Date of Award

Spring 4-4-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling & Psychology

First Advisor

Rakhshanda Saleem, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sus Motulsky, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Natalie Watson-Singleton, Ph.D.


Suicide is a multi-faceted human experience that threatens and harms Black communities. Historical data, critical theories, and extant research literature suggest that such threats and harms result from interactions between macrosystemic systemic forces and individual level meaning-making processes. To explore the dynamic and nuanced complexities between systemic forces and deaths often labelled “suicides” in contemporary U.S. Black communities, this project centered and amplified the critical perspectives of fourteen Black female clinicians. Because of their marginalized identities, intersectional lived experiences, critical orientation, and clinical training, these participants were well-positioned to analyze and understand the degrees to which suicides in Black communities are associated with oppressive macrosystemic dynamics and/or individual-level psychological factors. Narrative inquiry and aspects of the Listening Guide voice-centered method (LG)—specifically I poem development—highlighted voices of intersectional consciousness, systemic shaming, and internalized anti-Black shame. These voices illuminated six central themes for critically understanding suicide in Black communities: shame, hopelessness, trauma, racism, systemic problems, and fear. Participants also noted that violence, anger, and guilt shaped their perspectives to a lesser degree. To address these themes’ harmful, suicide-potentiating effects on Black communities, language, research, policy, professional association, and psychosocial assessment and intervention reforms are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



Number of Pages