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Conference Focuses on Suicide Prevention in the African American Faith Communities

Monday, June 03, 2013 | 11:04am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is co-sponsoring the 6th National Suicide and the Black Church Conference on Wednesday-Thursday, June 12-13, in Memphis, Tenn.

Suicide is a preventable public health problem. The conference, with the theme of “Life Matters,” will help members of the general public and all faith communities learn how to identify signs of depression and suicidal behavior, get help, and develop suicide-prevention strategies. The information will help empower attendees to return to their places of worship and employment better able to identify those in need of emotional or mental health services.

In Tennessee, an estimated 850 men, women, and youth die by suicide each year — more than the number who die from homicide, AIDS, or drunken driving. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth and young adults ages 10-24 in Tennessee and throughout the entire nation. In Tennessee in 2011, there were 938 suicides for a rate of 14.6 per 100,000 individuals, higher than the national average of 10.8 per 100,000 individuals.

Among the speakers and facilitators at the two-day conference are TDMHSAS Commissioner Douglas Varney; Dr. Michael Torres of the Universal Counseling Center in Baltimore, Md.; Siredeaner Lynn Walker, advocate & survivor from Springfield, Mass.; Dr. Sherry Davis-Molock, Professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; Clark Flatt, founder of The Jason Foundation, Inc., in  Hendersonville, Tenn.; Dr. Stephen McLeod-Bryant, Vice Chairman and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn.; and many others.

The conference will be held at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Student Alumni Center, at 800 Madison Avenue. For more information about the conference, please see the attached flyer, or go online to

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