My Struggle With Depression and Suicide as a Black Teen
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. If you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by clicking “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.
Depression is something my culture dismisses — black people are strong according to our society. When I was 12 years old, I knew something was wrong with me. At age 12 I dreamed of death.
I was born in Jamaica and I grew up there until age 13, when I came to America. I remember telling my dad that I wanted to kill myself and he slapped me across my face in response. He said, “After I spent so much money to get you here, you want to kill yourself.” But it’s a cultural thing — many Jamaicans don’t believe in suicide. Sometimes I blame my dad, many years later — maybe if I got help then I wouldn’t have made my first attempt at all.
At age 16 I had my first suicide attempt. It was Christmas day 2015. I remember waking up that morning with every intention to die by suicide. I prayed to God for a sign if I should continue this life or not. I went into the kitchen, and my dad yelled at me with hurtful words. I built up a wall, trying to make myself forget those words, but they were like bullets. “I’m never going to forgive you again,” he said. People might think my reason was stupid; many people said I was simply seeking attention. But I just wanted to die. See, from age 9 onward, I was physically abused by people of my own blood. I guess I was tired of being treated like scum — tired of the pain, the hurt.
I remember how, after my second suicide attempt, someone in my family said if I had died they wouldn’t have attended my funeral. People dished out their opinions like frozen rain drops. “Nothing is wrong with you, it’s all in your head,” they said. A family member didn’t want me around her kids because she believed if I hurt myself then I’d hurt her kids too. I was told by another, “People who try to kill themselves would kill other people too.” The most recent comment was, “You just act out because you don’t get to have your own way.”
My third time in the hospital, I never got any visitors. I was alone and I wanted to die even more. I remember seeing other families visit their kids and I was jealous. The only time my family came was when we had a family session.
This myth that depression is a “white people” thing is not real. Mental illnesses have no limit regarding race. It is real.
If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Unsplash photo via William Stitt