South to Southwest S2SW Webinar Suicide Prevention Basics and How to Get Started


This South to Southwest (S2SW) Injury Prevention Network webinar held on October 23 was the next webinar in our series on Innovations in Policy and Practice for Preventing Injuries and Violence. This webinar provided the basics about suicide prevention. The first speaker, Smita Varia, of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center provided the basics about the burden of suicide, information on different prevention strategies, and some examples of programs. Following Smita, Richard Burleson and Brandi Pouncey from the Alabama Department of Public Health will give a real world perspective by discussing their experience with getting started in suicide prevention work. 

About our Presenters:

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. Richard Burleson is the Director of the Injury Prevention Branch of the Alabama Department of Public Health. He has been with the Department for 19 years and oversees injury, fatality, and violence prevention efforts including Alabama's Rape Prevention and Education Program, Youth Suicide Prevention and Awareness Program, and Child Death Review System. Brandi Pouncey is a Health Educator Senior with the Alabama Department of Public Health. She has a Bachelor and Master degrees in Sport and Fitness Management with Health Promotion and Exercise Performance concentration areas from Troy University. 

Q&A Follow Up

1. Is bullying becoming a larger issue leading to suicide statistically?

No. First of all, we need to remember that bullying does not cause suicide. Those who both bully and who are bullied are at higher risk for suicide, however bullying is not a lone cause for suicide. A good article just came out about the media’s reporting on cases of teen suicide and citing that the cause was because they were bullied:

2. What are the warning signs of suicide?

Here is a list of warning signs found in the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention:  

3. To what degree are the speakers aware of state efforts to update statewide suicide prevention plans based on/modeled after the 2012 National Suicide Prevention Plan?

We do know of states that have looked at the new National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and want to update their own suicide prevention plans. Here is some guidance (not based on the National Strategy) on what should be in a state plan:

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