Colorado State University to Host Fifth Annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Summit May 18

The fifth annual “Bridging the Divide: Suicide Prevention and Awareness Summit” will be at Colorado State University May 18 to unite stakeholders to advance statewide and national efforts to impact the suicide rate in Colorado.

This year’s conference will highlight innovations in suicide prevention and intervention and will offer programs and initiatives designed to reach people in all aspects of life. The summit is meant to forge new partnerships and to bridge the divide between people in need and lifesaving programs, initiatives and services.

Online registration for the conference ends May 7 and costs $130. Speakers include Alan Wolfelt, John Draper and Laurie Davidson. To register, go to Additional certification courses are available before the conference. For more information on those programs, contact the Office of Conference Services at (970) 491-7501 or e-mail Julie Gibbs at

Two awards will be given out at the conference. State Rep. Matt Jones will receive the Advocacy Award for sponsoring HB1140, presently before Colorado Legislators. House Bill 1140, if passed, will ask hospitals to provide information about suicide risk factors, signs and sources of help to family and friends to whom a suicidal person is being discharged. Any effort that gets information into the hands of those closest to suicidal people will help save lives.

Will Hearst, a reporter with the Montrose Daily Press, will receive the Media Award for his work covering suicide prevention. Hearst’s articles and efforts continue to give voice to the issue of suicide and to people across the Western Slope are invaluable to building suicide prevention and awareness efforts, members of the organizing committee said.

About the speakers:

Wolfelt, who is director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, will talk about “Exploring the Special Features of Suicide Grief: A ‘Companioning’ Philosophy of Caregiving.” A frequent guest of the media, Wolfelt has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the NBC Today Show, and the Larry King Show. He has been recognized as one of North America’s leading educators in topics related to death.

Having nearly 24 years of experience in crisis intervention and suicide prevention work, Draper is considered one of the nation’s leading experts in crisis hotline practices. He is director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, overseeing all aspects of this service as well as a senior advisor for the Mental Health Association of New York City. Draper is VP of Crisis and Behavioral Health Technologies, and is the founding director for the award-winning LifeNet call center, a center which is now one of 152 members in the Lifeline’s national network. Draper’s lecture is titled, “Innovations and Technology in Suicide Prevention and Intervention.”

Davidson’s lecture is titled, “Innovations in Clinical Care: From Provider Capacity to a Systems Framework.” She is manager of provider initiatives at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at EDC Inc. The center is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help organizations develop a suicide prevention infrastructure by creating and institutionalizing programs, policies and systems likely to contribute to decreases in suicidal behavior and suicide.

Colorado has taken great strides in advancing suicide prevention efforts since 2000 when the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Advisory Commission released the State of Colorado’s Suicide Prevention and Intervention Plan. Those efforts led to the creation of the Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Colorado foundations and local grassroots agencies are addressing the task of reducing suicide deaths in Colorado – efforts that are being recognized and modeled nationally.

Sponsors of the Colorado State conference include the Colorado Injury Control Research Center at Colorado State, The Colorado Trust, the State of Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado.