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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.