Kevin’s Song 5th Annual Virtual Conference on Suicide: Equity and Equality in Suicide Prevention

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, MI - Michigan’s largest conference on suicide – the Kevin’s Song 5th Annual Virtual Conference on Suicide: Equity and Equality in Suicide Prevention – will take place virtually, live and streamed from January 21 – 23, 2021. The three-day online summit features a prestigious roster of leading experts in the field of suicide with general and breakout sessions and supportive resources for up to 1,000 participants. The conference is presented by The Dolores and Paul Lavins Foundation and produced by Detroit Public Television (DPTV).

The first two-days of Equity and Equality in Suicide Prevention will look at suicide through a social justice lens, challenging existing bias and belief systems. It will share valuable information about suicide, suicidal persons and the repercussions of suicide at both the personal and community levels. It will emphasize prevention in all demographics with a special focus on high-risk and underserved communities. Additionally, it also will address fairness to all regardless of one’s race, ethnicity, gender, ability, socio-economic status, sexual orientation or geographical location.

“This year’s conference is especially important as the continuing pandemic has widened fault lines across society and demonstrated once more the fragility of the human condition,” said Kevin’s Song Co-Founder Gail Urso. “The pandemic has further exacerbated mental health and suicide prevention issues for already vulnerable groups and individuals and brought to light the ongoing social justice issues right here in Michigan, including access to health care. We intend to address these challenges head on at this year’s conference and invite anyone affected by suicide to please join us.”

The 2nd Annual School Summit, presented by the Children’s Foundation, runs concurrently on the first day of the conference, bringing together educators to share best practices about innovative programs for students, teachers and parents. School personnel are strongly encouraged to attend. Continuing education credits for school psychologists, social workers, counsellors, teachers and human resource professionals will be available for approved conference sessions.

The Saturday Program – Surviving Suicide – is a journey of hope and healing that is dedicated to survivors of suicide loss and attempt survivors. Keynote speakers will share personal stories of suicide loss, grief and hope. A portion of this program – a 90-minute discussion with a panel of survivors of suicide loss – is FREE of charge and open to the public via a Facebook LIVE broadcast by Kevin’s Song and DPTV from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The panel will be moderated by Barb Smith, founder and executive director of the Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network that is based in Saginaw, Michigan.

This year’s conference also will feature a virtual Resource Gallery, a bookstore courtesy of the Self Esteem Shop, a Memorial Forest honoring those who have died by suicide, and a special presentation on Saturday morning of the 2021 Kevin’s Song “Save a Life” award to Sojourner Jones, LBSW, Community Liaison for Law Enforcement, Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network.

Michigan’s suicide rate has been steadily increasing since 2007 and continues to climb. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our state’s suicide rate has risen 33 percent since 1999, higher than the national rate increase of 25 percent. Furthermore, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that suicide in our state is the second leading cause of death for individuals 10 to 34 years of age, and there is an average of one death by suicide every six hours in Michigan.

“We understand that many pressing issues cry out for attention and resources at the present time, however, Michigan’s suicide rates have reached epidemic proportions,” said Urso. “The urgency to provide mental health support and raise awareness about suicide has never been more important as the world struggles with the devastating effects caused by the coronavirus alongside the issues of racism, hunger, homelessness and economic disadvantage. In navigating the journey from trauma to resilience, we must unleash the greater strength of our communities as we respect, care about and learn from each other and create a world without suicide.”

In order to have a more unified voice to advocate for changes and initiatives that will promote suicide education, training and prevention, Kevin’s Song has launched a collaborative initiative, With One Voice. Kevin’s Song will facilitate an assembly of local, statewide and national suicide prevention groups and regional coalitions, along with mental health providers and community mental health organizations, in order to explore how together they can more effectively promote meaningful change. At the conference, With One Voice will announce its priorities for the upcoming year.

Cost to attend the three (3) day conference is $175. The cost for the Thursday School Summit program is $100. If purchased separately, the Saturday morning Survivor program is $25. Student rates are available. There are also group rates available for the School Summit. Visit www.kevinssong.org. for more information about registration, scholarships or a complete roster of conference events and speakers.





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