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College of Arts and Sciences

Social Work Professor Featured on PBS MetroFocus  

Professor Juan A Rios

Prof. Juan Rios, DSW, LCSW

Professor Juan Rios, DSW, LCSW, director of Seton Hall’s Master of Social Work program and a licensed psychotherapist, recently explored suicide as a critical health crisis during an expert panel discussion on PBS MetroFocus with host Jenna Flanagan ’99, award-winning filmmaker James Barrat and Stephen Thomas, whose personal story is featured in Learning to Live: The Resilient Path After Prison

Rios, who also appeared in Learning to Live, discussed the new documentary, Facing Suicide, which investigates and pushes to destigmatize one of the nation’s most urgent public health crises. This documentary, currently airing on PBS, was produced for Twin Cities PBS (TPT) and PBS by Barrat Media, 1904 Media and JWM Productions.

During this crucial conversation, Professor Rios explained:

"I want to focus on how we as a community view ourselves and our young people between the ages of 18 to 25 when they are really beginning to establish who I am in this space, who I am in relation to my community, my family, and what is my purpose. When we do that beginning at the ages of 18 to 25, if I’ve experienced trauma, if I’ve experiences intergenerational trauma, community violence, if I’ve experienced a sense of disconnectedness among myself and about who I am already, by the time I think about who I will become and I don’t have that future, then it begins to pull me further and further away as to my why. That’s really keeping me and grounding me here into life.”

With suicide as a leading cause of death impacting virtually every demographic and 130 Americans dying every day, the panelists spoke about the importance of engaging mental health as a community. They looked at post-traumatic stress disorder and complex PTSD, how trauma relates to suicidality, and how the crisis is devastating today’s young people.

Compounding all these issues, Professor Rios shared:

“If I live in a community where I don’t have emotional support, I see death. Folks my age under the age of 15 years old, I know have died by violence or gun violence. There are assaults. So, we know that although in African American communities we may see high rates of poverty, what we don’t talk about is that also African American young men are 16 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes before the age of 16 years old, of robberies, assault. And it becomes normalized regarding these experiences. And what we have now is where does that end our emotional processing of feeling connected to my community, being able to feel like I have value, I have worth. And then we begin to have hopelessness that there’s economic injustice, there’s environmental injustice, there’s food injustice that exists and you put all that together and you really take a window into the psychology of belongingness whether it’s within my community or within America.”

To view the MetroFocus segment, please visit "FACING SUICIDE": new PBS initiative investigates one of America’s most urgent health crises.

To watch the Stephen Thomas story with the Rios interview, please visit Learning to Live: The Resilient Path After Prison.

To learn more on the PBS documentary, please visit Facing Suicide.

For members of the University community, Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) offers a wide range of therapeutic services designed to foster the psychological health and well-being of our students in order help them to thrive, develop, and achieve academic and personal success and for those who want to learn more about this issue. To make an appointment, students may contact CAPS at 973-761-9500 or come to Mooney Hall, Second Floor, Room 27 during regular office hours, Monday-Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The SHU 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 973-275-Help (4357) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to speak immediately with a trained mental health counselor. Outside of the university students can call or text 988 the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or chat

Categories: Arts and Culture