Monday, August 4, 2014

Finding Peace without All the Pieces

Finding Peace without All the Pieces
Local Author Presents on Grief after Suicide

Denver, Colorado. August 1, 2014.  When people lose a loved one to suicide they often feel like the mosaic of their life has been shattered and that they are unable to put the pieces together. Colorado author, LaRita Archibald knows about this because she has been there. She lost her son to suicide in 1978 and has been a national pioneer in the suicide bereavement movement ever since. Recently she published a book intended to help “suicide loss survivors” find their way on the challenging journey from trauma to healing to eventual peace. She will be presenting to others who have been touched by suicide and those who support them on August 13th at 9:30am at the Mental Health Center of Denver (4141 E Dickenson Place
Denver, CO 80222). The presentation is free and open to the public.

In 1980 Archibald founded HEARTBEAT, one of the first support groups for suicide bereaved. Presently there are 42 chapters HEARTBEAT Chapters in 11 states and 2 foreign countries. She has also been instrumental in giving suicide loss survivors a voice after founding the Survivor of Loss Division of the American Association of Suicidology, an international multi-disciplinary membership organization with a mission to better understand and prevent suicide.

From decades of work with suicide bereaved, Archibald brings wisdom to help survivors of suicide loss build an understanding of the complexities of suicide grief. She offers them reassurance that what they are experiencing is normal for what they have experienced.  By giving names to the unsettling experiences of 'phantom pain' and 'flashbacks,' she validates feelings of anger, responsibility, frustration, even relief, as well as the need to search for answers, reasons and cause. In her presentation LaRita suggests practical strategies for moving from being a victim to a survivor, and eventually, a "thriver.”

"Grief following suicide is compounded,” says Archibald. “This lonely, frightening and extremely painful grief journey is eased within suicide bereavement support groups where peers extend the comfort of "you are not alone", the reinforcement that suicide loss is survivable and encouragement to invest their heartbreak in positive action."

This presentation is part of an educational series supported by the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado. All Educational Sessions are free and open to the public. For more information go to or email Sally Spencer-Thomas ( For more information about the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado, visit, or call 720-352-7505.

About the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado: The Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado (SPCC) was formed in 1999, when concerned citizens set out to create a statewide agency with the purpose of preventing suicide and creating a resource network for those who were working to prevent suicide around the state. Today, SPCC’s membership of concerned agencies, organizations and individuals who are working in the areas of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention has statewide reach. The mission of the SPCC is to reduce suicide and its impact for all Coloradans through advocacy, collaboration and education.

10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala for Suicide Prevention

10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala for Suicide Prevention
Diamond Anniversary Event Celebrates Local and National Leadership

Denver, Colorado. August 4, 2014.  Ten years ago the founders of the Carson J Spencer Foundation (CJSF) had a dream: to elevate the conversation and make suicide prevention a health and safety priority. They began with not much more than a passion to prevent what happened to their beloved friend and family member from happening to others. Today, with a national reach through programs like Man Therapy (using humor to “man up” mental health), Working Minds (suicide prevention in the workplace) and the FIRE Within (youth entrepreneurs preventing suicide), they are known as leaders in innovation in suicide prevention. On August 24th, 2014 at 5:30pm at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science CJSF will celebrate the 10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala. At this “blacktie optional” event, they will honor the partnerships and leaders working with them on the mission to save lives. For more information visit:

Each year, CJSF celebrates those who have gone above and beyond in their effort to support the cause of suicide prevention and mental health promotion. This year, CJSF will bestow the following awards at their Gala:
·         Shining Light of Hope Award: John Fielder, Nature Photographer
·         Media All-Star: Facebook
·         Volunteer of the Year: Randi Wood, Director of the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program
·         Corporate Shooting Star: Cottrell Printing
·         Social Enterprises of the Year:
o   Mountain Vista High School
o   George Washington High School

The Honorary Chair for the Gala is Larissa Herda, CEO and Chairman of tw telecom; tw telecom is also the Presenting Sponsor. Cynthia James will Emcee and Debbie Stafford will be the auctioneer.

“We are thrilled to have such great support present with us to acknowledge this important milestone and congratulate our honorees,” said Board Co-President Christy Belz.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Who is Dequincy Lezine?

An Interview with the New Director of Division of Suicide Attempt Survivors and People with Lived Experience
Reposted with permission by the American Association for Suicide Prevention
Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D.
CEO & Co-Founder, Carson J Spencer Foundation
Survivor (of Suicide Loss) Division Director

DeQuincy Lezine, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Prevention Communities
Survivor of Suicide Attempt Division Director

Congratulations goes out to DeQuincy Lezine for being appointed as the first Division Director of the Suicide Attempt Survivors/Lived Experience Division. The membership is very excited to get to know him and understand his vision for how he might collaborate with other divisions to advance the field of suicide prevention. For these reasons, I enthusiastically interviewed him to better introduce him to the membership.

Sally: Who is DeQuincy Lezine?

DeQuincy: I grew up in Los Angeles, CA and got scholarship support to pursue a dual-degree in computer science and visual arts at Brown University, with the intent of going into computer animation. I eventually switched to being a psychology major, but continued my interest in graphic arts throughout college. Many people know that I formed one of the first mental health and suicide prevention student clubs. Very few know that I founded a second club promoting graphic arts. I also maintained my love for computers and technology, and have built several computers “from the ground up” including my current desktop. A guilty pleasure? I am a chocoholic, which is not so hidden, and generally have a love for desserts. I have two beautiful children – Benjamin (4 years old) and Nina (2 years old) who both challenge me and keep me going. Finally I’ll add that I like to learn - from natural history to microeconomics to carpentry to public health and policy. However, what I really enjoy is teaching, and have since mentored or tutored other students in high school. Applying knowledge to solve problems or make discoveries, and helping to inform others are true passions for me.

Sally: Tell us more about how you got to be a pioneer in the Suicide Attempt Survivor Movement. How did it start, what were the turning points in your journey? Mentors? Influential experiences?

DeQuincy: I got started in suicide prevention as a first-year student in college, after my first suicide attempt, by contacting the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network (SPAN USA). I just didn’t find any other attempt survivors in the national suicide prevention movement. A number of groups were missing. There were few African-Americans involved, especially men. In fact, my first television interview was for a CNN special on African-American male suicide. There was also an age gap where prevention for young adults and college students was largely missing – because the focus was either on high school or adults. I thought that if people planning suicide prevention programs were going to be talking about those groups and trying to reach them, then it made sense to have someone from those groups at the table. I didn’t necessarily want that to be me, by the way.

Jerry and Elsie Weyrauch practically adopted me, so the time I spent with their daughter Susan was like time with a sister. Jerry and Elsie even attended my wedding. Suicide loss survivors were like family and that’s who I spent the most time with during SPAN USA events. I can still recall touring the national monuments in Washington with other advocates, and Sandy Martin suggesting the idea of “memory quilts” to put human faces to the stories of suicide. People like Dese’Rae Stage (Live Through This) are doing digital versions of that idea for attempt survivors now.

The most influential experience for me was being part of the Expert Panel at the Reno, Nevada SPAN National Suicide Prevention Conference. I was happy to be part of the Steering Committee that developed the conference, and met Kay Jamison there, who helped mentor me for years afterward. However, the idea that a young suicide attempt survivor could be seen as a valuable part of a very small group of experts that would shape the first national strategy was humbling. The experience itself, while extremely tiring given the long hours that we worked in a small hotel conference room, was transformative. It was probably the event that most anchored me in this field. I still recall Mort Silverman, in his introduction of the panel, describing as me as a representative of “the future of suicide prevention.” At the end of college, the memory of the Reno Conference was pivotal in deciding between a career in mental health advocacy or suicide prevention research.

Sally: What is your vision for the new Division? What do you anticipate are the greatest opportunities and challenges?

DeQuincy: I would like to see the new Division provide a way to bridge the gap between attempt survivors and suicide prevention professionals. Having experience on “both sides of the table” I know that there is much that can be learned on all sides. There is a growing attempt survivor movement that can bring energy, hope, insight, and practical ideas into the clinical, prevention, and research worlds where AAS plays a leading international role. People who have personal experience with suicide, mental health challenges, and/or substance abuse issues remind professionals about goals and priorities. I think it helps to have people like me in the room to say “That’s all well and good, but my brothers and sisters are dying out there. How is this going to help them?” On the other side, it is important to bring ideas about collaborative care, true safety planning, therapy specifically focused on suicidal experiences, and new understanding of what helps or harms into the community. The Division holds the potential for helping to get some of those ideas out into “the real world.”

The challenges are rooted in the difficulty that any new effort faces within an established arena, along with deeply rooted negative perceptions, bias, and stigma. It will be difficult in some circles, to establish the Division as an important contributor to the mission of AAS and suicide prevention as whole. In general, wisdom from personal experience is often considered less valid than information gleaned from scientific methods and statistical calculations. For a long time suicide attempt survivors were patients and research subjects, misunderstood and anxiety-provoking in their potential deaths, and closely associated with possible liability or litigation. On the other side, negative experiences with clinicians and researchers using physical restraints, seclusion practices, forced or coerced hospitalization and medication, debilitating side effects, dismissive or demeaning attitudes, and criminalization haunt some people who have lived through suicidal times. There are, at times well-founded, adversarial views and suspicions on both sides. It is a challenge to switch from those perspectives to seeing each other as colleagues or partners. I think we can overcome those challenges, but it will take patience and persistence.

Sally: How do you anticipate collaborating with suicide loss survivors?

DeQuincy: As I mentioned earlier, I have a long history of working alongside loss survivors. Everyone who has been personally touched by a suicidal crisis, either their own or the experience of someone close to them, has a unique view of this topic. Everyone who chooses to work in suicide prevention has a chance to gain scientific, clinical, or public health expertise through formal education. However, some types of perspective and knowledge are only acquired through the terror of being intimately involved in a suicidal crisis. There is a difference between choosing an area of interest and being thrown into it with an unexpected and traumatic occurrence. Almost every time I have had a chance to talk to a loss survivor in depth about the person(s) that they have lost I have felt a connection to that person. To know the ups and downs, the hopes and challenges, the triumphs and terrors of that person is to know a peer who I will never be able to meet in person. The specific type of experience differs between attempt survivors and loss survivors, but the ability to check “book knowledge” against personal experience is shared. With that recognition I think there are many projects that the two survivor groups could work on together.

Sally: What are your thoughts around the terminology of “survivor” and inclusion of the concept of “lived experience”?

DeQuincy: Every term lacks something and leaves one with the feeling that his or her entire experience cannot be adequately captured in a few words. The only ones who live past a suicide death are the people who are left to grieve the loss of a person afterward. The ones who survive a suicidal crisis are the ones who personally endured it. Reducing one or the other to “survivor” is an injustice because it doesn’t say what the person has survived. It would be like me saying simply that I have a Ph.D. Most people would immediately ask, “A Ph.D. in what?” To me, saying “suicide attempt survivor” and “suicide loss survivor” are more descriptive and specific terms that say someone has lived past a life-threatening event, and how he or she was connected to that event.

I do realize that I enjoy writing, and being particular about words and meanings. It is why I recently switched from focusing on the single “suicide attempt” or “suicide” to the “crisis,” which can be a longer period and may encompass thoughts, feelings, actions, temporary recovery, and ambivalence. “Crisis” is also an imperfect term, but the concept of acknowledging difficulties before and after an event is appealing to me.

“Lived experience” can mean many things, which is both a benefit and a drawback. It is beneficial for coalition building because it can be inclusive of a wide-range of suicidal experiences to join an effort. For example, it can be said that loss survivors also have lived through the suicidal crisis. Beyond this, it helps connect people in suicide prevention with leaders and authors in mental health recovery and advocacy, who regularly use the term “lived experience.” However, the more scientific / clinical side of me feels that the term is too broad. I think that having the division name reflect both specific and broad terminology helps strike a balance between the two.

Sally: How can members get involved in your mission?

DeQuincy: Over the years a fair number of suicide loss survivors have disclosed their personal suicidal crises. That should not be surprising of course. We know that suicidal behavior runs in families. We know that suicidal people often have suicidal friends. We also know that a suicide attempt or suicide can be a catalyst for suicidal behavior in some who are already at risk. We have come far as a field, but telling others that you are a suicide loss survivor still takes courage. Telling others that you have experienced a suicidal crisis yourself requires even more nerve. However, even if you choose not to disclose, you can get involved in our mission by joining / adding the Attempt Survivor / Lived Experience Division as an interest.

One of the projects that Franklin Cook and I have been working on (in our laughable “spare time”) is clearly defining the shared vision of developing and valuing peer support in suicide prevention. Inclusion of both loss survivor and attempt survivor voices in many spheres depends on having professionals consider personal experience as a valid source of knowledge and/or expertise. Even within academia there is contention about how to value qualitative research which emphasizes information that comes from “just” talking to people. This is a critical point. Suicide loss survivors and suicide attempt survivors are the groups that have the largest proportion of members who pay dues and conference expenses without any organizational support. Many pay out of limited incomes. They regularly serve unpaid on Boards and Committees and projects. If our collective voices are valued and we want to recruit more members with that experiential wisdom, then that valuation should be shown through pay for services and/or discounted dues and conference fees.

Sally: Anything else you’d like to tell us?

DeQuincy: As Chair of the new division I offer thanks to everyone who supported the formation of our division, and I am looking forward to exploring the huge potential for collaboration between the two divisions. I would also like to offer a personal “thank you” to all of the suicide loss survivors who have become like family to me over what is nearly two decades of working together.

About DeQuincy Lezine: DeQuincy Lezine, PhD, has been active in national suicide prevention efforts since 1996, including roles in the development of national and state suicide prevention plans. He is the author of Eight Stories Up (Oxford University Press) and the primary author for The Way Forward (Suicide Attempt Survivor Task Force). He can be reached at:

About Sally Spencer-Thomas:  As a psychologist, mental health advocate, and survivor of her brother’s suicide, Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., sees suicide prevention, intervention and postvention from many perspectives. She is currently the Survivor (of Suicide Loss) Division Director for AAS and CEO for the Carson J Spencer Foundation ( | 720-244-6535.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Coming Together on Suicide

Re-Published with permission from The Boston Globe
Written by Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas

Somewhere, a myth emerged that survivors of suicide loss and suicide attempt survivors couldn’t work together. That their stories would be too upsetting to one another. Survivors of loss would be plagued by the idea that their loved one died while others lived. Survivors of attempts would be triggered by the trauma and grief that comes from loss.
As an executive board member of the American Association of Suicidology, and as a survivor of suicide loss, I have to say that quite the opposite is usually the case.
Personally, I have found the stories of survival exceptionally inspiring. My brother Carson, a highly successful entrepreneur and business leader, died by suicide after a difficult battle with bipolar illness. Ultimately, I believe that the stigma of his mental illness killed him more than the illness itself. I know in my heart that if Carson had heard these stories of resilience and persistence, especially coming from a person with whom he could identify, he would’ve felt less shame and more hope.
Patrick Corrigan of the Center for Dignity, Recovery and Empowerment has conducted research about suicide attempt survivors that supports this. Coming into contact with people with a stigmatized condition is the best way to eliminate stigma.
I have become friends and colleagues of several “out” attempt survivors through my work, and my experience with their public emergence has been soul-moving. Being involved in the suicide attempt survivors movement is the most important thing I have been involved in, ever.
In March, I was honored to be part of the historic National Summit on Lived Experience in Suicide Prevention in San Francisco. Leaders from all over the United States convened, including the federal government’s top suicide prevention official, to hear attempt survivors tell heartbreaking stories of injustice, discrimination and punishment.
All of us were there to find positive ways to transform our mental health system, promote recovery and dignity, and dismantle the fear divide between mental health providers and people who’ve been suicidal. It was probably the most inspiring professional experience I have ever had.
These experiences have transformed me. While I have always seen myself as an ally, more recently I have been much more of an ally in action.
I had an “aha” moment last fall when I saw barriers that might have prevented this historic new AAS division for attempt survivors from passing. I thought, “Wow, someone needs to do something here.” And then it dawned on me: “Oh! It’s me.”
Today, we are celebrating a historic moment in our movement. This new division within AAS will allow suicide attempt survivors and those who support them to take an official seat at the table, enriching the field with more ethical and meaningful treatment, support, research and advocacy.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate this milestone together.
Survivors of loss like myself often find tremendous meaning in working in suicide prevention and can align well with the growing advocacy work by many suicide attempt survivors.
In turn, suicide attempt survivors can benefit from partnering with suicide loss survivors because, in many ways, we are on the same path. We start out feeling alone. Then we find out there are many others like us. We connect. We organize. We find our voice and create social change.
Suicide loss survivors have a bit of a head start in doing this, so we can stand in solidarity with suicide attempt survivors and strengthen their message.
I believe that together, we’re better.

To view the article: Click Here!

Monday, April 21, 2014


By Guest Blogger: Franklin Cook

recent survey of men bereaved by suicide suggests that:

• Suicide bereavement is profound and sustained for men, with 30% reporting that grief remained a constant difficulty in their lives one to three years after their loss and another 30% saying that it was a constant difficulty for longer than three years.
• Men believe friends, family, and peers (others who have experienced a loss to suicide) are the most helpful.
• Peer assistance and one-on-one help are especially valued by men, who also say they rely on information from the Internet for assistance.
• Most men believe men and women grief differently, and plenty of men fit the stereotypes commonly associated with men's handling of emotional matters.
• Many men, on the other hand, believe that stereotypes get in the way of healthy grieving and that societal influences hamper men's grieving.
• Many also see bereavement as very individualistic, reporting that they are as emotionally expressive about their grief as women are.
• Men are interested in being peer helpers for other bereaved men, especially if they are far enough along in their own grief and are trained and supported.

This last finding -- that many men are willing to help each other with grief after suicide -- is of utmost importance, for men themselves likely hold the keys to their own recovery.

Unified Community Solutions (my private consultancy) and the Carson J Spencer Foundation (Sally Spencer-Thomas's nonprofit organization) distributed the survey to help us explore developing more-effective programs and resources for suicide bereaved men. We are hopeful that by this summer, we'll have an idea about how we might begin making new inroads into supporting men bereaved by suicide.

Please see the copy of the slides from the presentation on the survey that Sally and I (and Rick Mogil, who directs suicide grief programs for the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center) delivered at the American Association of Suicidology conference in Los Angeles last Saturday.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Together We’re Better: Suicide Attempt Survivors and Suicide Loss Survivors – Different Groups and Collaborative Partners

Reposted with permission from the American Association of Suicidology    
      When I first entered the field of suicide prevention as a person bereaved by suicide back in 2007, one of the first things I noticed was the lack of “voice” given to suicide attempt survivors. It seemed to me that the experiences of suicide attempt survivors provided the critical “black box” from which the whole field could learn. When I became part of the Healing After Suicide Conference and asked why there weren’t sessions for suicide attempt survivors and their families, I was told that suicide attempt survivors and suicide loss survivors would not work well together because the bereaved would have grief support needs that might be negatively affected by attempt survivors stories of recovery (e.g., “why wasn’t my loved one able to recover?”) and that the two groups would work better separately. While this argument had some face validity, I was always troubled as to why suicide attempt survivors and those who love and support them were not given a proper home within our field. Sometimes the myth that the two survivor groups wouldn’t work well together seemed to perpetuate itself and continued the stigma and misunderstandings.
     This year marks a decade since my brother’s death by suicide, and I am so grateful to both the suicide bereaved and the suicide attempt survivors who have provided me with such inspiration and education on my journey into the Suicidology field. Over the past five years in particular, I have come to the conclusion that not only can the bereaved and those with lived experience have a lot to learn from each other, but also, when we band together we create powerful testimony that can fuel future efforts.
     For example, when we were developing the Man Therapy campaign, we looked closely at the National Violent Death reporting data provided to us by Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention. This rich dataset gave us important insights about the life circumstances of the men who died, but it gave us very little information on what might be needed to help prevent this outcome from happening in the future. To augment this data, our in-depth-interviews with men who had survived a suicide crisis and were now thriving, gave us many ideas on what helped them and what they wished they had during their darkest days.
     I felt very honored to be witness to the “coming out” stories, and they helped me understand the thoughts and emotional experiences my brother possibly experienced in his final days. In my heart I believe if Carson had heard role models like these men, he may have held on to hope through the unbelievable psychological pain he was experiencing.
     I remember talking with suicide attempt survivors who attended the Healing After Suicide conference, and asking them if there was enough content they found relevant, given that the conference agenda was so heavily focused on bereavement. More than one attempt survivor told me they often attend these types of bereavement-oriented events (e.g., conferences and healing ceremonies), because witnessing the pain of the bereaved helps fuel their reasons for living.
     We are currently in an exciting time of transition as the lived expertise of suicide attempt survivors is becoming increasingly organized and powerful. The Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is preparing to release a groundbreaking document, “The Way Forward” which provides key directions for communities, agencies and all suicide prevention stakeholders to augment support for people who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings, and to engage people with that lived experience as collaborators and messengers of hope. Eduardo Vega, Action Alliance Executive Committee Member and Co-lead of the Task-force points out that, “this is a pivotal moment for changing the world of suicide prevention by including the knowledge of those of us who have been there. People who’ve survived the despair and impacts of suicide attempts need to be at every table in which communities are considering what needs to be done to reduce isolation, stigma and destructive practices that push people away from help and towards suicidal behavior.”
     In March the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, in partnership with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, will host a landmark event and dialogue among the nation’s foremost thinkers and advocates who are disclosed as suicide attempt survivors.  Along with national mental health and suicide prevention leadership and suicide loss survivors summit attendees will engage crucial questions around what really makes a difference when people struggle with suicide personally and in the aftermath of a suicide attempt.
     When I asked the American Association of Suicidology’s Attempt Survivor Task Force’s Chair, Cara Anna to share her perspective on the bridge between the two groups, she said, “At the moment, attempt survivors are on the path that loss survivors know well -- emerging and having their voices heard, respected and included. I think we all can agree on this, and there's certainly room to work together.”
     Craig Miller, a suicide attempt survivor, author and public speakers, emphatically states the common ground between the groups in his video posted on the Attempt Survivors’ blog, “All of us have come together with one common intention, to do all we can to prevent future suicides, but all of us come with different stories.”
     So, today we stand in solidarity. Suicide attempt survivors and suicide loss survivors are shoulder to shoulder looking forward. For instance, suicide loss survivors are supporting suicide attempt survivors in their effort to move from a task force to a Division of the American Association of Suicidology. This year when you submit or renew your membership with AAS, consider identifying yourself in the “lived experience” category as your primary affiliation to help the group reach the critical mass needed to achieve Division status. One important way to show together we are better.

Renew your membership today and consider registering as “Attempt Survivors/Lived Experience” for your primary affiliation to help this critical division materialize: .

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Men and Suicide Bereavement Survey to Inform New Grief Support Needs

Men and Suicide Bereavement Survey to Inform New Grief Support Needs

Denver, Colorado. October 14, 2013.  The Carson J Spencer Foundation and Unified Community Solutions are conducting an exploratory survey to get a better sense of the experience of men who are bereaved by suicide and the needs they may have in their grief.

Men who have been bereaved by suicide are invited to participate in a survey to share about their experiences subsequent to their loss. If you are a man 19 or older and have lost someone close to you to suicide (e.g., family member, close friend, co-worker, etc.), your participation in the study is needed. The purpose of this survey is to better understand the experiences men have after suicide loss and the types of support they have found helpful or would like to have available.  All responses will be anonymous and confidential. The study should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and you can opt out of the survey at any time. There is no compensation available for the completion of the survey, but we appreciate men bereaved by suicide taking the time to tell us about their experiences.

In addition, if you are connected to other men who have been bereaved by suicide, we ask for your support in passing along this request to them.

For more information about this survey, please contact Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas at 720-244-6535 or Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

About the Carson J Spencer Foundation - Sustaining a Passion for Living
The Carson J Spencer Foundation ( is a Colorado nonprofit, established in 2005.  We envision a world where leaders and communities are committed to sustaining a passion for living. We sustain a passion for living by:
  • Delivering innovative and effective suicide prevention programs for working-aged people
  • Coaching young leaders to develop social enterprises for mental health promotion and suicide prevention
  • Supporting people bereaved by suicide

About Unified Community Solutions
Unified Community Solutions ( is a private consultancy based in Massachusetts, specializing in training and advocacy for peer-based suicide grief support and in planning, development, and leadership of community-based suicide grief support programs. UCS owner Franklin Cook is also the creator of Personal Grief Coaching, a telephone support service he administers to help bereaved people.

Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas                                                                  
CEO & Co-Founder
Carson J Spencer Foundation

Franklin Cook
Unified Community Solutions