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Rapper Young Dolph’s death could have mental health impact on young fans

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Psychologists said many Memphians are likely feeling collective grief after seeing the news of Young Dolph’s death.

They said you don’t have to be the direct victim of violence to be traumatized by it.

For many of the rapper’s young fans, it’s important that parents are talking to them about how they’re feeling.

“That was my favorite rapper. That’s the first rapper I ever listened to and y’all just straight up killed him,” 11-year-old fan Maliq Woodof said.

Millions of fans across the world are reeling with the news of Young Dolph’s death in Memphis. At the scene of his murder Wednesday, Woodof may have said what many are feeling.

“Y’all took a real person away from Memphis,” Woodof said. “He was a real rapper and y’all just killed him.”

A memorial outside Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies, where Young Dolph was shot to death, isn’t just balloons and stuffed animals. There are heartfelt notes written to Young Dolph from his fans, showing just how much he meant to them and how heartbroken they are.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s trauma mental health counselor, Dr. Kiersten Hawes, said Memphis is experiencing a collective grief.

“I feel like I’m from Memphis as well, so there’s this bond and this grit that Memphis has and I think everyone is taking it hard,” Hawes said.

In 2021, there has been an increase in childhood mental health emergencies. Le Bonheur has seen more than 334 suicide precaution encounters so far this year, skyrocketing past the 2020 total of 250.

Hawes said pandemic isolation has caused more mental health needs in children, as well as the increase in community violence.

“Although you’re not necessarily experiencing it first hand, there’s a secondary aspect to it, which has the same effect as that direct trauma,” Hawes said.

For young fans grieving Young Dolph’s death, Hawes said parents need to check in with their kids.

“Kids and adolescents should talk about it with their parents and caregivers, and they should also be open to counseling,” Hawes said.

For help with referrals to mental health services, you can call 211. You can also visit the Memphis Crisis Center here, as well as Alliance Healthcare services here.

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