Hope Illuminated.png
Posts in Mental Health
"Why Would God Do This?" -- Faith, Religion and Suicide: Interview with Dr. Melinda Moore | Episode 40

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
"We are Still Here" -- Culture is Prevention in Tribal Communities: Interview with Shelby Rowe | Episode 39

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
A New Age of On-Line Peer Support - Impact Entrepreneurs are a Force for Good: Interview with Jeff Dorchester and Dion Gonzales of iRel8.org | Episode 38

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
Lessons Learned from Colorado -- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Marijuana and Mental Health: Interview with Ben Cort | Episode 37

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
The Role of Arts in Healing A Conversation with an Indigenous Trauma Survivor & Student of Honor: Interview with Swil Kanim | Episode 36

…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
A New Frontier in Workplace Safety -- Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention: Interview with TJ Lyons | Episode 35

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 -- The Role of Union Leadership in Suicide Prevention: Interview with Chris Carlough | Episode 34

“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
Pain and Suffering -- What We Can Do To Address the Opioid Crisis and Its Relationship to Suicide: Interview with Dr. Don Teater | Episode 33
  • 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
Brain Science and Storytelling -- Learning about Self-Transformation from Neuroscience, Narrative Psychology & Indigenous Healing: Interview with Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona | Episode 31

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
Peer Support & The Helper Effect -- When Doing Good Feels Good: Interview with Lt. John Coppedge | Episode 29

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
A Warrior for Wellness -- One Man’s Epic Battle for Recovery: Interview with Gabe Howard | Episode 28

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
Healing after Murder-Suicide -- Mother of Columbine Shooter Shares Grief Journey: Interview with Sue Klebold | Episode 26

While only 2% of suicides are murder-suicides, the narrative of this tragedy dominates public consciousness. Due to the fact that the circumstances are horrific, and the media reports on these stories more frequently and with more details than most other community tragedies, it’s not surprising that we feel overwhelmed. What is often not discussed is the unimaginable grief and trauma left behind in the families of the perpetrators. In my interview with Sue Klebold, mother of Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold, we learn more about why she spent many years in hiding and what she is doing now so that other families don’t have to experience what hers did.

Read More
Suicide Crisis Services -- What to Know When You Need a Lifeline: Interview with Jennifer Battle | Episode 22

Today’s podcast will explore the day in the life of a crisis support center — how it works and what to expect if you or someone you care about needs some help getting back on track. My interview with Jennifer Battle explores the social justice roots of the evolution of crisis support services and her deep gratitude for the work she does every day. 

Read More
The Resilience of Our Elders -- Protecting against the 5 Ds of Suicide Risk: Interview with Heidi Bryan and Dr. Yeates Conwell | Episode 21

In the podcast our panel includes two experts…together they bring sound research and stories about the resilience of our elders — their life satisfaction and happiness and tactics to ward off the 5 D’s of suicide risk…

Read More
Disruptive System Change — Tackling the Injustice of Suicide: Interview with John Mendoza | Episode 20

When it comes to engaging a wider circle in our suicide prevention and mental health promotion movements, we need to take a page from the playbook of other social justice movements. During this interview I got to spend time chatting with one of the most accomplished social change agents I know. In this podcast we hear from an international inspiration, John Mendoza, on how he has mobilized change throughout Australia and beyond. From working with the International Olympic Committee while planning the Sydney games to working with the indigenous people of the Kimberly, John has learned much about empowerment, building capacity and disrupting the status quo. 

Read More
Youth Change Makers -- Power, Empathy & Creativity Unleashed: Interview with Stan P. Collins | Episode 17

How do we communicate about suicide with teens? Perhaps, they are the ones in the best position to tell us.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention recommends strategy, safety and a positive narrative when messaging about suicide. Messages and images that encourage hope are better than ones that imply "nothing can be done." Messages that celebrate resilience, healing journeys and compassion are better than ones that romanticize death or are voyeuristic or sensationalized. Messages that inspire action like reaching out or offering compassion are more valuable than ones that perpetuate misinformation and myths.

In this podcast we learn some best practices in enrolling our youth to be these positive, safe, and effective messengers for suicide prevention and mental health promotion.

Read More
The New "Stop, Drop and Roll" - 3 Ways to Extinguish the Fire of Suicidal Intensity: Interview with Dr. Ursula Whiteside | Episode 16

Sometimes, however, despite our best efforts to escape emotional pain, we may find ourselves "on fire." And in these instances of the most extreme forms of suicidal intensity, we need a different set of survival behaviors. We need to extinguish the "oxygen" that is feeding the crisis by quickly resetting the emotional state. In this episode, Dr. Whiteside shares three important steps that can help people reset their emotional system; the suicide crisis equivalent of "stop, drop and roll."

Read More
Leadership, Strategy & System Change: Interview with Stuart Binstock & Michelle Walker | Episode 11

In order for mental health promotion and suicide prevention to be successful, leadership must be bold and engaged....Leaders who are most influential in creating a caring culture at the workplace are able to build a business case that looks at the ROI of investing in resilience and mental health support. They are also strategic in their effort, enrolling others in a pragmatic blueprint for change and tracking progress and pitfalls....One of the biggest success stories in this effort is the creation of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention overseen by the Construction Financial Management Association.

www.PreventConstructionSuicide.com 

Read More
Sleep, Stress and the Science of the Mind-Body Connection: Interview with Whitney McKnight | Episode 10

About 350 years ago, philosopher René Descartes took the brain out of the body – and we’ve been trying to put it back ever since. Descartes believed that the immaterial mind was separate from that matter of the body, and this dualism started many down a path of treating mind and body differently.

In this episode, we work to reunite the two to explore how their interconnectivity affects well-being. In this episode, we talk about how critical bodily functions like sleep, pain and our stress response are so closely tied to our emotional health. My guest Whitney McKnight, a clinical reporter whose work has focused primarily on the brain, encourages us to be our own scientists in our approach to understanding anxiety and depression and to always “improve our questions.”

Read More
What You Need to Know about Peer Support as a Critical Link in the Chain of Survival: Interview with Eduardo Vega | Episode 9

“People don’t always need advice. Sometimes all they need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen and a heart to understand them.”

In this inspirational podcast I have the great honor of interviewing one of my most beloved social agitators, Eduardo Vega. Eduardo begins by sharing his own experiences with suicidal intensity and the “incomprehensible demoralization” he felt as he tried to escape himself. For him the turning point happened when he started to connect with something larger than himself by helping others. Eduardo talks at length on the podcast about the helper principlein other words, the notion that helping others helps us. While the idea of peer support has long been promoted in addiction recovery and among mental health advocates, it is just now gaining traction in suicide prevention. Eduardo shares his view on why this is so, and gives us the science and the strategy for “the way forward.”

Read More