More and more black men are dying by suicide. We have to take care of it.

On May 3rd, Lance Blanksa retired NBA player who spent the rest of his career as an NBA executive and analyst for an ESPN affiliate network, died by suicide. He was 56.

“But the fact of the matter is we’ll never really know why. And that’s not necessary either. We just have to remember him, honor him, celebrate him and put our love into the family that made him happy,” his daughter Riley Blanks Reed wrote in a tribute to him on ESPN. “We just need to know that the people in the greatest pain are often the giants in our lives.”

Blanks has become the most notorious black male celebrity to have died by suicide since the death of dancer and frequent The Ellen DeGeneres Show contributor Stephen “tWitch” Boss in December.

I’m aware that many black people still harbor the pathetically anachronistic “suicide is for whites” mentality. However, in recent years there have been several prominent black men who have died by suicide: former NFL receiver Charles Johnson, former mayor of Hyattsville, Maryland Kevin Ward and Ian King Jr., son of Regina King.

Johnson and Ward were 50 and 44 years old, respectively, but the young people in our ranks seem particularly vulnerable: Black youth saw that fastest rising suicide rates among all ethnic groups over the past 20 years, with suicide rates among black male youth increasing by 60% over that period.

Suicides among Black Americans of all ages may also be grossly undercounted for a number of reasons all related to racism.

Boss’ suicide shook many people who weren’t even familiar with his work, especially because on the surface everything seemed fine: a loving wife, Allison Holker Boss (with whom he danced on Instagram Live the day before his death ), three children and a job that paid well and put him in the public eye.

To understand suicide, you have to know that it doesn’t matter much how people appear on the surface.

“Nobody had the slightest idea that he was unwell. He didn’t want people to know,” Allison Holker told Boss told People earlier this month. “He just wanted to be everyone’s Superman and protector.”

That basically sums up Black’s struggle with his mental health. We’re expected to ride for everyone else without looking after ourselves.

Stephen Boss attends the Critics Choice Association's 5th Annual Celebration of Black Cinema & Television at the Fairmont Century Plaza on December 5, 2022 in Los Angeles.
Stephen Boss attends the Critics Choice Association’s 5th Annual Celebration of Black Cinema & Television at the Fairmont Century Plaza on December 5, 2022 in Los Angeles.

Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

Black men, unlike any other ethnic or gender group, have a strained relationship with mental health. It starts with a healthcare industry that has historically, all blacks have been abused And continues to demonstrate injustice in treatment today.

There’s also the problem that men of all ethnicities are putting mental health on the back burner. Even in 2023, despite what we know about the benefits of protecting our mental health, men are still expected to be stoic rather than express themselves “feminine” emotions. (Do your job! Insert pin A into slot B and don’t cry about it!)

That unholy combination left us with a lot of black baby boomer men who wouldn’t do it think Dropping coins to talk to a stranger about their feelings. It’s the living demographic in America that has probably experienced more racism than anyone who suppresses their feelings.

How do we deal with this problem? First and foremost is to destigmatize and acknowledge mental health Suicide does not mean “giving up”. I would argue that this is one of the most difficult problems Americans face.

Next is to understand and accept that the seeds of black man’s plight were planted centuries ago and those trees have not yet been felled. We’re far more likely to do that die or suffer the effects of gun violence. We are still less likely to get a college degree than we are Black female counterparts. We suffer from a lot Health diseases that only exist hereetc.

It’s not your fault, black men.

It’s also important to understand that despite what a series of viral posts featuring 20-year-olds judging what constitutes “male behavior” have to say on the subject, we’re still humans feeling things. Look no further than the deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna to remind ourselves how collective we were in our feelings.

Finally, we must understand the value of therapy. I know how difficult it can be to break free from lockdown, which for some of us is a literal method of survival. But if you bust open an impartial third party with the training to help you do it, you can be pulled out of a hole – I’m living proof of that.

It’s still difficult to find licensed black male therapists, but Psychology Today is You can narrow down your search here. Depending on where you live, there are free, nonprofit, safe rooms designed specifically for black men, like those at Therapist Femi Olukoya in Houston.

Love seeing more famous black men speaking out in favor of therapy including Will Smith And “The Breakfast Club‘s” Charlamagne, the god. Jerrod Carmichael’s 2022 Stand-up SpecialRothaniel” was more of a refreshing therapy session than a heartbreaking comedy hoopla – I think more of that energy will motivate us in the right direction.

Most of us don’t have Carmichael’s million-dollar platform to get rid of the monkey, and even if we did, most of us wouldn’t be speaking out to the world about our problems. But in conversation with someone is necessary if you suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts. If for any reason therapy is not possible for you and you don’t have someone to talk to, contact me via the link on my profile below… I’ll rap with you.

If talking to a random, unlicensed columnist isn’t (understandably) right for you, choose them Suicide and crisis lifeline at 988.

Just don’t stay alone in your head. Realize there’s always someone you can turn to, black man. Stay here a while longer.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, dial 988 or call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention. You can also get SMS support by checking here In addition, see local resources for mental health and crises at Outside the US, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

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