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‘Red Table Talk’: Survivors Of Suicide Talk About What They’ve Learned In Order To Help Others

From the coronavirus pandemic to the spiraling economy, managing one’s mental health has been at the forefront of conversations, especially during a year that has been filled with so many triggering incidents. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System Mortality, suicide rates among those aged 10-24 increased 60% between 2007 and 2018. A recent study from the Pediatrics Office Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that Black teen girls are 70 percent more likely to attempt suicide then white girls the same age. And only 4% of American psychologists are Black, according to the American Psychological Association

The holidays can be especially difficult for so many people. Instead of dedicating their last two shows to Christmas cookies and New Year’s cocktails, Jada Pinkett Smith, her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris and daughter Willow Smith are providing a platform for those who survived their attempted suicides to talk about their powerfully emotional and inspiring stories of survival. Part one of the two-part episode airs on Red Table Talkon Tuesday, December 22 at 9am PT / 12pm ET on Facebook Watch.

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“This year is a tough one and we wanted to reach out to the millions of people that are battling with emotional and mental issues. Because of this pandemic within our immediate circle we’ve seen a rise of anxiety, loneliness,” Pinkett Smith said opening up the discussion. “A lot of depression, a lot of people not knowing how to manage. Isolation, so much has just been coming to the surface.” 

Four guests are invited to the red table virtually to speak candidly about their past experiences including Hannah, a young Black gymnast, who attempted to take her own life while in high school. Suffering from POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), a chronic illness that impacts the nervous system causing people to feel dizzy and pass out, Hannah says that she was bullied, harassed and sexually threatened as a result from her sickness. It came to a point where she no longer wanted to feel like a burden or source of stress to her family. 

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During the segment, Hannah’s mother Robin recalls the night when she found Hannah trying to swallow a handful of pills. Robin explained what happened next including their quest to find a therapist with the cultural competency to treat both herself and her daughter. She also revealed some of the warning signs she missed that could have helped her daughter through this crisis. Robin implores other parents to recognize the red flags that their child might be exhibiting whether that’s depression or another mental health crisis including feeling disconnected from the family, not smiling and appearing to be numb on the outside.  

“The main thing I would tell other parents is it’s going to sting. But egos aside guys it’s not about us. Your kid may be struggling with a mental illness because of you or not because of you,” Robin says. “It doesn’t matter. Get them the help first. And then figure everything else out afterwards.”

Other guests on the show include a former varsity cheerleader, a pro athlete, and Officer Kevin Briggs, dubbed the Golden Gate Bridge Guardian, who has talked down several people from ended their life on the most popular place in America to end it. Part two of the episode will air a Tuesday, December 29 at 9am PT / 12pm ET on Facebook 

Watch the BET.com exclusive clip from Hannah’s story below:

If you or someone you know is suicidal, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-855 or text “Nami” to 741-741.

(Photo courtesy of Facebook)

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