Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition

VTSPC April 2023 Coalition Meeting Recap

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VTSPC April 2023 Coalition Meeting Recap

April 13, 2023
Thank you all for your continued engagement in the VT Suicide Prevention Coalition (VTSPC). Please see our Meeting Notes for the full content of the meeting, or view the recording and/or slide deck.

Welcome and Warm-up

Kirk Postlewaite, Senior Program Specialist/Director, VTSPC, Eric Jones, Technology and Marketing Specialist, and Zan Lewis, Program Specialist, CHL

Kirk opened the meeting by introducing Chris Allen, state Suicide Prevention Director at the Department of Mental Health, and Kathleen Kilbourne, Executive Director at the Center for Health and Learning. The April Coalition meeting was dedicated to culturally responsive suicide prevention, from intervention to upstream prevention. Kirk noted that this is part of a larger conversation to be continued as we move forward in our work together.

Current State of Suicide Prevention efforts at the Department of Mental Health

Chris Allen, Suicide Prevention Director, introduced himself to the Coalition and shared some information on the SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith 5-year grant focused on youth suicide prevention. Chris also presented data on the 988 Lifeline efforts in Vermont and gave an overview of the Governor’s Challenge. Chris shared his priorities as he moves forward in his role and welcomed Coalition members to reach out to him.

Update on Comprehensive Suicide Prevention and Garrett Lee Smith Grants at the Vermont Department of Health

Nick Nichols, Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator, shared updates on CSP grant activities, including the Annual Stakeholder Survey, to be completed annually by individuals and organizations about their suicide prevention activities across the state. Ongoing CSP grant activities include Postvention Response and Emergency Department efforts. Nick introduced Elora Taylor as the Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator with the GLS grant and shared that the first Zero Suicide Academy will run later this spring and the grant also promotes training and education through MH First Aid and Umatter for Schools. Nick closed by sharing the US Attorney’s Office District of VT Gun Safe site which lists locations for obtaining gun locks and temporary firearm storage. For specifics on the above, please see the Meeting Notes. 

Update on the monthly suicide data

Caitlin Quinn, Public Health Analyst, discussed the Monthly Suicide Report and shared preliminary data from 2022. Although subject to change, the 2022 death by suicide numbers are similar to the past three years. However, Caitlin noted that suicide-related ED visits were higher in 2022 than in past years. For more details, see the Meeting Notes and the Monthly Suicide Report.

Meeting the Needs of Our Students: Working from an Equity and Trauma Informed Lens

Annie Valentine, Education & Training Manager with the Center for Health & Wellbeing at UVM, discussed the challenges college students face that impact their mental health wellness and access to services. These challenges – and there are many – impact mental health, substance use and suicide risk and range from academic pressure and navigating predominantly white communities to fear of gun violence and experiencing hate-based rhetoric and violence. Annie shared what we should be mindful of in supporting our student communities.

Youth Engagement & Empowerment as Prevention

Matt Wolf, Youth Voice Coordinator with Vermont Afterschool, presented strategies to support and empower youth with an overview of brain development, impacts of environment and trauma, and how adults can work with these realities in mind to give youth true agency and connection. Matt noted that relationships and connection are prevention. These “upstream” strategies with youth, focused on agency, community, and empowerment are suicide prevention in action.

Suicide in Late Life: What We Need to Know

Charles Gurney, Substance Use & Aging Specialist with the Division of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living, focuses on substance use and suicide prevention in older Vermonters. He shared data on risk factors, suicide, suicide attempt, and suicide-related ED visits across age groups, showing that suicide rates are highest in men over 65 years of age; however, numbers for suicide-related ED visits are lower in older adults. Charles also shared protective factors and workforce development needs to better support older Vermonters and how mindsets impact service providers’ ability to meet the needs of this population.

Trainings and Resources: 

Center for Health and Learning Trainings

Please visit to view upcoming training opportunities. These include the in-person Umatter Suicide Prevention Awareness Training of Trainers (TOT) at Capitol Plaza in Monpelier on May 3rd. Visit the link above for more information on Intro to Zero Suicide, CSSRS, Adult Mental Health First AID, and Umatter Suicide Prevention and Awareness series.

VTSPC 2022 Impact Report

Access the Impact Report here.

Lake Monsters CHL Fundraiser

July 8th, Centennial Field – purchase tickets here for $8.00; CHL keeps 50%. We will also be selling 50/50 raffle tickets on game night. This is a fundraiser where we will be raising awareness with HELP cards. Join us!


Vermont Annual Suicide Prevention Symposium on September 27th! More information to come.


White River Junction Veterans Association will hold a half-day event on September 8th. More information to come from Michelle Neris, Suicide Prevention Coordinator.

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