Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre, Senator David Carlucci Introduce Legislation to Fight Black Youth Suicide

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Babylon) has announced that she recently introduced legislation (A.6740) to establish a black youth suicide prevention task force to examine, evaluate and determine remedies for improving mental health and preventing suicides for New York’s black residents aged 5 through 18. Senator David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown), who chairs the Senate Mental Health Committee, has introduced and advanced the legislation in the New York State Senate.

New research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that the suicide rate is roughly two times higher for black children aged 5 through 12 compared with white children of the same age group, results that were observed in both males and females.[1] Although researchers were able to examine suicide rates, the data did not include information on what might be contributing to the age-related racial disparities in suicide.

“We know that mental illness does not discriminate, but this data reveals a pressing need to examine why black children are taking their lives at such a disproportionate rate,” said Jean-Pierre. “I would like to thank Senator Carlucci for taking the lead on this critical issue and I look forward to working with him and this task force on solutions that will eventually save these precious lives.”

"As a father, I cannot imagine the loss a parent feels when a young child takes their own life,” said Senator Carlucci. “The research is telling us young black children are taking their own lives at a rate two times higher than white children. We all have a responsibility to turn around this alarming and tragic trend so we can save children's lives and better tailor our suicide prevention efforts."  

The black youth suicide task force would be comprised of appointees with expertise in fields or disciplines related to mental health as well as knowledge of issues affecting black communities. Public hearings, the gathering of testimony, and investigations would take place as the task force deems necessary, with a preliminary report on its findings, conclusions and recommendations due to the Governor and Legislature within 13 months.

The Assembly version of the legislation has been referred to the Assembly Mental Health Committee, while the Senate version has advanced to the Senate floor where it is expected to be voted on.