Over the course of just a few years, the rate of suicide among young Black people has risen by more than a third, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Advocates say the latest statistics reinforce growing concern about disparity within an already disturbing trend.

"While this a discussion that we know is important for all communities, we're seeing that we have to specifically target our youth of color to make sure that they're getting resources and support and the information that they need in their communities," said Kalisha Smith, clinical advisor to the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, based in Freehold.

A memo from the CDC in February cited a 36.6% increase in the suicide rate among Black youth aged 10 to 24 between 2018 and 2021. Over a 10-year period, Black students were more likely than Asian, Hispanic and white students to attempt suicide, CDC said.

"We're thinking about how we can focus on and target those communities in ways that really speak to them," Kalisha said.

SPTS said caregivers and parents of Black youth need to prepare for an "uncomfortable conversation" about mental health.

"It's a myth that asking someone if they thought about dying or suicide implants the thought in their head," Smith said. "We want to make sure that were inviting the dialogue. We want our young people to tell us more."

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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