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Community Organizations Join at CSM to Raise Awareness, Address Crisis of Suicide Amongst Black Youth

December 19, 2023

Ivy and Pearls of Southern Maryland Community Charities, Inc., and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Nu Zeta Omega Chapter, held an important event titled Give Hope: Addressing the Crisis of Suicide Amongst Black Youth at the College of Southern Maryland's (CSM) La Plata Campus last week to raise awareness and address the alarming suicide rates among Black youth.

CSM Dr. Yolanda Wilson welcomed attendees to the Dec. 9 event with opening remarks that highlighted unsettling statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office. In 2020, suicide was declared the third leading cause of death for Blacks ages 15-24. Wilson emphasized that the death rate for suicide among Black men is four times greater than that for Black women. Drawing attention to a report by the American Association of Medical Colleges, she highlighted the alarming increase in suicide rates among Black youth in the United States from 2018 to 2021.

Delegate Edith Paterson introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Linda Fleming McGhee, a nationally recognized mental health expert. Dr. McGhee emphasized the importance of listening to children and teens when they express their feelings, taking those expressions seriously, and seeking help when needed. She identified several emotions experienced by her teen patients, including feeling bullied, angry, pressured, stressed, isolated, judged, and having sleep-related issues.

The event also featured a panel discussion including Dr. Dianna Abney, pediatrician, and Charles County Health Officer; Dr. Maria Navarro, superintendent of Charles County Public Schools; Kellie Jamison, licensed clinical social worker and CSM's student mental health counselor; and Darian McGhee, a graduate student. The panel discussed several important topics including the importance of demystifying mental health and shared various actionable steps, including the need to:

  • Share resources. Promote available resources like the Trevor Project.
  • Advocate for change. Have conversations with elected officials to raise awareness about mental health issues and advocate for policy changes.
  • Enhance accessibility. Make it easier for individuals to access mental health care.
  • Support a strong mental health workforce. Recruit and retain mental health workers in Southern Maryland.
  • Early education. Teach students to talk about emotions from an early age.
  • Validation and empowerment. Validate the emotions of young individuals. create safe spaces and avoid the minimization of others' feelings.

The event ended with breakout sessions for adults and young people and a call to continue the conversation. Watch the full panel discussion on Waldorf Live’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKiSpcBKUws&t=10s or click on the video below.

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