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Basic Black; Brothers At Risk: Suicide And Depression In Black America

01/13/1999


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Series
Basic Black
Program
Brothers At Risk: Suicide And Depression In Black America
Program Number

3005

Series Description

THe series was formerly known as Say Brother. Series title change as of 1/8/1998. This series is black produced and is one of public television's longest-running series that is rooted in and reflects the culture, concerns, achievements and history of people of African descent. Also includes controversial issues, African American artists, and events of special interest to the African American community.

Series release date: 1/8/1998

Program Description

Why are a growing number of African Americans, particularly men, so reluctant to seek help treating the depression that can lead to suicide? Basic Black talks to experts as well as people who have dealt with depression and suicide, and introduces organizations that are helping African Americans to come to terms with the disease.

In the past two decades, the suicide rate among young African American men has skyrocketed. Why are a growing number of African Americans—particularly men—so reluctant to seek help treating the depression that can lead to suicide?

"Suicide has been a taboo subject" in the black community, says Dr. Alvin Poussaint, psychiatrist at Judge Baker’s Children’s Center. "It goes against our ethic of feeling that we’re a strong people and that suicide is being weak."

Poussaint and journalist Amy Alexander, co-authors of Lay My Burden Down: Suicide and the Crisis in Black Mental Health, talk to Basic Black about their research and about their own personal experiences with depression and suicide. Alexander’s brother committed suicide, and Poussaint’s brother died of an illness related to his heroin abuse, destructive behavior that Poussaint says is a type of suicide. "Even though a lot of black people don’t put a gun to their heads, they engage in self destructive behavior …kinds of slow forms of suicide," he says.

Basic Black also talks to Donna Holland Barnes, an African American woman whose son committed suicide almost ten years ago, when he was a student at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. "Barnsey," as her son was known, became depressed when his grades began to suffer and he feared that he would lose his baseball scholarship. Looking back, Barnes sees that he displayed warning signs of depression, but she didn’t recognize them at the time. "When you lose someone to suicide, you want some answers, you need some closure, and so you ask why," she says.

Basic Black introduces some organizations that are helping African Americans come to terms with depression and access mental health service: NOPCAS, the National Organization for people of Color Against Suicide, and locally, the Behavioral Health Collaborative of the the Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center.

Duration

00:27:15

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type

Video

Genres
Magazine
Topics
Race and Ethnicity
Social Issues
Citation
Chicago: “Basic Black; Brothers At Risk: Suicide And Depression In Black America,” 01/13/1999, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 9, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_B633C9D9A59145EE87BD75203BB2C20B.
MLA: “Basic Black; Brothers At Risk: Suicide And Depression In Black America.” 01/13/1999. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 9, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_B633C9D9A59145EE87BD75203BB2C20B>.
APA: Basic Black; Brothers At Risk: Suicide And Depression In Black America. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_B633C9D9A59145EE87BD75203BB2C20B
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