Session Descriptions

Blue Denotes Veteran Track

Thursday, October 26

8:00 Registration & Breakfast

8:30 Opening Remarks -Nikki Kontz, LMSW, AZSPC Board President

8:45 Arizona State Update-Kelli M. Donely, MPH, AHCCCS

9:00  Grief after Suicide (Clinicians working with survivors) – Jack R. Jordan, Ph.D.

The Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has released new U.S. Guidelines for postvention after suicide. Paralleling the U.S. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, these Guidelines document the case for making suicide postvention a key part of all suicide prevention efforts. They provide clear and specific Goals and Objectives for communities, states, tribes, and the nation to build an organized, compassionate, and effective “support infrastructure” for people who have been impacted by suicide. This presentation will provide an overview of the Guidelines, and their implications for anyone who cares about preventing suicide and helping those who are left in its wake.

10:30  Break Sponsored by Partners in Recovery

10:45  The Suicide Patient in the Emergency Department: The Role of the Emergency Department in the Assessment and Treatment – Leslie Zun, MD D

Patients with suicide ideation and plans frequently present to emergency departments for evaluation and treatment. However, the emergency department may not be the best place for this purpose. Does the patient have other options? If the patient does not have other options, what to expect from the emergency department. What is the appropriate process of patient evaluation and treatment?  For patients that do not come to the emergency department for suicide ideation, what is the role of the ED in the screening and referral of these patients.

This presentation will review the role of the emergency department in the evaluation and treatment of suicidal patients. The first issues is whether the patient is best seen in another setting rather than the emergency department. Once the patient arrives in the emergency department, the patient must have an appropriate suicide risk assessment into low, moderate and high risk. The patients that are low risk may go home, moderate risk need psychiatric assessment and high risk need admission to the hospital. There are treatments that can be started in the emergency department for admitted patients. For those that can go home, proper discharge process and safety planning must occur.

11:30 Harnessing Electronic Health Records for Suicide Prevention in Primary Care – Sarah Bernes, MPH, LMSW

The Zero Suicide framework, supported by the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, provides guidance about how health and behavioral health care settings can further suicide prevention by providing better clinical care for suicidal patients. The Institute for Family Health, a large Federally Qualified Health Center network in New York State, was an early adopter of the Zero Suicide framework and has leveraged strategic elements of electronic health record (EHR) design to promote population management principles with regards to managing suicide risk across our system. This presentation will over key steps toward better identification and treatment of suicidal patients in primary care settings taken by the Institute for Family Health and how these steps could be taken in other organizations.

Key recommendations for other health systems adopting a Zero Suicide approach include adding suicide risk to the problem list; implementing a prominent visual indicator in the patient’s chart to alert other health care providers interacting with that chart; capturing item responses and total scores from standardized screening and assessment tools as discrete data; and providing unrestricted access to suicide risk information in the EHR so that meaningful assessment and care for patients at risk for suicide can happen with any health care provider, including non-behavioral health specialists.

12:15 Networking Lunch Sponsored by Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care

1:15 Breakouts

Grief Therapy with Suicide Loss Survivors: What Clinicians Need to Know – Jack Jordan, Ph.D.

Providing individual grief therapy for people bereaved by suicide can present unique challenges for mental health clinicians. Bereavement after suicide often involves elements of complicated grief, PTSD, and responses that are mostly unique to suicide bereavement. This workshop will focus on principles of individual treatment of survivors by mental health professionals. Didactic presentation, case discussion, and audio-visual materials will all be used to illustrate these principles and techniques.

Be Connected: Suicide Prevention for Arizona Service Members, Veterans & Families – Thomas Winkel, MA, LPC, NCC,  Wanda A. Wright, MBA, MPA, M.Ed

The risk of suicide is 3-4x higher for Arizona veterans than the general population. In 2016, Arizona was designated as a pilot program state for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. This designation offered the opportunity to build upon several years of cross-sector collaboration, capacity building, and our experience with executing a highly effective program within the Arizona National Guard, which took the suicide rate from the highest ever in 2010 to three years of zero suicides.

Be Connected is the Arizona iteration of the Clay Hunt Act and builds upon this knowledge, experience, and the promising practices developed in our partnership with the Guard. Be Connected is focused on how we break down the silos in our service systems while simultaneously building up the capacity of our communities statewide to reach, engage, and connect service members, veterans, and their families.

This presentation will review the key components of Arizona’s Be Connected program with a particular emphasis on 1) how we are building upon existing capacity to cost effectively and quickly advance this effort 2) program components 3) utilization of peer supports and navigators and 4) data collection strategies, including a comprehensive statewide survey, with the ultimate goal of developing a replicable, evidence-based model.

Zero Suicide in Native American-Jamie Arthur & Brenda Manthei

With American Indian and Alaska Native’s (AI/AN) suffering from the highest rates of suicide in the U.S., it is important for the work of Tribes and tribal organizations be shared with the Suicidology community.

The Zero Suicide model being implemented by tribal health clinics is a collaborative process. An important part of the ZS model is the implementation of depression and suicide screening for all patients who are seen in primary health and behavior health clinics, including all appointments for mental health AND medical reasons. The framework involves system-wide change with the implementation of frequent depression and suicide screening of all patients regardless of the reason for the clinic visit. Utilizing electronic health record (EHR) templates and crisis policies and protocols are two additional pieces of this model for continual improvement and sustainability. This workshop will give examples of how tribal clinics and organizations have begun the ZS implementation process and will also describe challenges and successes that may help others taking on this important initiative.

1:45  Break sponsored by LivingWorks

3:00  Breakouts

Safety, Strength, & Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ/GSM Communities-Isaac Akapnitis, LMSW and Ann Maxwell, LMSW

The workshop will begin with a brief overview of LGBTQ specific terminology to help create a common understanding of identities and language. Participants will be provided with an extensive terminology sheet to take with them.

Next, participants will explore factors from the individual/interpersonal levels (family rejection; individual risk factors) to institutional (difficulty in accessing care) to community wide (lack of GSM-inclusive protections) that place GSM individuals at risk for suicide. Participants will learn about the protective factors that can reduce risk for suicide and increase hope, health, and wellness for GSM individuals.

Presenter and participants will engage in discussion to share participant expertise in ways they are already creating safe and welcoming spaces for the GSM community, with additional information regarding referral information and recommended and best/promising practices provided by presenter.

Compassion Fatigue The Stress Of Caring Too Much – Mary Delaney, Ph.D., ACS

Compassion Fatigue, also known as Secondary Traumatic Stress, is the Achilles heel of the caregiver personality. Recognizing the symptoms of compassion fatigue will bring to light the “cost of caring” for those in emotional and or physical distress. We will discuss the symptoms of compassion fatigue as well as preventive strategies for recovering from burnout so that you may fully prosper in your compassionate efforts.

Military Culture 101: Experiential – Mario Aguirre and Kelly Anne Beck, Arizona Coalition for Military Families

This training will educate anybody who has not been in the military on the experiences and stressors of military life. Through an experiential approach, we will discuss the different levels of stress and the positive effects that military life can have on service members and their families.

13 Reasons Why As A Primer to Discuss Suicide With Teens – Nikki Kontz, LMSW

The realistic portrayal of mental illness in television and movies can be an effective way to reduce stigma around psychiatric issues. But it can be troubling if those portrayals do not show options for treatment. A new Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, has a large following on social media and has garnered media attention for its stark depictions of bullying, sexual assault, underage drinking, self-injury and suicide. Many experts have come forward expressing concern about how this show portrays suicide specifically. While those concerns are valid, this cautionary tale may also provide an opportunity to open up communication, change opportunities for our communities and learning opportunities for both teens and adults.

That leaves many of us to question, what should you do when faced with issues of bullying, depression, trauma and suicide? Seeing these issues in pop culture can help to reduce stigma and shame around mental health. This workshop will aim to delve in to both the dangers and the opportunities this show/book provides as well as how to use them to open up dialog with teens, identify youth at-risk for suicide, find opportunities for growth and even opportunities to build resiliency within our youth. Attendees will also be provided with information on resources available to both them and the youth they serve.

Friday, October 27

8:00  Registration & Breakfast Sponsored by EMPACT La-Frontera SPC

8:30  The Invisible Front: Loss and Love in an Era of Endless War – Major General, U.S. Army (Retired) Mark & Carol Graham, 

Despite the progress being made across our nation as military and civilian communities work collaboratively, there remains a huge stigma surrounding the treatment of mental health concerns that not only permeates our military, but our entire culture. As an Army and as a nation, we must get in front of suicide, work to prevent it by action, not just figure it out after the fact.”

2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients Maj. General Graham (Ret.) and his wife, Carol Graham, are advocates of suicide prevention, mental health awareness as well as issues specific to our nation’s armed forces such as PTSD.

10:00  Break

10:15  Child Survivors of Suicide  “Hope and Help” – Teri V. Krull, LCSW, LLC, 

It is a myth that children don’t grieve.  60,000 children deal with the death of a relative through suicide annually.  They experience loss and reorganization simultaneously, putting them at risk for psychiatric symptoms and social maladjustment.    Professional support through early identification and preventive interventions may help increase their healthy adaptive reorganization.

 This workshop is designed to encourage discussion among established professionals in the field of play therapy around the unique challenges in the treatment of child survivors of suicide. While instruction will be a part of this sectional, participant exchange and questions will be equally important.

11:45  Networking Lunch Sponsored by Crisis Preparation and Recovery

1:15   Breakouts

Supporting Transgender Youth & Families – Teri V. Krull LCSW, LLC;  Isaac Akapnitis, LMSW; Crystal Asetta

Unfortunately, due to discrimination, peer and family rejection, violence, stigma and other factors, transgender youth are at higher risk for suicide in comparison to their non-trans (cisgender) peers. But there is hope. How a family responds to their transgender child when they come out or assert their gender can play a significant role in reducing this risk. Hear from a panel to learn about some of the challenges transgender youth and their families experience, how to help create more affirming environments inside and outside the home, and how we can all play a role in preventing suicide among trans and gender diverse youth.

Healing the Warrior Heart – Preventing Suicide in the Veteran -Cassandra Facciponti, US Army Combat Veteran, West Point Graduate

This workshop will include sharing my personal experiences as a United States Army Combat Veteran who ultimately overcame my struggle with PTSD to lead a happy and successful life.  I will provide education on up to date statistics on Veteran suicide in our nation as well as our state.

An outlook will be provided on Post Traumatic Growth as opposed to Post Traumatic Stress and education will be given on the tools and techniques to assist Veterans struggling in the darkness.  These tools include finding identity, purpose and utilizing the familiarity of military training in a way that provides success as a Veteran in society.  Attendees will leave with a sense of hope and empowerment to be an impacting force in preventing Veteran suicide in our community.

Creating Connections: The Importance of Individual, Family, and Community Connectedness in Suicide Prevention – William Beverly, Ph.D.

A growing body of research has identified several different risk and protective factors related to suicidal behavior. One of the most consistent protective factor found in suicide research is social support and connectedness.  Supportive interpersonal relationships can help to discourage maladaptive coping behaviors such as suicidal behaviors or substance use, and encourage adaptive coping behaviors such as professional help-seeking. Moreover, higher levels of social contact and lower levels of social isolation and loneliness has been shown to be a protective factor among multiple populations, benefiting individuals from socially and culturally diverse backgrounds. In addition to connectedness at the individual level (person’s connectedness to others), this session will also discuss the potential for connectedness of individuals/families to community organizations in the prevention of suicide. Though counseling implications will be reviewed, this session is intended for anyone interested in suicide prevention.

Responding to Suicide: A Postvention eLearning Module for Schools – Nikki Kontz, LMSW

Traditionally reaching schools for postvention education and services is difficult at best. This workshop is focusing on the replication of a postvention eLearning curriculum that can be distributed to schools well in advance of a tragedy. This postvention course for schools was initially developed by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development and was primarily an adaptation of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools, a printed resource for middle and high schools who have faced the suicide death of a student or staff member. 

This eLearning has been tailored to help educators, administrators, school counselors, and nurses respond to a student death, coordinate a crisis response plan, learn strategies to help students cope in the aftermath of a suicide, learn strategies for communication with community partners and leaders, understand appropriate memorialization of a student in the school community, effectively use social media to share information and promote suicide prevention efforts, identify students at risk of suicide contagion and respond appropriately, and learn how to help the school community to move forward after a suicide. This module includes opportunities to apply what has been learned in practice sessions based on a case study. School staff have the opportunity to indicate appropriate responses in each of the 9 lessons. After completing the course, the faculty are able to implement a coordinated crisis response plan in the event of a student or faculty suicide.

Teen Lifeline and Edgepoint Learning, in partnership with La Frontera Empact – SPC, have customized the training to fit the Arizona landscape. This innovative strategy of reaching schools where they are at has allowed for schools to institute procedures prior to a crisis as well as reach a larger number of staff then traditional education. This program is distributed free of charge to middle and high schools statewide.  We will share lessons learned during the adaptation processes in both states, how identified obstacles were overcome, and evaluation results from both the State of Alaska and Arizona to date. Pieces of the curriculum package will presented and discussed to highlight the innovative nature of eLearning. Participants present will be given access to the entire eLearning course. Presenter 1 will discuss challenges related to providing prevention and postvention services on school campuses. Presenter 2 will discuss best practices related to postvention services. Presenter 3 will discuss integrating best practice strategies in to an eLearning format. Presenters will field questions as necessary.

2:45   Break sponsored by Terros

3:00   Breakouts 

The Survivor’s Journey – Survivors of Suicide Panel Discussion

A panel of Suicide Loss Survivors will share their grief story, and answer a series of questions pertaining to how they have overcome their loss. Specifically, panelists will share about coping strategies they utilized and the steps they took towards becoming more resilient.

Integrative Yoga Treatment for PTSD & Yoga Session – Stephanie Michael, Shelley Tom, Duane Armitage, Kate Shipp

The first 45 minutes of the session will cover Be Connected, suicide prevention awareness for veterans, and the benefits of adding yoga into an integrative treatment plan for clients healing from PTSD. The second 45 minutes will be a breakout yoga session to demonstrate the treatment benefits, using trauma sensitive language strategies and yoga nidra. We ask that attendees wear comfortable clothes and bring their own yoga mats, if available

Balancing the Three-legged Stool,  A Community Perspective on Postvention – Heather Brown

Without strong postvention strategies, suicide prevention approaches are often missing the “third leg” of the three-legged stool, lacking a balanced foundation. Learn the key principles, best practices, and considerations for creating effective postvention efforts at the school, workplace/organizational, and community levels. Discover programs, activities, and resources Arizona has in place and ways we can take action to work together to address the needs of individuals, families, and communities impacted by suicide.