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Wednesday, February 22, 2012


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 clinician 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 5 RRSR trainings in 2012. This training is for all mental health clinicians, regardless of your place of work. Some of you may be familiar with another suicide prevention training offered, ASIST. Please refer to the attached document for an explanation as to who should attend an ASIST training and who should attend an RRSR training.

Through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) this training will be offered at no cost to 50 participants; the training is typically valued at $250 a participant. All training materials will be provided.

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.

2012 Training Dates, Locations, and Registration:

April 3-4, 2012
Richmond, VA

May 16-17, 2012
Middletown, VA (Winchester area)

June 19-20, 2012
Fredericksburg, VA

July 24-25, 2012
Roanoke, VA

October 10-11, 2012
Richmond, VA

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Please feel free to share this training announcement with your colleagues.

We look forward to seeing you at one of the trainings!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Veterans Crisis Line introduces Text Messaging

WASHINGTON, Feb 15, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding its efforts to prevent suicide through several new initiatives that increase the availability of services for Veterans, Servicemembers and their families.

The new initiatives include a new, free, confidential text-messaging service in the existing Veterans Crisis Line, introduction of toll-free access from Europe, and collaboration with Vets Prevail and Vets4Warriors, two groups providing crisis help to Veterans, Servicemembers and their families.

"Offering text messaging services will help VA reach more Veterans and their friends and families," said Dr. Janet Kemp, VA's national mental health director for suicide prevention. "We are working to meet their needs by communicating through multiple channels -- over the phone, through online chat, and now via text, which provides quick, easy access to support. VA wants all Veterans to know that confidential support is only a text message away."
Since its founding July 2007, VA's Veterans Crisis Line and the later Chat Service have received 500,000 calls and engaged in 31,000 chats resulting in over 18,000 rescues of Veterans in immediate crisis.

Now, in addition to the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1) and online chat ( ), Veterans and Servicemembers in crisis--and their friends and families--may text free of charge to 83-8255 to receive confidential, personal and immediate support. The text service is available, like the Veterans Crisis Line and online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and connects a user with a specially trained VA professional -- many who are Veterans themselves.

As a part of the effort to extend VA's reach, Veterans and members of the military community in Europe may now receive free, confidential support from the European Military Crisis Line, a new initiative recently launched by VA. Callers in Europe may dial 0800-1273-8255 or DSN 118 to receive confidential support from responders at the Veterans Crisis Line in the U.S.
VA's Veterans Crisis Line continues to add external resources to provide Veterans with additional support. Two of these organizations include Vets Prevail ( ) and Vets4Warriors ( ).

In December, Vets Prevail launched a chat service that connects Veterans to caring responders who provide information on a wide variety of resources. If the Veteran is in crisis or needs mental health support, the conversation is then seamlessly transferred to a VA Veterans Crisis Line responder.

Vets4Warriors has helped thousands of their peers connect with confidential assistance through a free hotline (1-855-838-8255/1-855-VET-TALK) and online chat ( ). If a Veteran is in need of professional crisis or mental health support, Vets4Warriors' responders will transfer the Veteran to a responder at the Veterans Crisis Line.

For more information about VA's suicide prevention program, visit:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walk for Hope and Out of the Darkness in Harrisonburg

The Walk For Hope is scheduled for Saturday March 31st in downtown Harrisonburg. This is a risk reduction event targeted towards college students.

On Sunday April 22nd Chi Sigma Iota will host its second annual AFPS Out of the Darkness Campus Walk. This walk will be held on the James Madison University Campus. Registration will be held in Highlands Room of the Festival Conference and Student Center starting at noon. We are currently spreading the word, starting our fundraising campaign, and looking for volunteers. If anyone is interested in registering they can go to our walk website:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Save the Date

Coalition conference call is scheduled for March 12th at 2pm. Please contact Christy Letsom at for more information.

We will share state and regional updates and discuss needs of the coalitions and future projects. I look forward to talking with you all.