African American Women’s Perceptions of Depression and Suicide Risk and Protection

Valerie Borum, Sage Journals, July 11, 2012


This article reports the findings of a qualitative study that examined the perceptions of depression and suicide risk and protection among 40 African American women. Seven focus groups were conducted. The thematic findings of the focus group discussions included perceptions of depression as a sense of “spiritual forsakenness” and a healthy alternative to suicide. Living in spirit as well as in community with others was viewed as protection against suicide. Having a strong sense of African American heritage, history, and identity was perceived as protection against suicide and depression. Womanist implications for social work research, practice, and education are discussed.

[Editor’s Note: The full article is available here.]

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  • Puggg

    Having a low IQ and no shame is also protection against suicide.

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

      as  does having an EBT card.

    • Because they do not know any better.

  • KevinPhillipsBong

    Now read this in conjunction with two recent articles.
    1. Suicide now accounts for more deaths in the US than automobile accidents.
    2. Poor whites now have a shorter life expectancy than blacks or Hispanics.

    Whites can see that their destiny has slipped into another’s hands.

  • loyalwhitebriton

    Should read:
    Having a strong sense of EUROPEAN American heritage, history, and identity was perceived as protection against suicide and depression

    But that wouldn’t do, would it? “Racism”, and all that…

  • Athling

    Not really surprising given the toxic levels of high self esteem and self-importance commonly found in Africans. I would expect their suicide rate to be the lowest of all races.

  • C_C_Conrad

    If someone would just tell them the truth the suicide rates would triple.  

  • Detroit_WASP

    To kill yourself you have to be depressed. To be depressed you have to be introspective.  To be introspective you must have an IQ above room temperature.  

    End of mystery.

    Seriously, I have lived near large numbers of blacks my entire life.  They CLEARLY have more mental problems than whites.  I see them staggering down the streets all the time stonned on one thing or another, talking to themselves.  Metal illness is not pretty and do not kill themsleves as much as whites probably because they have an average IQ of 85, ghetto blacks are probably more in the 70-75 range.  

    I think ghetto American blacks are dumber than black Africans because ghetto blacks drink Colt 45 and eat hotfires during EVERY semester of their pregnancy.  After the kids are born they receive an equally bad diet.  

    On the otherhand, black Africans generally have a better diet since white missionaries constantly cart good food to them.

  • bluffcreek1967

    Notice how Blacks are always encouraged to have a “strong sense of African American heritage, history and identity.” Yet, when Whites have the same feelings about their racial heritage, it’s considered a bad thing (‘racist,’ etc.). But one needs to fairly ask why it’s good for Blacks, but bad for Whites? Obviously, there’s a double-standard here.

    The intriguing thing here is that Blacks have virtually no legitimate reason to hold their heads high when they seriously ponder their heritage, history or identity. There’s very little to be proud of. And whatever there might be is the result of Whites who helped them, educated them, and provided a context in which they could accomplish something. Without the influences of the White man, Blacks would still be living in mud huts, wielding spears and running around in loin cloths. Truth is, Blacks only become partially civilized and modernized when Whites rule and direct them. It’s not a popular concept, but it’s a historically accurate one.

    On the other hand, Whites have every reason to hold their heads high in light of their heritage and historical accomplishments. Although far from perfect, we consistently make the world a better place.

    One last point. Whites sometimes laugh at or mock other Whites who are racially conscious. They think it’s unnecessary for Whites to feel this way about their race. But in light of how Whites are viewed in Western societies, including the reverse discrimination we often experience, having a strong sense of one’s racial identity is quite appropriate and even necessary!    

    • What ticks me off is that whites are made to feel shame for their heritage. Especially Southern whites. Like I told my husband, who had some relatives fight in the Civil War, the Confederate flag is not offensive to me. It represents your heritage. Nothing more, Nothing less.

  • Defiant White

    Who cares?

    Did my tax dollars pay for this idiocy?

    I want a refund.

  • IKantunderstand

    Frankly, you women are screwed. You have totally ugly hair. You do everything you can do, to have beautiful European hair (White people hair). It’s not working for you. You get weaves, you get wigs, you are all l frauds: Tyra: fake hair; fake eye clor; beyonce: fake hair. You all should be depressed, you do not look like a  European. I don’t care what you do to your hair color or eye color, you will always look NEGRO! You want to accept who you are ? Then accept you have nappy hair. You have brown eyes. You have brown skin.  You look like a negro. You are what you are. Ebrace it.  Please leave the rest of us alone!

  • WhiteGuyInJapan

     “Too be depressed you need to be at least somewhat introspective an intelligent.”

    Suicide rates are  higher in Scandinavia and East Asia. 

  • Rubbish. Statistically, mentally developed & sensitive individuals with a sens eof honor are vulnerable to suicide. Among races, Whites & East Asians, plus American Indians (honor). On the other hand, numb and non-introspective races & cultures are almost immune to suicide (Blacks, Muslims, ..)

  • Goetz von Berlichingen

    So suicide rates are low among blacks.  They make up for it by being just dandy at killing other people.

    Beltway sniper John Muhammad had as his ambition an extortion scheme that would allow him to set up a camp in Canada for 140 orphaned black boys, whom he would train as assassins, as he did with accomplice Lee Malvo, and send them to US cities where they would perform more sniper attacks on whites.

    Muhammad had been a likely career soldier; he had 15 years in the service before leaving in 1994 and could have finished his 20 to retire on half his sergeant’s pay and then go to work for the post office or some similar government agency.  The guy had nothing seriously wrong with his life aside from a pair of divorces, and if he hated white people so much, he could have moved someplace where there aren’t any.

    As another example, when Lemaricus Davidson’s white girlfriend Daphne Sutton broke up with him, he and friends kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered a young white couple in Knoxville two days later.  He could have simply found himself another white girlfriend.

    They don’t get depressed; they get vicious.