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AlisonBrill Posted by Alison T. Brill, MPH, Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Village room shotOn December 6th, 2012, in Lowell, MA, over 200 people gathered to learn, discuss and share ideas at the conference, “It Takes a Village: Trauma-Informed Responses to Suicide in Multicultural Communities.” Convened by the MA Department of Public Health Suicide Prevention Program, this first of its kind event was organized to explore different approaches around and address a critical gap in mental health and suicide prevention services among communities of color. 

A large focus of the day was on healing and resilience in communities of color. This conference provided an opportunity for attendees to improve collaborations and strengthen trauma-informed practices and connections among providers, the community, and stakeholders to prevent suicidal behavior and to better facilitate healing and resiliency in Latino, African-American, and Asian communities.

Village am group shotSpeakers addressed how to expand the cross-cultural understanding of suicide among immigrants, painted a picture of what trauma looks like in various communities, and underscored the importance of cultural responsiveness when working with communities that are different from one’s own. Going beyond cultural competency, the concept of “cultural humility” was raised as a challenge for participants to work towards. Cultural humility is not an examination of the client’s belief system, but rather having health care and service providers give careful consideration to their assumptions and beliefs that are embedded in their own understandings and goals of their interactions with their clients.


This gathering was a starting point for conversation around these important issues. For more information about related events, please email Alison at

“This conference provided an insightful lens into the connection between trauma, suicide, and the role of culture. I’m inspired by the work and dedicated people I met, and can directly apply what I’ve learned.” – Conference participant 

                               Village slide

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