Resources from a Suicide Postvention conference I attended recently

Conference PowerPoints and other resources:

Recommended reading for survivors of suicide:

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Thanks for posting this. One of the resources listed is the presentation slides from a talk I gave at the Alaska Postvention Conference in June, and if I can be helpful in some way to the LegacyConnect group for survivors of suicide, please let me know, and I'll do my best. Franklin Cook, Director, Survivor and Bereavement Programs, SAVE (please see or email me at my work address,
Hi Franklin.  We met.  I was at that conference...the woman with long gray hair :)  That conference was such a stabilizing event for me.  Thank you for the wisdom you imparted.  I still use your advice for myself and others, what your mother said about how she came through each day by putting "one foot in front of the other, and then do it again," and so on.  Theresa

Hello Theresa: I remember you well, and thank you for your kind words. It was very good to hear from you. Franklin


New Book Becomes Required Reading

Seeking Hope: Stories of the Suicide Bereaved

Edited by Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D. and Julie Cerel, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Ginny Sparrow

 Tell your story. The support group method says that’s step one in surviving suicide. But this is not for everyone. It’s frightening to attend your first group meeting. It’s terrifying to reveal your feelings of guilt, regret, pain. So those who can’t attend a support group have to find other ways to feel their pain, express their thoughts. As we know, getting it “out” in some way is imperative.

 For those who fear support groups (or sadly, don’t have one convenient to them) an evening with Seeking Hope: Stories of the Suicide Bereaved feels close to the real thing. Edited by two dedicated women in the suicide prevention field, both Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D. and Julie Cerel, Ph.D. share their personal stories through loss by suicide, and recruited 15 other voices to share their journey. All stories possess the gift of time, and it’s encouraging for a newly bereaved reader to have a peek onto the “other side” of sudden loss.

 Click here to read entire book review.


Editors Note

By Ginny Sparrow

 If I gave issues of Surviving Suicide a name, other than Fall 2011 for example, I would definitely call this issue Issue of the Woman! While editing I realized a trend in the submissions; all women who bravely speak publicly about the tragedy of their loss by suicide.

 If it is true that public speaking is feared more than death, than what a round up of survivors we have here. Each are public speakers, yet all untrained officially in public speaking. All are survivors of different losses, yet similar emotions shared. All passionate and outspoken. All making a difference. Not everyone wants to complete a Ph.D. in grief counseling, such is Sheri McGuinness, who lost her husband and is now a strong prevention advocate for the state of Georgia. Catherine Sancimino was just beginning her Ph.D. program when her father died by suicide. Another, my sister Paula, has absolutely no interest in support groups, conferences, or advocacy, yet found a way to inspire a room full of people when she told her story; something she does not do often. Even this issue’s book review is edited by women (although the book was inspired by an idea by fellow survivor David Davis, I must admit).

 I am so proud to have an affiliation with all these strong women. Their voices in the below articles are all different, yet also strikingly similar. Losing someone by suicide admits us into a horrible club, one we would wish on no one. But what good company we are keeping.



Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D. is a familiar voice in the survivor advocacy world.

Sharing Our Stories
By Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D.

Survivor Division Chair

 I remember the first time I stood before an audience with knocking knees and a dry throat, the first time I shared the story of my brother’s suicide. I was presenting at an international law enforcement conference, and it was only five months after his death. The workshop was on violence prevention and had been scheduled a year earlier. I had made the choice to talk about my journey without much preparation. I remember my shaky voice as the words came out, “I have never shared this publicly before…” I worried:

  • Would I get through without crying?
  • Would they judge me?
  • Would they care?

My presentation was probably no more than five minutes, but I knew at once I had hit upon something. Their eyes locked with mine, their heads nodded, and when our workshop was over many came up to me to say, “Thank you for your courage. My brother/father/cousin/co-worker (fill in the blank)…”

 Click here to read entire article.


Prolonged Grief Disorder:

A new diagnosis for survivors discussed at 2011 AAS Conference
By Ginny Sparrow

 The plenary speaker on the last day of the professional conference in April 2011 spoke of a new way of classifying grief. Dr. Windy G. Lichtenthal, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, presented the establishment of  PGD, or Prolonged Grief Disorder. After the floor was opened for questions, a well-known face around the conference, Nina Gutin, Phd., took the microphone and spoke passionately about reservations she has on the diagnosis. I interviewed Dr. Gutin recently about her thoughts.

 Q: Prolonged Grief Disorder: what exactly is this diagnosis? 

 A: In essence, it has been defined as a psychiatric disorder, to be distinguished from “normal” grief, in which individuals continue to experience “intense mourning over loss that extends beyond six months duration.” The etiology of this disorder is presumed to be due to internal pathology.

  Click here to read entire interview.


Effie Malley, MPA, serves as the editor of AAS's Newslinks.

Activist Corner:
An Hour to Help the New Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide

By Effie Malley, Center Director

 By establishing the National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide, AAS has taken a bold step. I call it bold because preventing youth suicide is a difficult challenge. The youth suicide rate has barely changed since the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention was published in 2001, and more than 4,000 youth and young adults still die each year by suicide. Many survivors and other individuals and organizations have worked hard to reduce that number: our accomplishments are many but a national impact on reducing suicide remains frustratingly difficult to realize.

 Click here to read entire article.



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