Suicides at varying rates

The news: In November, Chicago Board of Education President Michael W. Scott died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Behind the news: According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, 157 Chicagoans committed suicide, at a rate of 5.7 suicides per 100,000 in 2006, the latest year for which the data are available. The highest rate was recorded among white people, with a rate of 10.1 suicides per 100,000, while African Americans and Latinos committed suicides at rates of 5.1 and 2.5 per 100,000, respectively.

The rates may be different, but the issue of suicides affects all races and communities, said Charles Rubey, director and founder of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide, a support group for those who are grieving the suicide of a loved one.

“Most of our calls are from the Caucasian community, and it could be a cultural issue,” said Rubey. “Shame and [mental] illness in African- American and Hispanic communities and how those communities react to these may prevent people from coming forward [for help].”

Edmond Yomtoob, president of the Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said people who commit suicide are often mentally ill and have an acute sense of isolation, and that community differences can affect suicide rates.

“African-American and Latino communities are quite strong even though they have other problems like crime–” their strengths are community support and resiliency,” Yomtoob said.

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