Kevin’s Song concluded its 8th annual statewide Conference on Suicide: Continuing the Conversation in Plymouth, Michigan, January 25-27, 2024, with attendees engaging in thought-provoking keynote and breakout sessions, connecting with local and national experts, advocates, educators and clinicians and celebrating achievements. More than 300 attendees, speakers and volunteers registered for the conference, with representation from every corner of Michigan and from 7 different states.
Suicide prevention and mental health advocates including Thomas Joiner, PhD, Michael Anestis, PhD, Tony Thrasher, DO, Kathryn Goetzke and Hayley Watson inspired attendees through presentations of new and fresh approaches to suicide prevention. Through 11 keynote presentations and 21 breakout sessions, speakers addressed the latest research and information about risk assessment, treatment options and the need for more inclusive access to mental health services.
“Our gathering at the Kevin’s Song conference, symbolizes a powerful opportunity to come together, exchange ideas, and foster meaningful connections,” says Jennifer Fair Margraf, Executive Director of Kevin’s Song. “The annual conference offers engaging presentations, transformative breakout sessions, a chance for attendees to exchange resources and share effective prevention strategies. Together, we are building new pathways to prevention, overcoming formidable barriers, and creating opportunities to redefine suicide prevention for the future. The impact of this conference reaches far beyond those few days, resonating in our local communities and continuing the conversation to reduce suicide and eradicate stigma.”
Other conference highlights included preconference training in QPR, safeTALK and AMSR; a panel discussion about the state of suicide prevention in the State of Michigan; recognition of Gigi Colombini, LMSW, recipient of the 2024 Kevin’s Song Saving A Life award; stories of hope from attempt and loss survivors; and a Concert of Hope and Healing performed by students from the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department
“It has been my honor to attend each and every one of these annual events, and moreover, my attendance has enabled me to witness firsthand the growth and the energy generated by this meeting, “ says Thomas E. Joiner, Ph.D., The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Florida State University. “The good that they are accomplishing on behalf of those bereaved by suicide and others is considerable and occurs year-round; their footprint is in Michigan, where they have risen to prominence as an influential suicide prevention organization, and it is growing beyond Michigan regionally and nationally.”
“I have been involved with the Kevin’s Song conference for quite a few years and have watched it grow from a small, tightly knit local effort to a large, tightly knit national effort,” commented Bart Andrews, Ph.D., Chief Clinical Officer, Behavioral Health Response, Inc., “Each year this conference gets bigger and each year more amazing things happen because of this conference.”
“The reach of the Kevin’s Song conference extends far beyond Plymouth, Michigan, far beyond the classrooms and universities, and engages us to continue the fight against suicide within our local communities,” says Margraf. “Together, we are the builders of hope for a world without suicide.”
Welcome Kevin’s Song Executive Director, Jennifer Fair Margraf
It is with great pleasure that, on behalf of the Board of Directors, we announce the hiring of Jennifer Fair Margraf as our Executive Director.
After a lengthy and thorough search by our dedicated Search Committee, Jennifer was selected from a field of over 35 candidates. Her years of experience in nonprofit leadership positions and her passion for the mission of Kevin’s Song made her an outstanding choice.
We welcome Jennifer and look forward to introducing her to our community of partners, supporters and friends.
Jennifer is a highly driven executive who prioritizes performance and possesses a wealth of experience in nonprofit leadership. Throughout her career, she has held various senior leadership positions within different nonprofit organizations. Known for her exceptional communication skills, Jennifer has a remarkable ability to motivate individuals and cultivate genuine relationships. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Family Life Education and a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, MI.
Furthermore, she completed the Executive Education Program at Oakland University in Rochester, MI, where she obtained a Master of Business Administration. Jennifer is also a Certified Fundraising Executive through CFRE International. In addition to her professional achievements, Jennifer is a talented cellist who has showcased her skills with numerous orchestras. She resides in Rochester Hills with her husband and two teenage sons.
Thank you to all our sponsors, donors, supporters, and volunteers who made Starry, Starry Night a beautiful evening of sharing and hope. Through your generosity, we look forward to providing quality programs in support of our mission to Empower Communities to Prevent Suicide and Offer Hope and Healing To Survivors.
A special thank you to our 2023 Ambassadors, Jeff and Kristen Roberts. Thank you for sharing your story and being a light to us all.
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.
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.
When you are faced with the unthinkable, this is the book you can turn to.
Suicide is baffling and devastating in equal measures, and it can affect anyone of us: one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. Yet despite the scale of the devastation, for family members and friends, suicide is still poorly understood.
Drawing on decades of work in the field of suicide prevention and research, and having been bereaved by suicide twice, Professor O’Connor is here to help. This book will untangle the complex reasons behind suicide and dispel any unhelpful myths. For those trying to help someone vulnerable, it will provide indispensable advice on communication, stressing the importance of listening to fears and anxieties without judgment. And for those who are struggling to get through the tragedy of suicide, it will help you find strength in the darkest of places.
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.