Even Strong Black Women Get Suicidal

Following the suicide of a 22-year-old activist who founded a movement “to uplift and empower” African-American women, Josie Pickens considers the unique challenges they face when confronting depression:

It is appropriate that [Karyn] Washington’s suicide is stimulating conversation around race and mental illness. … I honestly believe we’re so accustomed to delivering the strong Black woman speech to ourselves and everyone else that we lose our ability to connect to our humanness, and thus our frailty. We become afraid to admit that we are hurting and struggling, because we fear that we will be seen as weak. And we can’t be weak. We’ve spent our lives witnessing our mothers and their mothers be strong and sturdy, like rocks. We want to be rocks. Somehow realizing I wasn’t a rock (and that I had honestly never been one), I fought my way out of bed and onto my therapist’s couch. I became exhausted with carrying all of the masks and the capes. And I knew if I didn’t get help quickly, I wasn’t going to survive.

The long-running thread “Suicide Leaves Behind Nothing” is here.