The Death Of George Foreman’s Daughter Freeda Shines Light On How Black Women Are Often Left Out Of Conversations About Suicide

31 Mar 2000: Freeda Foreman daughter of George Foreman poses in the ring for the camera during a press conference at the Regent Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Death Of George Foreman’s Daughter Freeda Shines Light On How Black Women Are Often Left Out Of Conversations About Suicide

With rates on the rise among people of color, it’s time to talk about depression among Black women.

Published March 12, 2019

Last weekend, the daughter of champion boxer George Foreman was found dead in her Texas home by a family member. On Monday, medical officials revealed Freeda Foreman died from "asphyxia by hanging." Once Freeda’s apparent suicide was reported, many people wondered if there could be another possible explanation into her death.

What these conversations completely ignored is the fact that Black women are often disregarded in discussions of depression and suicide awareness.

Freeda was 42-years-old when she took her own life, leaving behind a husband, two daughters, three grandchildren, parents, and 11 siblings.

Like her father, Freeda was a boxer and accomplished a 5-1 record before retiring in 2001, the Houston Chronicle reported.

As of right now, there are no details into why Freeda may have taken her own life. Some have speculated that the boxer may have suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that has been found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Football players such as Junior Seau and Aaron Hernandez had signs of CTE after their deaths were examined. 

Although details are scarce, news of Freeda's death has highlighted how Black women are often disregarded in the overall examination of suicide in the country.

While the suicide rate among Black Americans is relatively low at 6.61% in 2017, that number is significantly greater than it was in the previous years, according to the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention.

Additionally, Black children between the ages of 5 to 12-years-old are  twice as likely to take their own life than white children, according to the paper, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Although the suicide rates among Black adults may be low, the number of Black women living with chronic depression and anxiety is alarmingly high. What’s more, the symptoms of anxiety among Black women are typically more intense and longstanding than whites, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

In the media, Black women are often portrayed as “strong Black women” who hold the weight of the world on their soldiers without cracking under the pressure. The reality is that Black women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and experience forms of racialized trauma. All of these instances can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can often manifest in the form of depression or anxiety.

When trauma goes unrecognized and untreated, the symptoms often grow worse and can lead to self-mutilation or thoughts of suicide.

As the stigma surrounding therapy and outside help for mental health issues grows smaller, Black women are still less likely to seek help or report abuse.

Right now, Black women need to be involved more than ever when people address mental health issues in the country and suicide. The rate of suicide among Black women may be low right now, but it will only grow if we continue to keep them out of the conversation.

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. 

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Harry How / Getty Images)


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