CHICAGO — A South Side Church was at the intersection of faith and mental health Saturday, as they hosted a workshop with the intention of helping educate Chicago clergy and other religious leaders on how to save lives in marginalized communities.

Soul Shop for Black Churches was the force behind the workshop held at Trinity United Church of Christ in Washington Heights Saturday. The non-profit gives tools to those in ministry so they can be positive forces in preventing a growing concern in Black communities across the country:


“It’s not only about information—it’s about overcoming the emotional parts of the conversation,” said Tandra Rutledge, Soul Shop trainer and former American Foundation of Suicide Prevention board member. “The fear, the stigma, the shame, and it’s about helping our faith leaders develop the strategies they need to really incorporate into ministry, into bible teaching, into bible preaching—ways to help individuals talk about suicide, talk about mental health in community.”

According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2018 and 2021, the number of suicides among Black Americans rose by more than 19% overall, compared to white Americans, who actually saw a 4% decline in suicides overall.

The numbers across the same time period was even more drastic for the Black youth demographic. Among Black Americans from the ages of 10 to 24, the rate rose by more than 36%.

That’s why Rutledge believes bringing faith leaders into the fold of prevention is key to curbing the growing trend.

“It’s essential. It’s really what Soul Shop is built upon and so, we’re calling leaders to come to the training,” Rutledge said. “Encouraging them to take ownership within their ministry to create a vision for their ministries, where no one in their ministries loses hope and no one feels alone.”

For More information on the AFSP and suicide prevention, viewers and readers can visit the following links:

Suicide Prevention Resources

Suicide Warning Signs

American Foundation of Suicide Prevention – Illinois Chapter