Black Lives Matter Activist Starts Hunger Strike for Suicide Awareness
BY SUSAN JOHNES
Is there a connection between suicide and religion? Well, a Georgia pastor believes the two are dependent and is going on a hunger strike to raise awareness of the suicide epidemic.
The pastor is identified as Jomo K. Johnson. He is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Savannah. Jomo began his hunger strike on June 6, the same date one year ago when a teen by the name Kalief Browder died, after spending nearly three years in solitary confinement, and later committed suicide.
Jomo has a unique schedule of drinking only water for a minimum of 30 days. Additionally, he will have an update on Facebook with an encouraging message each night. Jomo stated that he would end the hunger strike when he feels enough awareness has been raised or when his body forces him to yield.
In 2016, Johnson helped co-found the BLM group after the shooting to death of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The group’s objective was to educate citizens and speak out in social injustices taking place in Savannah.
Jomo’s hunger strike comes nearly a month after the death of Ferguson protester Edward Crawford, who allegedly committed suicide.
“Activists are bearing a double burden, and if one doesn’t talk about their struggle while trying to help others, it can lead them to make a drastic decision such as suicide,” Johnson stated.
Browder’s death occurred close to Johnson home, making him to battle depression and attempted suicide. Johnson connects suicide and religion in his book, “Conversations With Jesus Before and After Suicide.”
“American churches don’t understand mental illnesses completely, and most want to either heal it instantly or say it’s from the devil,” Johnson stated. He observed that for healing to begin, the suffering from mental illness must be accepted.
“Some people will have mental illness and suicidal thoughts for the rest of their lives. However, that doesn’t make them different,” Johnson stated.
He gave a suggestion that we need to embrace those who are suffering from such conditions to allow them to verbalize their pain and struggle so that they know they have someone to lean.
Johnson hopes that his hunger strike will not only bring awareness but empower people to listen. He went through deep depression in 2016 and even prayed asking God to take his life. But the grace and faith in God gave him the strength to keep going.
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