Standing in the Shadow of Love: The Role of the Black Church in Youth Suicide Prevention

Sherry Davis Molock. January 8, 2013. Accessed November 30, 2017.
Large standing in the shadow of love

Suicide is ranked as the third leading cause of death among male African American youth (ages 15-24). Because of staggering statistics like these, Dr. Sherry Davis Molock, Psychology Professor and Pastor, addresses challenges and suggests solutions for Black churches. Molock identifies risk factors as stigma, isolation, “copy-cat” clusters, barriers to treatment, and access to lethal methods. Protective factors include coping and problem-solving skills plus active use of spiritual beliefs; support for families; and values that encourage seeking help. The piece discusses biblical suicides - Abimelech, Samson, Saul, Ahithophel, Zimri, Judas - and notes a theme of avoidance of shame and loss of status. While the Bible does not judge, the early church defined suicide as unpardonable sin. Suggestions for responses by African American churches, and any religious body, include: partnerships with mental health agencies including resource directory and referral system; church ministries that decrease risk factors and increase protective factors; classes and sermons that inform; attitudes that don’t judge; training to know signs.

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