2021 Suicide Prevention Conference

Post-conference Links

Welcome and Keynote Speaker

8-8:15 a.m.
8:15-9:45 a.m.

Can Cultural Competence Improve Suicide Risk Assessment?

Cheryl Wills, MD, DFAPA
Keynote Speaker

The 2020-21 pandemic and civil unrest have brought health disparities in minority and underserved communities to the forefront. Some health care and other organizations have been examining the problem more thoroughly. Manuscripts that examine how policies and practices that contribute to health disparities have become more prevalent in the medical literature. Yet there have been few systematic approaches to eliminating health disparities that improve outcomes for the most debilitating and, in some cases irreversible, mental health conditions, including suicide spectrum behavior. Examining suicide risk assessment through the lens of cultural competence can inform how one can conduct suicide risk assessments and improve our capacity to engage patients, educate them and potentially improve clinical outcomes.

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Working Together: A Systems Approach to Mitigating Suicide Risk

9:50-10:30 a.m.

Breakout Session

Stephanie Wilson, LPCC-CS
Tracy Dawyduk, PsyD

In the not so distant past, an individual expressing suicidal ideation would be quickly handed off to a psychiatric setting. After inpatient stabilization, the individual would return to the community and would – hopefully – resume outpatient services. Other than an exchange of documents, there may be little coordination of care and the individual is essentially handed back and forth like a hot potato.

In recent years, initiatives such have ZERO Suicide have identified evidenced-based best practices that bring home the idea that Suicide Prevention is everyone’s role. The community provider has a responsibility to learn and utilize intervention strategies to reduce risk rather than relying solely on the psychiatric hospital to resolve the issue. Likewise, the psychiatric hospital can’t rely on medication alone. Inpatient facilities have a responsibility to assess risk and protective factors and work collaboratively with the individual to develop a plan of safety that is transferable across both inpatient and community settings. Furthermore, both inpatient and outpatient providers have a responsibility to work together to decrease post-discharge risk through practices designed to promote a seamless transition of care.

In this session, you will learn what REALLY happens behind the locked doors of an inpatient psychiatric hospital. You will learn the WHY and the HOW of bridging gaps in our system to work collaboratively to produce better outcomes, i.e., a reduction in suicide risk.

After an overview of services available and best practices utilized on an inpatient psychiatric unit, the presenters will focus on:

  • Using evidence-based assessments and interventions not only as inpatient tools but as a means of bridging gaps in the system of care
  • Tools for managing and/or reducing suicide risks and vulnerabilities post-discharge
  • How to create a pathway from hospital to home in the wake of a pandemic

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The Shocking Truth Regarding Job-Related Issues in Nursing Suicide

9:50-10:30 a.m.

Breakout Session

Judy Davidson, DNP, RN, MCCM, FAAN
Marie Manthey, MNA, FRCN, FAAN, PhD

Judy Davidson’s research focuses on workplace wellness including the topic of suicide among health professionals. In this session, she will present the results of her latest research regarding job-related issues in nurse suicide with implications for policy reformation and leadership practice. Judy will be joined by American Nurses Academy Living Legend Marie Manthey PhD (hon) RN FAAN who is well known for developing the system of primary nursing. However, in this session she will describe her own struggles with substance use disorder, and her quest to develop the model program for supporting nurses through recovery of this chronic illness.

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Suicide Prevention for Physicians – Helping Your Patients, Colleagues and Yourself

9:50-10:30 a.m.

Breakout Session

Eileen Ryan, DO
Mark Hurst, MD

Suicide is one of the most vexing and emotionally challenging issues faced by physicians. Over half of individuals who die from suicide have seen a physician in the months prior to their deaths, overwhelmingly a primary care physician rather than a psychiatrist. Physicians themselves are not immune from suicide, with rates in excess of the general population. This workshop will focus on tools to identify individuals at risk for suicide and ways to assist patients, peers and ourselves in preventing suicide.

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Rethinking Suicide

10:45-11:45 a.m.

Craig Bryan, PsyD, ABPP

Over the past two decades, the U.S. suicide rate has steadily increased, despite expanded efforts to reverse this trend via expanded awareness campaigns; wide implementation of suicide prevention programs and initiatives, and increased mental health advocacy; and anti-stigma campaigns. To the befuddlement, confusion and frustration of researchers, clinicians, family members and many others, these efforts have not reversed the trend of rising suicides in the U.S. Why do suicide rates continue to rise despite our best efforts? One possibility is that many of our fundamental assumptions about suicide may be flawed. In this presentation, several core assumptions about suicide prevention will be critically evaluated and alternative perspectives will be presented, along with implications for suicide risk screening, treatment and community-based programming.

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New Directions in Firearm Suicide Prevention

12:30-1:15 p.m.

Michael Anestis, MD

In this presentation, Dr. Anestis will discuss the scope of the problem of firearm suicide in the United States as well as which groups are most vulnerable to firearm suicide and why. He’ll discuss how this problem has changed during an unprecedented surge in firearm purchasing across the U.S. while offering data-driven solutions that could meaningfully and sustainably reduce the national suicide rate. Lastly, Dr. Anestis will discuss how failures in communication have limited the implementation of successful firearm suicide prevention strategies while offering evidence for a potential path toward more effectively reaching firearm owners on this issue.

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Deep Dignity: Next Steps in a Political Approach to Suicide Prevention

1:15-2 p.m.

Mark Button, PhD

This presentation will elaborate on the approach to suicide prevention that’s been developed by scholars who have sought to bring a social justice framework to bear on suicide and suicide prevention (Button 2016; White, et al 2016; Mills 2017; Button and Marsh 2020). A political approach to suicide seeks to complement more established approaches to suicide prevention in the fields of psychology, psychiatry and sociology. One of the key additions of a political approach to suicide is to focus state and federal policies (e.g., firearm regulation, anti-discrimination) and public investments (e.g., mental health, education) on confronting the interactions of persistent structural inequalities and forms of social neglect with suicide and suicidality. The overall formative strategy is aimed at reducing structural risk factors for suicidality and building up institutional protective factors against suicidality, especially within populations and communities/regions of greatest need. In following this two-stream approach, federal and state governments (as well as international regimes) will enact a social justice approach to suicide prevention because policy and public investments will be focused on redressing the structural inequalities that are a persistent (if non-exclusive) feature of suicide and suicidality today. Dr. Button refers to this approach as one of “deep dignity” because the pillars upon which human dignity relies reaches far below the individual who stands upon them — supporting these “sources of the self” (Taylor 1989) is a shared responsibility of an ethical state.

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Epidemiology of Suicide and Suicidal Behavior in U.S. Youth

2:05-2:50 p.m.

Breakout Session

Jeff Bridge, PhD
Arielle Sheftall, PhD

Drs. Sheftall and Bridge will present emerging trends in youth suicide and discuss prevention approaches and opportunities. Strategies include a focus on schools, health care settings and community sites for youth suicide prevention.

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Means Safety Counseling

2:05-2:50 p.m.

Breakout Session

Michael Anestis, MD
Craig Bryan, PsyD, ABPP

Means safety counseling, also referred to as means restriction counseling, entails assessing whether an individual at risk for suicide has access to a firearm or other lethal means for suicide, and working with the individual and their support system to limit their access to these means until suicide risk has declined. Although means safety has long been considered an important component of clinical work with suicidal patients, clear guidance and recommendations for discussing means safety with patients has only recently emerged. This presentation will provide an overview of means safety counseling with acutely suicidal patients and provide practical suggestions and tips for navigating conversations about safety with patients.

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Culturally Informed Risk Assessments: From Theory to Practice

2:05-2:50 p.m.

Breakout Session

Cheryl Wills, MD, DFAPA
Keynote Speaker

Culturally informed risk assessments require the evaluator to have an appreciation for cultural competence. This interactive session will examine how the quality of risk assessments can improve by understanding the upstream factors that contribute to the social determinants of health. Case examples will be used to illustrate key concepts.

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Suicide Loss Survivors Donna and Jeff Heck

3-3:45 p.m.

Jeff Heck
Donna Heck

Donna and Jeff Heck are the co-founders of the Mansfield, Ohio-based mental health nonprofit, 33 Forever Inc. 33 Forever was established in February 2019 after they lost their highly successful 33-year-old daughter, Danielle Leedy, to a long battle with depression. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was created to both honor Dani’s life and her longtime passion to raise awareness and empower and comfort those struggling with depression, anxiety, self-worth issues and suicidal thoughts. Their story is about loss and the decision that they and their family made to not let suicide be the end of Dani’s story or impact — simply put, to “not let the suicide win.” They share the story of Dani and their family, the aftermath of Dani’s death, the spark for and creation of 33 Forever and what they have done since, what they have learned and where they are going.

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Thank you to our partners:

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