Mural Sheds Light On Suicide Rates Among Minorities
By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program’s latest project, titled, “Finding the Light Within,” sheds light on the issue of suicide among minority youth.
According to a 2009 study by Temple University’s College of Health Professionals, the rate of suicide attempts among public high school students in Philadelphia is nearly twice the national average.
Pat Gainey of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says the rate among minorities is also high since many suicides are not properly classified.
“Many people who suffer from depression, the leading cause of suicide, treat the symptoms with alcohol and drug addiction. Those deaths are not necessarily classified as suicide deaths. And then we have a phenomenon among African American males that has been written about extensively, called ‘suicide by cop.’”
Gainey’s group worked with muralist James Burns, as well as the Department of Behavioral Health and other social service agencies to hold workshops where those impacted by suicide painted pictures of lost loved ones.
“To see those brothers and sisters and wives and husbands and uncles and aunts surrounding these portraits and painting them, was just very emotional.”
James Burns says the portraits will be included in the 4800-square-foot mural, which will be displayed on the side of Horizon House in West Philadelphia.
“In the center of it, we have a turbulent scene of a person in rocky water in a boat and then a person on the shore throwing a lifeline.”
The mural, which is in progress, is set to be revealed this fall.