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Oct. 5-8, 7-8 p.m. Community Conversation: “What Can Rural Communities and People of Faith Do to Prevent Suicide?”

Join RAFI-USA, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – North Carolina, Partners in Health and Wholeness, and North Carolina Agromedicine Institute for this series of events focused on the intersection of mental health, faith communities, and rural communities.








Monday, October 5, 7-8 pm – Religion and Suicide: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Register here

Tuesday, October 6, 7-8 pm – The Role of the Black Church in Mental Health
Register here

Wednesday, October 7, 7-8 pm – Talk Saves Lives for Firearms Owners: Keeping Family, Farm, and our Rural Communities Suicide-Safe
Attendees must be 18 or over and register here to receive the Zoom meeting link & password.

Thursday, October 8, 7-8 pm – What Can Rural Communities and People of Faith do to Prevent Suicide? 
Register here

See below for more information about each event.


Religion and Suicide: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Monday, October 5, 7-8 pm
Register here

Betsy Wright Rhodes comes from a long line of North Carolina farmers, and spent her teen years in rural Virginia, surrounded by tobacco fields and hog farms. In 2003, Betsy’s strong Christian faith was tested by suicide. Hear Betsy’s story and also learn about the tangled history of religion and suicide, how this history still influences our perceptions about this tragedy, and how it affects the way we minister to those who struggle & to those who lose a loved one to suicide.

Betsy Rhodes is a North Carolina native with family all over the state. She and her husband Bernie live in Elizabeth City and are the parents of four adult children: Luke, Caroline, Jordannah and Jonathan. They also have five grandchildren. In 2003, the Betsy & Bernie lost their oldest child, Luke, to suicide, and joined the AFSP Family as a volunteer, helping start the Virginia Beach Out of the Darkness Walk. In 2016, Betsy became the first Area Director of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In January 2019, Betsy “right-sized” her position, to become the Chapter’s first Associate Area Director, choosing part-time hours to accommodate health & family demands.



The Role of the Black Church in Fostering Mental Wellness and Preventing Suicide
Tuesday, October 6, 7-8 pm

Join moderator Laketa Smith and panelists Victor Armstrong, Fallon Procter, and Kenya Procter for this discussion. Register here

Victor Armstrong joined North Carolina DHHS as ‪Director of the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Substance Abuse Services in March of 2020, with responsibility and oversight of the public community-based mental health, intellectual and other developmental disabilities, substance use, and traumatic brain injury system in North Carolina. Victor has over 30 years of experience in human services, primarily dedicated to building and strengthening community resources to serve individuals living with mental illness.‬ Victor currently serves on the board of directors of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) NC.


Kenya Procter is the CEO and a Senior Consultant with Procter Solutions. Kenya served as the Suicide Prevention Program Manager for Forces Command US Army and Fort Bragg, NC, and has over 25 years in social services and training. Kenya’s background includes an MA in Religious Studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, KS and a BA in Psychology from Southern University at New Orleans, LA. Kenya is a Consultant Trainer in ASIST and a Master Training in safeTALK with Livingworks. Kenya serves as Board Chair of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, North Carolina Chapter.


Laketa Smith works with RAFI-USA’s Farmers of Color Network as Program Coordinator and Case Manager. Her time is mostly spent building relationships with farmers, assessing farmer needs, and connecting them with information and resources to bolster the sustainability of their farms. Laketa holds a Master of Social Work from Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Prior to joining the staff at RAFI-USA she worked in benefits administration at 1199SEIU, the largest healthcare workers union in the United States. Laketa believes that food is medicine and that sourcing fresh food from nearby farmers is a key to thriving.



Talk Saves Lives for Firearms Owners: Keeping Family, Farm, and our Rural Communities Suicide-Safe

Wednesday, October 7, 7-8 pm

This presentation is provided by a partnership with the AFSP-North Carolina Chapter and the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute. Talk Saves Lives for Firearms Owners is a community-based presentation for adults 18 and over. It covers the general scope of suicide, the research on prevention, and what people can do to create a suicide-safe community. Research tells us that by educating the firearms community about suicide risk, safe storage and removing access to lethal means, including firearms, when someone is at risk, we can reduce suicide. By working with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is delivering suicide prevention education to thousands of gun retail stores, shooting ranges and gun owners nationwide.

Attendees must be 18 or over and register here to receive the Zoom meeting link & password.


What Can Rural Communities and People of Faith Do to Prevent Suicide?
Thursday, October 8, 7-8 pm

Join moderator Jessica Stokes and panelists Juan Allen, LaMar Grafft, and Tiffany Hall for this discussion on how rural communities and people of faith are responding to mental health crises in this community. Hear stories and practical examples of how mental health is being addressed in different contexts throughout North Carolina.


Juan Allen works in Latino Outreach for Access East/Vidant. He was born and raised in El Salvador where his family grew coffee and cotton for more than 50 years. Juan worked as a Hospital Administrator from 1989 to 2004 before moving to California to  work for 8 years as  a Special Programs Housing Specialist for HUD/HaCola with individuals having behavioral health and substance abuse diagnoses. He currently focuses on farm families and guest farm-workers across North Carolina. All of Juan’s professional life has been focused on improving the life of others by providing a voice for those without voice.



LaMar Grafft grew up on an Iowa crop and livestock farm and experienced the day-to-day decisions necessary to keep the farm profitable. LaMar assisted with the Agricultural Medicine Course at the University of Iowa for 20 years. He currently works as the Associate Director of the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute, where he conducts safety and health programs for farmers, foresters and fishermen, their families and workers as well as for EMTs, nurses and physicians.




Tiffany Hall, MSW, LCSW is native of Winston-Salem, NC. She graduated from University of NC Greensboro with a Bachelor of Social Work. She went on to a Master Degree in Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Tiffany is currently employed at Salisbury VA medical center, where she is a member of the Suicide Prevention Team. Tiffany is the co-chair for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention NC Chaptor and is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Mental Health Association of Forsyth Co. Tiffany is passionate about increasing mental health awareness and suicide prevention education across NC.


The Rev. Jessica Stokes is the Associate Director of Partners in Health and Wholeness leading our state-wide mental health advocacy efforts. Jessica earned her Master of Divinity from Wake Forest University and BS in Clinical Psychology from Averett University. She is an ordained Baptist minister and joined the Council’s staff in 2016. Jessica’ background includes non-profit work, hospital chaplaincy, interfaith campus ministry, and the local church.