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June 1st Conference – SUICIDE: Responding and Creating Hope a Huge Success
Struggle against suicide hard but progress seen with candor, less stigma

Suicide is a stubborn illness. But a growing willingness to talk about it, seeking help without shame, and more programs to help suicide victims and their families is expected one day to drive down the number who take their own lives, said keynote speakers at the 13th annual Naomi Ruth Cohen community conference aimed at reducing the stigma of mental health problems.

For every 100,000 U.S. citizens, 12.4 committed suicide in 2010, down just slightly from the 12.5 who did in 1990, noted David Clark, Ph.D., a member of the International Academy for Suicide Research. “With so much stigma around suicide, it’s important to get solid information out and have people talk about it. Our grandparents never talked about suicide, but signs of more public discussion like this conference subtracts a little bit of stigma.”

Heidi Bryan is a suicide attempt survivor doing more than her share to keep the issue, however uncomfortable, in the public eye. She travels the country with a message for everyone enduring suicidal thoughts. “There is help. There is hope.” For her, the realization she wouldn’t kill herself finally came in 1995 when her brother committed suicide.

“What must his family, his wife, his kids, his co-workers, his friends have thought? Did he really believe we’d all be better off without him? I knew right then he and I had mental illness, and for me, suicide was no longer a strategy.” She said suicidal impulses still occur, “but I can just let them go now. They’re no longer a real threat.” Bryan serves on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and wrote a book about her life-long struggles entitled, “Must be the Witches in the Mountains.”

Catholic priest Charles T. Rubey founded Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide 35 years ago. He said the notion that people who kill themselves are somehow “cowards or sissies” must be discarded. “In truth, if they had any other way of coping with life, they would. Suicide is really an act of desperation, not cowardice. They just can’t go on. Pain absolutely engulfs them. But there is help. Life is bearable. We have to spread this word, particularly among our adolescents.”

Cheryl King, Ph.D., director of the Youth Depression and Suicide Research Program at the University of Michigan, told the hundreds of attendees, “Suicide prevention takes constant messages of hope and lifelong strategies with a special focus on the young.” She likened humans struggling with challenges to plants. “They’re not all equally strong. So we water them, support them, nudge them however we can.

“Just that little bit of help can be enough over time to allow plants to flourish and grow strong,” she said. “That’s the same way mental illnesses tied to suicide can help reduce suicide numbers.” She noted young suicide victims often use alcohol and drugs to ease their pain. “But these are depressants and only make their problems worse. So adults in every setting – home, school, work – have to look for and recognize these co-morbid conditions and intervene on our youngsters’ behalf.”

The Program was attended by over 250 and the responses have been overwhelming.

Next year’s conference will be held on Sunday, Jun e7th, and the subject will be STIGMA.
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Suicide Rates Change Little Over Decades
The struggle against suicide can progress with candor, less stigma

EVANSTON, Ill., June 3, 2014 – For every 100,000 U.S. citizens, 12.4 committed suicide in 2010, down just slightly from the 12.5 who did in 1990, noted David Clark, Ph.D., a member of the International Academy for Suicide Research at the 13th annual Naomi Ruth Cohen community conference aimed at reducing the stigma of mental health problems.  The figure has been constant over the past 50 years.

Suicide is a stubborn illness, but a growing willingness to talk about it, seeking help without shame, and more programs to help suicide victims and their families is expected one day to drive down the number of those who take their own lives.  “With so much stigma around suicide, it’s important to get solid information out and have people talk about it,” Clark said.  “Our grandparents never talked about suicide, but signs of more public discussion like this conference subtract a little bit of stigma.”

Heidi Bryan is a suicide attempt survivor doing more than her share to keep the issue, however uncomfortable, in the public eye. She travels the country with a message for everyone enduring suicidal thoughts. “There is help. There is hope.” For her, the realization she wouldn’t kill herself finally came in 1995 when her brother committed suicide.

“What must his family, his wife, his kids, his co-workers, his friends have thought? Did he really believe we’d all be better off without him? I knew right then he and I had mental illness, and for me, suicide was no longer a strategy.” She said suicidal impulses still occur, “but I can just let them go now. They’re no longer a real threat.” Bryan serves on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and wrote a book about her life-long struggles entitled, “Must be the Witches in the Mountains.”

Catholic priest Charles T. Rubey founded Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide 35 years ago. He said the notion that people who kill themselves are somehow “cowards or sissies” must be discarded. “In truth, if they had any other way of coping with life, they would. Suicide is really an act of desperation, not cowardice. They just can’t go on. Pain absolutely engulfs them. But there is help. Life is bearable. We have to spread this word, particularly among our adolescents.”

Cheryl King, Ph.D., director of the Youth Depression and Suicide Research Program at the University of Michigan, told the hundreds of attendees, “Suicide prevention takes constant messages of hope and lifelong strategies with a special focus on the young.” She likened humans struggling with challenges to plants. “They’re not all equally strong. So we water them, support them, nudge them however we can.

“Just that little bit of help can be enough over time to allow plants to flourish and grow strong,” she said. “That’s the same way attention to mental illnesses tied to suicide can help reduce suicide numbers.” She noted young suicide victims often use alcohol and drugs to ease their pain. “But these are depressants and only make their problems worse. So adults in every setting – home, school, work – have to look for and recognize these co-morbid conditions and intervene on our youngsters’ behalf.”

Naomi Ruth Cohen is the daughter of Larry and Marilyn Cohen. After Naomi committed suicide despite intense professional support, her parents created the NRCI in her honor and to help shine a bright light on mental illness stigmas to help people discuss suicide and mental health problems in general more openly and honestly.

The conferences are put on each year by the Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute, part of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. It can be reached at 312-467-2552 or nrcinstitute@thechicagoschool.edu.

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2014 Conference Brochure – please click here to view the full brochure.

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REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN FOR THE 2014 COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH CONFERENCE!

Please click here to register.

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NRCI would like to thank our Benefactors, Patrons, and Sponsors for this year’s
Annual Community Mental Health Conference:

Benefactors:

 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

 

 

Compass Health Center

 

Patrons:

 

Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago

 

 

First Bank & Trust

 

 

Yellowbrick

 

 

Northshore University Health System

 

MISSD – Medicine Induced Suicide Education Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital

 

 

Center for Contextual Change

 

 

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Announcing the NRCI
Annual Community Mental Health Conference
Sunday, June 1st, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Beth Emet Synagogue (1224 Dempster) in Evanston, Illinois

SUICIDE: RESPONDING  AND CREATING HOPE

The Institute would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support:

BENEFACTORS
Compass Health Center
Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

PATRONS
Center for Contextual Change
First Bank and Trust
Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and  Affiliates
Medicine Induced Suicide Education Foundation
Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital
North Shore University Health System Dept. of Psychiatry
Yellowbrick

SPONSORS
Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health
Catholic Charities LOSS Program
Chicago CBT Center
City of Evanston Health Department
Elyssa’s Mission
Erika’s Lighthouse
Family Focus
Family Institute at Northwestern University
Hazelden
Illinois House of Representative 9th District Jan Schakowsky
Insight Psychological Center
Lindner Center for Hope
NAMI Cook County North Suburban
New Foundation Center
PEER Services
Presence Saint Francis Hospital
Rebecca’s Dream
Recovery International
Rosecrance Health Network
Rosalind Franklin University
Trilogy

The morning program will feature:

 

Father Charles Rubey, Founder and Director, Catholic Charities LOSS Program;

 

 

Dr. David C. Clark, Assistant Dean for Clinical Research and Professor of Psychiatry at The Medical College of Wisconsin;

 

 

 

Dr. Cheryl King,  Professor at The University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry;

 

 

 

 

Heidi Bryan, suicide survivor and Founder of Feeling Blue Suicide Prevention Council.

 

 

 

Dr. Michael Horowitz, President of the TCS Education System, will moderate the morning panel.

 

 

 

 

There will be 18 discussion groups led by experts in this field.

Please keep checking this page for conference updates and registration information.