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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

SPAN USA Announces New Field Liaisons in Virginia

SPAN USA is one step closer to reaching its goal to have 435 Field Liaisons across the country—one in every U.S. Congressional district

The Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, the nation’s leading grassroots advocacy organization working to advance public policies that prevent suicide, today announced two new grassroots leaders in its Field Liaison program.

Kelly Gifford will serve in the Field Liaison capacity for Virginia’s 1st U.S. Congressional District. Kelly is a survivor of suicide by her sibling and has made it her goal to raise awareness about suicide prevention and depression awareness. She has been active with Volunteer Fairfax, a local organization that organizes projects to assist the community, and she recently lead a team in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Reston, VA.

Peter Lewis has been named Field Liaison to represent Virginia’s 10th U.S. Congressional District. Peter, a survivor of suicide by his wife, became involved in suicide prevention by participating in the Prince William Suicide Support Group. Additionally, he created Wings of RememberanceTM jewelry to help him cope with her loss and eventually to help others cope with the loss of a loved one.

“As part of its mission, SPAN USA continues our effort to create and help implement strategies for suicide prevention on the national, state, and community levels,” explained Jerry Reed, SPAN USA’s executive director. “But we know that SPAN USA’s Washington, D.C. office cannot do this alone. SPAN USA’s Field Liaison program seeks to inspire others to raise their community’s awareness about suicide and help us spread the word that prevention is possible.”
“SPAN USA intends to spread the vision of suicide prevention to each and every member of Congress through one of their constituents in our network,” Reed said. SPAN USA’s grassroots ‘field network’ includes advocates, survivors, health professionals, and community leaders who have volunteered to serve as a SPAN USA field liaison. SPAN USA’s goal is to have 435 field liaisons across the country—one in every Congressional district in the United States.


Check out this prevention resource (also listed in the the VASPC links section.) GOSAP is the Govenor's Office for Substance Abuse Prevention. It is Virginia's Prevention Information Clearinghouse so in addition to prevention intiatives and news, it has downloadable copies of Virginia's statewide prevention plan, prevention pocket guide and other publications. You can search the Community Profile Database and also link to many other prevention initiatives in Virginia. Check it out at

CDC Report: Middle-Age Suicide

This information comes to us via the SPAN USA December E-Newsletter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report showing that the suicide rate among middle-aged Americans has reached its highest point in at least 25 years. The rate rose by about 20 percent between 1999 and 2004 for U.S. residents ages 45 through 54 — far outpacing increases among younger adults. Following the report, the Associated Press ran a wire story with a quote from SPAN USA National Scientific Advisory Council member Dr. Mark Kaplan and cited SPAN USA for the statistic of the annual toll of suicide in America.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Surviving Suicide Loss

The holidays are especially hard for those who have lost someone to death. Loosing that person through suicide can make an already complicated grief process all the more difficult. Below are some tips for those coping with suicide loss. This following information comes to us via the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Find more information at

One learns to live with the loss, the tragedy, the waste, and the gaping hole in the fabric of one's life. There is no closure, nor would I want one. I want to remember him all my life, vividly: his laughter, the smell of his sneakers under his bed, his moments of joy, his humility, and his integrity. Some survivors struggle with what to tell other people. Although you should make whatever decision feels right to you, most survivors have found it best to simply acknowledge that their loved one died by suicide.

You may find that it helps to reach out to family and friends. Because some people may not know what to say, you may need to take the initiative to talk about the suicide, share your feelings, and ask for their help.

Even though it may seem difficult, maintaining contact with other people is especially important during the stress-filled months after a loved one's suicide.

Keep in mind that each person grieves in his or her own way. Some people visit the cemetery weekly; others find it too painful to go at all.

Each person also grieves at his or her own pace; there is no set rhythm or timeline for healing.

Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays may be especially difficult, so you might want to think about whether to continue old traditions or create some new ones. You may also experience unexpected waves of sadness; these are a normal part of the grieving process.

Children experience many of the feelings of adult grief, and are particularly vulnerable to feeling abandoned and guilty. Reassure them that the death was not their fault. Listen to their questions, and try to offer honest, straightforward, age-appropriate answers.

Some survivors find comfort in community, religious, or spiritual activities, including talking to a trusted member of the clergy.

Be kind to yourself. When you feel ready, begin to go on with your life. Eventually starting to enjoy life again is not a betrayal of your loved one, but rather a sign that you've begun to heal.

NSPL Cards to the homeless

Incredibly, the VA has accomplished the goal of coordinating the delivery of 800-273-TALK stickers to every homeless shelter in the United States! The VA’s outreach efforts to the homeless is a great service for both veterans and suicide prevention for a population at great risk.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

SAMHSA Job Opening

SAMHSA currently has a position opening for a Public Health Advisor who would be responsible for youth suicide prevention and violence prevention. More information on this position, which closes in TWO WEEKS, can be found at this link:
Search for "suicide prevention" as a key word, and then locate the position available at SAMHSA.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Podcasts by the CDC

Dear Colleague,
CDC invites you to link to two podcasts and their transcripts from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control on preventing suicide in young people. Please feel free to share these podcasts with your colleagues and others through such channels as email, social networks and by using the information in your ongoing work to prevent suicide.

Preventing Suicide in Young People

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

CrisisLink Opens 211 Line

CrisisLink launched Northern Virginia's 211 Call Center on November 14, 2007. With the addition of CrisisLink's center, the entire state of Virginia is now served by 211. Congratulations you guys!!

See more pictures of this event on the CrisisLink web site:

To Young to Die

The Alexandria Community Service Board System of Care Program will present Too Young to Die, Teen Suicide in our Community. The program will feature a panel discussion by leading experts in teen suicide and family grief and loss, followed by a question and answer period.

Panelists include: Kathy Harkey, president, Central Virginia Chapter of NAMI, and vice president, Hanover County Community Support Services Board. Ms. Harkey lost her oldest son to suicide in 2006. Duane Bowers, LPC, author, Guiding Your Family through Loss and Grief and A Child Is Missing: Proving Support for Families of Missing Children. Mr. Bowers is a licensed professional counselor in private practice. Mary Azoy, LPC, CPT, director of community education and crisis response, CrisisLink. Nicole Roher, MS, Psy.D, therapist, Alexandria CSB Outpatient Youth and Family program.

The program will be held at the Minnie Howard Auditorium, 3801 W. Braddock Rd., Alexandria, VA, and will run from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A PDF event flier is available for download at

National Suicide Survivor Day News

ACTS/Helpline and Potomac Hospital co-sponsored the National Suicide Survivor teleconference for the fourth year this past Saturday. The panel of survivors was outstanding. Most of survivor group members attended along with some members of the community. We hope to continue to use the conference as a vehicle for mental health and survivor issue awareness. We also coordinated a depression screening day - thanks to Calvin Nunnally and our local Senior Center.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Depression & Active Duty Military/Veterans

Understanding Depression

Depression can come in different forms exhibiting many different symptoms. A confidential screening test for depression is available at the DoD's Mental Health Self-Assessment Program website. Non-active duty TRICARE beneficiaries can find out more about getting help by visiting the Mental Health and Behavior section under the "My Benefit" portal at The CDC's Understanding Depression --Yours and Theirs webpage. More information on depression is also available on the Army Medicine

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Grant Availability: College & Tribal Youth Programs

SAMHSA Suicide Prevention Funding Available The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is soliciting applications for Cooperative Agreements for State-Sponsored Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention programs (State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention Grants) and grants to prevent suicide on college campuses.
It is expected that $5 million will be available to fund up to 10 state/tribal cooperative agreements. The agreements will support efforts by states and tribes to develop and implement statewide or tribal youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies. The average annual award amount is expected to be up to $500,000 per year for up to three years.
It is expected that about $1.5 million will be available to fund up to 15 college grants. The average annual award amount is expected to be up to $100,000 per year for up to three years.
Applications are available by calling SAMHSA's Health Information Network at
1-877-SAMHSA7 or by downloading the state/tribal agreements <> or the campus grants <> applications from SAMHSA's website.

Grant applications deadlines:
* January 11, 2008 for state/tribal agreements
* January 18, 2008 for the college grants
Applicants with questions about program issues related to the state/tribal agreements should contact Tarsha Wilson by email at or by phone at 240-276-1748.

Applicants with questions about the college grant program issues should contact Nancy J. Davis by email at or by phone at 240-276-1866.
A series of conference calls will be held by SAMHSA to answer questions that potential applicants may have. For calls related to the campus grant program click here <> .
The call schedule for state and tribal applicants will be posted to the SPRC website when available.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

In the news: Veteran's Bill

President Bush signed the Joshua Omvig suicide prevention bill on Monday, providing improved screening and treatment for at-risk veterans. The law is named after a 22-year-old soldier from Grundy Center, Iowa, who died by suicide in December 2005 after he returned from Iraq.

The law requires mental health training for Veterans Affairs staff; a suicide prevention counselor at each VA medical facility; and mental-health screening and treatment for veterans who receive VA care. It also supports outreach and education for veterans and their families, peer support counseling and research into suicide prevention. The new law comes amid growing concerns over mental health issues borne by veterans who have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA Inspector General, in a report last May, said Veterans Health Administration officials estimate 1,000 suicides per year among veterans receiving care within VHA and as many as 5,000 per year among all living veterans.

Monday, November 5, 2007

ASIST December 6-7, 2007

Mary Begor and Linda Major are conducting an ASIST for the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board. This training is closed. They already have 30 participants!! Have fun ladies!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

National Suicide Survivor's Day Teleconference

November 17, 200y
National Suicide Survivor’s Day Teleconference at Rockingham Memorial Hospital. Open to all who have lost someone to suicide. Pre-registration is encouraged. To register, call Rockingham Memorial Hospital’s Healthsource at 433-4580 or 1-800-433-4580

ASIST November 8-9, 2007

Nov. 8-9 - ASIST in Detwiler Hall at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Center. Open to the public. For more information, please contact Jane Wiggins at There are a limited number of slots left. This training opportunity is free to participants.

Training by Jane W.

More training going on in Virginia! (I am listing several trainings seperately because they are open to the public.)

November 5th - Suicide Prevention Awareness Training for youth leaders. Virginia Mennonite Council (closed)

November 6th - safeTALK. Spotswood High School Faculty/Staff (closed)

December 13th - safeTALK. Church leaders, Virginia Mennonite Council (closed)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SafeTALK training

Christy Letsom will be conductiong safeTALK trainings in Virginia in November. Unfortunately these dates are closed to the public.
November 5th - Richmond
November 6th - Richmond
November 7th - Richmond
November 8th - Virginia Beach
November 9th - Virgnia Beach
November 10th - Chesapeake, Cambridge College
November 14th - Harrisonburg
November 15th - Roanoke x2
November 16th - Roanoke

Monday, October 29, 2007

Services for Veterans

To ensure veterans with mental health crises have immediate access to trained coordinators, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will establish a 24-hour, national suicide prevention hot line. “This is another significant step to ensure that veterans, particularly the newest generation of combat vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, receive accessible and compassionate care for their mental health concerns,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. The hot line will be based at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center in New York state. Staffed by mental health professionals, it will operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

In addition to staffing the hot line, the suicide prevention coordinators will take part in training clinicians and non-clinicians on warning signs for suicide, guide veterans into care and work within facilities to identify veterans at risk for suicide. The Department's 153 medical centers will link veterans on that same day or the next the local Suicide Prevention Coordinator in that catchment VA is notified for immediate follow up.

Veterans can access these services by dialing 1-800-273-TALK and pressing option #1.

Friday, October 26, 2007

National Survivors of Suicide Day

AFSP's 9th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day

Saturday, November 17 .
Local healing conferences for survivors of suicide loss will take place in over 120 cities in the U.S. and internationally -- connecting survivors within their own communities and throughout the world. For those who don't live near a conference site or who find it difficult to attend in person, the program will also be broadcast on the web from 1:00-2:30 pm Eastern Time, followed by a live online chat. To find a conference site nearest you, or to register to watch the webcast from home, visit And please feel free to pass this message on to anyone you think might be interested.

Richmond Empowers Youth Conference

This two day conference is presented by the William Byrd Community House through the Richmond Empowers Youth grant. Funding for this conference is provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, Compassion Capital Fund. The purpose of the grant is to build the organizational and collaborative capacity of community and faith based organizations so that they will be better equipped to collaboratively address the myriad of issues faced by Richmond’s disadvantaged youth.

If you have questions about the training, please contact Angela Taylor at

To register:

Youth Services Conference

The 24th Annual Hampton Roads Youth Services Conference is in Virginia Beach November 1-2. The conference brochure is available online at the below website.

Verbal Intervention and Violence Assessment

The Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI) will be hosting "Verbal Intervention & Violence Assessment: How to Predict & Prevent Violence Using Threat Profiling," a Power Series event, on November 8th, 2007, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the University of Richmond campus. Instructed by criminal analyst Dale Yeager, training topics will include:
Human Nature and Violence Mind Frame of Violent People Male and Female Behavioral Patterns as they Relate to Violence Verbal Manipulation of Aggressive and Violent People to Prevent Attack. For more information, including registration, please visit the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation at

In addition to law enforcement receiving course credit, the Virginia Center for School Safety will provide eight hours of partial in-service credit (PIC) to School Security Officers attending this training. School Security Officers should obtain a PIC form from event administrators upon class dismissal.

Prevention Comes First Conference

This is a reminder to register for the Second Annual Prevention Comes First Conference on Monday, October 29, 2007 at the Holiday Inn Select - Koger Center in Richmond. The deadline is approaching! You may register by clicking here:

The theme for this year is "Growing Up Safe - Bullying and Beyond." Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, physician, author and well-known expert on youth violence, will be the opening speaker. We are still adding workshops and information on the speakers. You may get more conference information by clicking here:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Training Opportunities

These trainings look very intesting.


We are under construction. I hope to provide links to information, training and suicide prevention activities throughout the State of Virginia. Please bear with me. This is a steep learning curve for this old lady. Check in regularly for new and exciting information!