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September 8, 2020

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2020


The Pacific Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (PSMHTTC) joins the nation in observing September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. While necessary every year, the critical importance of suicide prevention and postvention cannot be overstated in the midst of 2020’s multiple challenges and crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic recession, wildfires, and systemic violence.  PSMHTTC offers this list of available previously published webinars for culturally responsive suicide prevention during pandemic times. See page 9 of the PSMHTTC Telehealth Clinical Considerations Resource for recommendations about managing suicidal crisis over telehealth. Please keep an eye out for our upcoming suicide-related trainings in Fall 2020. 


Suicide Prevention: Assessing the Environment and Culture for Risk  
Presented by Tiara Peterkin, LCSW 
This presentation focuses on understanding the environment in which suicidality is possible. The presenter reviews key elements of the psychological and social environment that increase likelihood of suicidality. To make a nuanced assessment, we must understand relevant cultural factors and their impact on an individual’s suicide risk. To that end, the presenter also provides a brief review of special risk factors for populations at increased risk for suicide. The target audience for this presentation is mental health professionals, including licensed and non-licensed staff.

Culturally Responsive and Socially Distanced Suicide Prevention: Safety Planning and Other Resources in Pandemic Times 
Presented by Heliana Ramirez, PhD, Pacific Southwest MHTTC 
This webinar presentation addressed evidence-based strategies for suicide prevention. Situated within the unique stressors of shelter-in-place orders, this webinar was tailored to teletherapy and discussed the distinct factors related to suicidal crises among diverse populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants learned how to guide clients in creating Safety Plans tailored to their specific needs and cultural strengths with the limited resources available under social distancing orders. Audiences were introduced to a curated list of free videos for clinicians and clients on suicide prevention-related topics including means restriction, emotion regulation techniques, Emotional First Aid, and normalizing messages of hope from people who have survived suicide. This webinar paid particular attention to social determinants of health related to elevated suicide rates among various populations including LGBTQ people, Veterans, Native Americans, and Latina youth and young adults.

Trauma-Informed Suicide Prevention for Educators: Stories, Science, and Strategies 
Presenters: Leah Harris and Kelechi Ubozoh 
Join Leah Harris and Kelechi Ubozoh in exploring what a trauma-informed suicide prevention approach for educators might look like. This webinar will begin with the perspective of a young person with lived experience of suicidal thoughts. Presenters will identify common myths and misconceptions about students and suicide and explore the vital importance of including students as partners in suicide prevention efforts. Examples of promising student-led initiatives, including peer-to-peer programs and school awareness campaigns, will be provided.

Supporting Grieving Students During a Pandemic 
Presenter: David Schonfeld, National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement 
Bereavement outside the context of a crisis is common – the vast majority of children experience the death of a close family member or friend. These deaths have a significant and often long-term impact on learning, social and emotional development, behavior, and adjustment. This presentation provides practical suggestions on how schools can talk with and support grieving children in general. The current pandemic is associated with a large and growing number of deaths. Physical distancing, including lengthy school closures, makes it difficult for schools to provide support to grieving students using traditional means. This presentation also highlights the unique challenges for supporting students during the pandemic and describe free resources from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students that can be used to address these challenges.


Upcoming Suicide-related Webinars and Film Screening

Suicide Prevention by Peer Specialists: A Panel Discussion
Coming Soon! Date TBD

Suicide Postvention: From the Voices of Family, Peers, Providers, and People with Lived Experience
Coming Soon! Date TBD

Screening of the critically acclaimed film “The S Word” 
Coming Soon! Date TBD

Safety Planning: Skills Building Virtual Workshop
Coming Soon! Date TBD

September is Suicide Prevention Month
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