Let’s Face It, We Often Operate in a Bubble. Sometimes I think we aren't making enough progress in suicide prevention and mental health promotion because we spend too much time talking to ourselves....Read More
Dr. Sally Speaks Blog
Sharing the stories, science and strategy of suicide prevention.
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.Read More
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...Read More
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....Read More
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....
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…Read More
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...Read More
“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.Read More
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....Read More
Over 50 people die of firearm suicide every day.
Significantly, this statistic has led to thriving partnerships among such groups as the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation, gun shop owners, and -- suicide prevention advocates.
Wait, what?...Read More
Death is confusing at any age. But for youth, who may be experiencing death and grief for the first time, it’s even more complicated. When the death is the result of suicide, it adds still more questions.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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)...Read More
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.”Read More
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...Read More
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....Read More
"...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..."Read More
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...Read More