In Crisis? Call    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Loading Events


Pennsylvania’s 2018 Annual Suicide Prevention Conference
Harrisburg, PA 17104 United States
TIME: 8:00 AM

event details

May 10 & 11, 2018

 Best Western Premier

    800 E Park Drive

 Harrisburg, PA 17111



  “Suicide Prevention: Reaching Out Across the Lifespan”


About the Conference


You are invited to participate in a conference designed to meet the needs of professionals, survivors and interested parties who would like to know more about suicide prevention, intervention, and meeting the needs of suicide survivors.  This event is specifically designed to meet the diverse interests and needs of attendees while creating a powerful opportunity for networking, learning, and developing techniques to prevent suicide in the community as well as meet the needs of those who have survived the loss of a loved one by suicide.


Keynote Speakers: Iris Bolton and Dr. David Jobes


Iris Bolton – Iris is considered the godmother of the suicide survivor movement, is an international lecturer and consultant who offers hope to people bereaved by death, loss and suicide. She is Director Emeritus of The Link Counseling Cee.nter, Atlanta, Georgia, where she served as full-time Director for 36 years.  Her first book, MY SON … MY SON … A Guide to Healing After Death, Loss or Suicide, was written after her 20-year-old son, Mitch, took his own life in 1977. Her co-author was her father, Curtis Mitchell. It is now in its 23rd edition.  Iris Bolton’s new book, VOICES of HEALING and HOPE: Conversations on Grief after Suicide, addresses phases of grief after suicide. With helpful stories and tools, each chapter helps define different aspects of the grieving process. A reader struggling with a particular issue can go directly to a related chapter for immediate guidance. Important issues include: Why, Guilt, Shame/Stigma, Anger, Emotional/Physical Pain, Fear, Depression and Faith. Chapters deal with these aspects and many more.

David Jobes – is a Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of Clinical Training at The Catholic University of America. His research and writing in suicide has produced numerous publications including, Adolescent Suicide: Assessment and Intervention (2nd Edition), 2006 and Managing Suicidal Risk: A Collaborative Approach, 2006. As an internationally recognized suicidologist, Dr. Jobes has spoken to a broad range of audiences, is frequently interviewed in the media, and has testified before Congress on the topic of youth suicide. He is a past President of the American Association of Suicidology and received that organization’s 1995 “Edwin Shneidman Award” in recognition of early career contribution to suicide research. As a board-certified clinical psychologist (American Board of Professional Psychology), Dr. Jobes maintains a private clinical and forensic practice at the Washington Psychological Center, P.C. and is currently Professor of Psychology and Associate Director of Clinical Training at The Catholic University of America).


This Conference is jointly provided by Prevent Suicide PA and Drexel University College of Medicine





Annual Conference Goals and Objectives

The goal of the Pennsylvania 2018 Annual Suicide Prevention Conference is to provide a forum for those who share an interest in preventing suicide across the lifespan, including physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, clinicians, educators, and clergy, crisis center staff and volunteers, as well as those who have lost a loved one to suicide or had their own suicidal experience to meet and share information about suicide, suicidal persons, and the repercussions of suicide. At the end of the conference, participants should be able to:

  1. Identify and assess psychological risk factors for suicidal behavior across the lifespan to improve outcomes and reduce the incidence of suicidal behavior.
  2. Describe the opportunities and challenges of implementing suicide prevention within the greater community setting to increase participation and contributions to the community at-large.
  3. Describe the impact of suicide on survivors to improve care to those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
  4. Describe techniques that individuals can use in situations involving persons who are verbalizing suicidal ideation to question, persuade and refer them to appropriate treatment opportunities

Who should attend:  Loss and Attempt Survivors, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Mental Health Providers, Physicians, Researchers, Social Workers, Educators,  Task Forces, Peer Support agencies, Nurses, Youth and Aging agencies, Residential Providers, Community Leaders,  and Veterans.


We will be providing continuing education from Drexel University for a fee of $35.00 to be paid when you register. Participants are eligible for 5.25 hours of continuing education (CE) on Day 1 of the conference, and 4.25 credit hours of CE on Day 2 of the Conference.  In total, participants can earn between 9.50 CE hours.  Below you will find the accreditation statements.

PCB (PA Certified Additions Counselor):  Drexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education will award a maximum of 9.5 PCB Approved Hours of Education for this Conference. Our program is certified by the Pennsylvania Certification Board, Provider # 133.

PA Educators Act 48:  Drexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education is recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to offer continuing education credits under Act 48 guidelines. Drexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education adheres to Act 48 Continuing Education Guidelines. PA educators will receive a maximum of 9.5 hours of credit for this Conference. *Anyone requesting PA Educators ACT48 on the validation form, you must show your Professional ID.

American Psychological Association (APA):  Drexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Drexel University College of Medicine, Behavioral Healthcare Education maintains responsibility for the program and its content. This program is being offered for up to 9.5 hours of continuing education.

LSW/LCSW/LPC/LMFT (PA SBSWE Licensed Social Workers in Pennsylvania):  Drexel University College of Medicine is a pre-approved provider of continuing education for Social Workers and Clinical Social Workers. This program is being offered for up to 9.5 hours of continuing education for this Conference.

*Note – Validation sheets must be turned in at the conference on your last day.  Continuation credit certificates will be sent approximately 10 weeks after the conference from Drexel University College of Medicine.  No certificates will be re-issued after the conference.


Thursday, May 10, 2018


8:00 am    Registration & Continental Breakfast 

9:00 am    Opening Remarks – Govan Martin and Matt Wintersteen

9:05 am     Lynn Kovich, MEd, Deputy Secretary of DHS, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

9:15 am     Keynote Address:  “The Aftermath of Suicide, A Sharing of Healing and Hope!”, Iris Bolton
Iris will discuss and share her journey following the suicide of her twenty-year-old son, Mitch, 40 years ago, as well  as her bereavement process as a parent, counselor, and lecturer.  She also discusses the many issues that families encounter that are impacted by suicide that was identified to be among the most difficult: Why, Guilt, Shame, Anger, Pain, Fear, Depression, and Faith.  Iris also discusses the meaning for those who have lost a loved one to “tell their story” and to make meaning out of the horror of suicide.

10:45am    Break

11:00 am – 12:15 pm  Breakout Sessions I:

TH01: PA Suicide Task Force session (Moderated by Mary Brown and Marisa Vicere, MBA)
This session will provide an opportunity for Suicide Prevention Taskforce Members to connect, discover new ideas and to dream big. Based off the World Cafe method, this session will provide a creative process for leading collaborative dialogue, sharing knowledge and creating possibilities for action. Through three rounds of conversations, participants will have a chance to share ideas and engage in meaningful dialogue to enhance suicide prevention efforts across the state of Pennsylvania. Workshop Focus: General: Task Force.

TH02: Men in the Middle Years
This presentation will examine the interactive role of mental disorders and substance use disorders in suicide risk, assessment and intervention. A review of the current challenges in identifying risk factors and conducting assessment and intervention will be discussed, with a particular focus on rural males in PA, and the specialized needs of that population. Workshop Focus: Adult: Intermediate Level, Ralph May, Psy.D Chief Clinical Officer, Community Guidance Center

TH03: Suicide and Substance Use Disorders: A Practical Approach for Clinicians
Suicide and substance use have been closely linked in the scientific literature as well as clinical practice. With suicide accounting for more than 44,000 deaths per year and an ongoing opioid epidemic, how are these two conditions intertwined? This presentation, by a psychologist and a psychiatrist, will present the most current research findings on this issue with an emphasis on practical approaches to individuals in need of care. Workshop Focus: Adult/Older Adult: Intermediate Level,  Mark G. Fuller MD and Lisa Kugler, Psy.D.     

TH04: Suicide Prevention: Our Role as Educators
This interactive session will focus on suicide prevention for school-aged students and what we can do as educators to recognize and assist the suicidal student. Educators have a great opportunity to get to know students and we are in important roles to be able to help them. This session will examine warning signs and indicators of the suicidal student. We will also identify risk and protective factors especially as they relate to the role of schools in suicide prevention. Myths vs realities pertaining to suicide will be discussed as well as school-related case studies. Participants will be able to identify risk factors, warning signs and protective factors as well as identify the process and people of their particular schools for helping the suicidal student   Workshop Focus:  Youth: Intermediate Level,  Brian McGinley, LSW, School Counselor, QPR Instructor and Joseph Dagney, M.Ed.

TH05: School-Based Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
This workshop is an overview of the comprehensive mental health programs and resources used in the West Chester Area School District to effectively intervene with the increase in student mental health concerns. Prevention, Intervention and Treatment options will be discussed.  The workshop will cover a variety of staff and parent resources to support student needs. Community involvement with local Suicide Task Force and other mental health agencies will be presented.  Workshop Focus:  Youth: Basic Level,  Carol Rothera

12:15-1:15 pm Lunch

1:15 – 2:30 pm        Breakout Session II:

TH06: Expansion of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Across Pennsylvania:
Over a decade ago, SAMHSA funded a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to serve as a support network for local crisis call centers. Increases in call volume have led to difficulty for in-state call centers to meet the needs of those in crisis. This presentation will focus on identifying challenges within Pennsylvania, outlining a plan to widely expand the number of call centers responding to calls in Pennsylvania, and discussing the current progress of these efforts.  Workshop Focus: Adult: Intermediate Level, Sherry Peters, MSW, ACSW and Jeremy Yale,MSW

THO7: The Old and the New: The Current State of Veteran Suicide Prevention Efforts in Pennsylvania
The VHA’s Suicide Prevention Program has undergone many changes in the past 10 years which include new and exciting additions. The presentation will include how the program has grown and changes over the past five years and helps Veterans at Risk for Suicide access timely care.  Workshop Focus:  Military: Intermediate Level, Eileen Woods

TH08: Lethal Means Counseling
This workshop will discuss lethal means counseling as a critical intervention for clients at-risk for suicide. Topics covered will include methods for maximizing engagement and collaboration with clients around making their environment safer, strategies for reducing access to a variety of common means for suicide, and a discussion about helpful versus potentially unhelpful language in having these discussions with clients. Workshop Focus:  Adult: Intermediate Level,  Kelly L. Green, Ph.D

THO9:  Resources for Resilience, Mental Health, and Youth Suicide Prevention
This presentation will overview the statewide suicide prevention efforts of the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Grant, as well as highlight local efforts by the Jana Marie Foundation to promote mental health and resilience in Centre County.  Participants will be provided with examples of how schools, community organizations, youth, and professionals are working together to create change, and specific resources to promote resilience and mental health and to prevent suicide will be shared. Workshop Focus: Youth: Basic Level,  Perri Rosen & Marisa Vicere

TH10: The Pennsylvania Student Assistance Program (SAP): What Is It and What Is Its Role in Suicide Prevention?
This workshop will explore the PA model of SAP and how local SAP Teams can effectively help support at risk youth in schools. Workshop Focus: Youth/ Basic Level, Renee Urick, LSW and Beth Sprentz

2:30-3:00 pm – Break – visit with EXHIBITORS, Refreshments in Exhibit hall

3:00 – 4:15 pm Breakout Session III:

TH11: Building a Data-Based Collective Impact Suicide Prevention Coalition
The Suicide Prevention Coalition of the Lehigh Valley (presenters William Vogler, Scott Grim and David Zimmerman) present an overview of how the coalition is building a backbone organization to support suicide prevention based on data. They will discuss the five conditions of Collective Impact methodology and how the coalition is collecting and analyzing data that will be used to put into place programs that will target suicide prevention in specific areas of need based on various demographics. Workshop Focus: Adult: Intermediate Level,  William Vogler, Ph.D, David Zimmerman, MPH, CAADC and Scott Grim, D-ABMDI

TH12:  Safety Planning Intervention to Reduce Suicide Risk
This workshop will provide an overview of an evidence-based brief intervention for reducing suicide risk: The Safety Planning Intervention (Stanley & Brown, 2012). Participants will learn how to conduct a narrative interview, how to collaboratively conduct the Safety Planning Intervention, and strategies to maximize the use and effectiveness of the intervention for clients. Workshop Focus: Adult: Basic Level, Gregory K. Brown, Ph.D

TH13:  LGBTQ And Other Disenfranchised Youth and Suicide
A presentation with open discussion about LGBTQ adolescents as well as other special adolescent populations who demonstrate a higher incidence of suicide attempt and completion.  Interactive and informative discussion to share information about best practice and informed care for our adolescents in a restrictive or phobic environment.  Resources and options for safe spaces and open acceptance for adolescents in our care. Workshop Focus: Youth: Transition Age: Intermediate Level,  Tracy Collins Boyle, DNP, FNP-BC, MSN, CSN

TH14: “A Multi-tiered Approach to School-based Suicide Prevention: Integration with Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS)”
The Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) framework provides a platform to address student social, emotional, and behavioral needs.  With youth suicide prevention now incorporating more upstream approaches, in addition to more targeted approaches to identifying and intervening with youth at risk, it is logical to consider these efforts from a multi-tiered lens.  This session will highlight the integration of suicide prevention in a multi-tiered system of support, emphasizing the PBIS framework.  Workshop Focus: Youth: Intermediate Level,  Danielle Empson

TH15:  Survivor Panel
This panel will consist of Attempt Survivors and Survivors of Loss (those who lost a loved one to suicide).  Workshop Focus: All Ages
Moderated by Matthew Wintersteen,  Ph.D. Jefferson University and Govan Martin


5:30-7:00 pm  Networking Reception with Keynote Speakers: Iris Bolton and Dr. David Jobes


Friday, May 11, 2018


8:00am      Registration

8:45am      Opening Remarks: Mary Brown and Erich Batra 

9:00 – 10:30 am     Keynote Speaker: David Jobes

These are exciting times for the sub-specialization of clinical suicidology. Innovations in mental health care policy and contemporary research are creating breakthroughs in our ability to effectively assess and treat suicidal patients in a range of clinical settings and modalities. In terms of assessment, there are developments in both direct and indirect evaluations of distinctly different suicidal states. With regard to intervention and treatment, research supporting suicide-specific interventions is growing including replicated randomized controlled trials (RCT’s) of clinical treatments that help decrease suicidal ideations and behaviors. Finally, a stepped-care approach that interfaces with current health care realities hold the promise of fostering care that is evidence-based, least-restrictive, and can be cost-effective.

1) Learn about new policy initiatives that are impacting clinical care of suicidal patients.

2) Learn about innovations in clinical assessment of suicidal risk.

3) Learn about innovations in suicide-specific interventions and treatments that can be effectively layered into a stepped-care approach to help clinical prevent suicide.

10:30am    Break

10:45 am – 12:00 pm    Breakout Session IV:

F01: The Doctor is In
Modeled after the highly-regarded session at the Annual Conference of the American Association of Suicidology, Drs. Jobes and Wintersteen will field questions from participants in an interactive session focused on addressing clinical issues surrounding suicidology and the care of those at increased risk for suicide. Workshop Focus: General: Basic,  David Jobes & Matt Wintersteen, Ph.D. Jefferson University

F02: Bullying and Suicide Prevention
At times, the media is quick to make a connection between a young person who was bullied and an attempted suicide or suicide death. The Journal of Adolescent Health states, “There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors including depression and delinquency.” Participants will learn the key components of evidence-based bullying prevention approaches, signs to look for in youth who are being bullied, how to intervene and the intersection of warning signs for potential suicide. Workshop Focus: Youth: Basic Level,  Mary Dolan, M.A.

F03:  13 Reasons Why You Should Learn More about Universal Behavioral Health Screening in Schools: Data and Practice to Support Happier and Healthier Students
Screening is a key component of comprehensive school-based suicide prevention efforts.   Generally, youth are willing to self-disclose thoughts of suicide when asked directly, and screening – particularly universal screening – has the potential to identify at-risk youth that may not have otherwise come to the attention of school staff.  This presentation will provide a rationale for universal behavioral health screening in schools, while outlining practical barriers, opportunities, and key considerations for school personnel.   Workshop Focus: Youth/ Intermediate Level,  Stephen Sharp, M.Ed

F04: Attitudes and Ethics in Suicide Prevention: Part 1
This presentation will focus on developing increased insight and deepening a connection between personal attitudes and the selection of interventions.  Participants will have an opportunity to work together to discuss their attitudes and opinions about suicide and suicide behaviors.  The group will utilize this exercise to explore how these attitudes shape interventions. Workshop Focus: Adults/ Intermediate Level, Mandy Fauble, PhD , LCSW and Victoria Merski, MSW

 F05: Youth Suicide Prevention & Intervention: Understand Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care: Part 1
Beneath youth suicidality, trauma and maltreatment often lurk.  Part 1 of this dual workshop considers how trauma of various types constitutes a significant risk factor for youth suicidality.  Part 2 discusses how the use of trauma-informed care by school staff and other caring adults can help prevent suicidality, engender hope for youth in crisis, and promote mental health referral, when indicated.  Workshop Focus: Basic and Intermediate,  Gordon R. Hodas MD

12:15 – 1:00 pm Lunch

1:00 – 2:15 pm     Breakout Session V:

F06: Attitudes and Ethics in Suicide Prevention: Part 2
This presentation will focus on developing increased insight and deepening a connection between personal attitudes and the selection of interventions.  Participants will have an opportunity to work together to discuss their attitudes and opinions about suicide and suicide behaviors.  The group will utilize this exercise to explore how these attitudes shape interventions. Workshop Focus: Adults: Intermediate Level, Mandy Fauble, PhD , LCSW and Victoria Merski, MSW

F07: Youth Suicide Prevention & Intervention: Understand Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care: Part 2
Beneath youth suicidality, trauma and maltreatment often lurk.  Part 1 of this dual workshop considers how trauma of various types constitutes a significant risk factor for youth suicidality.  Part 2 discusses how the use of trauma-informed care by school staff and other caring adults can help prevent suicidality, engender hope for youth in crisis, and promote mental health referral, when indicated.  Workshop Focus: Basic and Intermediate, Gordon R. Hodas MD

F08:  Pennsylvania’s Older Adult Suicide Prevention Plan: A move to Action
Suicide in older adults is a public health problem and with the rapidly growing population needs addressed as a priority.   This presentation will discuss the issues of suicide and suicidal risks in older adults. An overview of barriers to service provision will be reviewed including stigma, education and the ongoing difficulty for older adults to access inpatient psychiatric care.  The emphasis will be implementing community programs for outreaching older adults and developing actions plans to address suicide education and prevention. Workshop Focus: Older Adult: Intermediate Level, Linda K Shumaker

F09:  Postvention Response: The School’s Response
This interactive workshop provides an overview of the rationale and recommendations for conducting postvention in schools after a tragic loss, especially efforts to minimize contagion following a death by suicide. Attendees will learn the essential components of a postvention response and the various responsibilities of postvention team members.  Scenarios will be utilized to illustrate postvention compenents and highlight document templates. Self-care strategies and support resources will also be shared. Workshop Focus: Youth: Intermediate Level, Paula McCommons, Ed.D., L.P.C.

F10:  They Are Too Young – Or Are They?
A look at elementary age children and their knowledge and thoughts concerning suicide.  Discussion of risk factors and warning signs in younger children and how this differs from adults and adolescents.  What do you do when a child tells you they want to die?  Explore appropriate interventions and suicide prevention strategies.   Workshop Focus: Basic Level,  Anita T. Smith MS.

2:15 pm   Conference Wrap up


Conference registration fees:

The registration fee includes sessions, handouts, continental breakfast, breaks, and lunch.

Full Registration $250.00 per person,
First day only registration is $150.00 per person
Second day only registration is $125.00 per person

Conference rates are per person unless otherwise specified. Registration deadline is May 3, 2018.  Online registration and payment by credit card. Email for other payment and registration options.


Harrisburg Senator’s Baseball Tickets $11.00 each, May 11, 2017 (night of the 2nd day of the conference).  For each ticket sold, $4.00 will be donated to Prevent Suicide PA.

Prevent Suicide PA presentation at 6:30 pm, game time 7:00 pm





A room block has been reserved at the conference hotel, to reserve a room

  1. Go online to and click on the reservations tab at the top of the homepage.
  2. Select the date’s your guest would like to stay and then enter their group code into the Group Code box:   086121 and select Check Rates. 
Special Needs:

Participation by all individuals is encouraged. Advance notification of any special needs will help us provide better service. Please notify us of your needs at least two weeks in advance of the program by calling 717-885-9161 or emailing


Click here for  Conference Sponsor and Exhibitor Opportunities