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Jackson Teen Suicide Summit Invites Mental-Health Conversations

Clinical social worker Shalonda Carlisle has noticed that teens she speaks with often “don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents” about issues that affect them.

“What I noticed is that when I talk to teens, they don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents,” she told the Mississippi Free Press. “They don’t feel like their parents are active listeners and want to understand them and do better.”

Carlisle is the creator of the Teen Suicide Summit, which held its second annual event at Tougaloo College on Sept. 30. Teens, parents and mental-health professionals from across Mississippi gathered to discuss topics like suicide prevention, signs of mental illness, safe spaces for youth and the potential harms of teens using social media.

Through her private practice, Carlisle Counseling and Consulting Services, LLC, the summit’s founder counsels children and teens starting at 4 years old. Carlisle said she was inspired to take action after the suicide death of a Jackson Public Schools student last year.

“I know everybody was affected by the teen from Murrah High School that lost her life to suicide,” Carlisle said. “I didn’t know the young lady, but I wanted to do something about it. I didn’t know how I would do it or how to pay for it.”

She started making calls, asking therapists and counselors she knew whether they would be willing to join in her mission to get more parents and young people to talk to one another about mental health. They agreed and organized the first Teen Suicide Summit last year. Carlisle said the summit was the first of its kind in Mississippi, one centered on teenagers where young volunteers serve as moderators and facilitate the conversations.

“We wanted to make sure that the teens were included as much as possible,” Carlisle said. “We wanted the teens to know that it’s their summit, we’re just there to support them.”

Social Media and Cyberbullying

In 2021, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health reported suicide as the third leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 in Mississippi.

Mississippi Department of Health Director

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