Breakout 1        Breakout 2       Breakout 3        Main conference page     Registration     

Breakout 1 (9:30)

1a. Making a Difference Every Day: Coping Strategies for Law Enforcement

How many times have you been called to the scene of an attempted suicide or addressed the signs of suicide with a friend or someone you loved?  How many times have you been successful in stopping the attempt? I am guessing you have been successful more times than not. It's what we do. It's in our job description. It's what we signed on for, right?  Yet, how many times has someone come up to you after the incident and asked you, "Hey, are you okay?  How you doing? Hey, do you want to talk about it?".  I have met some great people and worked alongside some truly incredible individuals. Many of them have developed remarkable coping mechanisms that help them in their jobs everyday and after, in their lives. I hope to share my thoughts and experiences to help you and others in this field survive and keep going, no matter what!

        Objective 1: Actively listening to and being proactive with friends and co-workers after a   major suicide attempt.
        Objective 2: Believing that communication is the key to intervention.
        Objective 3: Understanding the anger and fear one feels when someone in their care is successful in completing a suicide.
        Objective 4: Knowing the resources available to you to be successful in maintaining your mental health at work and at home.
        Objective 5: Making a difference is okay, that's why we go to work everyday!  Enjoy the Journey!

Presenter: Rory Thelen is the owner of Thelen Consulting which was established in 2005 with the goal of providing consistent, well organized and professional training to all uniformed and non-uniformed staff working inside today’s prisons and jails. The business has grown to include leadership development and motivational seminars for public agencies as well as private businesses.  He has presented a number of times at the ACA Annual Conferences and at the American Jail Association as well. Rory is a 31 year veteran with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.  His expertise is in creating and maintaining the safest and most secure environment possible for staff, inmates and the public by talking to people instead of down to them.  Rory is a certified Defensive Tactics Instructor specializing in Tactical Communication Skills and Crisis Rehearsal.

His experiences have enabled him to train all correctional staff and students in dealing with difficult and resistive individuals. Rory is a Consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Use of Force Committee and is also a member of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Training and Standards Bureau, Principles of Subject Control Training Advisory Committee. Rory currently serves as the President of the Wisconsin Correctional Association through 2018.  You can find out more about Rory and his business at  He shares his work experiences and lessons as a writer for the Corrections One website at

1b.  Mindfulness Prevention for Youth Suicide

Learn about how one rural WI county introduced mindfulness practices/techniques in a long-term project to prevent suicides, especially among young people. Presenters will share background and insights about partnership coalition development, systems change and alignment, mindfulness-based education in a variety of venues, and the process being used to achieve goals. Participants will have the opportunity to examine how tools and resources may be adapted to suit the needs of their home counties.

Objective 1: Learn about how integration of mindfulness education across the life span can support mental wellness and suicide prevention.
Objective 2: Understand various systems’ roles in supporting community-based mindfulness education.
Objective 3: Gain tools and resources that may be adapted to suit their own county’s needs.


Lisa Listle has been the Project Director for the Together For Jackson County Kids prevention coalition since 2004. In her role, she facilitates many youth risk prevention programs, including Question-Persuade-Refer, Good Drugs Gone Bad, Real Colors, Strengthening Families Program, and Taking Care of You: Body Mind Spirit. She is a leader in grants development and management for the coalition as well as promoting the mission of the coalition throughout the community.

Sara Kohlbeck, MPH, is the Assistant Director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Ms. Kohlbeck has been with the IRC since April of 2015 and currently works on a number of the Center’s projects, including a study that is examining racial differences in suicide risk among youth in Milwaukee County, and another study that is examining the feasibility of translating the Cardiff Model of Violence Prevention in Milwaukee County. Ms. Kohlbeck’s research interests include suicide prevention, interpersonal violence prevention, and the study of violence and injury as a disease. Ms. Kohlbeck received her Master’s Degree in Public Health from the Zilber School of Public Health at UW-Milwaukee.

Monica Lobenstein has been working in the areas of positive youth development and prevention education for 14 years, first in schools and for the last 9 years through UW-Extension. She is an experienced facilitator for personal and family wellness programs including Question-Persuade-Refer, Taking Care of You: Body Mind Spirit, Strengthening Families Program, Real Colors, and Powerful Tools for Caregivers. Through her work, she supports the integration of mindfulness and other healthy coping skills into the lives of youth, adults, and community leaders across the county and state. She does this by building partnerships, helping to improve processes, encouraging difficult discussions and developing research- and evidence-based resources to enhance youth and family wellness.

1c. Empowerment Evaluation

Intentional planning and evaluation are important but often intimidating tasks for coalitions. In this highly interactive session, you will learn a simple 3-step procedure that can be used for both. The technique is based on the collaborative process of Empowerment Evaluation and is designed to help groups accomplish their goals. After a brief introduction to the technique, we’ll use it to evaluate how well we are meeting the objectives of the Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Strategy and develop sample action plans for improvement. This is a skill-building session with materials that you can take home and start using immediately.

Objective 1: Learn the basics of Empowerment Evaluation: 3 simple steps you can use right away with your coalition
Objective 2: Practice using Empowerment Evaluation for strategic planning and evaluation
Objective 3: Explore the objectives of the Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Strategy (WSPS)
Objective 4: Analyze and discuss how well we are meeting the WSPS objectives
Objective 5: Plan how to use Empowerment Evaluation and the WSPS to improve your coalition’s effectiveness

Presenter: Sara Jesse is the facilitator of Prevent Suicide Columbia County. This coalition formed as a result of a community health needs assessment and improvement plan that Sara helped facilitate in 2012. Having lost a sister and a niece to suicide, she is passionate about this cause. Sara has worked at the local level in community health improvement since 2007. In addition to facilitating Prevent Suicide Columbia County, Sara manages a project at the state level that aims to strengthen skills in implementation and evaluation of community health improvement plans. Before entering the field of public health, she spent 9 years as a classroom teacher in the US and abroad. Sara holds a BA in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

1d. Best Practice for Conceptualizing Suicide Risk and Effective Safety Planning

Many practices for conceptualizing suicide risk among clients are outdated and do not incorporate advances from the field of Suicidology pertaining to contextualizing factors that impact transitions from ideation to action. Using case scenarios and small-group interaction, this session will provide clinicians with an update on current, evidence-based models for conceptualizing suicide risk that also facilitate best-practice safety planning to keep clients out of the hospital. Research evidence regarding effective safety planning and practices will also be reviewed, with a brief highlight of cell phone apps that may enhance in-session prevention work.

        Objective 1: Describe the new, recommended suicide risk formulation model and apply it to a case example.
        Objective 2: Describe the research evidence supporting a best-practice model for safety planning.
        Objective 3: Identify the effective elements of a safety planning approach, including select phone apps, that may reduce hospitalization and prevent suicide deaths.

Presenter: Jennifer Muehlenkamp, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Dr. Muehlenkamp is a recognized expert in the field of Suicidology, having published over 100 empirical papers, book chapters, and co-authored books on topics related to suicide risk, prevention, and non-suicidal self-injury. Dr. Muehlenkamp is trained in evidence-based therapies for suicidal and NSSI behavior (e.g., DBT, CAMS, AMSR, CBT), regularly consults and provides workshops on topics related to suicide/ self-injury, and has received honors from the American Association of Suicidology and Self-Injury Awareness Network, Inc. for her professional contributions. In addition, her work has been featured in major media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the American Psychological Association’s monthly newsletter, the Monitor. She is currently the president of the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury, is the director of the UW-Eau Claire Suicide Prevention and Research Collaborative (SPARC), and is a member of the steering committee for Prevent Suicide Wisconsin.

1e. Creating LGBTQ+ Affirming Spaces

In this presentation, workshop participants will encourage workshop presenters to attain foundational knowledge of LGBTQ+ communities and identities. Participants will learn about, Lexicon, vocabulary, and basic terminology common LGBTQ+ terms and identities, the gender binary and the gender and sexuality spectrum, components of sexuality and gender identity, coming out models, best practices for being affirming and supportive when someone comes out to you, ways to dispel myths, misconceptions, and avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes. Participants will learn models of inclusive language, how to transform language and create inclusive spaces for all LGBTQ+ communities.

Objective 1: To learn lexicon, vocabular, and basic terminology
Objective 2: To learn common LGBTQ+ terms and identities
Objective 3: To learn about the gender binary and the gender and sexuality spectrum
Objective 4: To learn coming out models, best practices for being affirming and supportive when someone comes out to you
Objective 5: To learn ways to dispel myths, misconceptions, and avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes


Jeanette Martín of the UW-Milwaukee LGBT Resource Center is a first generation Chicana, born and raised on Milwaukee's Southside. Driven by her lived experience as a child of economic refugees from Mexico, her personal journey has been using art and cultural organizing as a healing tool with and for her community. A painter and printmaker in training with her unyielding passion for accessibility to cultural arts, social justice and transformation, moves her to co-create sustainable and dignified projects and cultural spaces. Pronouns in use: she, her, hers and they, them, theirs

Jen Murray is the Director of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center (LGBTRC).  Jen has been connecting the UWM campus community to LGBT+ inclusion initiatives as well as leveraging visibility and advocacy efforts for LGBT+ communities for over ten years.  During their tenure at UWM their primary focus has been to engage folks around understanding and welcoming LGBT+ identities, people, communities and experiences. Using the framework and lens of their lived experience with the Social Justice Training Institute (SJTI) they participate in advocacy, facilitation of trainings and policy development intentionally focused on inclusion with an attention to the interconnected nature of identities. Jen has their Masters in Public Health (MPH) in the Public Health Policy and Administration Track from the UWM Zilber School of Public Health. They have served as a Campus Connect trainer for the UWM Campus community since 2012 and remain invested in creating inclusive environments for all marginalized communities.

Breakout 2 (11:00)

2a.  Utilizing the Collective Impact Approach to Support Suicide Prevention

Complex health issues, including suicide, cannot be solved by a single organization or approach. In this session, we will explore how the collective impact strategy can bring together people from across sectors, strengthen partnerships, and create the collaborative working conditions that enable solutions to complex problems to emerge. This session is appropriate for current coalition leaders and members or for those who are considering starting a coalition, committee, council, or working group. Participants will learn about collective impact as an approach that can be used by existing or new coalitions.

Collective impact is a strategy that gives a language and framework to the collaborative work that many coalitions in Wisconsin are currently doing. However, by using collective impact to clearly articulate their process and values, coalitions will see a greater effect in their communities and will also gain tools to continually evaluate and enhance their initiatives related to suicide prevention. Research shows that successful collective impact involves five conditions that together produce true alignment and lead to powerful results: a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations. In this session, we will review these five conditions of collective impact and the associated principles of practice.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Suicide Prevention Council (established 2012) is beginning to infuse collective impact strategies and values into their work. Examples will be shared from these collective suicide prevention efforts as well as lessons learned.

Objective 1: Gain a basic understanding of Collective Impact (CI), including the core conditions and principles of practice.
Objective 2: Critically reflect on the framework and approach of CI as it relates to their current work in coalitions, committees, councils, partnerships, workgroups, etc.
Objective 3: Learn the language and common terminology of CI.
Objective 4: Receive tools and resources for better understanding CI and applying it to existing group efforts.

Presenter: Valerie Donovan, MS, CRC began working in Campus Health Initiatives and Prevention at University Health Services or UW-Madison as the Suicide Prevention Coordinator in January 2013. In this role she addresses suicide and mental health issues on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus as a part of a multi-faceted, population-level strategy for engaging with partners. With campus and community partners, she works to strengthen campus practices and policies relating to suicide prevention and mental health services, reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues, provide education to the campus community, and promote help-seeking behaviors among students. She is the chair of UW-Madison’s Suicide Prevention Council, serving as the backbone support to campus suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts. In this role, she leads campus partners in establishing a common agenda for the campus, identifying shared measurement strategies, aligns cross-campus efforts, and facilitates connections among campus and community partners. Her previous work experience includes community health outreach, education, case management, and crisis counseling for non-profit organizations. She holds a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2b. Forging School-Community Partnership in Support of Mental Health

The Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District has a history of collaboration with the community to meet the needs of students and families. Currently, the district is partnering with the community on several initiatives in the realm of mental health. This session will be an overview of these initiatives. This session will begin with a panel with school and community representatives giving a brief overview of the following initiatives. The panel will then divide up and move to tables throughout the room. Participants can choose which area(s) they would like to know more about and have the opportunity to participate in a table top discussion on two the topics of their choice. These initiatives include:

  • School Based Mental Health services
  • QPR training for high school students, district staff and community members
  • Post-vention planning
  • Parent University
  • Healthy Teens Chippewa County conference
  • Trauma Informed Schools
  • Supportive and Responsive Learning Environments
  • Student Assistance Program
  • Data collection on a county wide basis
  • Virtues project

        Objective 1: Provide an overview of school and community initiatives to address the mental health needs of students in our district.


Christine McMasters, Executive Director of Pupil Services and Special Education, Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District. Bachelor's degree in Vocational Rehabilitation. Master's degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin Stout. Christine spent 18 years as a special education teacher and program support for special education before moving into administration in 2010.

Jennifer Griggs-Andress, Director, Voyagers Community Learning Center and ATOD Prevention. BA, Sociology, University of South Carolina. Master of Arts in Counseling, Lakeland College. For the past 16 years, Jennifer has served as the Director of Voyagers Community Learning Center and ATOD Prevention Coordinator, Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District.

Dave Schaller, Principal at Chippewa Valley High School, the Alternative Education Program for the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District. BS in Mathematics and Computer Science Education from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from Winona State University. Dave spent 12 year in the classroom as a high school math teacher and has served as a high school level principal for the past 15 years.

Jamie Ganske, PBIS District Coordinator and CRMLSS District Coordinator for the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District. Jamie is also a QPR gatekeeper instructor.  BS in Biology Teaching from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. Jamie previously spent 4 years teaching Science, Health, and Phy Ed. This is Jamie's fifth year working for the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District.

Tracy Lewis, MSW, APSW, School Social Worker at Chippewa Valley High School, the Alternative Program for the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District. BSW from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Master’s of Social Work from the University of Minnesota. Tracy spent 7 years working with at-risk youth in various capacities including youth counselor in residential treatment, youth restitution specialist, and case manager with a day treatment program. She has been the School Social at CVHS for the past 14 years.

2c. It Takes a Community: Coalition and Death Review Team Building

Effective suicide prevention programs offer a clear, consistent message of hope throughout the community. Through collaborative efforts, many Wisconsin communities have effectively implemented a community-wide Suicide Prevention Coalition, Suicide Death Review team and/or QPR program. This presentation will consist of a panel of representatives from each of the aforementioned teams. Panelists will share how their teams were started, how they successfully built their teams through collective work of team partners and projects they have successfully implemented. Panelists will share strategies for effective communication, collaborations, and problem solving across all agencies interested in implementing prevention efforts. Session attendees will have time to ask questions and brainstorm solutions with the group about coalition building struggles in their communities. This session will be beneficial to those communities who want to start a suicide prevention coalition or death review team. Attendees will:

Objective 1: Learn structures of three different prevention coalitions and death review teams from around the state.
Objective 2: Identify ways they can work collaboratively within their community to implement suicide prevention strategies.
Objective 3: Learn how to strengthen partnership development for suicide prevention teams.
Objective 4: Learn strategies used by other communities to build stronger coalitions and death review teams.


Chelsie Smith, RN, BSN, is a Public Health Nurse with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. Mrs. Smith holds a Bachelor of Nursing degree from Chamberlain University. She has over 8 years of nursing experience in long term care, managed care case management and public health nursing. Mrs. Smith is the Health Department liaison to the Eau Claire Healthy Communities Mental Health Action team and Suicide Death Review Team as well as the co-chair of Prevent Suicide Chippewa Valley and a certified QPR Gatekeeper Instructor. Chelsie is the primary Health Department staff that organizes QPR trainings requested through the Department. Chelsie’s role is essential in ensuring the community is working collaboratively and not in silos when implementing suicide prevention strategies.

Laura Baalrud is a Community Health Educator at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls. She also is a member of Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership, EC Healthy Communities coalitions as well as Prevent Suicide Chippewa Valley. Laura has been a QPR Gateway instructor for two years and has facilitated and organized trainings for more than 3,000 people. She also is a certified Adult and Youth Mental Health First aid instructor.

Debbie Rueber, BS, CHES, has been employed as a Health Educator with the Kenosha County Division of Health since 1999. She graduated in 1992 with a B.S. in Community Health Education from the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse. Debbie is the Chair of Prevent Suicide Kenosha County Coalition since its inception in January of 2006.  Ms. Rueber is an active member of the Prevent Suicide Wisconsin Steering Committee and the Executive Committee and Advisory Board for WISE. She also participates on the Kenosha County Fetal Infant Mortality Review Team, the Child Fatality Review Team and the Self Harm Death Analysis Review Team. She has helped conduct a gap in service analysis, develop community resources and developed a Clergy Summit Toolkit as well as a Grief Resource Guide. She is also a QPR trainer presenting to groups and individuals throughout Kenosha County. Ms. Rueber is the co-facilitator of the Kenosha County Survivors of Suicide Support Group.

Andrea Schultz, MPH, is the Injury Prevention Health Educator with Brown County Public Health in Green Bay, WI.  She has more than 15 years of experience coordinating activities for the Maternal and Child Health block grant in Brown County.  Community engagement and partnership development with a focus on social equity have been key components of her work.  She currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Brown County Coalition for Suicide Prevention and as the Chair of the Children and Families Workgroup of the Community Partnership for Children.  She is a member of the Greater Green Bay Safe Kids Coalition, Traffic Safety Commission, Regional Trauma Advisory Council, and Achieve Brown County.  Andrea also serves as the injury prevention representative for the Child Death Review Team for Brown, Door and Oconto counties, and is currently certified as both a QPR and Child Passenger Safety Instructor.  Her work focuses primarily on outcomes measurement and data translation in injury prevention programs in Brown County related to safe sleep and suicide prevention.  Andrea received a Master of Public Health and a Certificate in Global Health from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.

2d. Collaborative Safety Planning: Working with Individuals Experiencing a Suicidal Crisis

In this break out session we will review the etiology of suicide and the evidence associated with suicide planning.  We will explore the importance of safety planning for individuals who find themselves in crisis and how safety planning can serve both as prevention and intervention when working with individuals in crisis.  We will review the difference between safety planning and “no-suicide contacts,” and the benefit of collaborative safety planning for patients and their loved ones.

Target Audience: Providers or family members who care for individuals experiencing acute or ongoing suicidal thinking; Individuals who would like to learn a systematic approach to plan for safety in a preventative, collaborative manner.

        Objective 1: Understand the role and value of safety planning in an overall suicide prevention quality improvement initiative.
        Objective 2: Understand the science and evidence associated with safety planning.”
        Objective 3: Understand how to create a safety plan with a client, including examples of types of elements that can be included in a plan.

Presenter: Meghan Henderson, MSW, LCSW is a Clinical Specialist for Adult Psychiatry at UnityPoint Health – Meriter.  She provides ongoing education and clinical supervision for all staff on the Adult Psychiatry Unit.  Meghan has been working within the specialty of suicidology for the past 6 years.  She has been trained in three evidenced-based, suicide specific treatment modalities including: The Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Suicide (CBT-S). The foundational belief of Zero Suicide is that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems are preventable. Zero Suicide is a commitment to suicide prevention in health and behavioral health care systems and is also a specific set of strategies and tools.  In her position, Meghan has been responsible for training staff hospital wide on new evidenced based suicide assessment tools as well as prevention tools such as collaborative safety planning.

2e. Seven Things Not to Say to a Veteran

Seven Things Not to Say to a Veteran is a personal account of coping with PTSD as told by singer-songwriter, storytelling and Iraq War Veteran, Jason Moon. Moon weaves scientific/statistical information within the telling of his own journey with PTSD. Seven Things is a solution based presentation of how veterans, care-providers and civilians can work together to ease the burden of living with PTSD. Main points include:

  • Stealing honor by attempting to live through soldier experience.
  • What you would have done if you had gone to war.
  • Assume you know what it is like in a war zone.

Speaker will offer solutions of how to talk to and help veterans. Main points include:

  • Thank you for your willingness to serve.
  • How are you doing?
  • True listening: It’s not waiting for your turn to talk.

Objective 1: Be able to engage in active listening with PTSD Veterans.
Objective 2: Be able to recall statistic and factual information in correlation to PTSD/Veterans Issues.
Objective 3: Relate to/appreciate PTSD Veterans and their struggles through personal account/music.

Presenter: Jason Moon is an multi-award winning singer-songwriter, a veteran of the Iraq War, and a tireless advocate for veteran’s issues.   He has a MA in religious studies from Cardinal Stritch University.  Jason served 10 years in the military as a general construction equipment operator for the combat engineers including 11 months in Iraq 2003-2004.  Jason travels the country educating civilians about military PTSD and inspiring veterans in various stages of recovery through the non-profit Warrior Songs that he founded.  Warrior Songs uses the creative arts to help veterans heal from the wounds of war.  Warrior Songs has prevented 32 suicides since it began in 2010.

Breakout 3 (1:15)

3a. Alternatives to Suicide Peer to Peer Support Groups

Alternatives to Suicide is a peer-to-peer support group developed by people who have personal experience with contemplating or attempting suicide. Alternatives to Suicide groups are designed to be safe spaces for talking about suicidal thoughts in a non-judgmental, supportive environment.

Objective 1: Know the history of Alternative to Suicide groups.
Objective 2: Explore the idea of suicidal thoughts as part of the normal human experience.
Objective 3: Be introduced to the core values of the Alternatives to Suicide group model.


Kate Laird, CPS serves as the Director for Grassroots Wellness Peer Run Respite & Learning Community. Kate has a background in community organizing, advocacy, and an extensive history in working in the mental health services field. Her experiences of being a trauma survivor and having navigated the mental health system as a patient guide her passion for and work to transform the field of social services. Grassroots Wellness PRR is located in Menomonie, a small college community in West Central Wisconsin. The respite space can accommodate four people for stays of up to 7-days. The team is heavily comprised of people who have the training and credentials to share holistic healing approaches. They bring their own lived experiences of being trauma survivors, and people who have experienced their own mental health or substance use challenges, to provide hope-based peer support in a community setting.

Val Neff is a Certified Peer Specialist who is employed with NAMI Fox Valley as the House Manager at Iris Place Peer Run Respite. She is also a co-facilitator for the the Alternatives to Suicide support group and the Young Adult Support and Transition group. All of her experiences, both personal and professional, have instilled in her the importance of individualized person-centered support, as well as the need for more strengths-based approaches in the human services field."

3b. DPI’s School-based Suicide Prevention Curriculum: A Teacher’s Perspective

DPI’s school-based suicide prevention program is based in the multi-tiered system of support framework that is presented in the PBIS and RtI intervention models. Using this framework, intervention/prevention strategies are implemented according the students’ level of need; strategies are: universal, select, or targeted. Some intervention/prevention strategies are utilized for all students (universal); while others are used only with students with greater or intensely significant needs (select or targeted). After a very brief overview of the framework a Health and Physical Education teacher will describe how she universally uses the new DPI Suicide Prevention Curriculum with all of her students. This description will include the current statistics of youth suicide prevalence, how to identify signs of suicide, and how to engage students about how to help others.


Gregg Curtis, PhD is in his fifth year as the School Counseling Education Consultant and Co-lead for Suicide Prevention for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Gregg graduated from the University of Iowa in 1988 with an elementary education degree. After ten years as a middle school teacher in rural Iowa, Gregg returned to the UI; receiving a master’s degree in school counseling that he used in his work with 7th and 8th graders at South East Junior High School in Iowa City. Following his work as a school counselor, Gregg returned to the UI and received his doctorate in Counselor Education with a minor in the Social Foundations of Education in 2008. Prior to joining DPI, Gregg spent 6 years as a lecturer and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; working to prepare graduate students to work as counselors in schools, community mental health agencies, and institutions of higher education.

Lisa Strauss has been teaching physical education and health to mainly middle school for 21 years, with the past 15 at Templeton Middle School in Sussex. Lisa is also an adjunct professor at Carroll University and has taught undergraduate level Health, PE and Human Sexuality courses for the past 6 years. She was on the panel of professionals for the current Health Education State Standards for Wisconsin as well as the revised version for the current Suicide Prevention Curriculum for the WI DPI. Lisa also coaches middle school level cross country and track and enjoys doing triathlons.

3c. Tips and Tricks for Successful QPR

This session will be interactive by facilitators AND attendees. Do you have ways to make QPR more interactive that has been successful in your community? Come share this idea with others. Facilitators will have examples of what they have done and found helpful when teaching QPR. This session is designed to be interactive, ask questions and learn from each other to enhance QPR in our communities. This session will also discuss the difficult things that have come up in training, and how to handle those situations. Bring materials to share and/or flash drive to take home shared materials (such as roleplays, activity handouts, presentation, etc.)

        Objective 1: Learn different techniques to enhance QPR trainings in your community.
        Objective 2: Problem solve through difficult situations that arise during QPR trainings.
        Objective 3: Learn what to be prepared for if your community is just starting QPR.
        Objective 4: Receive tools and resources to bring back to your community (bring your flash drive and/or materials to share)


Chelsie Smith, RN, BSN, is a Public Health Nurse with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. Mrs. Smith holds a Bachelor of Nursing degree from Chamberlain University. She has over 8 years of nursing experience in long term care, managed care case management and public health nursing. Mrs. Smith is the Health Department liaison to the Eau Claire Healthy Communities Mental Health Action team and Suicide Death Review Team as well as the co-chair of Prevent Suicide Chippewa Valley and a certified QPR Gatekeeper Instructor. Chelsie is the primary Health Department staff that organizes QPR trainings requested through the Department. Chelsie’s role is essential in ensuring the community is working collaboratively and not in silos when implementing suicide prevention strategies.

Debbie Rueber, BS, CHES, has been employed as a Health Educator with the Kenosha County Division of Health since 1999. She graduated in 1992 with a B.S. in Community Health Education from the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse. Debbie is the Chair of Prevent Suicide Kenosha County Coalition since its inception in January of 2006.  Ms. Rueber is an active member of the Prevent Suicide Wisconsin Steering Committee and the Executive Committee and Advisory Board for WISE. She also participates on the Kenosha County Fetal Infant Mortality Review Team, the Child Fatality Review Team and the Self Harm Death Analysis Review Team. She has helped conduct a gap in service analysis, develop community resources and developed a Clergy Summit Toolkit as well as a Grief Resource Guide. She is also a QPR trainer presenting to groups and individuals throughout Kenosha County. Ms. Rueber is the co-facilitator of the Kenosha County Survivors of Suicide Support Group.

3d. How to Provide Compassionate Care without Job Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma

There are many stressful factors that influence the impact of suicide on suicide-loss survivors. During this program, you will identify how exposure to that traumatic material can affect helping professionals. Many suicide-loss survivors make meaning out of their loss narrative, experience post traumatic growth and remain resilient. Although this is the case, community professionals involved in crisis intervention can be negatively impacted and experience burnout syndrome, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. You will recognize how the determinants of grief after a suicide can be personal stressors for you as a professional helper.  The goal of this workshop is to explore how to effectively provide compassionate care to suicide-loss survivors without experiencing compassion fatigue.

        Objective 1: Identify contributors to burnout syndrome, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma.
        Objective 2: Discuss ways to put character strengths into practice to build professional resilience.
        Objective 3: Describe eight elements of resilience to mitigate the impact of compassion fatigue

Presenter: Barbara Rubel, MA, BCETS, CBS is a nationally recognized speaker on increasing self-awareness of skills and strengths that approve the ability to handle stress, job burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. Barbara is the author of the best-selling book, But I Didn’t Say Goodbye: Helping children and families after a suicide and the 30 hr. continuing education course book for Nurses, Death, Dying, and Bereavement: Providing compassion during a time of need. She is the co-author of the Dept. of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime Training Curriculum, Compassion Fatigue. She is a contributing writer in Coaching for Results: Expert advice from 25 top international coaches; Keys to a Good Life: Wisdom to Unlock Your Power Within; Thin Threads: Grief and Renewal; and Fresh Grief. She was featured in the Emmy award winning Documentary, Fatal Mistakes, narrated by Mariette Hartley. Barbara developed the Palette of Grief® Resilience Program. Barbara, a Certified Bereavement Specialist, was a hospice bereavement coordinator, bereavement group facilitator, and teacher at Brooklyn College. Currently, she is a consultant with the Dept. of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime. Barbara received a BS in Psychology and MA in Community Health with a concentration in thanatology from Brooklyn College and is a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress. Barbara is a member of the Association for Death, Education and Counseling; American Association for Suicidology; and the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress.

3e. Suicide Prevention in the Military Veteran Community - Ensuring the Success of our Veterans

The presentations will begin with me sharing my lived experience as a combat Veteran who battled PTSD, TBI and depression for several years and attempted suicide on multiple occasions but was able to eventually climb out of the darkness to lead a life of true joy and happiness. I will be transparent with the struggles I endured to include 2 divorces, loss of custody of my children, drug and alcohol abuse, anger and rage issues, homelessness, jail time, pushing away loved ones and how I was able to have all of those things turned around and restored in my life. I will then offer the most current facts and stats on Veteran suicide (given by the Dept of VA and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) in the country as well as in Wisconsin, to bring awareness to the need for action in this particular demographic. Then several tools will be shared that reference how a Veteran can utilize the principles learned in the military and apply them to their lives now as Veterans. These principles include being strong in their identity, a continued mission of purpose, "Calling for Support," "Weapons Maintenance and  roficiency," "Proper Target Identification," etc. Many Veterans don't realize how their military training, no matter what branch of service or MOS, can transfer to their lives now in many creative aspects. Several "What Would You Do" scenarios are presented, based on real life situations, to get the audience thinking on how they can appropriately intervene in a crisis situation. These scenarios will bring to discussion some of my failures as well as successes in this fight on suicide. Then local and national resources are shared so the audience can walk away with something tangible to assist them in getting involved. A period of time will be set aside for questions and comments and then a final personal story of me in combat is shared with the purpose of inspiring the audience to continue pressing forward in their efforts.

Objective 1: Establish hope for Veterans to overcome struggles and be examples of success in their community
Objective 2: Speak intellectually about the Veteran suicide epidemic using facts and stats
Objective 3: Describe and explain various tools, techniques and ideologies used to overcome PTSD and depression
Objective 4: Seek out and identify appropriate resources to assist Veterans in meeting their primary and secondary needs
Objective 5: Walk with confidence that you have the ability to help bring the Veteran suicide rate to ZERO

Presenter: Andrew Jones is a Marine Corps combat Veteran of the Iraq War (2003) as well as the Project Manager for The Ripple Effect - Helping Veterans and Families Heal.  Upon returning home from war, Andrew immediately began battling the symptoms of PTSD and quickly fell into a darkness that led to homelessness, addiction, violent rages and several attempts of suicide.  He eventually came out of the darkness and found hope and purpose in his life.  He now provides Suicide Prevention in the Veteran Community Workshops and oversees a Veteran Mentor Program in Arizona as he continues to mentor other Veterans currently struggling as he once did.  He is the Author of an anthology of poems and short stories focused on his experiences in war and after he came home titled Healing the Warrior Heart and is in a truly blessed marriage with his wife Chelsea and two boys in Chandler, Arizona.  Andrew can be contacted by email at and more can be learned about The Ripple Effect at

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