Rapper Christ Bearer cuts off penis, attempts suicide

Rapper Christ Bearer was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles early Wednesday morning after he cut off his penis and jumped off a second-story balcony, according to multiple reports.

Christ Bearer, who was born Andre Johnson, is a member of the rap duo Northstar, which is affiliated with Wu-Tang Clan. Wu-Tang member RZA discovered the group in 1998. Two members of another group Johnson works with, Black Knights, live in the same North Hollywood, Calif., apartment building where Johnson was found, but said they were not taking “any hard drugs that would cause him to do such a thing,” TMZ reported.

Details on Johnson’s apparent suicide attempt are sparse. The two Black Knights’ members TMZ spoke to, Rugged Monk and Crisis Tha Sharpshooter, said Johnson was yelling incoherently when they rushed downstairs just before 1 a.m. Police told the New York Daily News the wounds were self-inflicted. Johnson was taken to the hospital with his penis, which was recovered, CNN said.

Rugged Monk and Johnson just uploaded a new music video for their song “Oooh!” Tuesday. His last posts on Facebook and Twitter promoted the video. Well-wishers and fans offered their condolences in the comments.

“Hope you doing okay brotha,” one wrote. “Got u in my prayers.”

This is the second high-profile suicide attempt by a young African American this month.

Unlike Johnson, ForBrownGirls.com creator Karyn Washington did not survive — she died April 8. Washington, who was just 22, reportedly suffered from depression after the death of her mother. News of her suicide rippled through the black-girl blogosphere, leaving women flummoxed. Washington aimed to empower black women with her #DarkSkinRedLip movement after rapper ASAP Rocky said that dark-skinned black women shouldn’t wear red lipstick.

Studies done by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) show that African Americans and whites experience depression differently. Black Americans are less likely than whites to have a major depressive disorder (MDD), said NIMH, but when they do, it’s more severe and less likely to be treated. Add to that the stigma around mental illness, and you have a recipe for tragedy. Among blacks who experienced MDD, the rate of chronic depression was 56.5 percent, compared with whites with MDD, who experienced chronic depression at a rate of 38.6 percent.

According to a recent Washington Post report by Tara Bahrampour, more African Americans are seeking help for mental illness. Said Bahrampour:

Many people, regardless of race, have a hard time talking about mental illness. But for many African Americans, the topic has carried particularly negative connotations — to the point where it’s easier to talk about drug or alcohol addiction than depression or anxiety. In 2008, whites received mental health treatment or counseling at nearly twice the rate of blacks, and whites received prescription medication for mental health-related issues at more than twice the rate of blacks, according to the 2010 National Healthcare Disparities Report.

But African Americans’ acceptance of therapy has been rising in the past decade, providers say, particularly among the young and those with more education and in those urban areas with large black populations.

There have been no large-scale studies about the recent shift, but providers interviewed said they have seen it in their work and in their communities.

Still, barriers of stigma and distrust aren’t easily overcome.

“There’s some shame and embarrassment,” Damian Waters, a marriage and family therapist whose clients are predominantly African American, told Bahrampour. “You’ll tell someone that you went to the doctor, but you won’t tell that you went to the counselor or psychiatrist. Also, there is the idea that their faith should carry them through, though often their problems are larger than that.”

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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