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A Pastor's Suicide: Addressing Mental Health in Black Churches

What are we to do when the spiritual leaders we expect to give us life take their own? 
I have been pondering this question, among many others, in the wake of national media reports about the suicide of 42-year old Teddy Parker Jr., pastor of Bibb Mount Zion Baptist Church, in Macon, Georgia. 
  • Detail of a photo montage of Pastor Teddy Parker, Jr.'s life from his memorial page.
According to reports, Rev. Parker sent his wife and children to their church ahead of him on Sunday, November 10th. After Parker failed to appear at the church where he was expected to deliver the sermon, his wife, Larrinecia Parker, returned home and found him in his car, still parked in the driveway, dead of a self-inflicted gun wound.
Parker's loved ones are shocked and confused that he committed suicide. Indeed, one media outlet reported a congregant mentioning that Parker preached against suicide, but Dr. E. Dewey Smith, Jr., a friend of Parker and pastor of a church in Atlanta, admittedthat he was aware that his friend was suffering with manic depression and had been dealing with emotional issues. Smith went on to note that he knew Parker was in treatment but “couldn't back away from ministry.”  >>more from Religion Dispatches<<

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