Meet Genesis, a High School Senior in NYC
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Today, we’re spending time with a high school senior in New York City who is making her way through the pandemic, and discussing the high suicide rate among black children.
A High School Senior’s Journey
My colleagues Eliza Shapiro and Gabriella Bhasker spent six months with Genesis Duran, one of more than a million New York City students who have gone through the pandemic.
When the in-person school closed in March 2020, Genesis was a sophistication. Through the pandemic, she helped her younger sister, Mia, manage kindergarten, as well as trying to get through the most fruitful year of her own academic life.
Last spring, the girls delayed returning to class because their mothers were concerned about the virus. Distance learning was difficult.
“In front of a screen, it gets worse every day,” Genesis said in March.
To help Mya learn to read and keep her engaged, Genesis will record her own voice memos as she reads the stories. In case her sister needed help, Genesis would often move Maia’s desk closer to her bedroom during class.
“I have to keep in mind that I am not his mother, I am his sister,” said Genesis.
Over the summer, her neighborhood — Washington Heights — opened up, thanks to vaccines. As the days warmed up, Genesis and her friends roamed the city, dipping into different neighborhoods with the swipe of a MetroCard.
“So we live in New York, to find out,” Genesis said. “You don’t need the money, you just need to get on the train.”
The Delta version quickly sidelined his summer. As she struggled through intensive online architecture classes, she found herself sleeping soundly in the afternoon for several days. It seemed as if all the responsibilities and stress of the last 18 months were coming to an end at once.
This fall, Genesis returned to the classroom as a senior. To overcome back-to-school panic, she volunteered to initiate class discussions and help friends through the breakup.
“As soon as the first period started on Day 1, we were back,” she said.
Now, as high school draws to a close, Genesis is training her eyes on college. She will be the first one to join her family and she wants to leave New York City. Supervision Maya has prepared him to manage the heavy workload.
“I think the city is a big distraction,” she said. “I think if I stay, a lot of people will expect things from me.”
Here’s the full story, which has more of Gabriella’s remarkable photography.
looking for answers
Black children appear to be suicidal at higher rates than their peers in some other racial groups. But research funding and prevention programs have failed to keep up.
Michael Lindsay, Who was the first to document trends in increasing suicide attempts among black teens, says suicide and mental illness are often treated as “white phenomena”.
If you just look at the raw numbers, it could be true: White deaths by suicide are far higher than black ones. Suicide rates are highest among teens and young adults, white people, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives.
But recently there has been a decline in suicide rates in those groups. This increase among black youth continued: from 2013 to 2019, the suicide rate for black boys and men aged 15 to 24 increased by 47 percent and for black girls and women of the same age by 59 percent.
This number is likely to be even higher for young black people who identify as LGBTQ.
Now, legislators and academics are pushing for better research, especially in light of new evidence suggesting that black children may have unique risk factors.
Suicide screening questionnaires typically ask whether people are having suicidal thoughts or have made plans to hurt themselves. But a study published in September found that black teens who were surveyed were more likely than white teens to attempt suicide without suicidal ideation or planning.
Tips for parents to help their struggling teens
Are you worried for your teen? If you worry that your teen may be experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, there are things you can do to help. Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suggests these steps:
Their triggers may also be different. A government study conducted last year suggested that black youth who died by suicide were more likely than white youth to experience distress in the two weeks before they died.
There also aren’t enough Black therapists: Black people made up 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2015, but only 4 percent of Americans were psychologists in 2015, according to a report from the American Psychological Association.
Many black children face chronic stress, including neighborhood violence and food insecurity. Researchers have found that young people in communities with high poverty are more likely to die by suicide.
“You have to bring culture into it, you have to talk about racism, you have to talk about discrimination,” said Ariel Sheftal, a leading suicide researcher. “It’s something that black youth experience every day.”
what are we reading
and the rest …
Tip: A Casual Mental Health Day
Since the pandemic, students have been advocating for Mental Health Day out of school.
Nationwide, districts are extending the Thanksgiving break to give kids and employees time to recharge. In December, schools in Detroit will go remote on Fridays to address mental health concerns.
As the days of mental health roll on, my colleagues at the Well Desk asked readers how they made their time worthwhile. Many shared their adult strategies. Holly Roberson in Berkeley, Calif., offered one for a child.
“My 13 year old football-obsessed son asked to drop off school for mental health day,” wrote Holly. “He spent the day in bed, sipping hot chocolate and working on a musical script. He said it was the best day of his life.”
That’s all for this newspaper. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you next week!
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