Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition Meeting Held September 9th

Read the meeting notes, or view the slides or recording.

Thank you all for your continued engagement in the Coalition. 43 people attended the Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition (VTSPC) meeting that was held virtually on September 9, 2021.

Kirk Postlewaite, Senior Program Specialist, and JoEllen Tarallo, Executive Director, Center for Health and Learning, opened the meeting. The first item on the agenda was a networking session among participants. Kirk Postlewaite, Senior Program Specialist and Melissa Farr, program Specialist reviewed the agenda and hosted a warmer with participants. 

Daisy Berbeco, Senior Policy Advisor Department of Mental Health (DMH), gave an overview of the CDC Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Cooperative Agreement activities. The activities are shared between the DMH and the Vermont Department of Health (VDH). She noted that there is an emphasis on cross departmental communication to increase capacity. The Agreement is aimed at improving coordination and information sharing between state and community partners. Nick Nichols, Grant Coordinator for the CDC Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Cooperative Agreement VDH, introduced himself in his new role and expressed his enthusiasm for having a dedicated team for suicide prevention. 

DMH and VDH are co-managing an agreement with a communications firm called Small Mammal (SM). Leslie McCurry, Creative Director SM, updated on the plan that is being developed to create a visual identity for suicide prevention in Vermont. Thus far the  firm has collected feedback from stakeholders. Instead of focusing on messages for disparate populations the goal is to focus on a unifying message that inspires all communities to take community-level action to prevent suicide. ~small mammal presentation slides

Alexander Raeburn, Communications Coordinator DMH, updated on the 988 Planning Grant. As of July 2021, Vermont is providing 24/7 in-state primary coverage to the Lifeline. A social media toolkit was created in collaboration with VDH. Raeburn has also been utilizing the resources from partner organization to promote suicide prevention and mental health awareness. 

Caitlin Quinn, Data Analyst VDH, reviewed the Monthly Suicide Report. The rate of suicide has remained similar to previous years but the proportion of older adults is higher than previous years. There has also been a recent decrease of suicide-related emergency room visits. Quinn led the group in a discussion of why we might be seeing these changes in the data.

Tom Delaney, PhD, UVM College of Medicine, shared data from three sessions he attended at the American Association of Suicidology. All three sessions delt with lethal means safety and firearm suicide prevention. There were several overall conclusions from these sessions. These include that impulsivity is underplayed as a factor in suicide death, people who purchased firearms since COVID-19 appear to have higher rates of suicidal ideation. Finally, safe storage messages must be tailored to the audience and gun owners are not a monolith, their differing motivations and life experiences must be taken into account in any prevention effort. 

Kirk Postlewaite, Senior Program Specialist, gave a recap of the Suicide Prevention Symposium 2021. There were 221 registrants, 181 total attended the symposium. 75 respondents were first timers. There were 81 organizations and six states represented by attendees. 

JoEllen Tarallo, Executive Director, Center for Health and Learning, reminded participants that prior to and during the legislative session,The Coalition has always done education and outreach. The priorities for last year’s session were reviewed and she requested input from participants. She will use the input garnered from the session chat box to plan for the future. 

The session closed with reminders and announcements. NAMIWalks Your Way Vermont is coming up on October 9, 2021.  Center for Health and Learning has upcoming Umatter training Programs available on the events page. The Vermont Governor’s Press Conference on 9/14/2021 focused on Suicide Prevention Month. The Governor will also be issuing a proclamation highlighting Suicide Prevention Month. Jodi Girouard’s book Living with the Neighbors: Poetry and Prose about a journey through coping with bipolar is now available at Barnes and Noble. Low cost CAMS Training for independently licensed Mental Health Clinicians is available through VPQHC. Details are available on the VPQHC web page


The following organizations and groups were represented at the coalition meeting: 

  • UVM College of Medicine
  • Department of Mental Health
  • National Alliance on Mental Health VT
  • Vermont Department of Health
  • People with Lived Experience
  • United Ways of Vermont/Vermont 211
  • NFI Vermont, Inc.
  • Sunshine Silver Lining
  • University of Vermont
  • MSK Attorneys
  • AFSP Vermont
  • Lamoille County Mental Health Services
  • Northeast Kingdom Youth Services
  • NH Department of Health and Human Services
  • Clara Martin Center
  • Pathways Vermont
  • Greater Rutland County Supervisory Union
  • Cold Hollow Family Practice
  • Vermont Cooperative for Practice Improvement & Innovation
  • Brattleboro Retreat
  • Howard Center
  • Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
  • Youth in Transition
  • Northeastern Family Institute
  • Cathedral Square

Vermont Help Card

The VT Help Card is now available in four different formats including post card, poster, wallet card, and a card full of resources for survivors of suicide loss. Find out more…

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