Summary: Can the use of Mindfulness reduce suicide rates? Over the past decade, suicide rates among Black Americans have risen by 30%. In contrast, data shows a decline in suicide trends for white Americans during a similar period. A recent study led by Jasmin Brooks, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Houston, delves into the impact of mindfulness as a coping mechanism, particularly in relation to impulsivity and the risk of suicide among young Black adults.
The Rising Suicide Rates Among Black Americans and the Role of Mindfulness
Over the last ten years, there has been a 30% increase in suicide rates for Black Americans. Meanwhile, epidemiological data from the same period indicates a decline in suicide trends among white Americans. A groundbreaking study, spearheaded by Jasmin Brooks, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Houston, and overseen by psychology professor Rheeda Walker, has explored the influence of mindfulness—a potent coping strategy—on the relationship between impulsivity and the risk of suicide in a group of young Black adults.
The research has been published in the journal Mindfulness. Mindfulness, defined as living in the present moment, entails focusing one’s attention on experiencing the current moment without being influenced by past judgments or future anxieties. It’s about training the mind to focus on sensory experiences and physical actions as they occur. In psychological terms, impulsivity is characterized by quick, unplanned reactions to internal or external stimuli, often without considering the potential negative outcomes of these reactions.
Rheeda Walker, who leads the “Culture, Risk, and Resilience Lab” at the university, has noted that her two-decade-long research consistently indicates that certain psychological buffers can mitigate the potential vulnerability to mental health crises. The researchers have reported that mindfulness can act as a protective buffer against the adverse effects of impulsivity for Black Americans, emphasizing the complexity of understanding suicide among this demographic. It requires analyzing risk factors in conjunction with protective factors.
While impulsivity is frequently linked to suicidal risk, there’s a dearth of studies that have explored the relationship between impulsivity, suicidal risk, and potential protective factors specifically for Black Americans. Similarly, there’s a lack of research on the role of mindfulness in the context of impulsivity and suicidal risk for this demographic.
For this pioneering study, the University of Houston team analyzed data from 332 Black emerging adults, with an average age of 22. Participants filled out an online questionnaire that measured impulsivity, mindfulness, suicidal ideation, and heightened suicidal risk. The findings revealed a direct and indirect association between impulsivity and suicidal ideation, as well as elevated suicidal risk, mediated by lower levels of mindfulness.
Mindfulness has also been linked to numerous positive health outcomes among Black Americans, including reduced suicidal ideation, decreased depressive symptoms, reduced substance use, decreased psychological distress, enhanced psychological well-being, and the selection of adaptive coping strategies.
Professor Walker commented on the societal context, stating, “Ideally, we would live in a society that doesn’t create unnecessary stress or incite mistreatment. Until that becomes a reality, a mindful disposition is an essential source of resilience.“
Source: Medical Xpress
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