factors and distress that, when paired with racial stressors, may lead to suicide. The author concludes with a discussion of what schools and black parents can do to reduce child suicide risk.