Dr. Sally Speaks Blog

Sharing the stories, science and strategy of suicide prevention. 

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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From Vegas to Columbine to Workplace Violence: Understanding the Complexities Surrounding Murder-Suicide

In the aftermath of the October 1st, 2017 massacre in Las Vegas, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 others injured, we have more questions than answers, and we are wondering -- even more than usual –- what would drive someone to do that?

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15 Top Apps for Resilience, Mental Health Promotion & Suicide Prevention

When we consider a comprehensive strategy to suicide prevention and mental health promotion, it’s helpful to segment approaches into “upstream” (preventing problems before they emerge through self-help), “midstream” (catching emerging problems early and linking people to least restrictive support), and “downstream” (helping people with more serious mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts) tactics.

Thus, for this article, I have organized some of the most popular, best researched and most innovative apps into these three categories.

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Stoicism, Stress and Suicide among Farmers

The stoicism of farmers helps them power through hardship and harsh environmental conditions often in great isolation, but when it comes to their mental health, this power through approach can be life threatening. It’s not surprising then that “farming, fishing and forestry” is the industry with the highest suicide rates (McIntosh et al, 2016)...

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Leadership and Mental Health Initiatives: Denver Fire Department Case Study

Firefighters are a unique breed. They run into burning buildings when everyone else is trying to escape. They respond to gruesome medical calls. And they do it all as a team. There’s a brother/sisterhood that comes with being part of this elite crew, and while there are many positive things that result from that connection, it can also create a tough guy mentality that leads them to believe they can’t or shouldn’t seek outside help when they’re struggling. As one firefighter told me, “We literally depend on each other’s lives to be mentally sound. It is our strength to compartmentalize, stay decisive, and move on that is valued in this work.”

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Suicide Prevention among Men Who Experience Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

When sexual trauma happens in the military, feelings of betrayal often emerge because the expectation is that those who serve alongside you are meant to protect, not harm you. The effects of this broken trust can be devastating. Given the social nature of the military and the likelihood that a victim of MST would have to continue to work or live near their assailant, the environment alone may create conditions for prolonged exposure, leaving an impact like that of on-going family violence...

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Get Ready for National Suicide Prevention Week: How to Effectively Message about Suicide

Question: Is our hyper-focus on “safe messaging” getting in the way of “effective messaging”?...

For years, suicide prevention advocates have focused on “safe messaging,” a series of do’s and don’ts that emphasize help-seeking and discourage mentioning suicide details. The goal of these suggestions is to avoid triggering vulnerable people to over-identify with suicide as a way to escape their emotional pain. Many of these tips – like don’t glamorize or romanticize suicide --are beneficial, and we certainly don’t want our content to cause harm. But I and many others are starting to recognize that a single-minded focus on "safe messaging" may be getting in the way of us being effective in our communication....

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5 Actions We Take When We See Suicide Prevention as a Social Justice Issue

"...When people become marginalized for whatever reason, they are often told that their experiences do not matter. Advocacy allows those who have suffered to publicly state, “This is who I am, this is how the dreams of mine and others like me have been systematically destroyed.”

Advocates can also paint a vision by saying, “This is how I see that change is possible.”

What do suicide prevention advocates do? Organized empowerment..."

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Sally Spencer-Thomas
5 Top Take-Aways from the International Association for Suicide Prevention World Congress in Kuching, Malaysia

The International Association for Suicide Prevention World Congress took place in Kuching, Malaysia, with over 600 delegates from over 50 countries present. The theme was “Preventing Suicide: A Global Commitment from Communities to Continents." Here are the five themes I’d like to share with you...

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Reasons You Should Be Concerned about Suicide in the Animal Welfare/Medicine Industry

...One example of a “caring for others” profession is veterinary medicine and animal welfare. Animal rescue professionals and veterinarians fit Thomas Joiner’s model of why people die by suicide: Constant exposure to death and feelings of hopelessness lead to an acquired ability for lethal self-injury, and they have access to lethal means in the form of drugs.

People are often drawn to the demanding professions because of their love of animals, but they soon discover that a large part of the job involves ending the lives of beloved pets and otherwise health animals. In fact, vets come face-to-face with death at five times the rate of physicians. Both veterinarians and animal rescue professionals are witness to the agonizing situation of pet owners choosing to have their companions euthanized because treatment is too expensive or too difficult or because breeding was uncontrolled and the family has become overwhelmed....

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Be Wingmen & Band Together for Survival – My Message to Men Living in Despair

"Those going through difficult times can find their way through the dark tunnel of hardship —reach out and grab a supportive hand to help pull you through, someday you might get a chance to repay the favor." - Spencer-Thomas

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