Breaking the Silence ~ December 2011
In This Issue
AFSP Funded Research
Hope Symposium
Pepsi Grant- VOTE
Treasurer Needed
Handling the Holidays
Survivor Spotlight
Article Title
AFSP funded research
AFSP Funded Study Shows C-SSRS's as Suicide Assessment Tool

Researchers taking part in three multisite studies have found the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale to be an effective instrument that is comparable to others, and in some instances, a more accurate predictor of suicidal behavior.

This AFSP-supported research evaluated the identification and classification of suicide attempters, patients with nonsuicidal-self-injury and a comparison group in the psychiatric emergency rooms at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and University of Rochester.

The promising results, published this month in the American Journal of Psychiatry ("The Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale: Initial Validity and Internal Consistency Findings from Three Multisite Studies with Adolescents and Adults"), show that the C-SSRS's validity and its internal consistency are comparable to other measures of suicidal ideation and behavior, and in one of the three studies, the adolescent suicide attempter study -- using high ratings on a question about worst point of lifetime suicidal ideation at the beginning of the study -- it predicted suicide attempts during the clinical trial whereas the Scale for Suicide Ideation, another instrument, did not.


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AFSP Co-Sponsors Mental Health "Hope" Symposium
Mental Health Hope Symposium


On Nov. 16, AFSP was among a group of prominent mental health advocacy organizations that hosted a symposium to raise awareness about the imminent threat and impact of state and federal government budget cuts to mental health services. 

Glenn Close- Hope 


"Mental Health HOPE: Lost People, Lost Dollars, Lost Hope" featured Tipper Gore, actress Glenn Close and her sister, Jessie, as keynote speakers and award-winning journalist Cokie Roberts served as moderator. The symposium was attended by AFSP Medical Director Dr. Paula Clayton, Executive Director Robert Gebbia, Senior Director of Public Policy John Madigan and other AFSP representatives.

With the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction -- also known as the "super committee" -- poised to make their recommendations in late November, the symposium partner organizations are pressing political leaders to consider the economic costs of cutting support for mental health services, which is financed through a variety of federal and state programs, grants and private insurance, and payments. 

For more information,



Pepsi Project
Vote Daily

Vote every day in December to help AFSP win a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project. Voting starts Dec. 1 and ends Dec. 31.     

Click here to vote (click the gray "vote for this idea" button. You will be prompted to login via Facebook or to create a free Pepsi Refresh account.)  After you vote, email and share your support with your friends via Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. 


You can also vote via text messaging by texting "110699" to 73774 every day. Remember you can vote twice a day, once online and once via text.


AFSP will use the $50,000 grant to launch a comprehensive media education project aimed at encouraging media to be our partners in suicide prevention by helping us raise awareness and decrease stigma.

The project will include conferences with media organizations and journalists in two cities, a minimum of 10 webinars specifically for journalists, partnerships with leading schools of journalism to develop further educational materials and distribution of the state-of-the-art media recommendations for safe reporting to thousands of journalists across the U.S. 



Indiana Chapter Needs:
Chapter Treasurer 
The Indiana Chapter of AFSP Board of Directors is currently seeking a Treasurer for our Chapter.  If you have a background in finance, are interesting in suicide prevention and volunteering for an organization dedicated to making a difference in Hoosier communities, please send inquiries and/or your resume to our Chapter Chair, Lisa Brattain at 

Bloomington Out of the Darkness Walk Coordinator(s)
We are currently seeking 2 survivors to work as a team to lead the already established Bloomington Out of the Darkness Walk.  This will be its 4th year in 2012, and the date and location are already secured (October 27th at the IU stadium).  The team of volunteers is already established and the walk planning team is already established.  We are hoping that 2 Survivors will step into co-chair positions and ensure that this important event continues in the Bloomington Community.  Please send inquiries to Lisa Brattain at  



We hope this newsletter finds you well and getting ready for the holidays.  However, this time of year can be difficult for those struggling with a depressive illness and those who have lost a loved one to suicide.  If you weren't able to attend an International Survivors of Suicide Day event in November, please take some time to watch the program HERE, in an effort to help you prepare for the holidays.  Below, you will find suggestions for coping with the holidays, and please visit the afsp website for other related resources that may be helpful during this time.  

In response to reports of a few Indiana schools experiencing suicide losses in the past month, we would like to share this online resource with you (please share this with your school leaders): 
After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools 
Suicide in a school community is tremendously sad and often unexpected. 

Faced with students struggling to cope and a community struggling to respond, schools need reliable information, practical tools and pragmatic guidance.  

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools was developed by AFSP and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center -- two of the nation's leading organizations devoted to suicide prevention -- to assist schools in the aftermath of a suicide (or other death) in a school community. 

Developed in consultation with national experts, this toolkit is a highly-practical resource for schools facing real-time crises, and is applicable for diverse populations and communities.

It includes general guidelines for action, do's and don'ts, templates and sample materials, and covers topics such as Crisis Response, Helping Students Cope, Working with the Community, Memorialization, Social Media, Suicide Contagion and Bringing in Outside Help. READ MORE... 
This program is also listed on the SPRC website:
Coping with Suicide Loss

Handling the Holidays

Do what you think will be comfortable for you. Remember, you can always choose to do things differently next time.

  • Think about your family's holiday traditions. Consider whether you want to continue them or create some new ones.
  • Remember that family members may feel differently about continuing to do things the way they've been done in the past. Try to talk openly with each other about your expectations.
  • Consider whether you want to be with your family and friends for the holiday, or whether it would be more healing for you to be by yourself or go away (this year).
  • Keep in mind that sometimes the anticipation of an event can be more difficult than the event itself.
  • If you find it comforting to talk about your loved one, let your family and friends know that; tell them not to be afraid to mention your loved one's name.
  • Some survivors find it comforting to acknowledge the birthday of their loved ones by gathering with his/her friends and family; others prefer to spend it privately.
  • Some survivors have found the following ritual helpful for a variety of occasions: 
    Light two candles, and then blow one out. Explain that the extinguished candle represents those we've lost, while the one that continues to burn represents those of us who go on despite our loss and pain. 
    Simply leave the one candle burning (you can put it off to one side) for the duration of the holiday meal or event. The glowing flame acts as a quiet reminder of those who are missing.
  • Above all, bear in mind that there is no "right" way to handle holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays. You and your family may decide to try several different approaches before finding one that feels best for you.

Excerpted from  Surviving Suicide Loss: A Resource and Healing Guide.

Survivor Spotlight
Dr. Matt Grant- Indianapolis


Travis Joe Griffith (10-30-2007), aka, "Superman Joey" is what many of Joe's loved ones called him. Ironically, the first time I met Joe he was wearing a blue Superman t-shirt with a silver logo; interesting how I remember that just like it was yesterday. I began dating Joe in May of 2004. He was a handsome, gentle-spirited, well articulate guy. He was charming, appeared to get along well with others, and seemed to want many of the same things that I wanted in life. I noticed however, that as our relationship progressed, Joe had difficulty finding the motivation to do things, he struggled to secure and maintain employment, manage his money, pay his bills, connect with others, slept a lot and was lethargic, his consumption of alcohol increased, and he reported periodic episodes of suicidal ideation. Although Joe did not know this at the time, he was consuming large doses of ephedrine, which was likely used to mask his symptoms of depression. Given that I was completing my doctorate in clinical psychology, I realized that Joe was suffering from clinical depression. After speaking with him about my concern regarding his symptoms, he agreed to see a medical doctor to talk about his ephedra use and his depressive symptoms. During this time, Joe was prescribed an antidepressant; however, he often complained of the side effects, and thus, refused to be compliant with his medication even after a few different antidepressants were tried. Overtime, Joe's symptoms worsened, especially when his mother was diagnosed with multiple types of cancer in the spring of 2007. Evidently, Joe had struggled with depression prior to our relationship and had attempted suicide once, but I was never privy to this information, and of course, Joe did not share this information with me. Joe was a pro about hiding his symptoms from others, which made it very difficult for others to recognize his symptoms of depression and the warning signs of suicide. Joe and I had ended our relationship after approximately three years; I never imagined how paralyzing depression could be and the alienating and devastating effects it can and does have on relationships. Although Joe and I had ended our relationship nine months prior to him committing suicide, we remained friends and stayed in contact fairly regularly. Prior to Joe's suicide, he had been exposed to many major life stressors that only increased his symptoms of depression and his risk of suicide; Joe had decided on October 30, 2007 to take his own life. One of the most important things I learned through this experience is that it is important to talk openly and honestly about depression and suicide and any other mental illness. I encourage others to find the courage within to share their story, especially because we need to fight the stigma of mental illness and suicide. Even though I recognized that Joe suffered from depression, I did not realize the severity of his depression or how much his depression had affected his daily functioning. Please educate yourself and make it your commitment to know the symptoms of depression and the warning signs of suicide. I cannot change the past, but I can impact the future, and thus, why I am a committee member for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Indiana Chapter - Indianapolis Out of The Darkness Walk committee. I am also owner of my psychological practice called NorthStar Psychological + Consultation Services (, where I'm dedicated to working with those who suffer from depression. May these words from Christopher Reeve forever ring true, "I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." As it was nicely said in Spiderman II, the movie, "There's a little bit of superhero in all of us." I wrote the following note to Joe once he passed, which I hope will give you a sense of the beautiful person he was and the superhero qualities he embodied:

Superman Joey (Matt)
Joe Griffith~  December 2005

I will never forget all the good times we had together. I will never forget your generosity, your kindness, and most importantly your love for others. I will never forget the little things you would do for me that meant so much. For example, giving me a glass of water before sitting down to watch a movie, buying my favorite "Grab Bag" chips and "Boons Farm" Sangria, or kissing my forehead before leaving for work. I will never forget the times at our favorite dinning places such as the Scholars Inn, El Rodeo, The House of Cheung, The Cheesecake Factory, Bone Fish Grill, PF Changs, Lotus Garden, Cheeseburger in Paradise and this list goes on. 
Your soul was so gentle and your heart so big; you were full of life when you were around others and your fun-spirited ways were contagious. You always went out of your way to make others feel good because you knew how important it was to feel and look good. You were handsome and I always admired your sexy hair! You had a sensitive and charming personality; nobody had difficulty befriending you. You know, I was so amazed by your talents and abilities and I always wished you could have seen what I saw in you. Sometimes I think it is easier to see our own weaknesses than our strengths; however, you had so much strength in my eyes. You have taught me about love, acceptance, support, and encouragement. I will never forget the ways you impacted my life.

I enjoyed that you became a big part of my family. My family loved you just as though you were one of them; they would do anything for you. I know you know how much my family loved you from the hugs they gave you to the wisdom and encouragement they imparted. It's important for you to know that you impacted each one of their lives differently. It's funny, because they all remember unique things about you from what you would say, what you would wear, and what you would do for them. My family will never forget you and will miss you greatly!

Joe, you will always have a special place in my heart. You will be missed more than you know or could understand.

Love Always   


How YOU Can Get Involved:


The AFSP Chapters around the Country rely on volunteers (which include Survivors of Suicide Loss, Attempt Survivors, those Living with  a depressive illness, the family and friends of these individuals, anyone interested in suicide prevention and awareness campaigns and programs, and the Mental Health community) to lead the efforts of AFSP in our local communities.  Anyone with a passion for the cause has an opportunity to help make a difference.  You can choose to lead a committee to grow survivor resources for your community,  implement education resources in your community and schools, start the movement in your area by bringing an awareness event to your city- like an Out of the Darkness Walk (Fall) or a Campus Out of the Darkness Walk (spring), Host a Motorcycle Ride or other awareness event, Become a Field Advocate which can be done from home with a phone call or email to your Senators and Congressional Representative about suicide prevention needs in our state and asking for their support when opportunitites for change arise,  Become a volunteer for Survivor Outreach to assist newly bereaved Survivors in their time of need (must be 2 years into your own grief process to become a volunteer), and the list goes on.....


*To learn more about the Field Advocate Program* Click Here  


*To learn more about AFSP funded research*  Click Here  


*To learn more about the ISP program for Colleges*  Click Here 


*To learn more about AFSP's LGBT Initiative*  Click Here 


*To learn more about the More Than Sad Program and Toolkit for Schools*   Click Here


* To learn more about The Truth About Suicide for college students*  Click Here


*To find a support group or learn more about facilitating a new support group*   Click Here


*To learn more about becoming a Survivor Outreach Volunteer for your community or requesting a Survivor Outreach Visit* Click Here


*To host, view or find an International Survivors of Suicide Day Event (November- always the Saturday before Thanksgiving)*   Click Here


*To participate in the Lifekeeper Quilt Program* Click Here


Its the time of year where we begin planning for spring Campus Out of the Darkness Walks.  If you are interested in bringing this awareness event to your school campus or community- please contact the Chapter Chair listed below.
SAVE THE DATE- Indianapolis has already secured the date for our Fall Out of the Darkness Walk on the Canal in Downtown Indianapolis- 
September 15th, 2012.
Peace & Blessings,


Lisa Brattain - Chapter Chair  

& the AFSP Indiana Board of Directors


 ~ 2010 Chapter of the Year for a Mid-Size Market


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  

Indiana Chapter  

P.O. Box 1793  

Noblesville, Indiana 46061



Join our efforts to Silence the Stigma of Suicide and Depression!


In the US, a person dies by suicide every 15 minutes.  

Every 16 minutes, someone is left to make sense of this tragic loss.