Monday, August 4, 2014

Randi Wood Honored as Volunteer of the Year

Director of Colorado State Employee Assistance Program’s Leadership Recognized by
The Carson J Spencer Foundation

Randi and her Grandbaby
Denver, Colorado. August 5, 2014.  As the Director of the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program, Randi Wood is not a stranger to mental health issues in the workplace. Since 2008, however, she has taken this professional interest to a new level by helping Colorado be one of the first states to make workplace suicide prevention a health and safety priority for all State employees. For her leadership, perseverance and collaborative spirit, Wood will be honored as the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s (CJSF) volunteer of the year on August 24th, 2014 at 5:30pm at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. During this event CJSF will celebrate its 10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala, a “blacktie optional” occasion. For more information visit:

As a long-time supporter of CJSF and their pioneering suicide prevention program Working Minds, Wood has advocated for many opportunities to integrate important awareness raising and training opportunities for different State professionals and through the Colorado EAP Association. She noticed early on that many State employees and their family members were experiencing suicidal intensity and loss, and made it her priority to better prepare State employees to prevent these tragedies and to respond with compassion should suicide occur.

Randi and Scott
Within her work with the State, Wood has been tireless in her effort to elevate the conversation about these difficult topics. She coordinated statewide campaigns for World Suicide Prevention Day/National Suicide Prevention Week including a proclamation and letter from the Governor that was sent to all employees and a number of activities promoting mental health and resources for suicide prevention. Additionally, she has helped establish a robust partnership among C-SEAP, the Department of Corrections and CJSF to train all employees on how best to identify a co-worker in distress and link him or her to qualified care.

As a member of CJSF’s Working Minds Advisory Board since its inception, Wood has helped provide strategic direction for workplace suicide prevention efforts, helping to expand the program to its current national and international reach.

“Randi is a true champion,” said Sally Spencer-Thomas, CEO & Co-Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation. “She understands that real change comes from a gentle and persistent insistence that everyone can play a role in suicide prevention and that when we are able to confront these issues head on at all levels of State government, we can save lives.”

New Video Provides Guidance to our Nation’s Police Departments to Make Suicide a Health and Safety Priority

New Video Provides Guidance to our Nation’s
Police Departments to Make Suicide a Health and Safety Priority 
International Association of Chiefs of Police President Makes a Call to Action

Det. Chief Quinones
Yost Zakhary
Denver, CO – The Carson J Spencer Foundation, in partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and the American Association of Suicidology, launched a new video today entitled Breaking the Silence: Suicide Prevention in Law Enforcement, making a clear call to action to Police Chiefs around the world to make suicide prevention a health and safety priority. Access video here: .

The video was produced by the Carson J Spencer Foundation, a Denver-based nonprofit leading innovation in suicide prevention, and was supported financially by the Kenosha Police Department. Additional support was provided by the Denver Police Department and police psychologists from Nicoletti-Flater Associates.

Chief Morrissey
“The tough-guy culture in law enforcement certainly makes for psychological hearty police officers, but when people are overwhelmed by trauma, loss, or a break with mental illness, this tough exterior can prevent the officer from reaching out and getting some much needed support and treatment,” said Sally Spencer-Thomas, CEO and Co-Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation and producer of the video.
Denver Police Department
Chaplain Dr. Jackson Pope

The video features real police officers, many from Kenosha and Denver police departments, who describe their struggles in coping with challenges of law enforcement and their own experiences with suicide.

 “Our jobs, as law enforcement officers, often place us in the middle of highly traumatic situations and this can cause a lot increased emotional stress and trauma for officers”, said IACP’s President, Chief Yousry “Yost” Zakhary (City of Woodway, Texas). “In addition to making sure our officers are physically safe, we also need to make sure they are psychological safety.”

Kenosha Police Department
Sgt. Aaron Dillhoff
“Law Enforcement officers are the first line of defense in protecting our towns, cities and communities.  We must be vigilant in helping them to protect their own health,” said Doryn Chervin, Dr.P.H., Executive Secretary of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and Vice President and Senior Scientist in the Education Development Center, Inc.’s Health and Human Development Division. “The Law Enforcement community and its leaders are taking proactive measures to mitigate the risk of suicide and openly address mental health as a core element of officer safety.  The video, Breaking the Silence, brings forth courageous stories of police officers openly discussing their own mental health challenges and why seeking mental health support fosters resiliency and overall wellness.” 

Det. Sprague
"The American Association of Suicidology is proud to be affiliated with this campaign to raise awareness of suicide risk and decrease stigma associated with mental health treating-seeking among those serving in our police force,” said Michelle Cornette, Executive Director for AAS. “We acknowledge the significant potential for trauma exposure in this line of work and strongly encourage treatment-seeking among those experiencing mental health sequelae."

Officer Albrecht
“As a law enforcement officer for 30 plus years, the last eight as a chief, I assure you the care for officers' mental and emotional health must be equivalent to that of their safety and physical health. Use this video to start the conversation. Silence only compounds the problem,” said Kenosha Police Chief John Morrissey, member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Task Force.

Breaking the Silence: Suicide Prevention in Law Enforcement Video: .

The American Association of Suicidology (AAS; a membership organization founded in 1968 for all those involved in suicide prevention and intervention or touched by suicide. AAS leads the advancement of scientific and programmatic efforts in suicide prevention through research, education and training, the development of standards and resources, and survivor support services.
Contact: Michelle Cornette, Executive Director, 202-237-2280,

The Carson J Spencer Foundation ( is a Colorado nonprofit, established in 2005. We envision a world where leaders and communities are committed to sustaining a passion for living. We elevate the conversation to make suicide prevention a health and safety priority. We sustain a passion for living by:
·         Delivering innovative and effective suicide prevention programs for working-aged people.
·         Coaching young leaders to develop social enterprises for mental health promotion and suicide prevention.
·         Supporting people bereaved by suicide.
Contact: Sally Spencer-Thomas, PsyD, CEO & Co-Founder, 720-244-6535,

International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Kenosha Police Department
IACP President Zakhary
The IACP is the world’s largest association of law enforcement executives. Founded in 1893, the IACP has over 21,000 members in 100 countries around the world. The IACP’s mission is to advance professional police services; promote enhanced administrative, technical, and operational police practices; and foster cooperation and the exchange of information and experience among police leaders and police organizations of recognized professional and technical standing throughout the world. Additionally, the IACP champions the recruitment and training of qualified persons in the police profession and encourages all police personnel worldwide to achieve and maintain the highest standards of ethics, integrity, community interaction and professional conduct. For more information on the IACP, please visit
Contact: Yost Zackary, President and Vince Talucci 

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention ( is the public-private partnership working to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and make suicide prevention a national priority. Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) operates the Secretariat for the Action Alliance, which was launched in 2010 by former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates with the goal of saving 20,000 lives in five years.
Contact: Eileen Sexton, Director of Communications, 202-572-5383,

Finding Peace without All the Pieces

Finding Peace without All the Pieces
Local Author Presents on Grief after Suicide

Denver, Colorado. August 1, 2014.  When people lose a loved one to suicide they often feel like the mosaic of their life has been shattered and that they are unable to put the pieces together. Colorado author, LaRita Archibald knows about this because she has been there. She lost her son to suicide in 1978 and has been a national pioneer in the suicide bereavement movement ever since. Recently she published a book intended to help “suicide loss survivors” find their way on the challenging journey from trauma to healing to eventual peace. She will be presenting to others who have been touched by suicide and those who support them on August 13th at 9:30am at the Mental Health Center of Denver (4141 E Dickenson Place
Denver, CO 80222). The presentation is free and open to the public.

In 1980 Archibald founded HEARTBEAT, one of the first support groups for suicide bereaved. Presently there are 42 chapters HEARTBEAT Chapters in 11 states and 2 foreign countries. She has also been instrumental in giving suicide loss survivors a voice after founding the Survivor of Loss Division of the American Association of Suicidology, an international multi-disciplinary membership organization with a mission to better understand and prevent suicide.

From decades of work with suicide bereaved, Archibald brings wisdom to help survivors of suicide loss build an understanding of the complexities of suicide grief. She offers them reassurance that what they are experiencing is normal for what they have experienced.  By giving names to the unsettling experiences of 'phantom pain' and 'flashbacks,' she validates feelings of anger, responsibility, frustration, even relief, as well as the need to search for answers, reasons and cause. In her presentation LaRita suggests practical strategies for moving from being a victim to a survivor, and eventually, a "thriver.”

"Grief following suicide is compounded,” says Archibald. “This lonely, frightening and extremely painful grief journey is eased within suicide bereavement support groups where peers extend the comfort of "you are not alone", the reinforcement that suicide loss is survivable and encouragement to invest their heartbreak in positive action."

This presentation is part of an educational series supported by the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado. All Educational Sessions are free and open to the public. For more information go to or email Sally Spencer-Thomas ( For more information about the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado, visit, or call 720-352-7505.

About the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado: The Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado (SPCC) was formed in 1999, when concerned citizens set out to create a statewide agency with the purpose of preventing suicide and creating a resource network for those who were working to prevent suicide around the state. Today, SPCC’s membership of concerned agencies, organizations and individuals who are working in the areas of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention has statewide reach. The mission of the SPCC is to reduce suicide and its impact for all Coloradans through advocacy, collaboration and education.

10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala for Suicide Prevention

10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala for Suicide Prevention
Diamond Anniversary Event Celebrates Local and National Leadership

Denver, Colorado. August 4, 2014.  Ten years ago the founders of the Carson J Spencer Foundation (CJSF) had a dream: to elevate the conversation and make suicide prevention a health and safety priority. They began with not much more than a passion to prevent what happened to their beloved friend and family member from happening to others. Today, with a national reach through programs like Man Therapy (using humor to “man up” mental health), Working Minds (suicide prevention in the workplace) and the FIRE Within (youth entrepreneurs preventing suicide), they are known as leaders in innovation in suicide prevention. On August 24th, 2014 at 5:30pm at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science CJSF will celebrate the 10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala. At this “blacktie optional” event, they will honor the partnerships and leaders working with them on the mission to save lives. For more information visit:

Each year, CJSF celebrates those who have gone above and beyond in their effort to support the cause of suicide prevention and mental health promotion. This year, CJSF will bestow the following awards at their Gala:
·         Shining Light of Hope Award: John Fielder, Nature Photographer
·         Media All-Star: Facebook
·         Volunteer of the Year: Randi Wood, Director of the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program
·         Corporate Shooting Star: Cottrell Printing
·         Social Enterprises of the Year:
o   Mountain Vista High School
o   George Washington High School

The Honorary Chair for the Gala is Larissa Herda, CEO and Chairman of tw telecom; tw telecom is also the Presenting Sponsor. Cynthia James will Emcee and Debbie Stafford will be the auctioneer.

“We are thrilled to have such great support present with us to acknowledge this important milestone and congratulate our honorees,” said Board Co-President Christy Belz.