Although existing suicide literature proposes that simply being African American protects against suicide (Nguyen et al., 2017; Street et al., 2012), few studies offer practical insights at mitigating suicidal ideations among African American children and adolescents let alone through a social work perspective (Reed, 2019). As the largest provider of mental health services in the United States (American Counseling Association, 2018), the field of social work research has understudied this phenomenon. While it is true that African Americans have experienced lower rates of suicide when compared to the general population (CDC, 2019), research has not compared the risk and protective factors that are sometimes unique to African American youth and adolescent who as of recent have the highest incidence of suicide completions (Drapeau & McIntosh, 2019). To better understand risk and protective factors we conducted a systematic review of literature while centering strengths existent within African American youth and adolescents’ ecologies. Utilizing Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the Social Ecological model as a theoretical lens the authors seek to elucidate how policymakers must be attuned to the interlocking systemic oppressions among African American youth and adolescents as means of sustaining family systems and decreasing overall suicide risk among adolescents.

Author Biography

Raymond Adams, PhD, MSW is an Associate Professor of Social Work within the College of Education, Humanities, Behavioral Sciences at Alabama A&M University in the Department of Social Work, Psychology, and Counseling. Raised in Monroe, Louisiana, he has earned a Bachelor of Psychology degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in Spring 2006 and a Masters of Social Work degree from Baylor University in the Spring of 2011, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Social Work and Public Health from Jackson State University in Spring 2020. His research centers on addressing issues of prostate cancer survivorship specifically as it relates to investigating the nexus between mental health, social networks, and spirituality among older, rural African-American PrCA survivors. He recently was awarded the CRECD (Council Race, Ethnicity, and Cultural Diversity) Award for Ph.D. Candidates at the 65th CSWE APM in Denver, Colorado, for his publication entitled; Louisiana Black Men at risk for prostate cancer: An Untold Autoethnography in the Journal of Social Work and Christianity. Moreover, he was awarded the Frederick Douglass Teaching Scholar Fellowship at West Chester University’s Graduate Social Work Program this past July 2019, where he became the inaugural Frederick Douglass Teaching Fellow teaching a 3 credit hour graduate course for the Graduate Social Work Department. He provides consultation to community organizations, religious institutions, and educational institutions on the impact of their health care policies on older African-American men and their families. He is most proud of his role as uncle to Kharion, AJ, and the newest addition, Cairo Ifechi Nmeka, and godfather to Abdoulaye N'Diaye.

Darius Reed, DSW, M.S.W., MBA., has a broad range of experiences ranging from clinical therapy to community based behavioral support. He has worked in community corrections for the last 13 years providing services and support to consumers in the Washington Metropolitan Area. His experience includes mental health experience with children, adolescents, and adults, community-based intervention and support, and criminal justice concerns. He holds a Bachelors from Florida State University in Social Work, a Master in Social Work from Howard University, and is a Doctorate in Social Work from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. His primary goal is to effectuate change in the lives of consumers needing mental health support. He is a strong advocate for youth and has a passion for those who are less fortunate and in need of additional support to succeed. He works from a strengths perspective and is a strong advocate for allowing consumers to choose goals that they feel will benefit them and improve their daily functioning.