Dr. Sally Speaks Blog

Sharing the stories, science and strategy of suicide prevention. 

What can we do to help Veterans’ mental health? Hire them.

…Some employers do not want to hire Veterans for fear they might have PTSD or performance limiting conditions. This remarkable stigma exists and is actually a form of discrimination. The prejudice persists despite the fact that Service Members are expertly trained, and capable of remarkable problem-solving, teamwork and leadership.

Part of the difficulty Veterans face is that the civilian work culture is often far different than the one in which they thrived, and often the level of discipline and performance is below their expectations. Whether it’s the Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force or the Coast Guard, veterans count themselves as being part of something bigger than themselves. Assimilating to a new standard becomes all the more difficult when transitioning into a new field….

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Sally Spencer-Thomas
We Can Do Better….Together: The 3Cs to Our Success

…I have learned that “together we are better.”


This week, I am reminded of the many ways we need each other. Here are just a couple of ways this theme of interdependence is showing up in my life in just the last few days. These three lessons I’ve learned this week illuminate how our deep, reciprocal connections matter… 

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Results from National Survey on Workplace Suicide Prevention Guidelines

Today the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention's Workplace Task Force in partnership with United Suicide Survivors International and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention shared preliminary data from a national survey on workplace suicide prevention.

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7 Untold Stories of Suicide Prevention and Suicide Grief Support

…I don’t really have the chops to be a researcher or the patience to be a clinician, but I often find myself in new territories, listening to people share their insights about living through unimaginable suffering. Then I look to connect partners much smarter than I who can make a difference in alleviating that despair. So, as I am listening, I think to myself, “there are the stories I wish we would talk about more.” 

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Survey on the Development of the National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention

Today the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and United Suicide Survivors International announces the launch of a survey designed to assist with the development of the first set of guidelines for workplace suicide prevention in the U.S.

The purpose of the 5-minute survey is to give stakeholders an opportunity to provide their opinions for the guidelines — content, format, dissemination, implementation and evaluation.

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Sally Spencer-Thomas
From Awareness to Action: We Need All to Fight in the War Against Suicide

It seems fitting that on this day — July 4th — I should write a little something about kickstarting a revolution.


June was overwhelming for many in my suicide prevention tribe — the scientists, advocates, clinicians, crisis call-takers, peer supporters, and many people with all forms of lived experience with suicide — as many of us were called upon to respond to the seemingness constant barrage of tragic news about suicide and trauma.

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One Woman’s Thoughts on Masculinity: Why We All Must Dig Deeper in Our Understanding of What it Means to Be a Man

Given that men in the middle years are dying by suicide at increasingly higher rates, I spend much of my time speaking and training in male-dominated industries like construction, transportation, veteran and first responder communities. The men I have met along the way have taught me much about resilience and honor…

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ANNOUNCEMENT: National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Commences Gap Analysis to Improve Suicide Prevention in Fire Service

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation announced today that it will be partnering with Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas...to explore gaps and strengths in firefighter suicide prevention. This comprehensive evaluation will help set the direction for a new national suicide prevention program.

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What If They Say “Yes” to the Suicide Question? Four Responses That Make a Difference

What if you ask someone if they are thinking about suicide, and they say, “yes”? What do you say?

1)      Express gratitude

The first words out of your mouth: “thank you.”

“Thank you for trusting me.”

“Thank you for your courage to be vulnerable with me.”

“Thank you for valuing our relationship.”

Often when people express daunting thoughts about suicide they expect to be judged. They anticipate that others will react in negative ways such as fear, anger, minimizing, or shaming. When they hear a genuine expression of gratitude, often they are put at ease. This honoring response creates a safe space to move into next steps. Starting here is starting from a place of dignity and respect...

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Moonlight Walks with the Zen Master: Four Life Lessons I Learned from my Dog Apache

This week I had to say goodbye to one of my confidants and greatest supporters, my 13 year-old Australian Cattle Dog Mutt, Apache. Today is Valentine’s Day, and this is my love letter to him and my gratitude for all he taught me about living a great life.

We rescued Apache from Denver’s largest animal shelter when he was nine months old in 2005. My kids were little; just 7, 4 and one year. We all gathered in the meet-and-greet room, and Apache was on his best behavior. We brought him home, and I immediately became his human....

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Sally Spencer-Thomas
Innovative Ways to #ElevateTheConvo on Fatherhood Engagement and Well-being

I’ve been looking forward to the Dad 2.0 Summit for months. 
Not just because it was hosted in New Orleans at the beginning of Mardi Gras…
Not just because I got an opportunity to reconnect with some inspiring thought leaders who are there to support men in becoming the best fathers they can be…
Not just because my “krewe” was there to reveal some powerful stories of hope from our “Guts, Grit and the Grind” men’s mental health anthology…
But also because, the Dad 2.0 Summit exemplifies what it means to engage an army that successfully fights for a cause....
 

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My Night on Stage at the Grammys: Standing Up for Suicide Loss and Attempt Survivors

That moment when you are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow suicide loss and attempt survivors on the Grammy’s stage at Madison Square Garden during the grand finale while nominees Logic, Khalid and Alessia Cara sing 1-800-273-8255…and you think – maybe, just maybe, our time has come…

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Spiritual Wellness and the Intersection of Faith, Spiritual Practices, Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention

As we start a new year with new aspirations and intentions, dealing with a mental health or suicide crisis can be particularly challenging. Other seems so full of hope, while you—or a loved one—are struggling. For those with a strong faith background or spiritual sensibility, the difficulties can be compounded...

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Why Impact Entrepreneurship Matters to Me and the Cause of Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention

“Applying business skills to resolving social ills…part saint, part politician, part business person,” said Robert Redford about social entrepreneurs.

What is Impact Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurs, or “Impact Entrepreneurs,” as I like to call them, bring together the best of the nonprofit heart and the for-profit efficiency. They are the ideal blend of the best of both worlds and the future of how business and social change gets done.

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5 Ways to Tap into Hope as a Defiant Superpower against Despair

I have often said, “Hope is the antidote to suicide.”

I realize that the word “hope” – like “love” and “support” and “leadership” – is often experienced as cliché, having lost its power and meaning from overuse. I would like to reclaim it and use it like Wonder Woman’s shield (goodness I love that movie) to defiantly deflect pessimism, bitterness and negativity coming at us from all angles.

As advocates for suicide prevention and mental health promotion, we must be warriors of hope.  Now is the perfect time to explore how we can learn to build hope as a practice – like pieces of protective armor that protect us as we forge our way onward to the frontiers of what is possible....

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