YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN)- A former longtime basketball player and NBA Champion will be coming to the area on Thursday.

According to a press release, Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, will be the keynote speaker at Unmute the Uncomfortable 2023: A Symposium on Racial Equity, Shattering the Stigma, and Reshaping our Community at the Eastwood Event Centre in Niles.

World Peace will share his story to help raise awareness on the stigma associated with men seeking help for their mental health. Stacia Erdos, Development Executive for Coleman Health Services in the Mahoning Valley, supports his message.

“We feel Metta will bring awareness to this critical issue in our community. The statistics are startling and this forum will provide a safe place for education, discussion, and lived experience,” Erdos said.

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology reports that the suicide rate among Black youth has risen faster than in any other racial/ethnic group in the past two decades, with suicide rates in Black males 10-19 years-old increasing by 60%.

“Data continues to show us that there has been an increase in suicide rates among Black youth and males. For this year’s symposium, it was critical for us to address racial equity and the stigma associated with men seeking mental health treatment, especially in the Black/African American community,” explained Katie Cretella, Director of Clinical Services at TCMHRB and chair of the Trumbull County Suicide Prevention coalition.

Former Youngstown Mayor and Obama administration member Jay Williams will also be speaking. Other speakers include LaToya Logan- the founder and CEO of Project LIFT in Cleveland, Jewel Woods – the founder and Clinical Director of Male Behavioral Health in Columbus, and Jon Paul Robles – the director of the Greater Youngstown Community Dialogue on Racism.

Over the course of his 18 year career, World Peace played for six different NBA franchises and also played overseas. The forward was a key contributor on the 2009-2010 Los Angeles Lakers team that won an NBA title. His story is shared in Showtime’s Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story, as well as the Netflix documentary “Malice at the Palace.” Author and Warren native David Lee Morgan Jr. will join him for the discussion.

The cost of admission is $100. The press release says that proceeds will go to serve Coleman’s nearly 7,000 low-income and homeless clients in the Mahoning Valley.

For more information on registration, click here.