Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Published on 
September 2021

Suicide Prevention Resources by asp.org

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In an effort to help raise awareness, we have compiled resources consisting of Riggs blogs, external publications, suicide research initiatives, and events throughout Berkshire County bringing awareness to this crucial topic. 


Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention
2021 Virtual Youth Suicide Prevention Conference: Increasing Awareness and Support

Date: Thursday, September 23, 2021
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Eastern) 
Registration and information: https://berkshirecoalition.org/conference21
CE credits available.   

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
2021 Berkshire County Out of the Darkness Community Walk

Date: Sunday, October 3, 2021 
Location: First Street Common, Pittsfield, MA 
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (Eastern) 
Registration and information: https://supporting.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=7554&language=en

Virtual 2020 Fall Conference: Suicide: Culture & Community–Videos and Resources

Here, you will find conference presentation recordings (edited for public viewing) and a number of additional resources from the Austen Riggs Center’s Virtual 2020 Fall Conference–Suicide: Culture & Community.  

Riggs Blogs on Suicide

Mental Health, Suicide Risk, and COVID-19

Jane Tillman, PhD, outlines several risk and protective factors related to suicide and suicide prevention in the era of COVID-19

Suicide, Social Interactions, and Sleep: What Wearable Technology Can Teach Us

Wearable technology is providing us with an unprecedented amount of information about our health, activity, and our habits. Now they may help answer some pressing questions about the links among social interactions, the quality of our sleep, and suicide risk. 

Suicide: Four Protective Factors – Jane G. Tillman, PhD, at the Austen Riggs Center Centennial Conference

Jane Tillman, PhD, speaks on the problem of suicide, noting the dramatic increase in the suicide rate and reporting on what we are learning about causes, contributors and collateral damage.

Talking about Suicide, Prevention, and Our Personal Experiences

Austen Riggs Center's Chief Nursing Officer writes about the importance of talking about suicide, prevention, and our personal experiences as mental health professions

Jane Tillman, PhD, ABPP, Explores Impact of Client Suicides

After a colleague experienced the shock and trauma of a patient dying by suicide, Dr. Jane Tillman, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director at the Erikson Institute for Education and Research at the Austen Riggs Center, decided to explore the topic of how a therapist copes with this type of loss.

13 Reasons Why – A Clinical Perspective on the Graphic Depiction of Suicide

While their goal was reportedly to try to dissuade others from considering suicide as an option, decades of research have clearly shown that exposure to specific suicide details and methods actually elevates the likelihood of an attempt in individuals who are in distress and thinking of suicide – and this is particularly the case in young adults.

13 Reasons Why – A Clinical Perspective on Media Responsibility

Media guidelines exist for the portrayal of suicide, and 13 Reasons Why breaks most of them. In particular, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) notes that the “risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death.”

13 Reasons Why – A Clinical Perspective on Suicide Contagion

Reportedly, the writer and producers who created 13 Reasons Why believed that the very explicit suicide scene would help discourage people from attempts (Nic Sheff, Vanity Fair, April 19, 2017), despite clear and convincing evidence that graphic depictions of suicide often have the opposite effect, especially among young adults.

13 Reasons Why Season 2: A Clinical Perspective on the Series’ Impact and Consequences

Drs. Elizabeth Weinberg and Katie Lewis write about the events following the release of season one of 13 Reasons Why, supporting their original concerns about the controversial series.

13 Reasons Why Season 2: A Clinical Perspective on the Portrayal of American Teens

While the many depictions of the difficulties that beset the teens in this series reflect issues commonly portrayed in the media, such as opiate addiction, gun violence, bullying, rape, and suicide, there remains a significant difficulty in that 13 Reasons Why seeks to inform teens and their families about these issues, yet persistently treats these issues in highly problematic ways.

An Interview with Suicide Prevention Activist Dese’Rae L. Stage

During a visit to the Austen Riggs Center, Dese’Rae L. Stage, photographer, writer, and suicide prevention activist, spoke with us about suicide prevention and Live Through This, a multimedia-based storytelling series that aims to reduce prejudice and discrimination against suicide attempt survivors. 


Publications by Riggs Clinicians

States of Mind Preceding a Near Lethal Suicide Attempt: A Mixed Methods Study

Results from this study by Riggs staff members suggest "that mental states and psychological processes preceding a near lethal suicide attempt are highly variable and embedded in longer-term developmental and characterological vulnerabilities." 

Four R’s Believed to Be Protective Against Suicide (in Psychiatric News

“Suicide is more than a mental health crisis—it reflects socio-cultural and public policy crises.” 

When a patient dies by suicide

Dr. Jane G. Tillman's article in the Association of American Medical Colleges AAMCNews discusses how individuals and organizations can help support clinicians dealing with the terrible loss of a patient to suicide.

Psychotherapy With Suicidal Patients Part 1: Expert Consensus Recommendations

Dr. Eric Plakun's column in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice reviews and discusses recommendations for treating suicidal patients in psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy With Suicidal Patients Part 2: An Alliance Based Intervention for Suicide

Dr. Eric Plakun's column in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice discusses "a way of establishing and maintaining an alliance with suicidal patients that engages the issue of suicide and allows the rest of psychodynamic therapy to unfold."


Research on Suicide

A joint team of researchers from the Austen Riggs Center, Long Island University, and Rutgers University hypothesize that for certain psychiatric patients, disturbed sleep negatively impacts daily interactions with others, and those negative interactions can in turn increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. 

The Austen Riggs Center conducts research on suicide and related topics.

Austen Riggs Center Researcher Dr. Katie Lewis Receives Major Grant from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Katie Lewis, PhD, research psychologist at the Austen Riggs Center, has received the competitive Young Investigator Innovation Grant from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) for her study: “Impact of Interpersonal Experiences on Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors.” Dr. Lewis’ study was one of fewer than ten chosen out of 175 applications. 

Research Update – States of Mind Preceding a Near Lethal Suicide Attempt: Understanding Pathways to Suicide and Associated Risk and Protective Factors

The States of Mind (SOM) study involves 131 participants drawn from the patient population of the Austen Riggs Center. Data were collected between 2009-2012. Within this sample we conducted a detailed psychodynamic interview with a subset of 11 patients who had made a medically serious suicide attempt within the two years prior to admission.

“Impact of Interpersonal Experiences on Maladaptive Thoughts and Behaviors:” Lessons Learned from the Pilot Study

Dr. Katie Lewis talks about her learning from a pilot study looking at how daily problems in relating may influence vulnerability to self-destructive thoughts and actions.