Black Children Are Dying By Suicide. I Know How They Feel.

I had my first suicidal ideation at 11.

LaToya Baldwin Clark


CW: mental health, suicide, children

Subway train approaching with yellow caution paint at the end of the platforms. A few people are waiting for the train.,_December_2008.jpg

“For your safety, always stand behind the yellow line…”

I read these words as I sat on the rugged wooden subway bench, 12 or so dirty tiled feet from the line, a yellow line pocked with bubbles as a warning to your feet that you are getting too close. I reread the sign. “For your safety…” Safe?

I didn’t feel safe. At the time, I don’t know when I ever felt safe.

I was physically safe. I was not concerned about being attacked or being physically harmed by others. I’d been using Philadelphia public transit — Septa — since I was a toddler. At 11 years old, I wasn’t afraid of the world.

I was afraid of me.

While people stood all around, an invisible hand grabbed my heart and tried to pull me over that line. Coaxing me to feel my body on the edge as the wind precedes the train as it comes from the tunnel.

It took all my strength not to succumb. I imagined being weighed down by a giant rock on my lap and strapped to the wall.

This is my earliest memory of a round of depression that would become a feature of my self-concept for the next…



LaToya Baldwin Clark

Law professor. Living with Bipolar. Teach and write about the law of educational inequality, property and the family. Mom of 3. All opinions my own.