Preventing Suicide - the National Journal - Online Edition



Online fundraising for IMAlive 24-7 Giving Challenge

Preventing Suicide the National Journal - NEW! 2013 Issue 1

This latest issue of PSNJ is titled "From Columbine to Newtown - Alternatives to Metal Detectors."
In the words of our Editor-in-Chief, Danny Adams:

"This national conversation is focused primarily on guns and their regulation. But another element central to this concern gets much less attention: mental illness."

You can download the PDF version of this issue HERE.
A PDF reader is required, such as Adobe Acrobat or Foxit.

Preventing Suicide the National Journal Transformed Online

Preventing Suicide the National Journal was first published October 2002 by the Kristin Brooks Hope Center for the members of the National Hopeline Network. KBHC applied the term Journal liberally, for in addition to the research submissions and findings on scientific and medical studies that Journals invoke, the term is also applied to consistent informal entries that, over time, provide snapshots, trends, and practical information. KBHC believed that Hopeline network crisis center partners were best served by a Journal that included requisite information, such as grant opportunities, as well as one that could serve as a community resource to mutual benefit.


Mental Health Parity Passes U.S. Senate!   

KBHC efforts take a huge step forward-Over the last 7 years KBHC has gathered and delivered to Congress 100,000+ signatures in support of mental health parity.

On September 18, the United States Senate passed the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 (S. 558).  Mental health parity has long been a public policy priority of KBHC and passage of the legislation in the U.S. Senate is an important step forward in the process.

The U.S. House of Representatives continues its movement on mental health parity legislation.  The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007 (H.R. 1424) has been passed by one of three committees of jurisdiction and a hearing in a second committee took place on September 19th in the morning.

KBHC appreciates all those who signed petitions and those who contacted their senators to ask them to cosponsor S. 558 or thank them for having done so.  We look forward to bringing you additional news in the future about mental health parity legislation's route to becoming law.

We have another request for our supporters to help pass very important legislation.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced the Stop Senior Suicide Act (S. 1854) which would help prevent suicide among older adults - an age group that is particularly vulnerable to this preventable public health problem.

The Stop Senior Suicide Act is a comprehensive effort to reduce suicide among seniors through several strategies, including: the formation of a federal Interagency Geriatric Mental Health Planning Council; providing grants for public or private organizations to plan and implement elderly suicide early intervention and prevention strategies; ensuring that the Suicide Prevention Resource Center provides guidance, training and technical assistance to grantees working on elderly suicide prevention; and adjusting the Medicare co-insurance percentage rate for outpatient mental health services so that it is equal to the rate for other outpatient services.

The rate of suicide among older adults is higher than that for any other age group and among those 85 years and older, is the highest rate of all. Nearly 7,000 older adults died by suicide in 2004, the most recent statistics available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  To read an Associated Press article about this important public health problem,

KBHC encourages you to contact your Senators and ask them to cosponsor S. 1854, the Stop Senior Suicide Act.

Thank you for your support of these very important legislative efforts.

Best  always,
Reese Butler
President and Founder
Kristin Brooks Hope Center
National Hopeline Network
1250 24th Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20037


Psychiatric Emergency
Response Network

Launch: Sept. 2007

Goal of Program.
To maximize scarce resources and integrate suicide prevention into private and public health plans, the Psychiatric Emergency Response Network is designed to help improve rescue outcomes from calls made to 1-800-SUICIDE, 9-1-1, 2-1-1 and anyone who needs to send "rescue" to a caller in crisis. Our plan is to network all the mobile response teams in the US so that the mental health professionals in the local community are the first responders instead of the police. This should improve the callers' willingness to accept help and with that greater compliance with treatment. It is not for the public but for the crisis centers which will work with our CRIES application (see CRIES One Sheet for details), Comcare's database EPAD, and any other system of first responders to get the mental health mobile response teams into the loop of rescue.

The Facts.
CRIES is the only suicide risk assessment tool available via the world wide web, as well as the only program compatible with 9-1-1 to share data between crisis centers and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPS). It was developed by leading experts in the fields of suicidology, telephony and web based applications. It will be used to screen all callers before they are then routed to community resources. When rescue is sent the PERN can be used to locate the mobile response teams that are contracted with or employed by local community mental health services.

Target Audience.
The PERN will be used by the National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE which receives over 500,000 calls per year from individuals in crisis. According to a recent evaluation of the Hopeline Network by SAMHSA, 60% of all callers to 1-800-SUICIDE are suicidal or in a psychiatric state when call. Additionally, PERN will allow for the standardization of data necessary to assess suicide crisis intervention services and develop future strategies and policies.

How it is used.
The PERN will be used in conjunction with the police and other first responders. The emergency response team may include the mental health professionals, paramedics or EMT's, police and even fire rescue personnel. Once suicide risk has been determined to escalate to a rescue by the call taker and supervisors the PERN will be activated with a call to 866-FOR-PERN. Immediately, the database of all the emergency teams will be accessed and the two primary components - mental health and police - will be contacted and a conference call between the two teams will begin. The history of the call will be pushed to the two teams via the CRIES or other web based messaging system.

While it has not yet officially launched we have done several test rescues in a number of states to circumvent the normal police response. Each time the process has been positive. In the last several years KBHC has conducted talks with state program directors to find ways to leverage the existing resources to improve the outcomes regarding crisis calls to 1-800-SUICIDE. Each director has expressed that being a part of the rescue is their responsibility.


Contact Info: Reese Butler, Kristin Brooks Hope Center. Address: 615 7th Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Phone: 202-536-3200. Email: Web:


Superhero flying to the rescue of native youth

Cree legend Wesakechak comes to life in an updated form for comic books to be distributed to aboriginals

Miro Cernetig
Vancouver Sun

Suicide is a scourge among young aboriginals. But a new superhero, with eagle feathers in his hair and a red, white and blue suit that hugs his chiselled body, is flying in to the rescue.

His name is Wesakechak, named after the mythical shape-shifter and protector in Cree legends. But he's been updated for the 21st century with a flying motorcycle, superhuman strength and put inside a comic book now being distributed across the country for aboriginal youth.

"We wanted to find a way to get through to young people," said Sean Muir, founder and executive director of the Healthy Aboriginal Network, a non-profit society. "In the past, this sort of stuff has often been done with lots of text and pamphlets. We thought a comic book might be a better way of reaching out."

Apparently they were right. In fact, the comic Darkness Falls, which received $45,000 in aid from the B.C.Ministry of Health, is something of a best-seller: More than 33,000 of the comics, which will be revealed June 21 at the World Urban Forum, will be distributed to aboriginal teenagers, who are statistically five times more likely than their non-native counterparts to take their lives.

What makes the comic unique -- and an effective teaching tool when discussing the silence-inducing subject of suicide, said Muir -- is that it fuses together elements of aboriginal spirituality with eye-popping action scenes and film noir fantasies one might find in an X-Men film.

The comic's creator is Steve Sanderson, a 29-year-old animation artist who has worked for some of Vancouver's biggest animation and video game studios. Born to a Cree father and a non-native mother of Scottish descent, Sanderson got the inspiration a few years ago when he received a disturbing call from his cousin, who was ten years younger than him and still lived in Saskatoon.

"He just called me out of the blue and said that he was going to kill himself," said Sanderson. "He meant it. He was at the end of his rope."

Sanderson rushed to Saskatch-ewan to spend time with his troubled cousin. While there, he realized that his experience was one shared by thousands of aboriginals dealing with family members living in poverty who contemplate, and too often commit, suicide. But his mixed heritage and career in the entertainment world brought another perspective to the problem.

"I thought it would be cool if I could mix the two -- my fascination with pop-cult and comic books and video game culture with native culture," he said. "I thought it would make something really different and more relevant for kids."

What he decided to do was pit his superhero Wesakechak (pronounced wee-sak-ee-chak) against a more fearful Cree phantom which he also learned about while growing up: The Weetigo, the spirit who takes over a person's body and mind, making them commit acts such as cannibalism. Sanderson decided to make the Weetigo the evil force that drives native children to suicide.

What Sanderson also did, mostly through his drawing and use of language, was portray life on the reserve as dark and desperate, as it can be sometimes. His opening panel is a depressing scene of a native high school, somewhere on the vast, sun-baked prairie. The main character, based on himself and his cousin, soon emerges as an overweight boy -- with a penchant for drawing -- who is bullied at school, told he's only good at eating by his teacher and goes home to a family where he's told he's too fat and "useless."

Further on, the teen sits in a dark grove of trees, tears streaming, declaring, "I want to die. I want to die."

Such scenes were not put in without pause. Muir said his organization screened the comic carefully over nine months.

"The last thing you want to do is put this out and actually give people an idea about suicide," he said.

But the story, while sometimes sad, is ultimately a hopeful one. When the evil Weetigo tries to force the boy to commit suicide, the powerful Wesakechak in full superhero mode tries to do battle. But he's losing. It's the young boy who hold the power to defeat this demon in front of him by declaring four words: "I don't wanna die."

It's a simple story, said Sanderson. But it's left him fulfilled.

"If one kids reads this and it changes their mind, then I've done something important with my life," he reflected.

In fact, he already has. Sanderson's once-suicidal cousin is now graduating from film school, he said, "and has turned into a real success story," just like in the comic that thousands of other aboriginal children are now reading.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006


More sample images from the comic can be found HERE, and it can be ordered HERE.


GoodSearch logo

Help out the HopeLine every time you search the Internet!  Use as your search engine and each time you do a search, GoodSearch will make a donation to the HopeLine. 


TAKE ACTION TOUR 2007 visits U.S. Congress



Creating Your Electronic Community Through List Serves

Looking to connect with others who have an interest in suicide prevention, work in your professional field, or have the same interests as you? Want to stay abreast of recent developments, or be able to share information with others?

List serves put all these possibilities at your fingertips, right at your home or office computer.

List serves -- networks of people who can convene in one space and post messages, files, surveys, pictures and other information -- are an effective way for groups to share information among themselves. Those groups can range from students, professionals, organizations and companies.

One aspect of the list serve that can be quite useful is the archive. Within the archive, members of a list serve have access to postings previously made by group members. Depending upon how long the list serve has been operational, there can be years of information at your fingertips. Some allow you to search the archive, by using a key word or the date. Archives can be accessed by current members only.

Many list serves are moderated, which means that the messages sent through are filtered by an administrator. The administrator may also determine whether members may be added.

List serves are fairly easy to join. All you need to do to join one is to find a list serve that you’re interested in joining, then e-mail the administrator of the list serve. You can also go to a list serve’s web site and register. You are usually asked to give a username, e-mail address, and in some cases, a password. Some list serves require you to tell them why you want to join, and some additional information about yourself. Then you will be given a confirmation e-mail that directs you back to the list serve website in order to verify your e-mail.

Sites, such as yahoo groups, are fairly easy to use since the format is familiar. List serves using l-soft software are a little more tedious due to its unfamiliar format, which includes the use of commands.

When you register at the list serve, you receive an e-mail asking you to perform the confirmation command by following a link. When you click the link, you are directed to the list serve page, but the main page does not say anything about commands. You must look on the side bar for the commands you wish to perform. But if you read the directions carefully and keep your eye out for links on the web page, anyone, whether a computer whiz or a beginner, should be able to join a list serve.

Some list serves that may be of interest to people who work in suicide prevention:

With suicide claiming the lives of more than 30,000 Americans each year, the Kristin Brooks Hope Center and its Hopeline Network, 1-800-SUICIDE, work to decrease suicide by making community-based services accessible to all who need them, and to increase awareness of suicide as a national health problem in conjunction with other national suicide prevention organizations through education, events, and research support. This group is exclusively for those crisis centers that make up the National Hopeline Network to alert them of media events, problems, solutions and funding opportunities.

Crisis Response Information and Evaluation System

This group is a user group for testing the CRIES application to meet the needs of the call takers in community based crisis centers and hotlines. The software application was paid for by the HELP grant and is free to all members of the National Hopeline Network.

The main purpose of this group is to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among staff and volunteers of hotlines, crisis intervention centers, suicide prevention services, etc. Communications which facilitate our understanding of helping those in crisis may include, but are not limited to, ethical issues, philosophical opinions, prevention strategies, as well as practical information on the day-to-day running of a center, such as volunteer and staff management, policies and procedures, funding sources, volunteer and staff training, burnout, recruitment, etc.

The members of this group represent the agencies that take calls from 1-877-YOUTHLINE. All members must have a teen-to-teen peer counseling line to take calls, but all crisis centers are welcome to join to learn about the issues teen-to-teen peer lines face.

The Friends of Families of Suicides (FFOS)

This group is an e-mail support group for those whose lives have been affected by suicide. Members come from the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and other English speaking countries. They offer information, support, and understanding to those who join. This group is for adults only, because some discussion topics are mature and graphic. This group requires potential members to tell what brought them to the group.

The Suicidology group is a research information network that facilitates the rapid dissemination of research information and news relevant to the study of the suicidal phenomena. It is especially dedicated to mental health professionals; psychiatrists, psychologists, suicidologists, therapists, and sociologists, but is also available to all the medical community and other people interested in suicide research and prevention.
Only professional researchers or those who have research information will be allowed to contribute messages to the group without moderation. New subscribers will need to fill out a brief questionnaire before being accepted.

Suicidology 2 is a discussion group which provides a forum for professionals and others to discuss suicide research and issues. It is a partner group of Suicidology, a restricted research group. Those who wish to join will receive a letter asking for information about themselves and their interest in the group. After you fill it in and return it, your subscription will be approved. This is not a support group for people who may be suicidal or struggling with other personal issues.

Email network of Yellow Ribbon chapters, allies, partners, survivors, and groups for the purpose of efficient, informative communication throughout the Yellow Ribbon World.

Copyright 2005 Kristin Brooks Hope Center