GW Professor’s HAVEN Project Targets Black Youth Suicide Crisis

October 20, 2022

October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month and an initiative helmed by a GW psychology professor is focusing on a mental health crisis that has largely played out in the shadows: the Black youth suicide emergency. A recent report by the Congressional Black Caucus shows that suicide rates are surging faster among Black adolescents than any other racial or ethnic group. Black children under the age of 13 are twice as likely as white children to die by suicide.

Sherry Molock, an associate professor of clinical psychology at GW, is the co-principal investigator of HAVEN, a unique suicide prevention initiative specifically geared toward Black youth. HAVEN is believed to be the first church-based suicide prevention program in the U.S and among the first to acknowledge the role of structural racism in the mental health crisis. Project researchers design interactive curriculum and messaging for church leaders to implement in sermons, youth groups, and Bible study sessions.

WATCH: Dr. Molock discusses HAVEN and the Black youth suicide emergency

Dr. Molock, who also serves as a pastor at Beloved Community Church in Accokeek, Md., believes the central role churches already hold in Black communities makes them logical partners in this effort.

“Our strategy is to use what we call peer support networks and, particularly in a Black church environment, people already have these support networks in place.”

HAVEN is kicking off a three-year program in 12 New York churches this month after completing a pilot period in four churches.

If you would like to schedule an interview with Dr. Molock, please contact GW Media Relations at [email protected].