pexels nothing ahead 3375857SPRINGFIELD – A report from The Chicago Sun-Times revealed that more Black Cook County residents died by suicide in 2020 than any year in the last decade, which is why State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) led a hearing before the Senate Healthcare Access and Availability Tuesday afternoon.

“In the last year, there has been a rise in Black suicides, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it,” Van Pelt said. “So much tragedy has occurred, and I want everyone to know resources are available to help.”

Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, chief medical examiner of Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, testified that there was a 67% increase in the Black community in the last year – totaling 96 suicide deaths in 2020 compared to 57 in 2019.The largest increase was seen for 16-20 year olds and 21-25 year olds.

“This increase of suicides in the Black community is particularly alarming because the total number of suicides in Cook County declined in 2020 compared to 2019,” Dr. Arunkumar said. “The youngest suicide patient that we saw at our office was a nine-year-old, who was seen hanging from a rope in July 2020.”

The committee also heard from Donald Dew, president and CEO of Habilitative Systems, Inc. and Dr. Colleen Cicchetti, director of the Center for Childhood Resilience Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, who spoke on the genetic transfer of grief and Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome.

“The memories are there, and they’re transferred to our generations,” Dew said. “That’s why we’ve got to work very, very diligently at creating opportunities for resiliency and promoting the self-esteem of our youth and giving them tools.”

Dew spoke of suicide prevention apps, such as Suicide Safe, being potential lifesaving tools for the youth.

“The biology of trauma can stay in our bodies,” Dr. Cicchetti said. “Not only can it change the brain pathways, but it can in fact change the length of the telomeres, which is one little piece of your generic strand.”

She said that with early prevention and treatment, kids are able to grow back those telomeres.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – which is available 24 hours in English and Spanish – 800-273-8255.

There is also a Crisis Text Line available for anyone, in any type of crisis, 24-hours a day by texting HELLO to 741-741.

Category: Press Releases

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