Previous research has linked family and community connectedness with decreased risk of self-directed violence among adolescents. Despite the strong correlation between social connectedness and lowered risk of self-directed violence, very few interventions use social connections as mediators. This article identifies the risk and protective factors associated with self-directed violence among adolescents of color. In alignment with Healthy People 2020, this paper highlights the social determinants of self-directed violence including factors associated with individual’s social and physical environments. The authors provide an interdisciplinary review of current trends and historical data on self-directed violence in adolescents of color. The researchers suggest, the lack of culturally appropriate interventions, mental illness and the complex nature of social constructs in communities of color, makes solving the problem of self-directed violence difficult. This article examines how informal helpers can be utilized as an intervention to decrease health disparities experienced by adolescents of Color in the area of self-directed violence. The authors conclude that adolescents of Color are more likely to attempt to access support for mental/emotional concerns from members of their informal helping network before interacting with formal services. This paper offers a theoretical framework for creating culturally tailored strategies that utilizes informal helping networks. The proposed framework focuses on empowering and increasing education and knowledge about self-directed violence within the informal helping network while providing social and emotional support to adolescents of color.

Author Biography

LaDrea R. Ingram, EdD, MA, MS, CHES is social behavioral scientist, community health educator, and founding director of ProjectiGive, Inc., where she leads in community action and mobilization initiatives. Dr. Ingram is also a postdoctoral research scholar at The University of South Carolina in the Arnold School of Public Health. She completed her doctoral degree at Teachers College, Columbia University in Health Education & Behavior Studies. She received a Masters of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University and a Masters of Science in Health and Medical Policy from George Mason University. She completed her undergraduate work at The University of North Carolina, Charlotte where she attained a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. Her primary research interests include psychosocial determinates to health and racial/ethnic disparities among minority populations. Dr. Vanessa Drew-Branch is the BSW Program Director and Lecturer at UNC Charlotte. Her current academic scholarship focuses on advocacy and social justice through empowering marginalized communities. Her teaching areas include mental health assessment, advocacy practice and human diversity. Dr. V currently serves as faculty advisor for the Advocate for Change and serves on the Parlimentarian for the African and African American Caucus. She earned an Ed.D in Higher Education Administration, a MSW and certificate in public health with a specialty in women's health issues at West Virginia University. She earned a BS/BA, Social Work/ Psychology at California University of Pennsylvania.