Riverside Trauma Center Newsletter
Winter 2011
In This Issue
How We Can Help
Postvention Protocols Approved
Tornadoes Affect Massachusetts
Counseling Services
Psychological Autopsy Services
Coping with Loss During the Holidays
Scope of Suicidal Behavior in U.S. - New Data


Welcome to the new Riverside Trauma Center Newsletter. We created this newsletter as a way to stay connected to our colleagues and supporters throughout our network. Our goal is to keep you informed about our team and the experiences we're having with different communities and organizations. And along the way, we'll share some interesting news, events, and research information. 


Best wishes for a peaceful and safe holiday season.



Larry Berkowitz, Ed.D.

Director, Riverside Trauma Center

How We Can Help You


The Riverside Trauma Center helps people in Massachusetts recover from the overwhelming stress caused by traumatic events, including natural disasters, serious accidents, and suicides by providing community outreach and counseling. We also educate communities and organizations about suicide prevention, psychological trauma, and the emotional needs of returning veterans.


Riverside Trauma Center currently serves all of Massachusetts. For help after a traumatic event, call 888-851-2451. Trauma Center Managers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To make a referral or inquire about Riverside Trauma Center Counseling Services, or to ask about training opportunities, please call

781-433-0672, ext. 5636.

"Postvention Protocols for Schools, Workplaces, and Communities" Approved by SPRC/AFSP Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention


The Riverside Trauma Center Postvention Protocols have been approved for listing in the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention, a collaboration between the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The purpose of the Best Practices Registry is to identify, review, and disseminate information about best practices that address specific objectives of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The submission was reviewed by a panel of suicide prevention experts for accuracy, safety, likelihood of meeting goals and objectives, and adherence to prevention program guidelines. Along with the approval came the comment that "the reviewers thought very highly of the protocols."

A key component of the postvention protocols is a discussion of how to balance the need for commemoration activities while still addressing the need to reduce the possible contagion effect. The necessity to provide some trauma response in organizations which have experienced multiple deaths or in situations where someone has witnessed the suicide or death scene is also addressed.
The Best Practices Registry is located on www.sprc.org. Riverside Trauma Center Postvention Protocols can be found at www.riversidetraumacenter.org.
Tornadoes Affect Massachusetts

On June 1st, 2011, tornadoes ripped through

western and central Massachusetts killing four people and causing millions of dollars of property damage. Homes, schools, and places of worship were destroyed while roads were blocked by fallen trees, power lines, and other debris. The impact of the tornadoes was so severe that both a state of emergency and a federal state of emergency were declared, and a FEMA Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) grant was awarded to Riverside Trauma Center to create a program known in the community as the "MassSupport Network."


The MassSupport Network is a disaster crisis counseling outreach program. Riverside Trauma Center partnered with the Behavioral Health Network in Springfield, MA to hire a team of 12 crisis counselors to provide education and help with coping skills and stress management for individuals, families, and groups. Since June, these counselors have worked long days going door-to-door helping people and providing support to the communities.


Individuals in the affected areas were physically and psychologically impacted by this crisis. They are now overwhelmed with the process of rebuilding as the cold weather and the holidays rapidly approach. A crisis counselor said, "It's going to be quite a long haul for these folks to get back on their feet, but we've seen people with a lot of inner strength working together to rebuild their lives and communities."


Resources for Help with Trauma

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network






The Distress Helpline

Call toll free 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. It provides information, referral services, and counseling for individuals and families affected by disasters. The Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Counseling Services


Riverside Trauma Center offers private pay counseling services for children, adults, and families affected by acute trauma resulting from events such as natural disasters, serious accidents, suicide deaths, or other sudden loss. For some people, extreme stress following trauma can be overwhelming and cause lasting psychological effects if left untreated. Our highly trained, licensed clinicians use proven strategies to help people manage symptoms and develop better coping skills.


For questions or referrals, please contact Joanna Hooper, LICSW at 781-433-0672,

ext. 5636.

Psychological Autopsy Services


We are now providing psychological autopsy services. A psychological autopsy is an

in-depth reconstruction of an unclear suicide death. It is conducted by a trained mental health expert through interviews with family members, friends, and others who are able to provide relevant information about the victim, and the behaviors and events which led up to the death.


A psychological autopsy can be used for a variety of purposes:  to assist the medical examiner in determining the circumstances surrounding the death; to help the survivors understand the reasons behind a loved one's suicide; and in some cases it is used in contested life insurance claims and government inquiries. Some states require a psychological autopsy in all suspected cases of suicide death of children and adolescents. A primary goal for those who work in suicide prevention is to use psychological autopsies to further our knowledge of why people take their own lives, and use that knowledge to prevent additional suicides.


For specific questions or referrals, contact Jim McCauley, LICSW at 781-433-0672,

ext. 5619.

Coping with Loss During the Holidays


Holidays can serve as an annual reminder of loss for many people - a reminder what they once had is no longer present. Certainly when a loss is recent, people are likely to experience feelings of grief during the holidays. This is true with the death of a loved one, but also with the loss of one's home and culture which can result from natural disasters or forced immigration.


Here are some tips for coping with loss during the holidays:

  • Be prepared for feelings of grief/mourning. Plan ways to take care of yourself.
  • Decide what you feel you can handle and let your family and loved ones know.
  • Allow yourself to mourn and remember that grief is not a linear process with rules and a timeline, and that everyone grieves in different ways.
  • At the same time, allow yourself to have fun and keep in mind that many bereaved people do come to enjoy the holidays again.
  • Consider re-examining your priorities. Ask yourself what tasks you enjoy, which ones you might be able to forgo, and which ones you might be able to share.
  • Some find it helpful to find ways to commemorate what they have lost.
  • Consider telling stories about your memories at the dinner table, burning a candle, or making a toast.
  • Think about starting a new tradition or make changes in your holiday traditions that feel comfortable and appropriate to you.
  • Keep in mind family members may have differing opinions regarding changing or maintaining traditions. Talk openly about your expectations.
  • Consider doing something special for someone else, try volunteering, or make a donation in your loved one's honor.
  • Connect with others.
  • Don't forget that support is available. Seek professional help if you need it.

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The Scope of Suicidal Behavior in the U.S. - New Data Released


A newly released study provides insight into the suicidal thoughts and behaviors of adults in the United States. From January 2008 through December 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sampled more than 92,000 adults in all 50 states. Although there are some interesting differences in rates of attempts and suicidal ideation by states and regions, the most striking statistics may be that more than 8.3 million adults report having suicidal ideation during the previous year. An estimated 2.2 million adults report making a suicidal plan and slightly more than 1 million adults report making a suicide attempt.


The number of adults (age 18 and older) who died by suicide in 2008 was 36,035. This equates to 11.8 deaths by suicide for every 100,000 adults in the U.S. The region with the highest rate is in the West (Mountain and Pacific states) while the Northeast region has the lowest regional rate at 9 percent. This recent study also confirms there are 3 female attempts for every male attempt, but males complete suicide 3.75 times more than females. Suicide has moved from the 11th to the 10th leading cause of death for adults, and remains the 3rd leading cause of death for young people.


Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Surveillance Summaries, Vol. 60. No. 13, October 21,2011.

Please Let Us Know What You Think

If you'd like to share some comments about our newsletter or provide us with some ideas for articles that you'd like to see, please send an email to spaiva@riversidecc.org. We'd love to hear from you.





Riverside Trauma Center, a service of Riverside Community Care, is a non-profit organization. Services are primarily funded through donations and grants. All contributions are welcome and appreciated.


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781-433-0672, ext. 5636


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