Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!

by Center for Health & Learning
Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!
Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!
Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!
Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!
Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!
Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!
Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!
Umatter -- Suicide Prevention in New England!

On August 18, 2020, the VT Suicide Prevention Center (VT-SPC), in collaboration with the Center for Health and Learning (CHL), presented the Vermont Suicide Prevention Symposium 2020: Bringing Resilience into Focus. The virtual Symposium was a huge success and attracted over 350 participants from healthcare, social services, mental health, community-based organizations, state agencies, policy makers and people with lived experience.

The goal of the Symposium was to empower and engage community-wide stakeholders in Zero Suicide strategies, evidence-based practices, and lessons learned in the field. By facilitating connections between misuse and suicide prevention stakeholders, it will become easier to advance effective prevention strategies. These connections can create new ways to form innovative collaborations and increase knowledge about risk and protective factors and recommend strategies for working with vulnerable populations. This is especially important in Vermont where suicide rates are higher than the national average.

The Symposium brought together national, regional, and local keynote and workshop presenters covering a wide range of topics including youth, older adults, LGBTQ+, lethal means, law enforcement, veterans, telehealth, peer support, social justice and racial equity. Each speaker shared powerful and compelling stories revolving around their own lived experiences with suicide and mental health and/or professional experience from the field.

Keynote and Workshops presentations at the symposium included:
Widening the Lens: Social Justice and Racial Equity in Suicide Prevention
Away from No way: Every Child Has a Story, Every Story Deserves Heroes
Community Collaboration for Zero Suicide: The Lamoille County Experience
Zero Suicide Pathway to Care - Addressing Challenges for Systems Engagement
Integrating Suicide Focused Care in Primary and Specialty Care
Reframing Resiliency: Doing More and Asking Less Of The LGBTQIA+ Community
Telehealth & Suicide Prevention: Supporting Mental Health Clients Remotely
Lethal Means Safety and Suicide Prevention: New Approaches for Firearm Safe Storage Counseling
Care Transitions:  Best Practices, Innovation, and Community-based Connections
Comprehensive Suicide Prevention in K-12 Schools
Strategies for Engaging Students in Success and Building Resilience
The Nature and Roles of Mental Health Peer Support
A Veteran’s Perspective on Suicide Survival and Prevention
Drowning while Flying High: When a Leader Struggles with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

See more of what took place at the Symposium by visiting

CHL and the VT-SPC would like to thank our event sponsors, including:

  • The Vermont Deparment of Mental Health
  • C&S Grocers
  • Chroma Technology
  • The Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
  • UVM Medical Center
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
  • OneCare
  • North Country Hospital
  • New England Publlc Health Training Center 
  • Northeast Telehealth Resource Center (NETRC)
  • Vermont Care Partners
  • Vermont Department of Health
  • Invest EAP
  • Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center


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Dear Friends,

Last week I saw a Facebook post of a dear colleague who works in healthcare that pulled at my heartstrings. It spoke about the difficult decisions people are facing regarding personal and family safety and work responsibilities.  I know this colleague has the resources (mind, body and spirit) to pull off what is being asked. She also has food, water and shelter – the basic necessities of life, upon which we are all reflecting about, more each day. Still…

I have been thinking a lot about how we will get through this. The logical order of things gets scrambled when the inputs change hourly, therefore, thinking in terms of short, intermediate and long term outcomes is a bit challenging right now. 

Some things remain certain:

There are a lot of people doing the best they can. People are working hard to fulfill their responsibilities while making adjustments personally, with their networks, and by interacting with the systems that promise to maintain stability. Our American society is largely observing the guidelines our government is providing while COVID-19” and the meaning of pandemic becomes a permanent part of our consciousness.  

We want to thank everyone who continues to function under this pressure, and for the bonds of community that hold us together as families, organizations, communities, and as a state.  We are thinking of you, and you, and you, during this period of time, especially our partners in healthcare and education, and in community services. We are thankful that government and legislature continue to do the work they signed up for, and are elected to do.    

Here at CHL, this pandemic makes us think further about how we carry out our core values and mission in practice, while we work on the projects, policies and programs that further expose the gaps of resources and weaknesses in systems of services.  Because of this, we are working to get more of our Umatter® trainings online, and to offer trainings and technical assistance in a format that is helpful to our partners.  Your support is even more important now as people navigate this crisis and may depend on available mental health resources to cope.  Please help us in this effort. 

We made it through another winter in New England and with the warmth of spring and the promise of summer there is a lot to look forward to, even during strange times and in uncharted waters.

Please take heart, take care, ask for resources and help when you need it, and stay in touch.

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The Center for Health and Learning (CHL) developed Umatter, a national best practice program and public information campaign for suicide prevention. 

CHL manages the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center (VT SPC), a public-private partnership with the Agency of Human Services that serves as a state-wide resource fostering a sustainable approach to suicide prevention in Vermont.

The VT SPC is proud to present Suicide Prevention Day at the Vermont State House on February 13th from 9 am - 2:00 pm.  Participants will ask the legislature to support a set of specific recommendations developed by the Agency of Human Services with funding targets to implement suicide prevention strategies in Vermont. We will be advocating for legislative approval and support of the strategies and funding recommendations.  

Schedule for the day:

  • 9:00-10:15 - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Advocacy Training 
  • 10:30 - Press Conference 
  • 11-12:00 - Joint Testimony in House Committee on Health Care & Senate Health and Welfare
  • 12:00-1:00 - Lunch with Legislators
  • 12:45-1:00 - Survivors hand out flowers to legislators as they enter Chamber in remembrance to those lost to suicide
  • 1:00 - Resolution Read in Chamber

Co-sponsors for this effort include:

  • The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs at White River Junction 
  • Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care, Inc. (VPQHC)
  • Support And Services at Home (SASH)
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
  • Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL)
  • The Department of Mental Health (DMH)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont (NAMI Vermont)
  • Vermont Care Partners

Your support of Umatter, the Center for Health and Learning, and the VT Suicide Prevention Center helps CHL continue to educate our legislators and advocate for effective and comprehensive suicide prevention initiatives. Thank you--we couldn't do it without you!


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Thirty (30) school gatekeepers from around New England recently attended The Center for Health and Learning’s 2-day Umatter® For Schools training on October 1 & 2, in Montpelier, VT.

Umatter® for Schools is a national best practice program for suicide prevention developed by the Center for Health and Learning.  The trainings are created for middle and high schools and provide comprehensive school-based suicide prevention strategies and programs, including protocols, staff and parent training, and support curriculum for students.  Schools are encouraged to send teams consisting of an administrator, guidance counselor, nurse, health educator and/or mental health provider.  

Some quotes from our recent training exit evaluations:

"This is the first time that I have been at a training whereby we could bring back a completed document, thank you!"

"Thank you for putting on this training. It has been so helpful to have dedicated time to think about this work and what our school’s needs are. The handouts are very helpful and have provided many great ideas about language to use with students as well as adults around suicide and ideation, threats and attempts."

"This is a very comprehensive training on a very sensitive and difficult topic. Materials are provided to make it incredibly simple to move forward with staff and community training. Thank you for helping remove the stigma of bringing this topic into our schools/communities."

For more information on Umatter® For Schools training and programs:

Please continue to help support programs like this.
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Presenters came forward at the 2 day training.
Presenters came forward at the 2 day training.

What is Zero Suicide?  Zero Suicide is a commitment to suicide prevention in health and mental health care systems. It involves the implementation of a set of evidence-based tools and strategies used in a pathway of care for people who are suicidal.

When implemented effectively, Zero Suicide reduces suicide deaths.

The VT Suicide Prevention Center presented this year, for the first time, our Zero Suicide Practice Institute.  The Institute included two full days of teamwork and learning from national speakers and Vermont colleagues. It engaged leadership teams to understand Zero Suicide at a deep practical level, and to promote and support its implementation in their own health systems, in collaboration with state and community systems.

15 teams from a variety of healthcare settings participated, including Mental Health Agencies in VT, hospitals, primary care and elder care, and representing Blue Cross Blue Shield, One Care and VT Blueprint for Health .  Guided by Dr. Michael Hogan, a national Zero Suicide Consultant, these teams assessed organizational readiness to provide suicide safer care and identified next steps for their work. Dr. Steven Broer of Northwestern Counseling and Support Services, a pioneer of Zero Suicide in Vermont, and Dr. Thomas Delaney, UVM, suicide prevention evaluator and researcher, served as faculty presenting Vermont data and models. Teams also focused on clinical elements of screening, assessment, treatment, lethal means restriction, follow-up, care coordination, caring contact and considered linkages between organizations for suicide prevention. 

The event was sponsored by: 

The Family of Alan Lopez Gottesman
Blue Cross Blue Shield VT
Brattleboro Retreat
Chroma Technology
Kinney Pike Insurance
North Country Hospital
One Care
UVM Medical Center. 

Many thanks to all who sponsored and attended for moving forward with this important work.

Dr. Tom Delaney
Dr. Tom Delaney
Dr. Stephen Broer
Dr. Stephen Broer
JoEllen Tarallo, Director of the VTSPC
JoEllen Tarallo, Director of the VTSPC
Dr. Michael Hogan
Dr. Michael Hogan
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Organization Information

Center for Health & Learning

Location: Brattleboro, VT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @health_learning
Project Leader:
Gwen Mousin
Brattleboro, VT United States

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