Suicide ‘storm’ hits Memphis

smitchell@tri-statedefender.com | 6/13/2007, 7 p.m.

   
Hundreds are expected to attend the highly anticipated event featuring families of suicide victims, professional counselors, and advocates who work with an alarmingly high number of Black families who have lost a loved one to suicide.
   
Michael A. Torres, M.D. is one of the leading principals scheduled to speak. He is founder of the Center for the Integration of Spiritual and Mental Health in Baltimore, Md. Dr. Torres is both a psychiatrist and minister.
   
His methods have won wide acclaim for combining aspects of mental health and spirituality in helping African Americans deal with mental health issues.
   
Sherry Davis Mollock, Ph.D., will also be on hand to share both her personal and professional reflections on the issue of suicide. Jerry Reed, executive director of the Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) in Washington, DC is also a featured guest presenter.
   
According to U.S. statistics, young Black men between the ages of 16-35 have shown the highest increase of suicide over the past decade, including new methods, such as “suicide by cop” and skyrocketing numbers of domestic and relational murder-suicide pacts.
   
Counselors say there are several reasons for this increase.
   

      Bishop Young

      “Young Black men have developed a hopelessness about the future,” said Dr. William M. Young, the conference host. “In a society that seems to have it in for them, they are becoming like an endangered species. Many are dead, in jail, on drugs, or involved in a life of crime.”
         
      Many have blamed the large numbers of this demographic with the breakdown of the traditional family unit.
         
      “If we are going to get at this problem in our young men and women, the root causes must be looked at,” Dr. Young added. “Suicide is the result of undiagnosed or under-diagnosed clinical depression. It goes untreated, and it is rampant in the African-American community.”
         
      Other professional counselors say that another problem is that Blacks continue to think that suicide is not an issue in our community. No one, says Dr. Young, will talk about “what’s happening to our young people.”
         
      Among specific topics of workshops, classes and panel discussions to be addressed are: Suicide and Youth, Suicide and Seniors, How to Help Those in Crisis, and The Mental Health Effects of Black Fatherlessness.
         
      Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available.
         
      For additional information, conference schedule, and reservations, call (9901) 370-HOPE (4673).