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DaBaby’s Older Brother’s Death Pushes Him To Further Advocate For Mental Health

And it is imperative that we continue to advocate for mental health awareness and self-harm prevention.

Celebrity News

On Tuesday, November 3rd it was reported that popular young artist DaBaby's older brother Glenn Johnson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in their hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Though DaBaby has yet to confirm that the actual cause of death was explicitly suicide, he has been very open about his brother's mental health issues in the form of lyrics. DaBaby pens:

"My brother be thinkin' that we don't love him and let him struggle/like we ain't family/Like I won't give up all I got to see you happy, n**ga/We shocked the world, everybody knows what's happenin', n**ga.

Though there is no public record of his brother's official diagnosis, it is very possible that he might have had a history of cognitive distortions which, in short, is a phenomenon that causes your own brain to lie to you. When afflicted, it is ridiculously hard for a person to see that their life is worth living, their potential is infinite, and that their loved ones would give up an arm and leg before they would want to see them self-harm. However, without the proper tools, it is very difficult to work one's way out of this vicious cycle of thinking because what seems like irrational thoughts to someone looking from the outside in, are actually reinforced by the trauma suffered by the afflicted.

Read that again. The negative memories and the way that person processes and/or internalizes those experiences is working overtime to override every logical thought that an otherwise level-headed, resilient, and even brilliant person would have. It gets to a dangerous point where the negative feelings become fact in the mind of the afflicted. Phrases such as "I feel stuck, powerless, hopeless" with repetition and further reinforcements such as high levels of stress and emotional isolation are transformed into "I am stuck, powerless, and hopeless."

The worst part is that it can be as undetectable and deadly as a carbon monoxide leak to both the afflicted and their loved ones. You may be asking how I know all of this... it is because I have experienced these kinds of thoughts myself. It is terrifying! To have people in your life telling you how much they love you, how hurt they would be to lose you, and to look at them dead in the eye and really think that they are lying and/or better off without you in their lives.

DaBaby is taking the necessary steps to ensure that he does not succumb to the collateral damage that survivors of self-harm often endure. Survivors of self-harm are not only those who attempted and lived to see another day, they are also the loved ones of those who died of mental health issues.

​DaBaby advocates:

Though I do not necessarily think that mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, or cognitive distortions are ones that you fully get over, I do know they can be worked through especially if they are privileged enough to receive ongoing services from a mental health professional. However, treatment for mental health issues in the Black community, especially amongst our men is very disproportionate. The Root reports:

"Some of the factors that drive mental health issues, as well as prevent Black men from getting care, are systemic racism and discrimination, mistrust of healthcare providers, misdiagnoses and clinician bias, one study found. Because of this, informal interventions are key in aiding Black men to get the care they need: Some studies have found that Black men are more likely to seek help from other men they can relate to. Involvement from family members also tends to have a greater effect on improving mental health for Black people than for whites."

What is the solution to this issue? More resources for Black people to receive safe care such as Therapy For Black Men, and Therapy For Black Girls. More investigation of the most helpful ways to support loved ones during a tough time. More people using their platforms to destigmatize mental health issues. Vulnerability amongst those in our community without the 'toughen up and mental health issues are only for white people nonsense'. It is killing us in the form of addiction, violence, and self-harm.

Baby, please hold on.

Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with Glenn Johnson along with his friends and family.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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Featured image by YES Market Media / Shutterstock.com

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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