African-American Women Who Have Lost a Male Son to Suicide

A Re-Examination of cultural factors that mitigate risk and promote resilience in relation to African-American suicide: A review of the literature and recommendations for future research

Accoding to Utsey, Hook & Stanard (2007), there was the discussion of the history of African-American Suicides. Their reports about suicide of African-Americans brought out the confirmation of the acknowledgement of the Surgeon General in the U.S. As a grown crisis. Nonetheless, there is little research about suicide on the factor among this population and that leaves a huge gap for the mitigation of the issue. In the journal, there is a review of suicide among African-Americans, through study of the culture and overall view of African-Americans. According to the study, it is reported that 2002 recorded 1,939 suicides. Out of these cases, male suicides comprised 84%. The case was different for African-American women, who despite reports of attempted suicides, recorded lower cases of suicide. It also reported the fact that African-American women had the lowest suicidal rate compared to other ethnic and racial groups. High rates among youths aged between 15 and 24 were the most alarming with male youths committing suicide at a rate higher than female youths.

The focus of this study is on the available research reports about African-American suicide as influenced by cultural factors. It is most interested on the influence of cultural factors in lowering suicidal rates among African-Americans. This is done through the review of literature pertaining to socio cultural risks, and protective factors in relation African-American suicides. The research also discusses the protectiveness of the African-American culture with focus on the degree, which cultural factors reduce the risk of suicide among African-Americans. The research finalizes by noting the methodologies of past researched in terms of limiting aspects of methodologies used. Further, it gives recommendations for future research, and highlights the implications that research on suicide among African-Americans have on public policy and clinical practice.

African-Americans are most likely to link their beliefs about God into issues of suicide. This is contrary to European-Americans perception, and their avoidance of bringing God into the suicidal equation whenever a person commits suicide (Walker, Lester & Joe, 2009). The European-Americans view suicide from an interrelationships angle and that leaves the burden of any suicides on the government. It is typical for African-Americans to blame suicide on the plans made by God. In situations where there is deterioration of interpersonal elations, there are reports of higher suicidal cases compared to those with balanced interpersonal relationships. These situations have young males falling victim of suicide than females. In the case of African-Americans, there is the belief that any death is an ordination from God. They believe that for someone to commit suicide, God must have planned his death through suicide. This creates diversity in attitudes of young white and black Americans.

According to Walker, Alabi & Obasi (2010) in their examination of the relationship between 'reasons for living' and culture, there was a significant evidence for moderation of suicidal cases from cultural beliefs in black Americans and not in European-Americans. The presence of hopelessness washes out the desire for living for European-Americans. That was also evident in African-Americans having little affiliation to cultural beliefs. The conceptual frameworks that scholars use in evaluating African-American suicide cases are the ecological frameworks, the psychological frameworks and sociological perspectives. According to the sociological perspective, suicide results from malfunction between a person and society. This can be traced to the effects of racism and ethnic oppressions experienced by African-Americans over a long period.

The psychological framework suggests that suicide is a result of harbored anger towards oneself. Feelings of depression, anger and hopelessness experienced by African-Americans comes out in terms of violent characters and that leaves them with little time or thinking about suicide as compared to those ethnic groups, which internalize their emotional distresses. For the research o ecological affiliation to suicide, it is evidenced that suicide is a result of growing competition for scarce resources. Those loosing hope for success chances develop low self-esteem and failure thoughts making them prone to falling victim of suicide. This is a relevant theory overwhelmed by urban competitiveness for resources while they languish in poverty, unemployment, and crime and socio economic despair.

Other than those factors pointing to causal factors for suicide, there are also protective actors, which prevent African-Americans from falling victim of suicide. There have been research on the influences of Christianity and religion as protective factors from suicide (Mollock, Puri, Matlin & Barksdale, 2006). Other strengths against suicide re cohesiveness of family unites, support of social networks and close friendships. Socio-cultural risk factors that increases suicidal cases are as, racial inequality, substance abuse, trauma, illicit drugs, family dysfunctions and psychological distress. Negative attitudes to mentally ill people aggravate the possibilities of suicide (Moskos, Olson & Halbern, 2005).

Research on African-American suicide and factors of cultural protectiveness is still insufficient. The use of quantitative research methods for this kind of research only gives assumptions related to previous researches and does not explore the issues first hand. In the study of strengths buffering African-American suicides, there is need for broader conceptualization of cultural implications. The methodology used for the study through reviews of present literature is insufficient o provide any substantial conclusions. This is because available literature has focus on Christianity, pro-social behavior, social support, familial variables and religion, which may not have full affiliation to cultural perspectives (Mollock, Puri, Matlin & Barksdale, 2006). It is also limiting studying subsections is limiting.

In addition, it is inappropriate studying risk factors, attitudes and strengths of African-Americans against European-Americans because of the differences in cultural beliefs and the diversity, which exists between the groups. The world overview also has factors not substantially verified as affiliates to the African-American culture. The methodology used did not focus on those who attempt suicide, but instead focused on those who commit suicide. That presents flaws into the methodology because there are substantial reports about those who attempt, but never complete the suicidal act. Cross-sectional correlation research design used is limit research findings as they lack the advantages, which a longitudinal or autopsy research design presents to matters of emotions.

Social work research on African-Americans and suicidal behavior: A Systematic 25-Year Review

Through a systematic critical review, Joe & Niedermeier (2008) provides support for the dissemination of suicide among African-American populations. Through the research, the need for further research and better tools for data collection arises. The study evaluates the publications from social workers to determine their implications and awareness on the issue of suicide among African-Americans. It also looks at risk factors and availability of effective treatments through an evaluation of web-based studies of social abstracts, manual researches and pscINFO. By studying of manuals published by social workers, the researchers aimed at getting reasonable amounts of data for the period 1980 and 2005. From the study, the results showed that an approximate of 30,000 African-Americans commit suicide yearly.

The research also reported a significant national interest in reducing suicide cases especially among ethnic and racial groups. It also showed a relatively lower suicide reports among African-Americans as compared to European-Americans. There also exists dramatic shifts in statistics pertaining to the number of suicide cases recorded. The common perception for this is that African-American youths least engages in suicidal behaviors that can lead to suicide as compared to their while counterparts. However, current researches refute such a claim because through the study of the lifespan of African-Americans and that of European-Americans, there is comparability in the rates of suicide among African-American and European youths (Joe & Niedermeier, 2008).

Liamputtong (2010) explains the claim about cultural affiliation to suicide, when he says that there is an importance for the study of cross-cultural aspects in the postmodern world because of the marginalization and vulnerability of people. The researcher notes the importance of qualitative research focused on captivating the attention of participants and evaluating their feelings about the situation of suicide under relevant theoretical frameworks. It is, therefore, necessary to design further theoretical frameworks for researching, which researchers can use to base their studies of culture and suicide for the derivation of reliable results. From the research, only 11 articles published by social workers regarding suicide among African-Americans were fond.

In these, the factors reviewed were suicidal risk factors, research and implications of clinical social work. It was evident that suicide is a top killer in the world and there is need for training of professionals on means of developing suicide mitigation programs. The increase of suicide behavior among African-American males comes because of frustrating life effects leading to disproportionate indulgence in self-destructive behaviors. Male African-Americans are more a risk of attempted and completed suicides as compared to the females. It is exceedingly significant noting the need for the contribution of social workers to mitigate the rising cases of suicide. This is because the highest percentage of health professionals dealing with mental health is social workers.…