This paper discusses that the suicide rate among African Americans is increasing at an alarming rate. There are several factors which play their role in the rapid increase of suicides among African Americans. The paper discusses the major causes of suicide and uses the instrument of survey to identify the basic reason which is responsible for the rapid increase in suicide rate among African Americans.
The sample size of the survey is 6 African Americans, which includes 5 males and 1 female from 15 to 24 years of age. The reason for choosing this age group is that the trend of suicide is highest among this age range of African Americans.
Suicide among African Americans
Suicide rates have increased almost three folds among the people under 30 years of age (Crumley, 1990). Statistics also revealed that suicide is the third major cause of death among African Americans between the age bracket of 15 years to 24 years (National Center for Health Statistics, 2000). The trend of suicide was minimal in African Americans almost two decades earlier and it was thought that African Americans were mentally too simple and uncomplicated that they did not get depressed, which is one of the major causes of suicide. Nevertheless, in last few years the rate of Suicide has increased alarmingly, i. e. 126%, in African Americans; especially in juvenile (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998).
Some studies suggested that suicide or desire to attempting suicide is directly associated with substance abuse (Mino, Bousquet & Broers, 1999; Choquet, Kovess & Poutignat, 1993). Borges and his colleagues (2000) depicted that use of heroine and other poly drugs increased the chances of suicide.
However, I believe that Suicide among African American is increasing at an alarming rate because of low Social Cultural Context. There are several factors of African American’s low social cultural context which we will try to explore in this report
A nation’s prosperity today depends on legion of skilled, educated workers; societies with masses of peasants trapped in ignorance and illiteracy cannot compete in the global economy. It is not surprising, then, that rates of movement upward or downward in social class between generations – intergenerational mobility – are not significantly higher in the United States than they are in other developed nations (Winfield et. al., 1989).
Parent Child Relationship
Parental behavior may make an important contribution in the personality and character building of an individual. In one study, for example, emphatic concern for others at age thirty-one was greater for those subjects whose family life at age five was characterized by high scores on four factors: father’s involvement in child care; mother tolerance of the child’s dependent behavior; her inhibition of the child’s aggression; and her satisfaction with the maternal role. On the other hand, Family abuse and violence surely act as a destructive force in our society. They produce consequences that sometimes reverberate throughout the victim’s lives and even in future families. Victims of incest suffer alienation and other emotional difficulties into adulthood. Abused and neglected children are more likely to become violent, criminal adults (Alexander, Moore and Alexander, 1991).
In general, abused children show a variety of difficulties, including aggressiveness, problems relating to peers, lack of empathy, depression, and trouble in school. The child’s own behavior seemed to have little long-term significance, although more disobedience in the home was associated with lower levels of emphatic concern in adulthood. Family abuse and violence surely act as a destructive force in our society. They produce consequences that sometimes reverberate throughout the victim’s lives and even in future families. Trend of suicide and suicidal behavior is greatly found in physically abused grade school children (Robbins & Alessi, 1985), sexually abused children (Adams-Tucker, 1982) and neglected children (Khan, 1987). Thus, parent child disturbed relationship is one of the major causes of suicide itself (Sabbath, 1969) but as a whole it plays an important role in the overall poverty and low social condition of African American which ultimately increases the chances of suicide.
Education provides a ladder to climb toward a greater share of society’s rewards. It is increasingly the determining factor in success or failure in the emerging global, post-industrial economy. Racial or ethnic minority students also face a number of social obstacles to school success. African Americans and Hispanics often view the payoff of schoolwork as so remote that they do not preserve in their efforts. Even though many students hold positive abstract views about the value of education as a social stepping stone, they tend to base their actual school behaviors on the frustration and failures of their parents. As a result, often students cut classes, get suspended, and eventually drop out (Epstein, 2001). These problems combined together mounted so much pressure on African American students that their rate of suicide has increased. Different studies have shown that the trend of suicide among high school African American has been continuously increasing (Summerville, Abbate, Siegel, et al., 1992; Lester & Anderson, 1992)
All the above mentioned factors are also responsible for the poor condition of the unfortunate ones. In general, people who lack a basic level of material wealth are more likely to engage in criminal behavior (Patterson, 1991), especially property crimes (Crutchfield, Geerken and Gove, 1982) or become so depressed that they commit suicide. Even violent crimes are linked to economic troubles such as widespread unemployment, as seen in the increase in murder, domestic violence and other offences that follow the closing of a town’s main source of jobs (Koeppel, 1989). Adverse economic forces may leave individuals feeling powerless, and thus less likely or able to take responsibility for their actions, and such irresponsibility may well contribute to criminal activity (Phillips, 1991) or suicide.
Another face of poverty unemployment, also figures strongly in African American’s background. The link is perhaps understandably stronger for property crimes than violent crimes, and suicide among African Americans, though simply providing jobs will not necessarily reduce the crime rate in a neighborhood (Crutchfield, 1989). As important as employment is the type of jobs people hold in a neighborhood. When they are mostly unstable, high turnover jobs such as waiters, domestic servants and security guards, the resulting weak ties to the workplace and excess idle time contribute to the development of suicide rate among African Americans. Such workers are also less likely to bond strongly to their job or co-workers. They have less to lose in the event of arrest and thus less reason to conform to the norms of the broader society.
Poverty based on an ascribed status, such as race, will generate a sense of injustice and discontent, and a feeling that such proclaimed values of society as equal opportunities for all are not realized in actual experience (Blau & Schwartz, 1984). The resulting weakening of social bonds can free people from mainstream norms, opening the way to deviance and crime help explain why residents of such localities lash out at police, teachers and parents.
Depression due to these factors:
One of the most powerful predictors of academic success or failure is socioeconomic status. Simply put, the higher the social-class level of a child’s home, the more likely he or she will succeed in school. The mother’s level of education has a particularly strong correlation with a child’s academic performance (Ensminger & Slusarcick, 1992). Of course, it is not parental income or level of education per se that is responsible for a child’s success in school. Sociologists point instead to such factors as the cultural capital that affluent parents transmit to their children. Students from the upper classes not only learn reading skills and numbers during their preschool years, they also read appropriate books, visit museums, attend symphonic concerts, and in other ways acquire through their family socialization all the experiences, values and personality traits that school require for academic excellence (Nooriafshar, 2001). One study found that student’s work habits and citizenship figure strongly in the way teachers award grades (Xu, 2002).
Disadvantaged homes, on the other hand, can be identified by several markers: minority racial or ethnic identity, low income, single-parent head of household, and non-English speaking background. How do these social characteristics stand between a child and school success?
Even if minority students manage to overcome the discouraging signals in their environment, financial difficulties typically lengthen their odds of attending college. It is said that black parents (who are more likely to be single mothers, poorly educated, and financially strapped), simply have fewer resources to support children who want to go to college.
These all factors are linked together. African Americans are usually failed to acquire higher education due to their family background and poverty and without higher education they cannot change their social status. Thus, this vicious circle has enhanced the depression among African Americans which ultimately lead them to suicide.
Sample consists of 5 male and 1 female African Americans from 15 to 24 years of age. I have chosen this age group because the trend of suicide is highest among this age range of African Americans
The instrument used in this study consisted of a well-prepared questionnaire using either direct questions or questions with scale rating scheme regarding the parent involvement in schools. Most of the questions are direct; however the questionnaire contains some rating questions also.
The questionnaire will query with the subjects and try to rank how social structure and poverty affects and enhance the trend of suicide among African Americans. The questionnaire is given personally to each participant because the sample size is small.
The above survey results proved that the poverty and the low social condition of African Americans are one of the major causes of depression which ultimately leads towards the alarming increase of suicide trend in African Americans. Similarly parent involvement and deficiency of parental love and attention are also play important role in the increase in the rate of suicide among African Americans.
Social disorganization can also give rise to subcultures of violence, Lower-class, inter-city residents suffering from discrimination and operating in an isolated, aggressive environment more easily take offense and use force to deal with perceived insults and affronts to their personal honor. Youths in such a threatening neighborhood either join a gang for protection or attempt suicide.
Socialization in such neighborhoods fails to produce four elements of bonding needed to hold deviance in check. First, attachment to conventional others, such as parents, teachers, and conforming peers, forestall deviance. Divorce and desertion hit many homes before children reach adolescence. Moreover, drunken parents, beating, and incest cause a high percentage of the children to run away from home - hardly evidence of attachment.
Second, commitment to conventional goals and activities, such as schools, staves off delinquency and crime. Those who have invested time and energy in acquiring an education or establishing a business may avoid deviance because it could cost them their investment.
Third, involvement in conventional activities limits the time people have to consider deviant behaviors. The student immersed in studies and work has no time for getting into trouble.
Finally, the more those individuals believe in the moral validity of society’s rules, the less likely they are to violate these rules. Such belief in the rules directly reflects a person’s bond to morality, and predicts low deviance levels.
The human infant lacks the skill and knowledge necessary to survive and transmit culture. All societies rely on the family to provide the child with cultural fundamentals. Thus family background and values, as well as social and financial background and education play important role in the making of the personality and behavior of a person.
All the above mentioned discussion and the result of the survey revealed that low Social Cultural Context, family background and the poverty are major reasons for the increase of suicide rate among African Americans.
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