Last month was National Suicide Prevention Month and October brings us to National Depression Education Awareness and Emotional Wellness Month. Most of the time these issues go hand in hand because depression can cause suicides and on a more catastrophic level, mass killings. By now, everyone is familiar with the Navy Yard shooting that occurred in Washington, D.C. The person behind the shotgun was a man by the name of Aaron Alexis.
He had complained about hearing voices and these voices telling him to do things. Without even seeing the man’s face, most people assumed he was white. In most cases this is true and it is proven that more white men are serial killers and go on shooting rampages, but mental illness is blind to color and African Americans need to realize this. The D.C. sniper was a Black man as well, and as I can remember everyone I knew, whether Black, white or Spanish were astonished that “Black people would do something like that.”
The problem starts with the fact that Black people as a whole don’t trust health care professionals and we tend to self-diagnose and self-medicate. It’s deeply rooted in us from the days when we were guinea pigs for present day medicine. African Americans also tend not to see mental health as a real health problem. Most of us, who grew up in the church were taught to talk to the Lord and he would fix it. Well, I’m a firm believer in the Lord, he gives everyone five senses to use and knows the difference. It is hard to say out loud that you have problems and deal with the fact that you might be labeled crazy because you’re strong enough to admit that you can’t do it on your own. We’re too strong as a culture and we need to realize that sometimes you can’t just pray it away. Many have tried and failed in the process, therapists exist for a reason; use them. Black people are 20 percent more likely to experience mental health issues than any other race but we don’t report it. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re barely getting by or worse, you harm yourself or someone else. The Student Counseling Center is next to Foster-Johnson, so go and if anything, just talk to someone there.
Brittney Collins is a senior sports management major from Mandeville.