Walking to Save Lives

What a turnout it was on September 18 for the Greater Ithaca “Out of the Darkness” Walk in Myers Park in Lansing! Fundraising teams and individuals collected more than $45,000 to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Ithaca College Bombers Women’s Lacrosse

The annual event, organized by the AFSP’s Greater Central New York Chapter and co-chaired by Crystal Howser and Amber Parker, helps the foundation invest in life-saving research, education, advocacy, and support for those impacted by suicide. The walk included teams from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Ithaca College Bombers Women’s Lacrosse squad.

Click here to learn more, donate, or volunteer with AFSP.

In opening remarks, Crystal Howser thanked the throng of walkers who participated:

“By showing up today, you are sending the message that mental health is as real as physical health. You are sending the message that reaching out for help is the strong thing to do. You are showing others that suicide can no longer be swept under the rug.

“By showing up, you let others know they are not alone. Because of you, we can fight for a day when no one will die by suicide.

“By walking with us, you honor the memory of the loved ones we’ve lost. I also want to acknowledge those of you who have suffered personally from suicidal thoughts. We are so glad to have you here with us in this fight. Your presence and openness allow others to know they are not alone in their struggle.

“Together, we are strong, together we are making a difference. Our mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide would not be possible without each of you.”

Corporate sponsors for the event included The Strebel Planning Group and its Fund for Community Enrichment; Central New York Tuesdays and Upstate Shredding; Maguire Family of Dealerships; CFCU Community Credit Union; BorgWarner; Ithaca Apartment Management/Solomon Organization; Midstate Basement Authorities; Cayuga Medical Center; Warren Real Estate; Visions Federal Credit Union; and the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service.

Special thanks to John Brehm of Brehmstone Photography!

Co-Chair Crystal Howser, New York State Assembly Member Anna Kelles, and Co-Chair Amber Parker

Top fundraising team

Greater Ithaca “Out of the Darkness” Walk

Sigma Alpha, Cornell University

In memory of Lisa Cabral Mastroberti

In memory of Nicholas Cooper and Jeremy Vicedomini

Team Hope—Remembering Jerry Howser

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service

Message stones

The Sophie Fund

“Together to Fight Suicide”

Myers Park, Lansing, September 18, 2021

AIM for Zero Suicides: Suicide Care is Healthcare

The Suicide Prevention Center of New York on September 28, 29 & 30 is hosting “AIM for Zero: Suicide Care is Healthcare,” a virtual symposium for healthcare practitioners and advocates featuring leading authorities on suicide prevention.

Click Here to Register Now

Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSWs) and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) can receive four contact hours toward renewal of their social work license.

Here’s a snapshot of the program:

“Vision Zero: Eliminating Suicide & Transforming Healthcare”

Presented by Edward Coffey, known for his innovative work on “Perfect Depression Care,” whose audacious goal of “Zero Suicides” has been widely cited as a model for health care transformation.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Current statistics on suicide in the United States.
  • Core concepts in the Institute of Medicine’s report, “Crossing the Quality Chasm.”
  • Approach to ideal healthcare known as “Vision Zero.”

“Zero Suicide Work in Emergency Departments: Opening Pandora’s Box”

Presented by Ed Boudreaux, professor of Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, and Quantitative Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Principal Investigator for the UMass Zero Suicide Framework implementation.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Barriers to implementing universal screening for suicide risk in healthcare settings.
  • Literature on universal suicide risk screening implementation.
  • Latest advances in suicide risk screening.

“If Preventing Suicide is our Target, Suicide Safe Care—in All Healthcare Settings—Is the Bullseye”

Presented by Michael Hogan, former New York State Commissioner of Mental Health.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • The high proportion of suicide decedents with a nexus to health care.
  • The proportion of suicide decedents with a nexus to emergency departments, primary care, and behavioral health.
  • Most effective methods to identify risk suggesting intervention to reduce likelihood of suicide.
  • Comparing preventive interventions for reducing cardiovascular disease and suicide risk.

“From Equality to Equity in LGBTQ Youth Suicide Prevention”

Presented by Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding common risk factors for LGBTQ youth suicide.
  • Creating safe, affirming environments for LGBTQ youth.

“Making Suicide a Never Event – Zero Suicide in Indian Country”

Presented by Sadé Heart of the Hawk Ali, Tribal Lead and a Senior Project Associate at the Zero Suicide Institute and former Deputy Commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Culturally-relevant screening and assessment tools that resonate with the Tribes’ understandings of loss of life.
  • Roles in safer suicide care.
  • Application of the Zero Suicide Model in ways that are culturally resonant with Indigenous communities in NY State.

“Singing in a Strange Land: Suicide Prevention for Black Youth”

Presented by Sherry Molock, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at George Washington University.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Evidence‐based suicide prevention strategies and methods for adolescents and young adults from communities of color.
  • Suicide prevention strategies that are culturally salient and relevant to youth from communities of color.

“Best Practices for Primary Care”

Presented by Virna Little, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder of Concert Health, a national organization providing behavioral health services to primary care providers.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Suicide risk and prevalence in adult and pediatric primary care settings.
  • Primary care workflows that identify patients at risk and support suicide safer care.
  • Skills for effective prevention activities such as safety planning and risk reduction.
  • Best practices for suicide prevention in primary care settings.

“A Zero Suicide Story”

Presented by Wykisha McKinney, Program Manager at The Harris Center for Mental Health & IDD (Intellectual or Developmental Disability).

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Zero Suicide as a commitment to patient safety and a just culture of support for care providers.
  • Zero Suicide in health or behavioral health care settings.
  • The unique and important perspective of people with lived experience in the Zero Suicide framework.

“The Promise of 988: Crisis Care for Everyone, Everywhere, Every Time.”

Presented by David W. Covington, member of the Executive Committee of National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • The 988 Mental Health Hotline’s implementation and impact on the crisis network.
  • Tangible human, clinical, and economic outcomes of implementing Crisis Now.
  • Components of the Crisis Now model and the keys to its deployment.

“AIM for Quality Safety Planning Intervention”

Presented by Barbara Stanley, Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University and Director of Suicide Prevention Training, Implementation, and Evaluation at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Role and rational for safety planning with suicidal clients.
  • Elements of high-quality safety plans.
  • Evaluating the quality of safety plans for Quality Improvement.

“Implementing Zero Suicide in Health Systems”

Presented by Brian Ahmedani, Director of the Center for Health Policy and Health Services Research at the Henry Ford Health System.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • Healthcare utilization before suicides and suicide attempts.
  • Implementation strategies, measures, and outcomes related to the Zero Suicide Model across health systems.

“Call to Action – AIM for ZERO”

Presented by Jan Ulrich, Senior Project Associate at the Zero Suicide Institute, and Jay Carruthers, Director of the Bureau of Psychiatric Services and Research Institute Support at the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Presentation Learning Objectives:

  • A Zero Suicide Community of Practice.
  • Next steps for a system of care advancing the Zero Suicide Model.

State of New York Office of Mental Health SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0227. Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSWs) and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) who attend this class in its entirety will receive four contact hours toward renewal of their social work license.

For more information, email: SPCNY@OMH.NY.GOV

To learn about Zero Suicide in Tompkins County, click here.

Join Ithaca’s Walk to Fight Suicide

The Sophie Fund is honored and proud to support the Out of the Darkness Greater Ithaca Walk, a special event that provides community, connection, healing, and hope for survivors of suicide loss and those with lived experience. September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

Please consider registering for and/or donating to the September 18 Ithaca Walk in Myers Park. You will join a strong community united in an effort to fight suicide while showing up for yourself, recognizing and honoring those you love, raising awareness, educating communities, supporting one another, and sharing hope.

The Ithaca Walk is organized by The Sophie Fund’s esteemed colleagues and dear friends at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Greater Central New York Chapter.

Every dollar raised in this event enables AFSP to invest in life-saving research, education, advocacy, and support for those impacted by suicide.

Click here for more information about the Ithaca Walk and how to register.

Click here to receive updates from AFSP’s Greater Central New York Chapter or to sign up as an AFSP volunteer.

2021 Suicide Prevention Summit

Attention Tompkins County mental health professionals! If you missed the 2021 Suicide Prevention Summit on July 24-25, there’s an easy way to catch up with all ten 1-hour sessions presented by some of the field’s leading experts.

Here’s how: Register retroactively for the Summit at https://www.mentalhealthacademy.net/suicideprevention. Upon registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access on-demand video recordings and PDFs of all the presentations. Note: the portal will be available until the end of September 2021. See details of the Summit below.

2021 Suicide Prevention Summit

An Initiative of the Mental Health Academy, the American Counseling Association and the American Association of Suicidology.

“Innovation in Men’s Mental Health: Using Humor, Media and Digital Engagement to Promote Mental Health and Prevent Suicide for High Risk Men,” by Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D.

“A Strengths-based Approach to Suicide Assessment and Treatment,” by Prof. John Sommers-Flanagan, Ph.D.

“Managing Hopelessness, Helplessness and Despair with our Younger Clients,” by Bonnie Goldstein, Ph.D.

“Planning for Safety and Post-traumatic Growth,” by DeQuincy Lezine, Ph.D.

“Perception is Everything: Stigma, Mental Health, & Suicide in Historically Marginalized Communities,” by Victor Armstrong

“Rethinking Suicide: Implications for Military Personnel and Veterans,” by Prof. Craig Bryan, Psy.D.

“Contemporary Clinical Suicide Prevention,” by Prof. David A. Jobes, Ph.D.

“Creating a Suicide-safe Culture with Zero Suicide,” by Wykisha McKinney

“Addressing Youth Depression and Suicidal Ideation in a Post- Pandemic World,” by Prof. Cirecie West-Olatunji

“Psychosocial Interventions for Suicidal Youth and their Families,” by A/Prof. Jonathan Singer, Ph.D.



Preventing Suicide Deaths in Tompkins: What’s Next?

The Suicide Prevention Center of New York conducted a two-hour workshop on June 29 that outlined a six-step strategic planning model to help Tompkins County identify suicide risk factors in the community and appropriate mitigation tools for addressing them.

WATCH: Suicide Prevention Workshop for Tompkins County

The workshop was conducted via Zoom by Garra Lloyd-Lester, director of the center’s Community and Coalition Initiatives, for the 19-member strategic planning work group of the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

“The goal of this workshop is to provide a framework, a structure, that you all might consider to then utilize going forward to develop your county’s strategic plan for suicide prevention,” said Lloyd-Lester.

He cited reports of at least 54 suicide deaths in Tompkins County from 2017 to 2021; 87 percent of those who died by suicide were white and 20 percent were in the 20-29 age bracket. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the second leading cause of death for Americans aged 10-34.

The Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition was formed in 2017 to intensify suicide prevention efforts in the community; as of April 2021, the coalition listed 215 members including 73 agencies and community organizations.

READ: Click here for more information about suicide prevention in Tompkins County

Lloyd-Lester said that Step 1 in strategic planning involves compiling data to achieve the clearest possible understanding of a community’s suicide deaths—who is dying, and by what means.

“We want to talk about who in our community is dying by suicide, who in our community might be experiencing suicidal thoughts that haven’t necessarily led to actions, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that led to attempts that didn’t result in the individual dying,” said Lloyd-Lester.

“We want to be thinking about other characteristics that we might be able to gather: age, gender, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics that might help us begin to understand in our community who is dying by, or making attempts toward, suicide.”

Lloyd-Lester added that it is equally important to understand how people are making attempts or completing suicide. “Is there one or more that tends to be the more prevalent method in our community?” he asked. “Understanding how people are dying in our community and making attempts can really help to begin to explore possible interventions and strategies.”

READ: Click here for more information about the Suicide Prevention Center of New York

Step 2 recommends that the coalition consider two or three long-term goals, aimed at addressing the trends indicated by the data; the goals might focus on a demographic group reporting a higher suicide rate, or particular methods that appear to be prevalent in the community’s suicide deaths.

In Step 3, the coalition is advised to identify the key risk factors and protective factors or lack thereof in the community. Risk factors include mental health conditions, availability of lethal means such as firearms or drugs; protective factors include availability of mental health resources, social connectedness, and coping skills.

“We have to be thinking about ‘why’,” said Lloyd-Lester. “Are there any unique risk factors in the community that contribute to suicidal behaviors? It is not just enough to know the commonly understood risk factors. We need to drill down and say, ‘In our community, are there any unique risk factors that we can begin to address?’”

Lloyd-Lester said that Step 4 involves selecting practical, evidence-based interventions for decreasing a community’s risk factors and increasing protective factors. He cited examples such as packaging prescription drugs in lesser quantities to reduce their potential as a lethal means for suicide; or promoting problem-solving skills among young people as an increased protective factor. He recommended that the coalition take an inventory of suicide prevention efforts already underway that could be built upon, such as adoption of the Zero Suicide Model for healthcare providers and gatekeeper training for identifying at-risk individuals.

In Step 5, the coalition is advised to develop a plan to evaluate its efforts to prevent suicide deaths; Lloyd-Lester said an evaluation helps to track and measure progress and to show partners, stakeholders, policymakers, funders, and the community the value of suicide prevention efforts.

Finally, Lloyd-Lester said that Step 6 is the creation of an action plan to implement the suicide prevention interventions identified in Step 4. He said an action plan usually includes a list of tasks and who is responsible for them, and a timeline for implementation.

“I find that if I don’t have a timeline in place the ball can keep getting kicked down the road,” he said. “So I would suggest at least coming up with a rough timeline of when we hope to have the data presented, when we hope to have the long-term goals presented, and ultimately when we hope to have a final plan to present to the full coalition.”

Lloyd-Lester cautioned that a number of speed bumps can hinder the success of a strategic plan: unrealistic goals; lack of focus, resources, or full member commitment; developing and creating a plan for the sake of having a plan but just putting it on the shelf.

INTERESTED? To join or support the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition, contact coalition convener Sally Manning at SallyMCSS@racker.org

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]