What Don't Kill Us Makes Us Stronger: African American Women and Suicide, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

What Don't Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

African American Women and Suicide, 1st Edition

By Kamesha Spates


192 pages

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A close look at black women’s physical, mental, and social circumstances reveals harmful social disparities. Yet, for decades, black women’s suicide rates have remained virtually nonexistent compared to the rest of the American population, baffling social scientists. In this book, black women speak for themselves about their life struggles and their notions of suicide. Within a framework that explores racial and gender inequalities, Spates uses interviews to uncover reasons for the racial suicide paradox. Her analysis offers a deeper understanding of the positive life strategies, including family and faith, that underlie black women’s resilience.

-Provides insights into the impact of a variety of racial and gender inequalities

-Vivid use of qualitative approaches to shed light on a statistical paradox

-Highlights a positive image of black women and their resilience


"Those in the field of suicide prevention and intervention need to know some of the findings in Dr. Spates’s thought-provoking study. The many stories she shares from the women she interviewed are captivating, as we learn how their convictions give them a sense of self-worth. This book needs to be distributed widely into our communities. What a great read!”

—Donna Holland Barnes, Howard University

“The book lets thirty-three black females speak for themselves in integrating three explanations—relatively high levels of religiosity, denser social networks creating a strong sense of responsibility, and an inner sense of strength derived from a history of coping with prejudice. It deserves to become a classic in understanding race and suicide.”

—Steven Stack, Wayne State University

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 2 Not All Peaches and Cream: Contemporary Pressures Experienced by Black Women 3 I Give All the Glory: The Role of Faith 4 Survival through Interdependence: Family, Community, and Perceptions of Suicide 5 Only the Strong Survive: Perceptions of Strength and Suffering 6 Conclusion

About the Author

Dr. Kamesha Spates is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Kent State University. Her current research interests include the intersections of race, class, and gender, the African American experience, criminology, mental health, and qualitative methodologies.

About the Series

New Critical Viewpoints on Society

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General