When a teen loses a loved one to suicide, the intense reactions can be overwhelming, and sometimes the caring adults don’t know what to do to help. Teens who are already feeling the pressure of school and social expectations can be very challenged in navigating the complexity of suicide bereavement. In this interview, Jason shares his journey from surviving to thriving after losing his Dad to suicide when he was 17.Read More
Hope Illuminated Podcast
Author of “Still with Us: Voices of Sibling Suicide Loss,” Dr. Lena Heilmann joins me for our shared reflection on the experience of losing a brother or sister to suicide. We speak about how in this form of loss, siblings experience losing their past, present and future. Lena also suggests many strategies for coping with the grief and trauma of suicide loss.Read More
Over 855 delegates from 57 countries convened in Derry/Londonderry to share the science, stories and strategy of suicide prevention and suicide grief/trauma support. The theme of the conference was "Breaking Down Walls, Building Bridges" and the conference planners were exceptionally mindful about equity in their selection of speakers and content. The voices of people with lived experience were prevalent throughout and one of my favorite sessions was among prominent suicidologists and clinicians who shared their experiences with discrimination and prejudice within the field of suicide prevention. We also had an opportunity to honor the lives and service of two giants in our field who died way too soon -- Prof Allison Milner and Dr. Jan Mokkenstorm. Tune in to be inspired to be part of this international community pulling together to prevent suicide and alleviate suffering.Read More
In the United States our suicide rates are going up, but in much of the world, the suicide rates are going down. In this interview I speak with the world renowned Erminia Colucci to discuss the Anglo perspective of a highly medicalized perspective of suicide and contrast that with an understanding of suicide in a larger context. In her view, we must situate suicide prevention within a social, cultural and political context to be effective. She is part of a group of “Critical Suicidologists” who are challenging some of the “truths” we have accepted within the suicide prevention field. As an activist researcher she wants to engage with the community and helps us better to understand the root causes of inequality, oppression, violence and related conditions of human suffering.
Erminia and I have this conversation at the World Congress for Suicide Prevention in Derry, Ireland. We are sitting in an art studio in the Playhouse for this conversation, and explore a ‘different way’ to help people on their darkest day.
Suicide needs to be seen in a larger context within the cultures people belong to
We need to break the silence in some areas of understanding suicide like social justice
By exploring alternative methods that work for people, like the arts, faith, and others, we can make a difference to alleviate suffering and prevent suicide.
The World Health Organization has declared suicide prevention a global imperative. Every year World Suicide Prevention falls on September 10th. This year I interviewed Professor Rory O’Connor as he prepared for the 30th World Congress of Suicide Prevention in Derry, Northern Ireland.Read More
Recently, with major news coverage of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” and celebrity suicide deaths, we are having more conversations about suicide, but are we having the right conversations? Are we telling a more powerful tale? In this episode Dr. Bart Andrews shares his story of deciding to “come out” as a suicide attempt survivor, how he challenges “safe messaging guidelines,” and what he believes are most important suicide prevention messages need to be.Read More
If you are thinking about getting involved in suicide prevention or suicide grief support, we need you. You have a place and your voice matters. Learn more in this interview about how to get involved in my interview with Colleen Creighton, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology.Read More
Faith community leaders are often first responders after a suicide death. Sometimes, as in my family’s situation, faith leaders do an amazing job in supporting a highly traumatized and confused family through their grief journey and facilitate a memorial service that both honors the life that was lived without shying away from the tragedy of suicide. Other times families feel compounded shame and guilt and experience additional layers of loss because of how faith leaders address suicide. Faith beliefs are sometimes shattered in the aftermath of suicide, and anger at God is not uncommon….According to Dr. Melinda Moore, 85% of clergy know that helping people in a suicide crisis is part of their responsibility, but they don’t know what to do. In this interview with her, we explore some of the findings from a recently released guidelines from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention called “Suicide Prevention Competencies for Faith Leaders: Supporting Life Before, During, and After a Suicidal Crisis.” We also discuss ways that faith communities can offer support through the National Weekend of Prayer and the resources offered through the “Faith-Hope-Life” campaign.Read More
All over the globe, young Indigenous men have some of the highest rates of suicide. When we take a closer look at this trend, we understand it is much less about individual mental health issues and much more about the consequences of historical trauma. Programs addressing suicide prevention in these communities are promoting culture and community connectedness through storytelling, ceremony and reclaiming culture. These cross-generational initiatives are rooted in values that link the past and present. Values and priorities like honor, identity, pride and resiliency. In this interview I interview my dear friend and one of the most resilient people I know, Shelby Rowe, who shares how she was inspired by her ancestors to be a “designated culture keeper.”Read More
In this interview I chat with some amazing impact entrepreneurs who are a force for good in this space. They have found a way to harness the power of peer support — at very unique peer group levels — to give people a way to connect with others who are walking a similar path. iRel8.org is an anonymous, peer-to-peer social network that proactively uses technology to provide access to support people 24/7/365 in 63 languages. Some giants like Microsoft have taken notice. Founded by a passion fueled by their own lived experience, Dion Gonzales and Jeff Dorchester are filling an important gap in our chain of survival.Read More
A recent Scientific American article entitled Is “Cannabis Good or Bad for Mental Health?” suggested that if you think you understand cannabis and its impact on our well-being, you probably don’t. With over 500 chemical constituents, interacting a different doses and ingested by different means, there are endless permutations of complexity for the ways cannabis can impact our emotional health. We can’t slap one label on it as either “all helpful” or “all harmful” when it comes to the impact on depression, anxiety, trauma and psychosis. Cannabis and all of the spin-off substances continue to evolve faster than rigorous science can keep up. The truth is — at the level of randomized control trials — we know very little.Read More
…Swil is an indigenous man and a trauma survivor who credits his ability to overcome racism and suffering and become a student of honor to his discovery of the violin in the 4th grade. Join us as he shares his path of finding that healing was his responsibility and that the way he would be true to his journey was through expressing himself musically.Read More
In the US, the construction industry is the top industry with the highest suicide rates and largest numbers. Historically, mental health and suicide have not been considered safety priorities, until now. In this podcast a global safety expert helps us connect the dots….Read More
“Be vocal, be visible, be visionary. There is no shame in stepping forward, but there is great risk in holding back and just hoping for the best.” ~Higher Education Center
When it comes to suicide prevention in the workplace, we need bold leaders — leaders who are willing to take a stand and say, “suicide prevention matters to me, and it matters to our workforce.” We need leaders with a vision to aspire to a zero suicide mindset and to yield their influence to creating a culture of caring and mental wellbeing. When workers are having a hard time, we need leaders to notice and tell them, “If you reach out to me when you are suffering, I’ve got your back. I will persist with you until we’ve found the right support and resources to help you be your best self again. You matter to us and we need you to achieve our mission.”
In this episode we will hear from one leader who is doing just that within the construction industry — within labor specifically — building upon the culture of “we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”Read More
One opioid prescription after an injury doubles the risk of being disabled at one year. (Teater, 2015)
The combined deaths among Americans — suicide and unintentional overdose — in 2000 was 41,364 deaths and in 2017 was 110,749 deaths. (Bohnert & Ilgen, 2019)
The good news is there are shared prevention approaches, and we are learning more and more as the silos between those addressing the opioid crisis and those addressing suicide begin to fall away. In this podcast Dr. Don Teater and I explore how opioid use and suicide are connected and what we need to do to find better ways to alleviate pain and suffering.Read More
For the past century, the science of suicide prevention has not revealed much that is highly promising; however, innovations coming from the research lab of Dr. Matt Nock are quite exciting. Join us as we talk about his work with electronic diaries, attentional bias, ketamine, and much more. Findings that are helping us be able to better predict suicide risk and find more effective ways to prevent this tragedy.Read More
Well before we had writing and certainly before we had powerpoint, people were sharing stories. When it comes to suicide, we must “tell a more powerful tale” — one of resilience and redemption. When we cultivate stories that describe experiences of coming through unimaginable suicidal despair or suicide grief, storytellers “make meaning” and broader societal changes are possible. In other words, storytelling is good for the storyteller, and when done safely and effectively, it is good for the listener and can powerfully shift culture. In this interview Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona and I talk about the neurobiology and cultural implications of the power of the story to heal.Read More
Too often when we talk about mental health promotion and suicide prevention in the workplace, the main message is about how to get workers who are suffering to counselors. Not enough attention is paid to the environmental aspects of the workplace that may be contributing to despair and what peers, managers and leadership can do to solve these problems. The research is clear — job strain is connected to suicide risk (Milner, et al, 2017)….
On this podcast I interview an international authority on workplace suicide and mental health research, Dr. Allison Milner. Join us as we explore some of the social determinants of suicide through a social justice lens in the world of work.Read More
While peer support and peer specialist efforts have long existed in areas of mental health communities and post-critical incidents, their role in suicide prevention has been more recent. Some feared that peer support might increase vulnerability through the “copycat” phenomenon. Others were concerned that suicide was just too complicated of an issue for peers to try to take on…
…In this interview I get the honor of chatting with Lt. John Coppedge, whom I met through the Denver Police Department’s Peer Support Program. Lt. Coppedge was a key leader in our “Breaking the Silence” video and training workbook with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Here he shares his journey about his own trauma history and how it has helped shape his passion for peer support.
Then we listened to the voices of people with lived experience with suicidal intensity who told us over and over that peers played an incredibly influential role in not only bringing them back from the brink, but giving them new reasons for living and hope. Peer supporters and peer specialists also told us that helping others helped them.Read More
After listening to many people describe their experiences with suicidal intensity, I and others have come to think about the clash between the will to live and the desire to escape unimaginable emotional pain as an “epic battle” between fierce forces. On one side is the warrior fighting to live, continuing to make future plans and persevering toward health and vitality. At the same time the pain this warrior is battling can be all-consuming.
In this interview we hear from one man about his “epic battle for recovery” and how he bolstered the strength of his inner warrior who fought valiantly for a passion for living. Gabe Howard is not just managing his bipolar condition and hanging on the edge, he is living well. In other words mental illness and mental well-being are two different dimensions.Read More