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  • Donna Halinski-Hondorp

Growing Crisis: Suicide Rates Raising at Alarming Rates Among Black Youth. It’s Time We Have A Talk.

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Press Release From DHCommunications/Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS) Alert-Alert-Alert

The relaunched Echo, NJ's oldest Black-owned newspaper, humbly shares the press release from D.H. Communications regarding reports from The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide below regarding the heightened increase of Black youth suicides in N.J. Further research of this share shall be reported on the Echo News T.V. website to verify a possible correlation and variable regarding long-term Jim Crow-blocked homeownership via redlining per N.J. mortgage and real estate companies, as well as Jim Crow leasing policies embraced by HUD of NJ plus private landlords.

The relaunched Echo seeks to locate the causation factors that have now not just led to long-term Black families' departure from areas where they once were the majority-minority population in N.J. But also how the department of HUD embraced Jim Crow policies that assisted with pushing Black citizens and their families to be the primary homeless population in N.J.

Further research per Echo may show the cause or the contributing factors of how politicians who utilize racist policies may now be lending a hand in spiking suicide rates among Black children aged 13 - 24 years old, along with other economic plus institutionalized variables that purposefully hinder Black children's advancement in N.J stressors. Such as stereotyping plus pop-culture peer pressure affects pre-teenage and young adults' minds. This will include the stress factors accumulated because of cradle-to-prison pipeline mass incarceration policies in N.J.'s effects on Black families and children.

Kindly, Karen Brittingham-Edmond, publisher/editor of Echo News TV. 03/23/2023

Freehold, NJ – New CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) research reinforces the growing concern that the suicide rate among Black youth is rising faster than any other racial group. The YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System) Data Summary and Trends Report 2011-2021, released last month, confirms Black children and youth ages 10 to 24 saw the highest increase in Black youth suicide rates – 36.6% – of all ages and racial groups measured. Key CDC YRBS survey result findings included that Black and Hispanic students were likelier than Asian, white, and multiracial students to miss school because of safety concerns.· Hispanic and multiracial students were likelier than Asian, Black, and white students to have persistent sadness and hopelessness. Black students were more likely than Asian, Hispanic, and white students to attempt suicide.“These YRBS findings on suicide rates are going in the wrong direction,” said Kalisha Smith, Clinical Advisor to the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS). “YRBS findings regarding the youth of color in general, and Black youth specifically reinforce the urgency of suicide prevention through a lens of cultural humility as the bridge to facilitate conversations with underrepresented communities around stigma, help-seeking, reimagining collaboration with the mental health system, and leveraging the healing power of the collective to help save lives.” According to Smith, everyone — parents, caring, trusted adults, and educators— plays a role in youth suicide prevention.

She encourages everyone to be prepared to ask difficult questions when they see warning signs that a youth is at risk for suicide. The warning signs below are from the Lifelines™ suicide prevention curriculum, a program offered by SPTS.

  • FEELINGS: Expressing hopelessness about the future.

  • ACTIONS: Displaying severe/overwhelming pain or distress.

  • CHANGES: Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, including withdrawal from friends or changes in social activities; anger or hostility; or changes in sleep.

  • THREATS/TALK: Talking about, writing about, or making plans for suicide.

  • SITUATIONS: Experiencing stressful situations, including those that involve loss, change, creating personal humiliation, or involve getting in trouble at home, in school, or with the law.

These kinds of situations can serve as triggers for suicide. Smith said if a youth displays warning signs, you can start by telling the youth the changes you observed and then asking them if they have ever thought about not living. She said it is a myth that asking about suicide will plant the idea in your child’s head. To be honest, asking the question identifies you as a safe place for the youth. “It seems like there is never a good time to talk about something as uncomfortable as suicide.

However, Black parents, specifically and all parents in general, need to learn to approach (introduce) challenging subjects for the health and safety of their youth. Talking about mental health and suicide is another "talk" that Black families must learn to incorporate into their everyday lives. Talking about something that brings so much discomfort will never feel good. As parents, we want to lean into the discomfort and find the courage to tell our youth, “Tell me more,” so we truly hear our young people and their experience.” Smith added that there is a lot of work to be done in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Communities due to the stigma surrounding mental health concerns and suicide and the fear and distrust of the health system. She said the priority needs to be building abridge to the community. Smith and SPTS Clinical Director Susan Tellone will present Healing in the Collective: Suicide Prevention in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Communities on April 26 at the NJ Association of MentalHealth and Addiction Agencies Spring Conference. If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide, call or text 988 for help 24 hours a day.

To schedule an interview with Kalisha Smith, Clinical Advisor to the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS), please contact Donna Hondorp at

The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS) has been able to directly impact over 225,000 students, school staff, parents, healthcare providers, and community members through a multitude of programs:

• Providing Lifelines: Suicide Prevention Implementation training to 7 school districts across NJ;

• Delivering Lead U school assemblies, workshops, professional development training, and summer camp takeovers to more than 90 schools;

• Distributing over 40,000 Behavioral Health Toolkits to schools, police, and community organizations;

• Distributing 10,000 Mental Health Crisis Toolkits to hospitals and community organizations;

•Training over 100 mental health professionals in ACTS (Adolescent ClinicalTraining for Suicide Prevention);

• Having over 110,000 school staff complete courses at SPTS University;

• Nearly 65,000 unique visitors to the SPTS website to access resources and information; and • Presenting to nearly 1,000 parents and community members through in-person and virtual events."

Relaunched Echo Reference:

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