Suicides in the Black Community Indicate Urgent Need for Equity in Mental Health

The Jed Foundation (JED) is saddened to hear of Cheslie Kryst’s death by apparent suicide this weekend in New York City. The 30-year-old attorney, Emmy Award nominee, and former Miss USA was outspoken about the mental health challenges she faced as a young Black woman in the public eye and openly discussed issues of self-image, oppression, and racial injustice. 

This tragedy shortly follows the passing of 26-year-old Ian Alexander, Jr., the son of actress Regina King, who died by suicide on his birthday in January.

These two losses signify an unfortunate truth that mental health challenges are escalating for young people in recent years, in particular for Black youth, and have been exacerbated by stressors related to the ongoing pandemic

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens and young adults in the United States. The suicide rate is growing fastest among Black individuals ages 13-30, with a 55% increase from 2010-2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, recent research shows that it may be harder to identify Black youth who are at risk of suicide. This indicates that a comprehensive approach to prevention must take into account trauma, racial discrimination, and other race-related stressors.

Today is the start of Black History Month, and this year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness. Right now, there is a significant need for greater understanding, support, and resources. At JED, we are committed to addressing inequities in mental health care for teens and young adults, while ensuring an equitable approach to suicide prevention.

Here are some resources for individuals, families, and communities who might want to address these difficult topics in a safe and productive manner in the weeks ahead.

For more information, please visit our Mental Health Resource Center or Contact Us to learn how your organization can partner with JED. If you or someone you know needs to talk right away, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 741-741.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.