American Sociological Association

I’ve Got My Family and My Faith: Black Women and the Suicide Paradox

Although existing suicide literature proposes black women’s strong religious ties and social networks protect them against suicide, few studies offer black women’s perceptions. The present study examines the factors black women perceive of as protective against suicide by conducting in-depth semi-structured interviews with 33 U.S.-born black women. Results support current suicide literature on the role of social networks and religion in black women’s lives. The results also identify two important factors researchers continue to overlook. These include: (1) Black women’s encounters with longstanding oppression appear to have aided them in developing a strong sense of resiliency that has thereby resulted in a keen sense of survival individually and culturally despite the challenges they face, and (2) black women are highly regarded within their support systems, so their levels of responsibility and commitment to others often results in the dismissal of suicide as an option.

Download PDF


Kamesha Spates and Brittany C. Slatton