According to an article published by the New York Times, nearly 40,000 Americans died from gun violence last year. That’s the highest since 1968 according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control. More alarming, however is the fact that close to 60 percent of those deaths were suicides.
Recent studies have shown a correlation between mental illness, drug use and gun violence. So what is our responsibility in all of this? Despite the many veteran MC’s who still bless us with music, hip hop is a youth driven genre. Many of today’s hottest rappers were in their late teens and early twenties when they got into the business.
Interestingly enough, the onset of mental illness usually occurs around the same time(late teens to early twenties). With that being said, it’s quite possible that some of our favorite rappers are suffering from some form of undiagnosed mental illness.
In a genre where rappers have unlimited access to drugs, alcohol and firearms we’re sitting on a ticking time bomb. We see news articles almost every week about a rapper being arrested for gun possession. And for too many of them have already become victims of fatal gun violence.
But within the last decade, we’ve seen an increase in suicide and self harm within the hip hop community. Seattle based rapper Freddy E was only 22 years old when he fatally shot himself in 2013. In 2015 on a song called London Roads Lil Wayne speaks about purposely shooting himself in the chest and missing his heart by mere centimeters. Prior to releasing that song, he always maintained the shooting was an accident. Dipset rapper King Tut shot and killed himself in 2009 during a police stand off.
I wont even go into the countless accidental suicides by drug overdose that the hip hop community has experienced. Gun violence and gun related arrests have been prevalent in the hip hop community for some time. The questions I have are what role did mental illness play in any of these situations? Were any of these people under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they shot themselves? And are we moving towards a trend of gun related suicides?
What type of outreach do you think would be effective in addressing the needs of the hip hop community as it pertains to drugs, mental illness and violence?