Conference Provides Tools to Reduce African American Suicides

Monday, March 15, 2010 | 05:04am
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (TDMHDD) and the Davidson County Metro Public Health Department are hosting “Silencing the Silent Epidemic: Suicide Prevention and African American Faith Communities” to raise awareness of suicide. The conference takes place today in Nashville.
The conference, a collaboration between TDMHDD, the Behavioral Health Services of the Metro Public Health Department, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, (TSPN), the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, G45-Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center, and several leaders in Middle Tennessee African American churches, hopes to provide faith communities with tools to address suicide prevention and help participants to develop suicide prevention strategies that can be implemented in their faith communities. 
“These meetings produce both valuable dialogue and a commitment from all to address suicide prevention as a public health issue, with an emphasis on the role of faith leaders in raising awareness of suicide and suicide prevention in their communities,” said TDMHDD Commissioner Virginia Trotter Betts. “Suicide is an especially devastating death and in many cases can be prevented through the appropriate utilization of mental health services.”
The conference features national experts in the areas of suicide prevention, mental health and alcohol and drug issues including Howard University researcher and founder of the National Association of People of Color Against Suicide Donna Barnes, Ph.D., Chairman of the Meharry Medical College Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Rahn Bailey, M.D, among others.
Facts about suicide in the African American community:
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among black youth (15-24), just after homicides and accidents.
- Between 1980 and 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10-14 increased 233 percent. The rate of suicide among black teens aged 15-19 more than doubled during the same period.
- The latest statistics for the U.S. show that certified deaths of African American are suicides at a rate of five each day. Suicides are frequently under reported and these numbers likely may not represent the full picture, which is that suicides are increasingly prevalent in the African American community.
The conference is from 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. CDT at the Lentz Metro Public Health Department located at 311 23rd Avenue North in Nashville.

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