Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bridging the Divide – Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit

What is it about the Mountain and Desert regions of the U.S.? Why do our states consistently trade off for top-ten spots of states having the highest suicide rates in the country (minus Alaska)? How can it be that in such beautiful, majestic country, so many people are fighting with such strong urges to die?

About 200 people came together this past week to try to figure it out at the 3rd Annual Bridging the Divide Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit. Colorado State University hosted this event featuring a diverse selection of five plenary sessions and 18 breakout workshops – topics ranged from:

the Myths about Suicide (Thomas Joiner) to

how pets provide grief support (Linn-Gust) to

• strategies to dovetail fall prevention for older adults with suicide prevention (Guard).

Formats varied from Nancy Rappaport’s dramatic reading of her memoir “In Her Wake” to a panel of five people who turned their tragic struggle with the impact of suicide into passionate advocacy.

As this conference grows in scope and depth, there is evidence that we are changing the course of the devastating trend of suicide loss in our part of the country. As I mentioned in my remarks during the event, we are moving toward a tipping point of change. Change doesn’t happen in a steady fashion; rather it builds slowly and then shifts in an instant. Eco psychologist Joanna Macy equated the change to water becoming ice: “Before the water turns to ice, it looks just the same as before. Then a few crystals form, and suddenly the whole system undergoes cataclysmic change.”

From Net Efekt

Can you feel the crystals forming?


What do you think will help us change the high rates of suicide in our Western regions?


  1. Sally,
    The Summit has been a great opportunity for folks in Colorado to learn more about suicide from many perspectives. I am sorry I missed the event, but have asked people to please post the one piece they found most interesting/exciting so I can participate vicariously through their comments...
    Jodee Hankins, MA, NCC

  2. To answer the question of changing the rates...I believe awareness and collaboration will make an impact. We have to work together to educate people and reduce the stigma associated with talking about suicide.