While today marks the last day of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, it must be emphasized that increasing awareness of suicide in our community, and the ways to address and prevent it, is a 24/7, 365 days-a-year mission. Sadly, countless individuals reading this message have been impacted by suicide either through episodes with their loved ones or with themselves.

The Corporation for Black Male Achievement is grateful for the many men and women, especially young people, in our network who are doing amazing work to help save lives by raising the flag for addressing mental health and suicide prevention.

Today we specifically want to extend a beloved #ThankYouThursday virtual hug to Dr. Michael A. Lindsey, Executive Director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University at New York University (NYU), for his tireless mission to bring awareness to the increasing number of incidences of suicide among Black youth.

Dr. Lindsey leads a working group of experts supporting the Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health that produced the 2019 report Ring the Alarm: The Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America, which offers strategic recommendations to address the crisis. At the beginning of this month Dr. Lindsey and the McSilver team launched a podcast series Saving Black Lives: Reversing Suicide Trends to elevate stories of prevention, survival, triumph over tragedy, and hope that so many are facing today.

Thank you, Dr. Lindsey, for your commitment, your passion, your ingenuity with shining a light on how to prevent suicide in our community, especially young people.

We send #ThankYouThursday love to the many survivors who tell their stories of recovery and hope, like Richard L. Taylor, who has been on a personal crusade of telling his story across the country for several years now, providing young people with safe alternatives for addressing their mental health issues.

Richard courageously tells his story in my forthcoming book I Too Am America: On Loving and Leading Black Men & Boys, where I also reveal in the “Braving My Wilderness” chapter how a little over 32 years ago, in the midst of deep despair, I plotted to leap from a NYC Penn Station subway platform (pictured to the left) and grab the third rail.  As I write in the book:

“I fought against myself for many moments, my depression versus my survival instinct. Finally, the C train came, and I stepped into the car. Though I made it home that day, I was terribly rattled. I knew some type of serious intervention was vital.”

That was the beginning of my recovery journey. Ironically, many years later I would come to stand on that very same platform every day during my morning commute to the Campaign for Black Male Achievement offices. I shudder to think of all I’ve managed to accomplish and give to the world only because I chose not to jump.

It is our prayer that this message lands on someone’s heart, who is wondering whether there is a reason to live or not. We want you to know that the answer is, “yes,” and that there is help at the other end of one of the many emergency lifelines provided by BEAM (Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective), including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-(800)-273-8255.