The Consumer/Survivor Committee reviews standard network practices, marketing materials/promotional campaigns, evaluations of network coverage, and caller demographics to ensure that the Lifeline is effectively reaching critical and diverse populations at higher risk for suicide. This committee submits their recommendations to both Lifeline leadership and the Lifeline Steering Committee.
DeQuincy Lezine, Ph.D. (Co-Chair)
Dr. Lezine attempted suicide during college, but turned his personal despair into advocacy by forming the first student-led college mental health and suicide prevention group (Brown University chapter of the Suicide Prevention Action Network; B-SPAN). Since 1996, Dr. Lezine has worked with many organizations to promote suicide prevention including Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) USA; National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI); the Organization of Attempters and Survivors in Interfaith Services (OASSIS); La Frontera / EMPACT Suicide Prevention Center; National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance; Suicide Attempt Survivor Task Force and Impact Group); Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC); Oklahoma Suicide Prevention Council; the Center for Dignity, Recovery, and Empowerment; and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Voice Awards by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
After graduating from UCLA with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology Dr. Lezine completed a postdoctoral research fellowship with an emphasis on public health approaches to suicide prevention at the University of Rochester Center for the Prevention and Study of Suicide. He is the Chair of the Attempt Survivor and Lived Experience Division of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) as well as an internationally recognized scholar, advocate, and public speaker. As a professional writer, he is the author of “Eight Stories Up: An Adolescent Chooses Hope over Suicide,” released in 2008 by Oxford University Press and primary writer of “The Way Forward: Pathways to hope, recovery, and wellness with insights from lived experience” released in 2014 by the Action Alliance (Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force). Dr. Lezine is President and CEO of Prevention Communities, an applied research organization with a focus on suicide prevention and mental health promotion.
Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., MNM (Co-Chair)
As a clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, faculty member, and survivor of her brother’s suicide, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas sees the issues of suicide prevention from many perspectives. Currently, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation, an award-winning organization dedicated to sustaining a passion for living through suicide prevention, social enterprise and support for people bereaved by suicide. Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas is also the past Director of the Survivor of Suicide Loss Division with the American Association of Suicidology, and is the Co-Lead of the Workplace Task Force with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
Within her role as CEO of the Carson J Spencer Foundation, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas has established and founded Working Minds, the nation’s first comprehensive suicide prevention program exclusively dedicated to suicide prevention in the workplace; founded the FIRE Within program for youth and social entrepreneurs; and, was the principal partner on the award-winning Man Therapy social marketing campaign.
Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas has received wide recognition for her work and has been an invited guest to the White House Briefing on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in DC and to the World Health Organization’s World Suicide Report Launch in Geneva. As a professional speaker, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas was the first national speaker to frame suicide prevention as a social justice issue and has presented at dozens of college campuses and regional/national conferences empowering students to join the suicide prevention and mental health promotion movements.
Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas is also a published author and co-author of several books and articles addressing suicide prevention and postvention in the workplace, college suicide prevention, spirituality and mental health, men’s mental health, and suicide and first responders. Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas has delivered countless conference workshops, webinars and major seminars on these topics and has been invited to make plenary addresses internationally in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Estonia, Australia, Norway, Uruguay, China and Italy.
Sean Bennett serves as Public Health Advisor to the Director of the Division of Behavioral Health, U.S. Indian Health Service, Headquarters (DBH). Sean comes to DBH as a United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Officer trained in clinical social work. As both a uniformed service member and a civilian, Sean has worked extensively in the areas of substance use, domestic violence, suicide prevention, resiliency, and the treatment of trauma. His experience includes clinical treatment, community organizing, and program management. As a Lieutenant Commander in the USPHS, his decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. Sean has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from University of Maryland and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Bowie State University (Maryland). He is also the proud father of rising 5th grader, Nicholas, and is supported by loving spouse, Reselita.
David W. Bond, LCSW, B.C.E.T.S.
David W. Bond is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress. He is the Vice President of Programs at The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning youth. Here David is tasked with overseeing Trevor’s suite of crisis services which includes a 24 hour Lifeline, Digital Crisis Chat and Crisis Text programs. He also oversees Trevor’s Education Department, Peer Support Programs, and Research Initiatives. David has more than 12 years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of young survivors of trauma. He has a passion for facilitating understanding and has presented widely on topics related to the treatment and effects of trauma, abuse and neglect of children and adolescents. Before joining The Trevor Project in 2013, he served as the Manager of Youth Development Programs at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, where he oversaw multiple psychosocial development programs for underserved youth in community, school, hospital and juvenile detention settings. Prior to that, he was a clinical supervisor and provided bilingual mental health services at the Chadwick Center for Children and Families in San Diego, California.
Mike Braham serves as senior vice president of Magellan Federal, part of the Magellan Healthcare division. As Magellan Federal’s senior executive, Braham is responsible for revenue growth, profit and loss performance, and leads the development of the sector’s strategic and operating plans.
Mike has become a champion for Zero Suicide and is currently working with several firms to create innovative new solutions that will integrate assessment, clinical best practices, Big Data, and media sensors with cognitive computing to create a new ecosystem for early detection of suicidal ideation and intervention before becoming critical. As the leader of Magellan Federal Mike has evangelized Zero Suicide with members of Congress, Cabinet Members and Military leaders to help set the leadership goal of driving suicides to zero, starting with Veterans, Active Duty Military and their families. In addition, Mike has been intimately involved in the development and positioning of Magellan’s suicide prevention service delivery model alongside Magellan’s Clinical Team.
Most recently, Braham served as Chief of Staff and Head of Strategy and Innovation and Head of Member Engagement and Digital Assets for Aetna’s Medicare division. Focused on operational execution and enhancements, he championed several strategic initiatives including the design of a new member engagement strategy, the creation of business contingency plans, and the transformation of Aetna Medicare’s web-based enrollment capabilities.
Earlier in his career, Braham served in a number of executive roles in healthcare, communications and crisis management, including positions at Cox Communications and Marsh & McLennan. During his time at Marsh & McLennan, Braham acted as chief marketing officer of the newly formed Marsh Crisis Consulting organization created in response to 9/11.
Braham began his career as an officer, Harrier jet pilot and advanced jet flight instructor for the United States Marine Corps. Braham earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Mason University, and has served on multiple boards, including the strategy committee at Christopher Newport University’s Luter School of Business, the executive committee at the Virginia Air and Space Center, and the USO, Hampton Roads Chapter.
Heidi Bryan has battled with depression most of her life, is a suicide attempt survivor and lost her brother to suicide in 1995. In 1999 she founded Feeling Blue Suicide Prevention Council, now the Pennsylvania Adult/Older Adult Suicide Prevention Coalition. She has served on the Board of Directors for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and as the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors for SPAN USA. Heidi was also the recipient of the SPAN USA's Sandy Martin Grassroots Award in 2005. She developed the booklet, After an Attempt: The Emotional Impact of a Suicide Attempt on Families, which was distributed to every hospital in Pennsylvania and co-authored Now What Do I Do, a guide for suicide attempt survivors. She currently serves on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Suicide Attempt Survivor Task Force. A QPR Master Trainer, Ms. Bryan is also a facilitator for suicide bereavement support groups and is the author of Must Be the Witches in the Mountains, a book on grief after suicide. Heidi received her BA in Chemistry from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA.
Stan Collins has worked in the suicide prevention field for over 15 years since losing a close friend to suicide while in high school. He has presented or provided training to over 500,000 adults and youth on the subject of suicide prevention including medical professionals, military, law enforcement, school staff and community members. In 2001, he testified before a United States Senate Subcommittee on the topic of youth suicide. Currently he is working as a consultant in the field, focusing on technical assistance in creation and implementation of suicide prevention curriculums and strategies. One of Stan’s primary focuses is working on school based suicide prevention efforts. Currently, Stan serves as a suicide prevention specialist to California’s Know the Signs suicide prevention campaign. Additionally, he is serving as the coordinator the Directing Change Student Film Program which invites high school student from around California to create 60-second films about suicide prevention and mental health. Stan is a former Lifeguard and Emergency Medical Technician with the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Stan is co-author of the Know the Signs Training Resource Guide for Suicide Prevention in Primary Care toolkit, and author of the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training for First Responders.
Franklin Cook, MA, CPC
Franklin Cook, MA, CPC, is owner of Unified Community Solutions, a private consultancy in Boston, Mass., specializing in community-based suicide prevention and postvention training and project development, management, and leadership. He is one of the original members of the CSS (since 2005) -- and the knowledge and experience he brings to the Lifeline emanate from his roles as a person who is in long-term recovery from addiction, who lives with major depressive disorder, and who is a survivor of suicide loss (father died in 1978). He is an expert in peer support (including as a support group facilitator trainer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and a life coach for Personal Grief Coaching); a project manager (implemented two Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act statewide grants in South Dakota and now manages the MassMen Project in Massachusetts); and an organizational leader and systems change agent at all levels -- community, state, and national (including as Co-Lead of the Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and as a board member for the Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors). He also is a U.S. Army veteran (1972-1975) and serves military and veteran families as a consultant with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Franklin publishes the blog Grief After Suicide; and he maintains the online clearinghouse After a Suicide Resource Directory, a resource that was originally developed through a CSS work group.
Darlene ‘Dar’ Emme
Ms. Emme is Founder and Deputy Director of Yellow Ribbon International Suicide Prevention Program®. She is the survivor of her son, Mike's, death by suicide in 1994. She led the development of the Yellow Ribbon Training programs that are being used by chapters and program sites internationally. Working and traveling full time with the program, she is the co-founder of the Yellow Ribbon International Youth Council and has addressed and taught more than 300,000 youth that it is “OK to Ask for Help!®” She was appointed to the Colorado Governor's Suicide Prevention Advisory Commission in 1998, helping to develop the Colorado State Suicide Prevention Plan and create the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado. She also is a founding member of the National Council for Suicide Prevention. Ms. Emme works to forge collaborations with organizations and has partnered with the American Osteopathic Association, the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO) and many others. She served as a national judge for the Alliance of the American Psychiatric Association’s “When Not to Keep a Secret” national essay contest. She is co-author of “I'll Always Be with You” in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul and “Legacy of the Yellow Mustang.”
Ms. Emme worked to establish an International Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week in 1995, observed annually in September, which has been recognized by the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and State Governors. The week is now blended with Suicide Prevention Groups across the U.S. and is observed the 2nd week of September and with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. She has also been individually recognized twice for her work by the U.S. House of Representatives. As a survivor of her own attempts, she has worked to empower and save youth her entire life through volunteerism, mentoring and training. Her work has included helping numerous communities across the country using her extensive background in Search and Rescue coordination and training to empower and mobilize local and regional resources.
April Foreman, Ph.D.
April C. Foreman, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist serving Veterans as Suicide Prevention Coordinator for Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. She also serves as Suicide Prevention Lead for Veterans Integrated Service Network 16, a region of Veterans Affairs. She is passionate about helping people with severe (sometimes lethal) emotional pain, and in particular advocates for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses. She is known for her work at the intersection of technology, social media, and mental health, with nationally recognized implementations of innovations in the use of technology and mood tracking. She is also a founder and moderator of the first sponsored regular mental health chat on Twitter, the weekly Suicide Prevention Social Media chat (#SPSM, sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology, AAS) , and is recipient of the AAS’s Roger J. Tierney Award for this work. In the last year this chat has become one of the largest and most active mental health centered social media communities on Twitter. She is currently the Social Media Chair for AAS. Her dream is to use her unique skills and vision to build a mental health system effectively and elegantly designed to serve the people who need it.
Barbara is the former Program Associate for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) for their Meth Suicide Prevention Intervention (MSPI Grant) for 6-1/2 years. She changed career paths from the administrative field to suicide prevention after her youngest son joined the category of Alaska Native male, age, 23, using a firearm on December 14, 1997. After being told by a counselor six months after her son's death she should "get over it,” Barb was compelled to share her information that she researched on how to move forward with others. At the age of 52 she lived her dream to enter college and graduated from the University of Alaska/Anchorage with her Associates Degree where she was chosen to participate in the First Alaskans Institute Internship Program that led her to ANTHC and their suicide prevention program. After requesting the blessing of the Elders, she made numerous trips across Alaska with suicide prevention awareness messages and sharing the LivingWorks intervention tools as a Master Trainer in both safeTALK and ASIST. After accomplishing that, Barb has moved into the third process of suicide by providing people with a safe place to share their stories by incorporating SurvivorVoices to the 12 Tribal Health Organizations under ANTHC.
She is an advocate under the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as an Ambassador in their newly created program to provide recommendations to Alaska's Legislative Delegation in Washington, D.C. Her involvement in suicide prevention provides recommendations to the University of Alaska Suicide Prevention Advisory Board and a new member of the American Association of Suicidology. Barbara serves on the Governor's Statewide Suicide Prevention Council voted in her third term as Vice Chair; she has recently been appointed to the NAMI/Anchorage Board and also serves on the Alaska Psychiatric Institute Advisory Council. Her wrap-around advocacy helps Alaska focus to help young people realize there is hope. With the statewide media campaign that received many awards and also promotes the Alaska Careline Crisis Intervention number and the message, "You are not alone." It has been her policy to shed light on the many things that are happening with suicide prevention and as a result people are now moving to bring awareness through the offerings the program can provide. Through all these programs, it is a dream becoming a reality that federal, state and private entities work together to help with the National Strategy on Suicide Prevention goals and guidelines for a safer community.
Barb Gay is the Executive Director of the Area Substance Abuse Council, Inc., a comprehensive substance abuse treatment and prevention non-profit agency located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has been working in human services since 1993, and has been fortunate to work in her home community. Barb has been able to use her personal experiences to help guide programs that strive to improve resources and supports. Barb has been able to offer her voice as a suicide attempt survivor to help move forward the work of suicide prevention, including serving as a member Suicide Attempt Survivor Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Barb has her MA degree in Health Education from the University of Northern Iowa and her undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology from St. Ambrose University and she is a Certified Prevention Specialist.
Katie Hardy is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Six Feet Over (est. 2013), based out of the Detroit Metropolitan area, created to serve the survivors of suicide loss in her community with financial assistance for funerals, clean up and memorials after loss as well as provide outreach and resource information to her community. Six Feet Over, and its program Suck It! Suicide, are focused on helping all survivors, with a special interest in the non-mainstream communities of the music, art and youth demographics. Katie is the survivor of 8 losses by suicide beginning with the loss of her mother in 2003. She found that support groups and functions catered to the norm of society and saw the need within her community for information, conversations and postvention after loss. Katie has spoken at and participated in facilitating many events including Survivors Day conferences, schools, community events, memorials, and told her story to both public and private companies providing a better understanding and more insight into the life of a survivor. Katie Hardy has been featured in several articles and blogs including Hour Detroit, The Oakland Press, BLocal Detroit, Hip In Detroit, mentions in The Metro Times, and the commentary in the podcast A History of the Ridiculous.
Joanne L. Harpel, M.Phil., J.D.
A world-renowned expert on suicide bereavement and postvention, Joanne has a nationwide independent practice providing personalized guidance and support to individuals, families, schools, faith communities, and workplaces coping with suicide loss; educating professionals; and developing public awareness initiatives.
A former litigation attorney with one of the country’s leading law firms, and long-time survivor of her own brother's suicide, she was recruited in 2001 by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to develop comprehensive capacity relating to the aftermath of suicide. In addition to working directly with hundreds of bereaved families and communities, her contributions include:
- International Survivors of Suicide Day, which now takes place annually in over 300 cities on six continents;
- a toolkit utilized by school communities across the country facing real-‐time crises;
- a primer on explaining suicide to children;
- media education initiatives to promote safe and effective reporting to minimize the risk of contagion;
- innovative clinical education, public education, support group facilitator training, and outreach programs; and
- development of diverse creative media for public awareness efforts.
Joanne is a seasoned guest lecturer, trainer, media spokesperson, and public speaker, including at the United Nations, on Capitol Hill, and for the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, International Association for Suicide Prevention, and Bereaved Parents of the USA. The recipient of the American Association of Suicidology’s Survivor of the Year Award and a member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling, she has collaborated with organizations ranging from the NIMH, VA, and World Health Organization, to the Columbia University Schools of Journalism and Social Work, HBO, and Sesame Street.
A cum laude graduate of Amherst College, she also holds graduate degrees from Cambridge University and the New York University School of Law. She is based in New York City.
Leah Harris, M.A.
Leah Harris, M.A., is a mother, advocate, and storyteller who has written and spoken widely about her lived experiences of trauma, addiction, serious mental health challenges, suicide, resilience, and recovery. As a suicide attempt survivor, she advocates for the meaningful inclusion of the perspectives of attempt survivors in every aspect of suicide prevention, intervention, postvention, and research. She was a member of the Suicide Attempt Survivor Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and contributed to the landmark document "The Way Forward: Pathways to Hope, Recovery, and Wellness with Insights from Lived Experience." Ms. Harris is a faculty member with the Zero Suicide Academy, a training for senior leaders of health and behavioral health care organizations that seeks to dramatically reduce suicides among patients in their care, and is a member of the Zero Suicide Advisory Group. Leah worked with the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASP) to adapt and deliver “Sound out for Life," a training designed to help empower suicide attempt survivors to share about their experiences of suicide, behavioral health, and recovery with a variety of stakeholders.
Kevin Hines is an award-winning global speaker, bestselling author, documentary filmmaker, and suicide prevention and mental health advocate who has reached millions with his story of an unlikely survival and his strong will to live. Two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He is one of only thirty-four (less than 1%) to survive the fall and he is the only Golden Gate Bridge jump survivor who is actively spreading the message of living mentally healthy internationally. Through his tireless advocacy and policy efforts of over ten years, Kevin has been a leading champion for constructing a suicide prevention net on the Golden Gate Bridge and was instrumental in success of the approved funding on June 2014.
In the summer of 2013, Kevin released his bestselling memoir titled Cracked Not Broken, Surviving and Thriving after a Suicide Attempt. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Council of Behavioral Health. Kevin has also been awarded by SAMSHA as a Voice Awards Fellow and Award Winner, an Achievement Winner by the US Veterans Affairs and is a recipient of several military Medals.
Kevin also sits on the boards of The International Bipolar Foundation, The Bridge Rail Foundation (BRF) and The Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF). Kevin has spoken and testified in congressional hearings alongside Patrick Kennedy in support of the Mental Health Parity Bill. He has been a powerful voice for the lived experience movement for over 15 years.
His story was featured in the 2006 critically-acclaimed film “The Bridge” by the film director and producer Eric Steel. He has been featured on CNN, Fox, Time Magazine, New York Times, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Good Morning America, ABC’s PrimeTime Live, BBC World, among several other international media outlets.
Sue Klebold, M.A.
Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two gunmen at Columbine High School in 1999 who killed twelve students and a teacher, and injured numerous others before taking their own lives. In working to understand her son’s involvement in the devastating incident, she has reached out to organizations that examine brain health and support suicide prevention efforts. Sue has participated in presentations, co-chaired conferences at the state and national levels, and written about the experience of surviving a loved one’s murder-suicide. In addition to volunteering on local non-profit boards, she is a member of the National Loss and Healing Council of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Sue has a Master’s degree in Education from Cardinal Stritch University. Prior to her retirement in July 2010, she worked for the State of Colorado as an instructor and administrator in the Colorado Community College System, and as a project specialist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. She is the author of A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy (Crown Publishing, 2016) from which she is donating all author profits to expand brain health awareness and suicide prevention outreach.
Ms. Malmon is founder and Executive Director of Active Minds, Inc., the leading organization dedicated to utilizing the student voice to raise mental health awareness on college campuses. She started the program while a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, following the suicide of her older brother and only sibling, Brian. Wanting to combat the stigma that had caused Brian to suffer in silence and ultimately take his own life, she created a group on her campus that promoted an open, enlightened dialogue around the issues. Just two years later in 2003, Ms. Malmon formed the 501(c)(3) organization in order to develop and support chapters of the student group on campuses around the country. She has since served as President and Executive Director of the non-profit organization, setting up chapters of the student group and creating a unified national voice for young adults in the mental health awareness movement. In ten years, Active Minds has grown to more than 400 chapters on college campuses throughout North America. Each group's goal is to promote the student voice in educating young adults about mental health and available resources for seeking help.
For her efforts Alison has been named a Top 25 Global Social Entrepreneur by American Express and Ashoka Changemakers; Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine; Potomac, Maryland Citizen of the Year, a Woman of Distinction from American Association of University Women, and received the Tipper Gore Remember the Children Award from Mental Health America. She has been profiled in the New York Times, CNN, Glamour, and Washington Post. Having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, Alison now lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two daughters.
Karen M. Marshall
Dedicated to reducing the number of suicide deaths and attempts in her community, state and nation, Karen M. Marshall has spent 25 years working in suicide awareness, prevention, intervention, and post-vention (support for people bereaved by suicide). She is a former print and broadcast journalist who utilizes her communications background to make the hopeful message of saving lives from suicide available to all who will listen.
Currently, she is the Outreach and Training Coordinator for the SAMHSA GLS-funded Sacred Bundle Youth Suicide Prevention project housed at American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit. The organization concentrates on delivering the LivingWorks suite of awareness, prevention, and intervention trainings to the 12 federally-recognized Tribes in Michigan and to service providers for the 48,000 urban Native Americans/Alaska Natives in the Detroit metropolitan area. She is a suicideTALK, and safeTALK trainer and ASIST Master Trainer.
Karen’s involvement in the field also includes advisory work to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) as a member and former co-chair of the Consumer-Survivor Subcommittee, and the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Depression Center’s National Advisory board. She is a speaker and workshop presenter for local, state, national and international suicide prevention conferences; and assisted with establishment of state suicide prevention groups in Michigan, Virginia, Illinois, and California.
Greta Gustava Martela
Greta Gustava Martela is the co-founder and Executive Director of Trans Lifeline. Ms. Martela has drawn on her own experience with suicidality to create a resource that is able to respond to the needs of the trans community. Prior to Trans Lifeline, Ms. Martela worked as a software engineer.
Iden D. Campbell McCollum
Iden D. Campbell McCollum was first diagnosed with depression in the third grade. He has lived with depression and suicidal thoughts for much of his life. Iden is a suicide attempt survivor and in 2011 lost his partner to suicide. He is a nationally known activist in the transgender community, speaking on suicide prevention, transgender health and wellness. The Founder and Executive Director of The Campbell Center, a peer-run agency in Washington, D.C. for individuals living with mental health and addictions challenges, Iden has worked in the nonprofit sector in Washington, D.C., Maryland and North Carolina, including positions as Project Manager of the McClendon Center Best Health Project (a D.C.-based center to improve the quality of life of individuals recovering from mental illness), Chairperson of the federally-funded D.C. PAIMI Advisory Council (promoting the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness), and Chairperson of the D.C. State Vocational Rehabilitation Commission (facilitating employment among individuals with physical or mental impairments). Iden has also served as a board member of the D.C. State Independent Living Council (promoting independent living among individuals with disabilities), University Legal Services (promoting advocacy and protection for individuals with disabilities), and Cornerstone Investments (promoting housing for individuals with mental illness). He was awarded the 2013 National LGBT Leadership Award at the Alternatives Conference in Austin, TX, was awarded the 1999 Direct Care Professional of the Year by Arc of Maryland (promoting advocacy for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities) and the 1999 Direct Care Professional of the Year Award by the Maryland Association of Community Services (supporting individuals with developmental disabilities and their families). Iden also serves in an advisory capacity to the Center of Excellence (CoE) on Behavioral Health for Racial/Ethnic Minority Young Men Who Have Sex with Men (YMSM) and Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender Populations (LGBT) and to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Samantha Nadler, LMSW
Samantha Nadler started her work in suicide prevention as a result of a long, personal history with suicide. She first started experiencing thoughts of suicide at the age of 12, to be followed by 8 attempts to end her life – the last taking place in 2008 at age 19. It was through her lived experience of thoughts and behaviors of suicide, in addition to her interactions with family, friends, and providers, that she felt the need to fight this complex issue as a career. Ms. Nadler started speaking openly about her lived experience in 2012, and has since then shared her story to various audiences, including at the American Association of Suicidology’s annual conference and for the Live Through This project.
Nadler is a licensed social worker in Nashville working for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. She has been working in suicide prevention and crisis services for 7 years, starting as a crisis line volunteer. Samantha eventually transitioned to a management position within the crisis line that was also part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. During her 5-year tenure with the crisis line in Nashville, she also facilitated a Survivors of Suicide Loss support group. In her current position with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, she conducts various suicide prevention training curriculums to the public – including QPR, ASIST, AMSR, and suicide to Hope – in addition to working with local agencies as they implement the Zero Suicide Initiative. Samantha holds a Master of Science in Social Work with a concentration in trauma treatment from University of Tennessee.
Andrew O'Brien is the founder of WYSH Project, a nonprofit geared toward preventing military suicides and educating the public about suicide prevention. Andrew served 4 years in the U.S. Army, including 12 months in Iraq as a lead gunner.
A suicide attempt survivor, public speaker, and author of three books concerning suicide and the military, Andrew works to educate the public at colleges, military bases, and businesses concerning suicide prevention and motivational speaking.
Shelby Rowe, M.B.A.
Shelby Rowe is the manager of education and prevention programs for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Ms. Rowe has over 20 years of experience in public health, and has been a leader in the suicide prevention movement since 2007. Being a suicide attempt survivor, Ms. Rowe dedicates herself every day to fighting the prejudice and discrimination that affects those affected by suicide.
While in Arkansas, Ms. Rowe played a key role in the creation of the first Arkansas State Plan for Suicide Prevention in 2010 and cofounded the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Network, later renamed the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Initiative. As the Executive Director for the Arkansas Crisis Center (2007-2011), Ms. Rowe expanded the statewide crisis hotline and helped make Arkansas one of the first states to offer online crisis chat services. She led the efforts of the Statewide Injury Prevention Center in Arkansas to coordinate comprehensive suicide prevention training for educators, mental health professionals, first responders and health care providers.
Ms. Rowe has served on the board of directors for the National Association of Crisis Center Directors, and was a member of the Arkansas Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council. Ms. Rowe is a proud member of the Chickasaw Nation, holds a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy from Oklahoma State University, and a M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix.
Cheryl Sharp, MSW, ALWF
Cheryl Sharp holds the unique perspective of a person who has recovered from significant mental health challenges, a trauma survivor, a family member of a loved one who died as a result of mental illness, and a provider of substance abuse and mental health services. Sharp has worked with adult trauma survivors for over 28 years and trains and speaks nationally on trauma-informed care and suicide prevention. She is a Master WRAP Trainer, Mental Health First Aid USA instructor, and trainer of Intentional Peer Support. Sharp is also an ordained minister. She has worked as a hospice/medical social worker and as a director of social services for a skilled nursing facility. She received a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Voice Award for her work and personal stories educating the public about behavioral health and the Lou Ann Townsend Courage Award for her contributions to persons with psychiatric disabilities. As an exclusive consultant to the National Council’s Trauma-Informed Care Learning Communities, Sharp has led many behavioral health organizations in preparing to offer trauma-informed care. Sharp also works as General Manager for Kenyon Ranch in Tubac, Arizona and Executive Director of the STAR Foundation.
Dese’Rae L. Stage
Dese’Rae L. Stage is an artist and suicide awareness activist. She is the creator of Live Through This, a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors, as told in their own voices. Live Through This re-imbues the topic of suicide with humanity by putting faces and names to the statistics that have been the only representation of attempt survivors in the past. As of December 2015, Dese’Rae has collected the stories and portraits of 134 attempt survivors in 20 US cities.
Dese'Rae speaks at universities, professional, and academic conferences nationwide about Live Through This, crowdfunding, and suicide prevention in social media. She has provided commentary for The Glenn Beck Program, Fox News, and BBC Radio. In January 2015, she was recognized as NY1’s New Yorker of the Week. She was also the winner of the SAMHSA Voice Award and the inaugural Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest. Her writing has been published by Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, and XoJane.
Live Through This has received extensive media coverage, including features in the New York Times, Associated Press, NPR, and more. Dese’Rae lives in Philadelphia, PA with her wife.
Smita Varia is a Prevention Specialist at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. She assists states and campuses with their suicide prevention initiatives, ranging from strategic planning to identifying tools, resources, trainings and best practices that can help communities achieve their objectives. She has over 15 years of experience working in violence prevention with expertise in suicide prevention and in bullying and interpersonal violence. She has her Masters of Arts degree in Women's Studies with a concentration in Counseling and Psychology from the George Washington University.
William Young, D.Min.
Dr. Young has more than 33 years in ministry and more than 30 years in counseling. He is a licensed Professional Counselor and serves as Bishop of Greater Fellowship Faith Tabernacle in Bolivar, Tennessee and The Healing Center Full Gospel Baptist Church, Divisions of Greater Fellowship Ministries, Inc. Dr. Young is a Veteran, having served his country during the Vietnam War era. He was the first African American Staff Chaplain to serve at Methodist Health Systems in Memphis from June 1981 to July 1994. Before accepting that assignment he served as Staff Chaplain at Western State Mental Institute in Bolivar, Tennessee. Dr. Young is a Clinical Member of The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. He is licensed by the State of Tennessee in three areas: Marriage and Family Therapist; Professional Counselor; and as a Clinical Pastoral Therapist. He is a graduate of Lemoyne-Owen College. He earned his M. Div. in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Memphis Theological Seminary and did doctoral work on his D. Min at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary completing the doctorate of Ministry at Carolina Theological Seminary. He is a charter member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. The 30 years of experience in the field of counseling has allowed Dr. Young to be a pioneer in the field among African American Clinicians. He specializes in marriage and family, grief, stress and burnout. He and his wife Dianne have faithfully co-hosted a Christian talk show, “On the Road to Healing” each Sunday morning on Memphis’ 1340 WLOK AM since 1994. The talk show is one of the Mid-South's most popular call-in broadcasts. It is also the only African-American Christian Talk Show in the Mid-South Area. The Young's also co-hosted “Memphis On The Air, Night Talk,” a two-hour, nightly public affairs, call-in show heard by thousands around the world via radio and the internet.
Dr. Young and his wife hosted the first National Suicide and the Black Church Conference at The Healing Center in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2003. These conferences continue to grow biennially, sharpening the awareness of the increased number of African Americans now making suicide an option. Young's counseling expertise and experience is greatly respected throughout the Mid-South Area, state and country. Dr. Young has partnered with numerous agencies, churches and community leaders in regards to making aware the needs of the African American community.
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