The Starry, Starry Night Silent Auction is CLOSED! Thank you to everyone who placed a bid, and to all who attended our fundraiser!
Gail Urso, Cofounder of Kevin’s Song, named The American Association of Suicidology 2023 Loss Survivor Award Recipient
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS), the world’s largest membership-based suicide prevention organization, has announced that Gail Urso, Cofounder of Kevin’s Song, is the recipient of the 2023 Loss Survivor Award. The award was presented in April at the 56th Annual AAS Conference in Portland, Oregon.
“We received more than sixty submissions from across the world for 2023 Annual Awards and we could not be prouder of this year’s winners,” said AAS President & CEO Leeann Sherman, MPS, CAE. “Due to her extraordinary commitment to supporting other families, Gail stands out among the many courageous and generous loss survivors active in our community. We are happy to present her with this prestigious award.”
The Loss Survivor Award has been given since 1995 to acknowledge ways in which survivors of suicide transform the trauma of their loss into suicide prevention efforts and/or survivor support.
In spite of the wintry weather, over 300 people from across Michigan and the nation gathered in Plymouth, Michigan with Kevin’s Song, for an in-person conference to combat suicide. Mental health professionals, educators, first responders, government representatives, suicide prevention advocates and survivors met to discuss innovative ways to identify those at risk, to better treat and help those struggling and to provide hope and support for survivors.
It is difficult to express the gratitude we feel for the spectacular event that the conference was. Approximately 450 people attended in person and over 1900 people viewed the session that was live-streamed by Detroit Public Television on Saturday, Survivor Day.
We want to express our sincerest thanks to Leo Nouhan, who once again did an outstanding job of coordinating the conference, to the Conference Planning Committee and the School Summit Committee who worked all year to put together this amazingly impactful three-day event, to the professional speakers who came from far and wide to participate, to our many volunteers, and, of course, to all who attended.
Thank vou to our Board of Directors for their passion and commitment to our mission and to the conference.
Thank vou to all who financially supported the conference through conference sponsorships and donations, as well as sponsorships and support for Starry, Starry Night 2022!
John McTaggart did another excellent job of capturing people and moments with over 200 wonderful photos. They have been shared on the Kevin’s Song’s Facebook page and are posted on our website. In addition, many of the attendees have posted their own photos of the conference on social media platforms.
Josh Jackman from MarxLayne did a great job of posting throughout the conference on all of our social media platforms.
We know that many of you who were not able to be with us followed his posts. MarxLayne hosted the Thursday evening reception, and they were all there to enjoy the evening with us. Thank you to them for their great work in helping us bring the conference and school summit to so many people.
Detroit Public Television did another great job as well. Rich Homberg was there to support his team and all of us! All of the keynote speeches were videotaped and will be available to view on our website.
Saint John’s Resort was once again an ideal venue for us. Attendees frequently commented on how perfect it is. The food and the service were outstanding. Fortunately, the facility is being expanded so should continue to meet our needs for years to come.
It’s difficult to convey all of the positive comments received verbally from the attendees. Hopefully, they will be repeated in written comments. Here are two comments. The first is from an attendee: “It was a beautiful conference. Impactful, challenging, and thought provoking.” And from a keynote speaker: “Connecting with colleagues and other mental health experts are among the joys of attending the Kevin’s Song 7th Annual Conference on Suicide.”
Thank you for your support, commitment to Kevin’s Song, passion for our mission and help in so many ways.
We are making a difference!
Gail and John Urso
Cofounders, Kevin’s Song
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.
Noted psychotherapist Francis Weller provides an essential guide for navigating the deep waters of sorrow and loss in this lyrical yet practical handbook for mastering the art of grieving. Describing how Western patterns of amnesia and anesthesia affect our capacity to cope with personal and collective sorrows, Weller reveals the new vitality we may encounter when we welcome, rather than fear, the pain of loss. Through moving personal stories, poetry, and insightful reflections he leads us into the central energy of sorrow, and to the profound healing and heightened communion with each other and our planet that reside alongside it.
The Wild Edge of Sorrow explains that grief has always been communal and illustrates how we need the healing touch of others, an atmosphere of compassion, and the comfort of ritual in order to fully metabolize our grief. Weller describes how we often hide our pain from the world, wrapping it in a secret mantle of shame. This causes sorrow to linger unexpressed in our bodies, weighing us down and pulling us into the territory of depression and death. We have come to fear grief and feel too alone to face an encounter with the powerful energies of sorrow.
Those who work with people in grief, who have experienced the loss of a loved one, who mourn the ongoing destruction of our planet, or who suffer the accumulated traumas of a lifetime will appreciate the discussion of obstacles to successful grief work such as privatized pain, lack of communal rituals, a pervasive feeling of fear, and a culturally restrictive range of emotion. Weller highlights the intimate bond between grief and gratitude, sorrow and intimacy. In addition to showing us that the greatest gifts are often hidden in the things we avoid, he offers powerful tools and rituals and a list of resources to help us transform grief into a force that allows us to live and love more fully.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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 Rabbi 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.