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.
#MentalHealthAwareness ❗️— DaBaby (@DaBabyDaBaby) November 6, 2020
If you can’t get over depression GET HELP, you see a loved one struggling get them help, they refuse the help, MAKE em get treated anyway.
You suffer from PTSD take that shit serious & get help!
I’m bouta get a therapist my damn self! #LongLiveG🖤🕊
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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