Gov. Bill Lee speaks at 9th National Suicide and the Black Church Conference

9th annual National Suicide & the Black Church Conference

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee has one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

Governor Bill Lee came to Memphis Wednesday to speak at the 9th annual National Suicide and the Black Church Conference.

It’s the first time a sitting Tennessee Governor has visited the event.

“Those who deal with serious depression and ultimate suicide, it's the manifestation of a loss of hope,” said Lee.

The event was co-founded by Pastor Dianne Young, who had a congregant commit suicide on her church's grounds.

“When that happened we had to decide, what can we do? Why is this happening,” said Young.

Governor Lee laid out a plan to expand mental health treatment and suicide prevention soon after he took office this year.

However, he said government can only do so much.

“The faith community has a profound role to play in addressing the challenges,” said Lee.

Many conference attendees were clergy members, learning more about the signs of depression and suicide.

“We have found 90 percent of the people who take their lives talk to a person of faith before they do it,” said Young.

Another aim of the conference is to destigmatize mental illness and suicide.

Governor Lee told the crowd his daughter tried to commit suicide, and survived.

“I was awakened to the tremendous challenges that weave their way through families of every kind across our state,” said Lee.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Prevention 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

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