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To Black Moms Whose Black Sons Completed Suicide, You Are Not Alone


To Black Moms Whose Black Sons Completed Suicide, You Are Not Alone

Courtesy of Gina Smallwood

My sonshine, my heartbeat and the very center of my universe left this realm 14 years ago. He was a true renaissance man: a sophomore honor roll student on a full academic scholarship, an amazing artist and athlete with, I thought, everything to live for. However, in an intensely emotional moment he found my gun that had been locked up in my bedroom at my Atlanta home, which I’d purchased just to be closer to him while he attended Morehouse College. At the time, I was 600 miles away on a road trip to my main residence in Washington D.C. And just like that, life as I had known it for nearly two decades came to a screeching halt. 

Kelvin Mikhail Smallwood-Jones was my only child and he was brilliant, funny, fun-loving, ambitious and compassionate. He had plans, too. He was planning to celebrate his 20th birthday in D.C. during spring break and had summer plans to complete a prestigious internship. None of that would ever come to be. 

This painful experience has taught me that my son was like legions of young Black men out there today struggling privately with their mental health; their lives plagued by anxiety, depression, undiagnosed mood disorders and sometimes suicidal thoughts brought on by feelings of despair and an overwhelming sense of darkness. It hangs over their lives like a bloated storm cloud that they fear will never go away. 

Courtesy of Gina Smallwood

In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans, ages 15 to 24. The death rate from suicide for African American men was four times greater than for African American women in 2018. A report released in 2021 concluded that among Black male youth, suicide deaths increased by 47 percent from 2013 to 2019. Our Black sons need help and they need more access to culturally competent professional therapists who can help them sort through their feelings. 

I wish I could tell you as a mother that it will be alright, but it will take time. The…

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