Dedicated to reducing the occurrence, severity and adverse consequences of injuries in the Rocky Mountain Region.


Conference at a Glance - May 18, 2012

Conference schedule information

Session Descriptions

Keynote Address
Exploring the Special Features of Suicide Grief:  A "Companioning" Philosophy of Caregiving
 8:45-9:50, West Ballroom
Alan Wolfelt, PhD, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition
This presentation will help you enhance your ability to support people impacted by the death of someone to suicide. Suicide is death by just another name, but the implications and stigma that surround its mystery and aftermath are strong enough to touch every facet of our lives and of society. Dr. Wolfelt, the author of numerous publications on the “special needs” of suicide survivors, explores a variety of important sub-topics that will enhance your capacity to “companion,” not “treat” people who experience this traumatic loss.

Breakout Session # 1
Exploring the Six Central Needs of Suicide Grief
10:00-11:00, West Ballroom
Alan Wolfelt, PhD, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition
This workshop will explore the six “yield signs” that the mourner of a suicide death encounters on the path toward “reconciliation.” The compassionate role of the caregiver in helping meet these needs will also be recognized and discussed. Dr. Wolfelt will also integrate time for questions and discussion. Come learn from the author of the book, The Wilderness of Suicide Grief: Finding Your Way.

Innovative Partnerships with Crisis Centers to Promote Access to (and Continuity of) Care for Persons at Risk
10:00-11:00, Room 228
John Draper, Director of the SAMHSA-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, MHA-NYC’s VP of Crisis and Behavioral Health Technologies; Eleanor Hamm, Executive Director, Pueblo Suicide Prevention Center; Daniel Ward, CEO,  Metro Crisis Services, Denver; Sunitha Menon, Online Crisis Coordinator, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
This session will explore how virtual technologies—telephonic, online and texting—can and are being used to complement and fill gaps in behavioral health care systems to reach people at risk. Lifeline will present some current crisis center partnership models related to the use of new technologies to reach persons at risk. Lifeline member centers in Colorado—Pueblo Suicide Prevention Services and Metro Crisis Services—will present their current telephone-based work and discuss potential collaborations to expand into other areas to promote access and continuity of care. Current challenges and ways to address them to reach and effectively assist persons at risk through these innovative approaches will be discussed with breakout session participants in the Q & A period.

College Student Alcohol Use as a Risk Factor for Suicide:  Applying a Comprehensive Approach
10:00-11:00, Room 230
Laurie Davidson, MA, Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) at EDC, Inc.
It is widely recognized that alcohol and other drug use are significant risk factors for suicide, yet efforts between alcohol prevention and mental health professionals on campuses are often not integrated. This interactive presentation will summarize research outlining the relationship between alcohol and suicide and demonstrate how participants can utilize a comprehensive, campus-wide approach to integrating prevention efforts.

Featured Address
The Role of Crisis Contact Centers and Technology in Building a Person-Centered Behavioral Health Care System: Lessons Learned from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network
11:40-12:40, East Ballroom
John Draper, PhD, Director of the SAMHSA-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, MHA-NYC’s VP of Crisis and Behavioral Health Technologies
With many local and regional behavioral healthcare systems plagued by both care access and care continuity problems, many persons at risk are not being served sufficiently, if at all. For more than 50 years in the United States, crisis call centers have served as a typically peripheral adjunct to traditional clinic-based services, purposed with providing telephonic crisis intervention and/or linkages to inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities.  However, recent indicators may suggest that services provided by crisis “contact centers” (including telephone, online chat, SMS, etc.) should be integrated into behavioral healthcare systems seeking more “person-centered solutions” that can engage more persons at risk effectively and cost-efficiently.  After federally-funded evaluations published in 2007 showed that Lifeline crisis call centers were effective in reducing distress and suicidality in callers, local, state and federal initiatives have been underway to pilot and evaluate means for using telephonic, online and other mobile communications technologies to assist persons who are in crisis. Dr. Draper will discuss findings from the some of the technology-driven initiatives undertaken by the Lifeline and several of its network centers, as well as their implications for a changing behavioral healthcare environment.

Breakout Session # 2
R.A.P.P (Respect, Affirm, Preserve, Protect) approach to engagement and intervention with Transgender Persons
12:50-1:40, Room 203
LisaJo K. Laptad, Founder/Moderator and NancyJo Orris, Former Moderator/Group Leader of Peak Area Gender Expression
This session, taught by two transgender activists, will focus on how to address, work with and intervene with transgender persons, who may be suicidal, from a place of mutual respect. While this presentation does not address any research conducted by the presenters, the presentation will result in a better understanding of the existing research on suicide among transgender people by exploring the human experiences behind the statistics.  Audience members will hear personal stories from the presenters on their background, how they knew they were transgender, and some of the daily trials and tribulations they encounter as transgendered people in Colorado. 

Transforming the Suicide Dialogue
12:50-1:40, Room 205
Carrie Marsh, BA, Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, Vice President for Advancement; Michelle Muething, MA, LPC, Aspen Hope Center, Lead Clinician; Lilian Smith, MSW, Aspen Hope Center, Bilingual Clinician
When you think of Aspen, Colorado, suicide is not the first thing that comes to mind. It may surprise you to discover the area has had an overwhelming number of suicides. The economic downturn has made the situation more desperate, which increased the urgency for an innovative solution. Carrie Marsh will share the history of the QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) trainings and discuss how to engage trainers to reach populations never before connected to the issue of suicide. Michelle Muething will elaborate on the training integration within organizations and schools. Lilian Smith will discuss her role working with the Basalt schools and the “Junior Hope” student‐led group, and she will talk about engaging the Spanish‐speaking population. Reaching diverse populations in a rural resort community poses its own challenges. Many people live and work in different communities or work multiple jobs. This session will describe how the Aspen Hope Center utilized QPR to reach populations such as construction, first responders, the local bar association, schools, nonprofits and the community.

Spiritual Experiences in the Aftermath of Suicide
12:50-1:40, Room 208
Sally B. Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., CEO & Co-Founder, Carson J Spencer Foundation 
In the aftermath of suicide, many people turn to their faith communities and their religious beliefs to gain support and strength, while other people receive confusing or rejecting messages from their faith communities. Some people have spiritual awakenings or transformations as part of their post-traumatic growth, while other survivors of suicide loss experience a crisis of faith. Many people bereaved by suicide have mystical connections with the loved ones they have lost that affect their healing journey – powerful dreams, meaningful coincidences or other “signs” that their loved one’s spirit continues. Spencer-Thomas, author of The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith Leaders, will present findings from a survey given to survivors of suicide loss about their spiritual connections with the people they have lost to suicide. Audience members will have an opportunity to share their own stories of spiritual connection to loved ones that died by suicide.

Postvention as Prevention
12:50-1:40, Room 210
Patty Lloyd, North Range Behavioral Health: Suicide Education and Support Services Postvention Specialist
Postvention is an intervention conducted after a suicide, largely taking the form of support for the bereaved.  Family and friends of the loved one may be at increased risk of suicide themselves. The aim is to support and debrief those affected, and to reduce the possibility of suicide contagion. Interventions recognize that those bereaved by suicide may be vulnerable to suicidal behavior themselves and may develop complicated grief reactions.During the presentation, North Range Behavioral Health: Suicide Education and Support Services will demonstrate a variety of postvention service options. Postvention can take many forms depending on the situation in which the suicide takes place. This is a great opportunity to learn from Patty Lloyd, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 2005 Survivor of the Year. Lloyd is nationally recognized for her postvention work with survivors. 

Breakout Session # 2
Looking for the Silently Suicidal in Medical Settings:  Experience in Family Practice, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Emergency Medicine
12:50-1:40, Room 211E
Michael H. Allen, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Director or Research, Colorado Depression Center, Senior Investigator, VISN 19 Suicide MIRECC
 Available evidence suggests that suicidal ideation is common in a variety of medical settings, but detection rates are low. Other lines of evidence suggest that many suicidal acts occur after a contact with the health system, but little is known about those contacts and subsequent events prior to an attempt. In theory, though, some suicidal person could be reached could reached through the healthcare system. This panel will explore the potential benefits and problems associated with screening patients in Family Practice, Ob/Gyn and Emergency Medicine. Colorado physicians conducting research and practicing in these settings will present data on the prevalence of suicidal ideation and experience managing it in each of these settings. 

Utilizing upstream strength-based messaging vs. fear and risk messaging to reach at-risk populations
12:50-1:40, Room 213-215
Scott D. LoMurray, B.A. Communication Studies, Sociology, Director of Communication & National Trainer, Sources of Strength Inc.
This presentation will highlight a growing body of research examining concerns and unintended consequences of risk-focused prevention. This presentation will encourage caution and concern regarding some commonly used suicide and bully prevention messages, particularly when those that highlight negative social norms and use fear, shock or trauma-based examples and stories. Examples and research of promising strength-based messaging and upstream health promotion models will be discussed. Several examples of focusing on unique protective factors and strength within specific populations such as LGBTQ, Latino and Native American groups will be discussed. This session will focus on utilizing inherent protective factors within a community, whether that is in their employment structure, school systems, family units etc. A strength-based approach fits in with an emerging emphasis by organizations such as SAMSHA and the CDC to use strength-based and connectedness models in prevention initiatives. Emerging outcomes from the National Peer Leadership Study will highlight five key recommendations when using peer leaders to spread messages related to suicide and bully prevention.

Getting to the Source of Hopelessness
12:50-1:40, Room 214
Lori A. Daigle, Executive Director, Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County, and Mary Dravis-Parrish, Owner/Practitioner of Enhanced Living LLC
We are looking at bold, innovative strategies. With all of the experience and knowledge at this conference, it would be beneficial to brainstorm innovative strategies that look at “DISCOVERY” –  meeting people where they are and showing them how to discover their potential. How many people who are suicidal really desire to go back to the way their life was before? Aren’t they looking for how they can live differently in this world? What judgments have we concentrated so fully on being different that we are losing wonderfully brilliant individuals who have so much to contribute to the world? Do we really understand how much they are hurting and where that comes from? How well have we listened to their cries? Or are we so fixed that we know the answer before the question has been asked? There are different approaches to giving people choice for living. There are alternative/holistic approaches that allow a person to get more in touch with who they are and move more into that space of allowance and true self-discovery. How can we be more supportive of that? 

Breakout Session # 3
Innovative Tools for Reducing Suicide Risk in Veterans
1:50-2:40, Room 203         
Bridget B. Matarazzo, PsyD, VISN 19 MIRECC, Denver VAMC; University of Colorado, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry; Michael Allen, MD, University of Colorado, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry; VISN 19 MIRECC, Denver VAMC
Suicide prevention has become a very high priority in military and veteran populations with a number of new strategies emerging that have potential applications to the general population. This session will describe suicide prevention efforts utilized in the VA system. These efforts are aimed at mitigating risk “where people are” and enable clinicians to reach patients who are both engaged in mental health services and those who are not. The panel will discuss innovative technological and other non-traditional programs. Examples include Health Buddy, the Veterans Crisis Line and Chat, Safety Planning, and the HOME Project. Panel participants will discuss the current status of their efforts and share outcomes such as Veterans Crisis Line utilization.

Older White Men: Power, Privilege, and Peril
1:50-2:40, Room 205
Samuel D. Lustgarten, B.S., Applied Social Psychology Graduate Student, Colorado State University, and Dr. Tammi Vacha-Haase, Ph.D. Counseling Psychology Professor, Colorado State University
Older White men represent the greatest at-risk population in the United States. A major problem influencing prevention planning is how to best reach and target this demographic. Intervention strategies and theories are necessary to access and work with older White men. A new approach was developed from previous theory, specifically targeting this population. The focus is on locus of control and declines in physicality for the older White man. In particular, control factors have not been stressed in current theory around suicide and may be a key risk factor for older White men, as it is relinquished with physical, health complications. This work synthesizes what is known about suicide in older adults, aging and current theory. An in-depth overview of the current problem and its antecedents will serve as the foundation for explaining and meeting the educational objectives.

Running on Resilience:  Increasing Emotional Strength, Speed, and Flexibility
1:50-2:40, Room 208
Kim S. Johancen-Walt, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor
Running on Resilience is a workshop about increasing happiness, and is therefore a workshop that has application for most individuals. By cultivating resilience we are more resourceful, more creative and more optimistic. People are encouraged to address their problems/destructive behaviors from a place of resourcefulness because that is where the options and solutions are limitless.  Many folks turn toward suicide because they simply do not see another option. Suicide becomes the solution. By helping people learn how to shift into a more resourceful place, we are teaching them additional tools they can use to uncover more effective solutions.  The intent is to have folks leave this workshop feeling more resourceful whether they are at work, home or at play.  This workshop pulls from a variety of different evidence-based approaches including, but not limited to, Positive Psychology, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and traditional Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. 

Mood Attack:  Suicide as Equivalent to Heart Attack
1:50-2:40, Room 210
Konoy K. Mandal, M.D., Medical Director, Centennial Peaks Hospital
It is critical to understand that suicide is a medical emergency. Clients admitted to a hospital with a heart attack have specific treatment to reverse as much acute damage as possible, bolster and fortify what’s left of cardiac tissue and get as many risk factors for a future heart attack addressed. Clients with suicide deserve a treatment setting that does all of these basic interventions for their medical crisis.  We will show how an integrated multidisciplinary model, based on knowledge of the biology and epidemiology of suicide, helps ultimately decrease suicide risk factors and therefore suicides in general.  Many risk factors and protective factors about suicide are known. However, more often than not, clinicians are satisfied with a simple “no” about suicidality even in the face of substantial risk factors.  Just like someone who has high blood pressure, lab changes and EKG changes but no chest pain will continue to be treated for their heart attack risk, so to must clinicians minimize risk factors for suicide before allowing for outpatient care. 

Mental Health First Aid: What Is It, and How to Implement It
1:50-2:40, Room 211E
Krismichelle Nohavec, MA, North Range Behavioral Health: Suicide Education and Support Services Program Coordinator
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognized training program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. MHFA covers the potential risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems, including depression, suicide, trauma, psychosis, substance use disorders and self-injury. A 5-step action plan encompasses the skills, resources and knowledge to assess the situation, select and implement appropriate interventions, and to help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care. This presentation focuses on how to reach at-risk populations by providing practical information for participating in and implementing this interactive evidence based training.  Reaching high-risk individuals in their own environments and communities, by training those who interact with them, is an established and effective technique. Audience members will learn about the interactive nature of the program, supporting evidence, practicality of administering trainings, as well as view samples of training activities.  MHFA has the potential to reduce stigma, improve mental health literacy, save lives and empower individuals.

The FIRE Within: Harnessing the Passion of Youth to Prevent Teen Suicide
1:50-2:40, Room 213 - 215
Jessica J. Stohlmann, FIRE Program Director, Carson J Spencer Foundatio,  and Chelsea C. Lehman, Program Assistant, Carson J Spencer Foundation
The FIRE Within program is an innovative strategy that uses social entrepreneurship to meet students where they learn – at school. This workshop will cover the essential elements of the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s The FIRE Within program, a hands-on, year-long curriculum that engages high school students in social entrepreneurship by developing skills including business planning, research, marketing, innovation, leadership, finance and community service. Students apply these business skills to develop and implement a suicide prevention plan within their own community. Students learn the facts about teen suicide, research and identify the root cause of suicide thoughts among their peers, explore possible prevention and intervention strategies, and as a team develop and execute a business plan to prevent suicide within their own community. Youth compete for micro-grants to seed fund their businesses and continue to receive coaching from staff and selected business leaders as they develop and run their businesses. Through this experience, the youth become bold and independent thinkers, form highly functional and collaborative teams, learn about responsible corporate citizenship and develop positive, resilient coping skills.

Listening For and Helping to Create a Life Worth Living
1:50-2:40, Room 214
Bradley P. Burnett, B.S., J.D., LL.M.
Depressed, severely depressed and suicidal people often are not inspired to create a quality future for themselves.   The technology embraced by this presentation meets the struggling people in their shoes in the moment and leads them to be inspired not only live, but to love being alive. To listen for and to mirror reasons why the struggling person’s life is worth living is critical.  This presentation merges suicide prevention skills (ASIST “Suicide Prevention Handbook”) technology, mental health-oriented technology (“I Am Not Sick, I Do Not Need Help!” by Xavier Amador, Ph.D.) and leadership technology (highlighted in David Rock’s “Quiet Leadership: Help People Think Better, Don’t Tell Them What to Do”). The fruit: an inspired and inspiring listener who puts the struggling person back in touch with what inspires him or her. Often, a suicidal person has lost touch with the value of life. This presentation empowers the helper to help shift the struggling person’s context to that of choosing life and generating a life worth living.

Featured Address
Innovations in Clinical Care: From Provider Capacity to a Systems Framework
2:45 – 3:45, West Ballroom
Laurie Davidson, MA, Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) at EDC, Inc.
This presentation will propose a framework for the creation of a “chain of care” for suicidal patients and describe innovations at each link in the chain, including primary care, emergency departments, inpatient psychiatry, mental health and substance abuse clinicians, and crisis services. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) is expanding efforts to increase the capacity of health and mental health providers to assess and manage suicidal patients and clients. Innovative interventions discussed will range from individual-focused to system-focused, including programs listed on the SPRC/American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Best Practices Registry.

Healing Ceremony
4:00 – 4:30, West Ballroom Terrace
In case of inclement weather, Room 216
Sally B. Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., CEO & Co-Founder, Carson J Spencer Foundation 
The Healing Ceremony is a hollowed pause at the end of the day where those bereaved by suicide focus on the blessing of the time-shared with our love ones, say their names and honor the manner in which they lived.