The 6th annual Conference on Suicide: Equity and Equality in Suicide Prevention – Expanding the Conversation and Offering Solutions is quickly approaching, January 27-29, 2022. The three day conference will explore solutions to the challenges that contribute to inequities and inequalities in our systems and in ourselves. By expanding our conversation that began at last year’s conference, the 2022 conference will dig deeper to look for solutions to increases in suicide and suicidal attempts in diverse communities with a focus on what prevention models, evidence-based training programs and treatment modalities are working to make a difference and save lives.
We have a number of outstanding keynote presenters who promise to challenge and engage attendees with powerful messages of inclusion and access as well as the latest research on rising suicide rates in certain identified populations.
The first day of the conference is the annual School Summit, presented by The Children’s Foundation, with sessions and speakers focused on education and youth. The keynote speakers scheduled on Thursday at the School Summit will focus on cultural disparities that impact suicide risk among youth in disenfranchised communities: Ellen Kahn of the Human Rights Foundation, Jordan Burnham, Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble and Dr. Shairi Turner and Seli Fakorzi.
The second day of the conference, presented by the Dolores and Paul Lavins Foundation, features expanded conversations and solutions to the increased suicide risk in marginalized communities. On Friday, the conference continues with keynote speakers who will challenge norms and practices and offer new innovative approaches to prevention and access to mental health services: Craig Bryan PsyD, Thomas Joiner PhD, Eric Doeh of DWIHN and Kathleen MacDonald and David Lloyd.
The final day of the conference is dedicated to survivors and the elimination of stigma and is presented by the Joseph J. Laurencelle Memorial Foundation. Saturday’s survivor program will be FREE and available as part of all conference registrations as well as being live streamed on Facebook in conjunction with Detroit Public Television: Kevin Fischer of NAMI MI, Jordan Burnham, Barb Smith and a survivor panel moderated by Amelia Lehto.
On Thursday and Friday, there will be 10 breakout sessions covering a variety of subjects of interest to educators, mental health professionals and suicide prevention advocates.
Rates of suicide continue to rise across the demographic spectrum and certainly among school-age youth. For years, suicide and mental health issues were subjects to be avoided, hidden behind a veil of stigma or fear. Now, hopefully we know differently. But in our conversations, are we really hearing what students have to say about anxiety, depression, mental health or the pain their friends and peers are feeling. What do they want from teachers, parents and the others in their lives?
As part of the national Well Beings Tour, Detroit Public TV is teaming with Kevin’s Song and other local organizations to create a virtual conversation addressing their vital, often life-saving issues. We will listen to a diverse group of students who will talk about their lives, their feelings and their concerns. And we will respond.
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Undaunted by the virus, this year’s Kevin’s Song Conference on Suicide was an unqualified success; with record attendance, enthusiastic participation (via chat) and a new component- Facebook Live- that added incrementally to Saturday’s participation. The results were significant on several counts and many took time to add their comments:
“The State of Michigan should be thankful that you are here, and I believe that that even in this time of global pandemic and terrible economic concerns your work is saving lives”.
“I watched the live broadcast on Saturday and thought the panelists were impactful and courageous in sharing their personal pain and journey to healing.”
“I wanted share what a remarkable Conference this is. I searched the country for a suicide conference that was racially and ethnically inclusive and covered the experiences of diverse communities. This really impacts and motivates my work as a suicidologist more than you know. Thank you”
Thanks to our sponsors, to Detroit Public Television who produced a flawless virtual broadcast, and to the public relations firm of Marx Lane who helped spread the word so effectively throughout the State. Vision accomplished!
Sojourner Jones, Law Enforcement Liaison with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Network was the recipient of this year’s Kevin’s Song Life Saver Award presented by Kevin’s Song co-founder Gail Urso. Ms. Jones has been working in the field of mental health for over twenty-five years and was recognized for her outstanding service in addressing the mental health issues of those who come to the attention of the justice system. In addition, she trains the Detroit Police Department and surrounding first responders in de-escalation techniques for those in crisis who may be experiencing mental illness. Her position was created exclusively for her in recognition of her passion and unusual skill set. Congratulations!
The closing event at this year’s Kevin’s Song Conference was a powerful Facebook Live discussion moderated by Barb Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) founder of the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network and co-chair of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Postvention Suicide Recommendation Committee. Four suicide loss survivors shared their stories, struggles and how they eventually found purpose for their pain. Support groups exist throughout Michigan and meet frequently. During the covid-19 crisis they meet both in-person and virtually. There are three ways to locate a group in your area. Call 211; Text the Crisis Line @ 741741; or click here for Suicidology.org.
To view this compelling 90-minute program Watch Here
Dr. Brian Ahmedani and Nancy Buyle, Co-Chairs of the Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission and members of the With One Voice Advisory Board updated Kevin’s Song Conference attendees on the Commission’s progress to date, including focus group findings, the timetable for presenting recommendations to the full Commission in March, and work to date by the four sub-committees: Policy… Data… Special Populations… and the Work Force.
If you’d like to follow the work of the Commission, it meets on the third Friday of every month at 10:30 AM. Or, you can contact James Bell at email@example.com.
Watch the March 24, 2021 virtual meeting:
Our Newsletter is published and emailed monthly to our growing list of sponsors, supporters and friends. If you’d like to be added to our email list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If we hope to achieve our vision of “a world without suicide” we need you with us.
“We Need to Talk” is a 30-minute film produced by Kevin’s Song and funded by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Klingler Family Foundation. The film documents effective suicide prevention initiatives being used in schools and communities. Profiled in this video are the Prepare-U curriculum at West Bloomfield High School, The U-Matter teen program developed by Rabi Yarden Blumstein for Friendship Circle, the University of Michigan’s Peer-To-Peer school outreach program and The SHED, an after-school facility for youth recently opened by Dennis Liegghio, founder of Know Resolve.View Video
Conceived by Kevin’s Song and sponsored by the Children’s Foundation, this 3-part series was produced in partnership with Detroit Public Television. Hosted by prominent Michigan journalist, Cynthia Canty each 60-minute program includes interviews with mental health professionals, educators and community leaders and covers topics ranging from the impact of social media on youth to building resilience to successful intervention strategies.View Programs
“Singing Kevin’s Song” Interviews with a high school counsellor, a former collegiate athlete, a researcher, and the parents of a high school student lost to suicide reveal their personal and painful insights into dealing with the suicide epidemic. Produced by James McGovern. (28 minutes)
“Death is Not the Answer”. Award winning producer-director Keith Famie tackles the tough issues of understanding depression and mental illness. (58 minutes).
“The S Word”. The stigma that so often prevents honest discussion, and often times death, is the subject of this compelling documentary by Lisa Klein. (98 minutes)
“Life After Suicide”- Dr. Jennifer Ashton. Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ Chief Medical Correspondent, draws from her own tragic experience to explore the aftermath of suicide and sudden loss, and, like her new book “Life After Suicide,” the podcast offers a six-part roadmap for survivors.