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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Public Speaking for VA Survivors of Suicide

The Virginia Department of Health, in partnership with NAMI New Hampshire will be offering a two day training for survivors of suicide loss who are interested in learning how to tell their story safely to friends, to various audiences, and to the media. Suicide survivors (those who have lost a loved one to suicide) play an important role in increasing awareness about suicide. By speaking about their personal loss and telling the story about their loved one’s life and death, survivors can promote healing and understanding, which in turn supports and encourages suicide prevention efforts. Suicide is a very complex issue and a great deal of research has been done about how to talk about suicide in a safe manner and in a way that will not increase the risk for those who are vulnerable. This two-day training assists speakers in honing a message that tells their story in a safe and effective manner.

Survivors who complete the training are certainly not required to tell their story publicly after the training, but most do go on to speak at local suicide postvention trainings, suicide prevention conferences, and local venues such as rotary, their church, legislative committees, etc. The training was developed by NAMI NH and is part of their Connect Suicide Prevention Project, which is listed on the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s Best Practice Registry.

It is suggested that survivors be at least two years from their loss before attending; however, some survivors are ready earlier and should feel free to talk with us if you would like to attend.
The training is conducted over the course of two days and you will be asked to commit to both training days. The first day of the training will focus on the basics of public speaking, issues to be aware of around speaking about suicide, safe messaging, honing your message for particular audiences/media, and composing your personal story. The second day of the training will give you an opportunity to share your presentation, evaluate yourself, get feedback from the group, discuss how to be responsive to your audience, and review possible responses to difficult questions. There will be a homework assignment for the night of day one.

When: February 22 -23, 2011
Time: 9-4pm both days
Where: Richmond, VA (exact location TBA)
The training is free of charge to participants and is made possible through funding from SAMHSA.

The training is limited to 8 participants. Go here to register, For questions, please contact Christina Benton at or 804-864-7736.

Suicide Prevention Training for Mental Health Clinicians

Most mental health clinicians have had little or no formal training in assessing suicide risk, yet they are often called upon to do so. Recognizing and Responding to Suicide Risk: Essential Skills for Clinicians (RRSR) has been developed by the American Association of Suicidology specifically to fill this training gap. RRSR is an advanced, interactive training based on established core competencies that mental health professionals need in order to effectively assess and manage suicide risk in their patients. The program has several components, including a web-based assessment; two on-line, self-paced modules; a two-day face-to-face workshop; and post-workshop mentorship through on-line learning activities.

RRSR is appropriate for any mental health clinicians working with patients on an ongoing basis. Participants can include licensed private counselors, licensed clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, addiction counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists and pastoral counselors.

Additional information about RRSR is available at

The Virginia Department of Health will host 4 RRSR trainings in 2011. This training is for all mental health professionals, regardless of your place of work. Through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) each training will be offered at no cost to 40 participants; the training is typically valued at $250. All training materials will be provided.
Continuing Education Credits are available for physicians/psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and psychologist. Additional information about CEUs will be provided to registered participants prior to the training date.

The training will be from 8:30-4:45 both days. One hour will be given for lunch; meals will be "on your own".

Because of the demand for seats, please register only if you are able to attend the full two days, and are not 'on-call' for other duties during that time.
2010 Training Dates, Locations, and Registration:

February 28- March 1, 2011
Richmond, VA
April 12-13, 2011
Ashburn, VA
May 2-3, 2011
Virginia Beach, VA

September 19-20, 2011
Lynchburg, VA