School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Suzie Johnson


African American Female Teens, Suicide, Poverty, Mental illness, Bullying, Social Media


Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to investigate and ascribe meaning to the lived experiences of African American females and examine plausible circumstances that could cause an exponential increase in suicides among teenagers from 2001-2017. The theories that guided this study were Albert Bandura’s (2018) social cognitive theory (SCT) and Icek Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior (TPB). TPB is a model used to predict and explain behaviors based on an individual’s attitude and intentions toward the behavior. When TPB is interwoven with SCT, the theories helped interpret influences that explained the participants’ perspectives, thoughts, and behavior that could instigate their actions based on attitudes, subjective norms, and intentions. The central research question for conducting this study examined why suicides increased by 182% among Black female teens in 16 years. The three sub-questions addressed (a) the influence of social media, (b) the increase in bullying behaviors, and (c) possible factors that could encourage a teenager to attempt or die by suicide. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews, and the hermeneutic analysis, along with constant comparison and the line-by-line method, was used to reveal six themes: home life, peer relationships, acceptance, feelings, school violence, and bullying. Strategic measures enhanced trustworthiness and ensured integrity, ethics, and confidentiality. The conclusion summarized the findings and discussed delimitations, limitations, theoretical, empirical, practical implications, and a Christian worldview before making future research recommendations.

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