The first time I thought about killing myself, I was eleven. I’d had some trauma in my life, unspeakable things that my tween self could not articulate. Pain that ran deep, seated into my soul. I could not get away from it.
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At eleven, I didn’t make a plan; plans came later in my teens. But I thought about death constantly and cried myself to sleep every night. With the every day assaults on myself as a child, a black child, a black girl-child, a working-class black girl-child—each breath was a chore. I had “black girl pain.”
I was lucky; I’m still here. Other children were not—are not as lucky as I was. While suicide among young children is rare, in the last twenty years since I was eleven, over 657 children aged ten and younger have committed suicide. Many more have tried, albeit unsuccessfully. Even more concerning than the raw numbers is a trend that has not been found among adult victims: young black children are killing themselves at three times the rate of white children.
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