FIGURE 2-6 Suicides Rates by Race and Gender: United States, 1981–1998. Source: NCIPC (2000).

black men 25–34 the rate (20/100,000) was nearly the same as in the same aged white male (26/100,000) (Griffith and Bell, 1989; Hollinger et al., 1994). In 1993 for ages 25–34 the suicide rates for white men was 25.6/ 100,000 and for black men was 24.0/100,000.

The suicide rates for black women are remarkably low. The suicide rates among black women have held steady at about 2/100,000 for the past two decades (Griffith and Bell, 1989). The difference between black and white women is diminished when suicide attempts, rather than completed suicides are considered. The suicide rate among elderly black men is also strikingly low, in dramatic contrast to elderly white men. For men over 65, the rates are currently approximately 12/100,000 in African Americans compared to 37/100,000 in white men (NCIPC, 2000).

The rising rates among African American males has been noted with considerable concern. As early as 1938, Prudhome (1938) predicted that as Blacks acculturated into White middle class society, their suicide rates would go up. In support of this hypothesis, Clark (1965) noted that the suicide rates in Harlem were half those of New York City rates, but there were three middle class black communities in Harlem where the suicide rates were equal to the city as a whole. Others have suggested that young black men, like elderly white men, feel that society has no place for them (Bell, 1986; Bell and Clark, 1998; Robins et al., 1977).

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