Need a recap? Read the Coalition Update. Next Meeting: Tuesday, July 26, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.


Resources: What Families Want

Free Online Suicide Prevention Training

Suicide Postvention Toolkit

Bullying Bill Passed into Law

Effects of Childhood Trauma

New Legislation for Suicide Prevention in Schools

Upcoming Events

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Contact Us
Diana Weaver
Executive Director
I AM H·E·R·E Coalition

Message from the Executive Director

I recently returned from the Texas Suicide Prevention Symposium in San Marcos and was struck by several things this year. First, a conference that five years ago had 125 attendees, this year had 700 attendees and another 400 on a waiting list.

This year's conference featured some of the best known names in the field of suicidology and suicide prevention: Dr. Tom Joiner, author of the book "Why People Die By Suicide;" Dr. Scott Poland, nationally known expert on school crisis, youth violence and suicide intervention; and Dr. Alex Crosby with the Division of Violence Prevention at the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Diana Weaver
Diana Weaver
Executive Director

All of these speakers touched on an important emerging theme in the field of suicide prevention—connectedness. While we talk about risk factors and mental illness as keys in identifying youth at risk for suicide, one of the most important protective factors in suicide prevention is how young people connect with others—in their families, in their schools and in their communities.

Dr. Joiner cited a study of one million women in Norway. Those with six or more children had a suicide rate that was about one-fifth the rate of other women. The reason, said Dr. Joiner, is the sense of belongingness—these women are needed by their families and they know it. The importance of a sense of belongingness applies to persons of all ages, said Joiner.

Dr. Poland echoed the theme of connectedness when talking about the school setting, saying, "Every kid needs to feel connected to his school—like it matters that he is there." He added that the "best family value meal" in America is the family dinner table in the kitchen, where parents can connect with their kids.

Dr. Crosby cited one of the CDC's primary strategic initiatives in suicidal behavior prevention as "preventing suicide by building and strengthening connectedness within and among individuals, families and communities."

All three speakers bring home this point: increasing the sense of belonging is paramount to reducing the youth suicide rate. As important as teaching people to recognize risk factors and signs of suicide is, it is equally important to make young people feel that they belong—in their families, schools and communities.

Read the Coalition Update for a recap of work from the last meeting.

Resources: It's What Families Want

What do families want most when dealing with their children's mental health? Resources, first and foremost, according to a survey conducted in 2009 and released recently by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

In the NAMI report, The Family Experience with Primary Care Physicians and Staff, resources was mentioned most often among the top five ways to make families feel more comfortable in discussing their child's mental health. doctor resources

Families asked that mental health resources be included in the waiting room and examining rooms to help them feel more comfortable in raising mental health concerns about their children. Key among their desires is to feel that they are connected to information early and, ideally, before a crisis occurs.

"The need for resources is something we hear about from families on almost a daily basis," said Vanita Halliburton, president of the Grant Halliburton Foundation. "This has been the impetus for the development of H·E·R·E For You, an online resource database that the I AM H·E·R·E Coalition has been working on for the past 18 months."

H·E·R·E For You will offer all stakeholders—including teens and young adults, parents and families, teachers, counselors, physicians, law enforcement, juvenile justice, clergy, social service agencies and others who work with youth—easy access to resources in the community related to teen and young adult mental health.

The coalition has partnered with the North Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians (NTSPP), who will share the same database of resources, but will develop its own website focused on adult mental health.

"We are pleased that our partnership has resulted in a collaborative working relationship between our two groups, while minimizing duplication of efforts," said Ed Nace, M.D., immediate past president of the NTSPP. "We know that this is a resource that is vitally needed in our community."

H·E·R·E For You will have two major components—a searchable database of mental health providers, resources, and services in our community that relate to teen and young adult mental health, and sections dedicated to information about mental illness, treatment, support, funding, crisis intervention and other topics that promote understanding and knowledge.

Representatives from many community agencies, treatment facilities and counseling centers have provided valuable input to the design and information-gathering process.

One group that looks forward to the resources the website will provide is the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), which recently expanded its services to include troubled adolescents.

"We receive calls and e-mails almost daily from individuals looking for a doctor, a therapist, or a support group, or for assistance in meeting some other need," said Bob King, DBSA vice president. "The proposed joint website will greatly improve our ability to better serve those adolescents and adults who come to us for assistance."

Content for H·E·R·E For You is being developed by the Coalition's Resources Team, and an input-gathering form is being tested by providers in all sectors of the community. A request for proposal has been sent to website development vendors, and the pro bono services of an IT consultant have been engaged to help facilitate the building of the database.

Both the Grant Halliburton Foundation and the NTSPP are actively seeking grant funding to complete the project.

"We believe these websites will be a major step forward to helping families in our community," said Ashley Zugelter, executive director of NAMI Dallas. "Not only will patients and families more readily find the help they need, but the websites will be an invaluable resource to physicians, therapists and other helping professionals in finding the proper resources."

Free Online Training Available for Suicide Prevention

At Risk Training Free online training for suicide prevention is available through Mental Health America (MHA) of Texas' "At Risk" program. MHA Texas has 40,000 training slots available for faculty and staff working in public high schools in Texas.

"At Risk for High School Educators" is an interactive website training simulation that helps educators build skills and confidence to identify and refer students who may be in psychological distress or at risk for suicide. This program is available only to public high school educators in Texas.

"This program has been well received around the state," said Mary Ellen Nudd, vice president of MHA Texas, "with 96% of users saying they would recommend the training to a friend."

The program meets guidelines for the Best Practices for Suicide Prevention Registry. The one-hour At Risk training is also approved by the Texas Education Agency for CPE credits. For more information, click here.

Toolkit Addresses Suicide Postvention for Schools

Dealing with the aftermath of a student suicide often presents a crisis for school officials. To address this, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, two of the nation's leading organizations in suicide prevention, have released After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools.

Developed in consultation with national experts, the toolkit includes general guidelines for action, dos and don'ts, and templates and sample materials for distribution to the community. Topics addressed in the toolkit include:
  • Crisis response
  • Helping students cope
  • Working with the community
  • Memorialization
  • Social media
  • Suicide contagion
  • Bringing in outside help

Principles that guided the development of the toolkit include the following:
  • Schools should strive to treat all student deaths in the same way. Having one approach for a student who dies of cancer (for example) and another for a student who dies by suicide reinforces the unfortunate stigma that still surrounds suicide and may be deeply and unfairly painful to the deceased student’s family and close friends.

  • At the same time, schools should be aware that adolescents are vulnerable to the risk of suicide contagion. It is important not to inadvertently simplify, glamorize, or romanticize the student or his/her death.

  • Schools should emphasize that the student who died by suicide was likely struggling with a mental disorder, such as depression or anxiety, that can cause substantial psychological pain but may not have been apparent to others (or that may have been exhibiting behavioral problems or substance abuse).

  • Help is available for any student who may be struggling with mental health issues or suicidal feelings.
The toolkit is listed in the Best Practices for Suicide Prevention Registy. Download the toolkit or get more information about other programs and resources for schools.

Bullying Bill Passed into Law

Childhood Trauma Several bills addressing growing concerns over bullying at school were filed this legislative session, but HB 1942 was the one signed into law and becomes effective for the 2011-2012 school year.

The new anti-bullying law, introduced by Rep. Diane Patrick will:
  • Establish a new bullying definition that includes bullying through electronic means ("cyberbullying");
  • Integrates awareness, prevention, identification, and resolution of and intervention in bullying into health curriculum;
  • Provides local school boards with discretion to transfer a student found to have bullied to another classroom or to another campus, in consultation with the parent or guardian (previously, only the victim could be transferred); and
  • Requires local school districts to adopt and implement a bullying policy that recognizes minimum guidelines such as prohibition of bullying, providing counseling options, and establishes procedures for reporting, investigating and responding to an incidence of bullying.
The provision to allow schools to transfer a student who engages in bullying behavior to another campus was opposed by some child advocates, who argued that this option could too easily lead to schools pushing students out of the classroom and moving the bullying behavior to another campus instead of using effective interventions to prevent further bullying.

Modifications made to the bill call for schools to consult with the bullying child's parent before transferring a student as a means of informing the parents and helping to come to the best decision for all parties involved.

Childhood Trauma Leads to Higher Rates of Mental Health Problems and Obesity

New research indicates that a child's risk for obesity and learning and behavior problems rises in correlation to their level of trauma exposure. These findings may lead to a change in the way physicians diagnose and treat these children.

The findings of the research may encourage physicians to consider diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rather than attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is a more common diagnosis that has similar symptoms but very different treatment.
Childhood Trauma

The study examined children living in a violent, low-income neighborhood and documented an unexpectedly strong link between abuse, trauma and neglect and children's mental and physical health. The findings point out that contrary to the belief of some people, children do not get used to trauma and these events remain stressful and impact their physiology.

The study provides compelling evidence that pediatricians should routinely screen children for trauma exposure, said senior author Victor Carrion, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

"As simple as it may seem, physicians do not ask about trauma," he said. "And kids get the wrong diagnoses."

The research built on earlier work that linked worsening health in adults with their exposure to nine types of adverse childhood events, including being subjected to various kinds of abuse or neglect; having a household member who abused alcohol or drugs, was incarcerated or was mentally ill; having a mother who was treated violently; and not living in a two-parent household.

The earlier research found that middle-class men in these situations had more chronic disease in adulthood. The results of the current study further highlight the need for early identification of adversity-associated health problems and early intervention.

The new study focused on 701 children treated at a primary care clinic in a San Francisco neighborhood with high rates of poverty and violence. About half of the children were African American and the rest had other ethnic backgrounds. The children's exposure to adverse events was scored on a scale from 0 to 9 and researchers then examined their medical records for evidence of obesity and other behavioral health problems.

Two-thirds of the children in the study had experienced at least one category of adversity and 12 percent had experienced four or more categories. Compared to children with a score of zero, children with a score of four or higher were 30 times more likely to show learning and behavior problems and twice as likely to be obese. Even children with an adversity score of just one were 10 times more likely to have learning and behavior problems as those who had not been exposed to trauma.

Prior research had shown that about 30 percent of children in violent communities experienced symptoms of PTSD, which can include the same learning and behavior problems detected in the new study. However, the researchers point out that a physician unaware that a child has experienced trauma may diagnose ADHD instead of PTSD. The problem with this, say the researchers, is that the two disorders have opposite treatments. Kids with PTSD need psychotherapy, not the stimulant medications given for ADHD.

"Children can recover from PTSD with the appropriate treatment, which is one of approach and not avoidance," Carrion said. "We need to create trauma-informed systems. If trauma goes untreated, it's very costly for the individuals involved and for society in general."

New Legislation Calls For Early Mental Health Intervention and Suicide Prevention in Schools

Youth suicide prevention in Texas received a boost with the passage of new legislation in the 82nd legislative session.

school The new legislation requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to oversee the implementation of early mental health intervention and suicide prevention programs in all elementary, junior high, middle and high schools in the state of Texas.

The TEA will need to provide schools with a current list of all recommended best
practice-based programs and will allow districts to select the program appropriate for their schools.

The new bill also requires schools to establish a procedure for providing notice of a student identified as being at risk for suicide to the parent or guardian of the student within a reasonable amount of time after early warning signs are detected.

The bill's authors, Rep. Garnet Coleman, Rep. Jessica Farrar, Rep. Marisa Marquez, and senate sponsor Sen. Rodney Ellis, were honored with the Public Policy Leadership Award at the Texas Suicide Prevention Symposium in June for their efforts in getting HB 1386 passed in the current legislative session. Also recognized were committee chairwomen Rep. Lois Kolkhorst and Sen. Florence Shapiro.

"We've heard too many tragic stories of children and teenagers who have taken their own lives due to emotional distress," said Rep. Coleman. "This loss of life can be prevented. It's important that we let parents know of any early warning signs in their child's behavior so that we can prevent a bad outcome. It is the parents who can best care for their children."

Rep. Coleman cited the bill as one of his most important legislative priorities. For more information on the bill, click here.

Upcoming Events

I AM H·E·R·E Coalition Meetings
Tuesday, July 26
Thursday, September 15
Tuesday, October 25

4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak St., Dallas, Texas 75204 (Google map)

"Suicide, Listen Up! Education, Awareness and Intervention"
Thursday, July 28, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mesquite Convention Center
1750 Rodeo Dr.
Mesquite, TX 75149

Presented by the North Texas Suicide Prevention Coalition, the conference will focus on community approaches to suicide prevention. Keynote speakers will be Richard Lieberman, Ph.D., and Scott Poland, Ed.D., both nationally recognized for their work in suicide prevention in schools. Other sessions will focus on the links between gay youth and suicide, alcohol and drug dependence and suicide, and Latinos and suicide. Cost for the conference is $40 and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Six hours of CEUs will be offered. For more information, contact John Dornheim at (214) 335-8334 or john.dornheim@hcahealthcare.com.

NAMI Dallas Open House
Thursday, August 4, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

NAMI Dallas
2812 Swiss Ave.
Dallas, TX 75204

NAMI Dallas celebrates its new location. All are invited and doors will be open to visitors all day. Support groups will be held on site at the new location from 6 to 7 p.m.

"The New Age of Bullying, 2nd Annual Conference"
Saturday, August 13, 8:30 a.m. to noon

Salesmanship Club, Oak Cliff Campus
106 E. Tenth St.
Dallas, TX 75203

"The New Age of Bullying, 2nd Annual Conference," sponsored by the I AM H·E·R·E Coalition, will present information on when bullying becomes harassment, how to address the cycle of bullying in the classroom, cyberbullying and other dangers of new technology. Keynote speaker will be Bully Initiative State Coordinator Rod Pruitt, who will present "Behaviors of Bullies and Traits of Targets." A panel of students who have been victims of bullying will share their experiences. A panel discussion about successful interventions that work will feature Communities in Schools, The Family Place's Be Project and Rachel's Challenge. Capping off the morning's conference will be a short skit about bullying by area students. The conference is free of charge and CEUs are being provided, but registration is required. For more information, contact Diana Weaver at 972-744-9798 or DWeaver@GrantHalliburton.org. Click here to register.

"Caron Cares: A Day of Discovery and Recovery"
Friday, September 9, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Fairmont Hotel
1717 North Akard St.
Dallas, TX 75201

"Caron Cares: A Day of Discovery and Recovery" is a conference presented as a community service for parents, professionals and the public who want to learn more about alcoholism, eating disorders and drug addiction. The event includes a keynote breakfast speaker, a choice of two seminar sessions and concludes with a luncheon keynote speaker. Cost is $150 and CEUs will be provided where applicable. Discounts are available for students and clergy. Proceeds will provide scholarships for alcohol and drug addiction treatment in the Dallas Metroplex.

"When Life Hands You Teenagers"
Wednesday, September 21, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Communities Foundation of Texas
5500 Caruth Haven Lane
Dallas, TX 75225

"When Life Hands You Teenagers," presented by the Grant Halliburton Foundation, is designed for parents, counselors, educators and other people who work with teens. Speakers include the following:
  • Sandra Chapman, Ph.D., Center for BrainHealth, University of Texas at Dallas, will present the latest research on the adolescent brain;
  • Tory Gant, Just Say Yes, will address bullying and building resilience in young people;
  • Thomas Kimball, Ph.D., Texas Tech University, addiction and recovery specialist, will talk about creating an environment for recovery;
  • Kristen Ohlenforst, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, will speak about teen anxiety and depression.
Cost of the conference is $35 and CEUs are provided. Get more information or register now.

"Talk to Me: Connecting with Teens in Crisis—Become Part of the Solution!"
Tuesday, September 27, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

University of Texas at Dallas, Student Union
800 West Campbell Rd.
Richardson, TX 75080

The 2011 Teen CONTACT Conference will bring together professionals from all fields as they share proven techniques for guiding a teen through a crisis. Cost is $55 and CONTACT is offering 4.5 CEUs. Contact Maria Espinosa at mespinosa@contactcrisisline.org or 972-233-0866, extension 320 for more information. Click here to register.

I AM H·E·R·E Participants
Anthem Strong Families
Aspen Education Group
Brighter Tomorrows
Bully Suicide Project
C.A.R.E., Park Cities YMCA
Caron Texas
Carrollton Police Department
Casa Shelter—The Salvation Army
CCD Counseling
Child and Family Guidance Centers
Children’s Medical Center
Communities Foundation of Texas
Communities in Schools
CONTACT Crisis Line
Dallas County Juvenile Detention Center
Dallas County Juvenile Services
Dallas ISD
Dallas Police Department
Depression Bipolar Support Alliance of Dallas
Genesis Women’s Shelter
Girls Living Life On Purpose
Grant Halliburton Foundation
Green Oaks Behavioral Health Hospital
Healthcare Committee of Collin County
Hickory Trail Hospital
Holmes Street Foundation
Housing Crisis Center
Injury Prevention Center
Jewish Family Service
Kim Humphries & Associates
Laurel Ridge Treatment Center
Lewisville ISD
LifeNet Community Behavioral Healthcare
Lifeworks Counseling
McKinney ISD/Serenity High School
Mental Health America of Greater Dallas
Meridell Achievement Center
Metrocare Services
Nancy Shosid, M.D.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)—
   both Dallas and Texas chapters
Northern Metro Counseling Association
North Texas Behavioral Health Authority
North Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians
Our Friends Place
Phoenix House / Feinberg Academy
Plano ISD
Practical Parent Education
Providence of Texas
Public Defender’s Office, Mental Health Division
Rainbow Days
Region 10 Education Service Center
Renfrew Center
Salvation Army DFW Metroplex Command
Sierra Tucson
Suicide and Crisis Center
Taylor Hooton Foundation
Terrell State Hospital
Texas Counseling Association
Texas Department of State Health Services
Texas Health Resources/ Presbyterian Plano
   Seay Behavioral Health Center
Texas STAR / NORTHSTAR / Texas Health
The Family Place
University Behavioral Health / Denton and
University of North Texas
University of Texas Southwestern Medical
U. S. Department of Education, Office of
   Civil Rights
Value Options NORTHSTAR
Via Hope Texas
West Counseling
Youth Villages

I AM H·E·R·E is an initiative of the Grant Halliburton Foundation.

800 E. Campbell Rd, Suite 290  ·  Richardson, Texas 75081  ·  972.744.9798  ·  www.IAmHereCoalition.org