The 13th annual Community Mental Health Conference to help those at risk for suicide and in the lives of survivors will take place 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on June 1 at Beth Emet the Free Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St. The event is sponsored by the Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health Education of The Chicago School of Professional Professional Psychology.

The NRCI was founded by Marilyn and Larry Cohen, parents of Naomi who, despite intensive medical care, took her own life. “It is important to ensure all voices of those affected by the tragedy of suicide are included in this community effort to create a fully effective movement to help prevent suicide,” they said.

Conference presenter, Heidi Bryan survived suicide attempts but vowed to get help – “medicine, exercise, therapy, letting people know when I need help” when her older brother killed himself. “We didn’t have the best relationship, and I didn’t even know if I loved him. I was surprised by the devastation I felt. So right then I decided suicide was no longer an option,” she said.

Ms. Bryan serves on several suicide prevention organizations and wrote “Must Be the Witches in the Mountains,” a book on post-suicide grief.

One of the other two presenters is Professor Cheryl King, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology. She also directs the school’s Institute of Human Adjustment and its Youth Depression and Suicide Research Program. Dr. King has published widely on youth suicide prevention.

Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Medicine, Bioethics, and Population Health David Clark, Ph.D. of the Medi- cal College of Wisconsin, is also assistant dean for clinical research there. He helped found the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and is a member of the International Academy for Suicide Research.

Dr. Clark notes suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. For every 100,000 people, 12 take their own lives. “So with so much stigma around suicide, it’s important to get non-hysterical, non-sensational information out and get people talking about it.” He says he sees slow progress on this front. “Our grandparents would never talk about suicide. Now there are signs of public discussion, which subtracts a little bit of stigma.”

Eighteen breakout sessions will follow the panel presentation.
 
More information is available at www.naomicoheninstitute.org by phone at 312-467-2552, or by email: nrcinstitute@thechicagoschool.edu.