Suicide, Stigma, & the African American Community

By Victor Armstrong, VP Behavioral Health of Atrium Health

Victor Armstrong TW: @1of2vics

According to an article published in verywell health (1), Black men in the United States suffer worse health than any other racial group in America and, as a group, have the lowest life expectancy and the highest death rate compared to both men and women of other racial and ethnic groups.

Among the leading statistics of concern are:

  • 44% of black men are considered overweight
  • 24% are obese
  • 40% of black men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease as compared to 21% of white men
  • Black men
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July is minority mental health month

Minority mental health month is inclusive of ethnic groups as well as other marginalized populations such as the LGBTQ community. While it’s hard for any group of people to find good mental health care, it’s especially difficult for minority populations.

Lack of acceptance, prejudice or denial of mental illness in these communities can increase the risk of suicide. For this post, I’m focusing on suicide rates and attempts by minority populations. These are sobering statistics.

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Avoidance and grief

I walked into a grocery store. I was trying to do real life things but it was like wading through sludge. Thankfully, we still had meals coming to the house and what I needed was just the basics. I was so grateful for that.

As soon as I went inside, I saw someone I knew duck quickly into another aisle.

My God I was being avoided.

For the most part, my friends and neighbors had greeted me, hugged me. I had been very public about my son’s addiction and suicide. But this stung. I had experienced the most devastating loss … Read more...

Our Son’s Preventable Suicide

by Pat Sterling

Trigger warning: Strong emotional content and suicide method mentioned.

On March 22, 2018 our 38-year-old son, Brian, took his own life.

My husband and I believe very strongly that Brian’s suicide could have been prevented if the first group of medical responders and sheriff officers who we called had acted appropriately.

What follows is a reconstruction of events to the best of our recollection and we question why officers who responded to our 911 call did not exercise their authority to use an ECO (Ref: Emergency Custody Order that allows a person to be taken to a … Read more...

Mental Health Raw & Open Podcast

54 Minutes

Jody Bee has written posts here and started this podcast to fight the stigma of mental illness and suicide. She has written posts for this site as well. This one is my interview with her.

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Upcoming Presentation on Preventure

We Got the GrantAn Overview of a Substance Abuse Prevention Program Study

chesterfield chamber

I’m excited to be presenting on this amazing program.

There are four traits that Put Kids at Risk of Substance Misuse and in January 2019, VCU Institute of Drug & Alcohol Studies with Beacon Tree Foundation, won the VCU CCTR Endowment Fund to implement Preventure, a personality targeted life skills training program that has been shown to reduce drug and alcohol use in schools by up to 80%.

The pilot study, the first in the US, will include four Virginia schools, two of which are in … Read more...

Words Matter: Addiction

You got 1 minute 15 seconds?

Name calling has been around longer than pancakes and pine straw. But that doesn’t mean we have to participate. In some cases, it’s simply lack of education. In others, it’s a cop out and a way to bolster one’s own self esteem by putting down another.

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words matter with addiction
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Bereaved Parents, July is Our Month

The weight of the grief at first was so unbearable, I was sure i couldn’t survive. I never knew emotional pain inspired so much physical hurt. And this statue expresses that so well. Grief, like love, inspires beautiful and meaningful art.

It hurts all year, some months more than others, but July is our month of acknowledgement and our opportunity to educate.

I’m going to post here a few of the hundreds of grief posts from this site. I literally wrote my way through the grief process and still do. I will be doing things throughout the month in honor … Read more...

“There’s nothing you could have done”

Saying that there is nothing we could have done is different than, “You all did so much.” There is something we could have done had we known. Except this is not some mistake a little white-out can remedy. (White-out is the stuff we used to use to correct mistakes on a typed piece of paper.)

That’s what stalks most of us after a suicide. We do know it’s preventable and we ache over that because we can’t turn back time. Some leave no clues, some leave subtle ones and still others, like Charles, leave signs that are flashing neon lightsRead more...

As much as I want you to get well, I love you even if you don’t

killed himself

This is what I wish I had said to Charles.

I was so stunned when I found out he was addicted to heroin. And while I know I felt that way, I didn’t express it just like that. I needed to. Our loved ones who suffer addiction need to hear it.

What kept Charles from ending his life before were thoughts of his family.

He pinned up pictures of us wherever he went including that awful trap house place where he was staying in the end to remind him that he had a family who cared. They were reminders during … Read more...