Panel Discussion Speakers

Lived Experience

Stacey Freedenthal

DeQuincy Lezine

Emma McAllister

Chair: Bronwen Edwards

St Columb's Hall, 18th September, 11.30-12.30

Northern Ireland

Brendan Bonner

Oscar Donnelly

Barry McGale

Siobhan O’Neill

Chair: Niall Boyce

Millennium Forum, 18th September, 11.30-12.30

National Strategies

Alexandra Fleischmann

Steve Platt

Mort Silverman

Chair: Lucy Brogden

St Columb's Hall, 19th September, 11.30-12.30

Postvention

Barry McGale

Myf Maple

Sally Spencer Thomas

Chair: Merete Nordentoft

Millennium Forum, 19th September, 11.30-12.30

Lived Experience

Panel Speakers

Stacey Freedenthal

Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, writes and teaches extensively about suicide assessment and intervention. She authored the book Helping the Suicidal Person: Tips and Techniques for Professionals (published by Taylor & Francis), in addition to scholarly articles about the measurement of suicidal intent, youth’s help-seeking when suicidal, and other topics related to suicide risk. As an associate professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, Dr. Freedenthal coordinates the mental health curriculum. Dr. Freedenthal has a private psychotherapy and consulting practice in Denver specializing in helping people who have experienced suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, or lost a loved one to suicide. Her website, SpeakingOfSuicide.com, has received almost 5 million visits since 2014. Dr. Freedenthal also has lived experience of suicidality. Her personal accounts about her suicidal thoughts and behavior have appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, and Colorado Public Radio.

DeQuincy Lezine

DeQuincy Lezine is a suicide attempt survivor who has been active in suicide prevention since 1996. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA. and completed a suicide prevention postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester. Dr. Lezine is the Chair of the Attempt Survivor and Lived Experience Division of AAS and Co-Chair of the Consumer Survivor Committee for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Dr. Lezine was the primary writer for The Way Forward published by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAMHSA 2015 Voice Awards. He is the Director of the Lived Experience Academy and CEO of Prevention Communities.

Emma McAllister

Emma* has lived experience of suicide attempts and bereavement by suicide. She has more experience of negative attitudes to suicide and self harm than she'd like. When she was unwell following a suicide attempt she was arrested and prosecuted because of having self harmed. She lost her job and career when the attempt was reported to her professional regulator. Now back working in a slightly different role, in her spare time she is interested in how lived experience perspectives can inform research and policy, and volunteers and raises funds for a suicide prevention hotline.  

 

*Emma McAllister is a pseudonym used for lived experience roles, following professional discrimination. 

Suicide Prevention in Northern Ireland
Panel Speakers

Brendan Bonner

Head of Health & Social Wellbeing Improvement, Public Health Agency

Brendan Bonner is the PHA’s Head of Health & Social Wellbeing (West) and lead on Self Harm Registry project.

 

Brendan has worked in Public Health since 2002 and was involved in the initial consultation process on Protect Life in 2005/06. Brendan was the Public Health lead on the development of the suspected suicide real time data reporting initiative (SD1), the development of protocols to addressing suspected suicide clusters (Community Response Plans), the development of a community capacity initiative and quality assurance standards (CLEAR) and is currently working with agencies in the UK and Ireland on the mainstreaming of the SD1 and cluster response models.

 

Brendan has been co-author of a number peer review papers and publications on self-harm including, mental health of long-term unemployed males, characteristic of hospital treated intentional drug overdose, Hospital-treated deliberate self-harm in the western area of NI, the NI Registry of Self-harm annual reports and Six Year Review Report on Self-Harm in the Western Area and the supplement on Repetition Rates.

 

Brendan has also been involved in research into the impact of the smoking ban on the health of bar workers, Health Impact Assessment into a housing regeneration project, addressing road safety for rural school children as part of his wider Public Health remit.

Oscar Donnelly

Divisional Director Mental Health, Learning Disability & Community Wellbeing, Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCTrust)

Oscar has held the position of Director of Mental Health and Disability Services in the NHSCT from 1 April 2007. He joined Homefirst Community Trust as the Director of Mental Health Services in 2005 and became Director of Mental Health & Disability Services in the new NHSCTrust when it was formed.

 

Oscar chairs the board of the Northern Ireland Towards Zero Suicide, Mental Health Patient Safety Collaborative established in 2018. In 2019 Oscar became a Fellow of the Churchill Foundation supported to study mental health providers in USA and Australia who have adopted Zero Suicide approaches to patient care.

Barry McGale

Suicide Prevention Consultant & Trainer

 

Barry is currently a Suicide Prevention Consultant & Trainer with Suicide Bereavement UK and Livingworks Incorporated, Canada and Patron for the Support After Suicide Partnership (England).

He is a Director of The National Suicide Research Foundation (Ireland) and Board of Members.

 

In 2016, Barry was the winner of the American Association of Suicidology, Roger J Tierney Award for services in suicide prevention.

 

He is a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Nurse Therapist and has recently retired from clinical practice.

 

In 1997, Barry was appointed to the post of Suicide Awareness Co-ordinator in the Western Health & Social Care Trust and was responsible for the implementation of the former Western Health and Social Services Board Suicide Prevention Strategy.

 

The current service in the Western Trust is one that has been recognised as a model of best practice and the “Derry Model” has been referred to in parliament as the model that should be replicated throughout the UK.

In spring 2001, he was the Irish representative on the People to People Ambassador international delegation to Cuba to review mental health services.

 

He was a 2004 nominee for the position of Director of the Prevention Division on the Board of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) and was the International Representative on the Board of AAS 2006 -2008.

He was appointed as a member of the Scottish Executive’s Research Expert Group on Suicidal Behaviour in 2004 and was a member of the Northern Ireland Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability subgroup on mental health promotion and suicide prevention.

 

He was a finalist in the RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year 2008 and recipient of the 2012 Florence Nightingale Travel Scholarship where he reviewed postvention services in Australia.

 

Barry is a former Director of the Board of the Irish Association of Suicidology and a member of the American Association of Suicidology. He was also the Chairperson of Youthlife, a voluntary organisation who provides services for young people who have experienced loss though separation, divorce or bereavement.

Professor Siobhan O’Neill

Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University

Professor Siobhan O’Neill is a Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University.
 
In 2008 Siobhan coordinated the largest ever study of mental health in Northern Ireland, the NI Research and Development Office funded, NI Study of Health and Stress. This study revealed the high proportions of the NI population who had unmet mental health needs and the extent of mental illness and suicidal behaviour associated with the NI conflict. Siobhan is also a coordinator of the NI suicide study, a study of the characteristics of over 1600 suicides and undetermined deaths.
 
Siobhan is an advisor to several suicide prevention and mental health organisations who provide services and interventions for mental health and suicide prevention. She sits on national and international research committees. She has over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including several ground breaking studies of mental health and suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland.

 

Her current research programmes focus on maternal mental health, mental health in school children, and the transgenerational transmission of Troubles related trauma. She is currently involved in studies of mental health in students, the biological basis of mental illness and suicidal behaviour, and suicide crisis line caller behaviour and outcomes.

National Strategies

Panel Discussion Speakers

Alexandra Fleischmann, PhD

Dr Alexandra Fleischmann is a Clinical and Health Psychologist, who defended her doctoral dissertation at the University of Vienna, Austria. She held positions at the University Clinic of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Graz, Austria and at the University Institute of Psychology, Zurich, Switzerland. For the past 20 years she has been working at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, particularly on the prevention of suicide.

Stephen Platt

Stephen Platt is Emeritus Professor of Health Policy Research at the University of Edinburgh, UK.  He has a lifetime research interest in social, epidemiological and cultural aspects of suicide, self-harm and mental health and ill-health. He is an adviser on suicide prevention research and policy to NHS Health Scotland, on whose behalf he chairs the Steering Group for the Scottish Suicide Information Database (ScotSID), a central repository for information on all probable suicide deaths in Scotland which supports epidemiology, policy-making and suicide preventive activity in the country. He is a consultant to the Irish National Office for Suicide Prevention, advising on the development, implementation and evaluation of the country’s suicide prevention programme (‘Connecting for Life’) and chairing the associated Evaluation Advisory Group.  He is a former trustee of Samaritans and more recently has acted as a research consultant to the organisation.  Stephen has been involved in policy development and analysis relating to public mental health and mental health improvement. He has published on conceptual and methodological aspects of mental well-being and is co-developer of the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS). He is an ex-Vice-President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and current Co-chair of the IASP Special Interest Group (SIG) on the Development of Effective National Suicide Prevention Strategy and Practice.  He is currently Convenor (Chair) of Evaluation Support Scotland.

Morton M. Silverman, M.D.

Morton M. Silverman, M.D., is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the U.S.A.

 

He was the Director of the Student Counseling and Resource Center at The University of Chicago from 1987-2002. From 1996-2009 he was the Editor-in-Chief of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. From 2002-2013 he was a member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Scientific Council. Dr. Silverman is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a member of the International Association for Suicide Research (IASR). He is the co-author or author of over 50 peer-reviewed publications and over 30 book chapters, and co-author of The Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology (2000), and Adolescent Suicide: Assessment and Intervention (2006).

Postvention

Panel Discussion Speakers

Professor Myfanwy Maple

Myfanwy Maple is Professor of Social Work in the School of Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. For more than 15 years, Professor Maple’s research has focused on trauma and loss, with a particular emphasis on understanding risk and resilience following exposure to suicide. A focus on lived experience underlies all of Professor Maple’s work where her emphasis remains on authentically including the voices of those with firsthand experience to better inform policy, research and teaching. While research is her key activity, she is also involved internationally, nationally and locally in activities to prevent suicide and the distress associated with suicide. She is currently co-chair of the International Association for Suicide Prevention special interest group on suicide bereavement and postvention and was a member-elected Director of Suicide Prevention Australia (2013-2018), during which time she also chaired the National Suicide Prevention Conference (2015-2018). She is an ASIST trainer, delivering suicide intervention skills training to members of rural communities. Previously, Professor Maple was appointed by the NSW Minister for Health as an Official Visitor under the Mental Health Act from 2006 through 2012, and in 2014, Professor Maple was awarded a prestigious rural and remote diversity scholarship jointly awarded by the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Prime Minister’s Office for Women.

Barry McGale

Suicide Prevention Consultant & Trainer

 

Barry is currently a Suicide Prevention Consultant & Trainer with Suicide Bereavement UK and Livingworks Incorporated, Canada and Patron for the Support After Suicide Partnership (England).

He is a Director of The National Suicide Research Foundation (Ireland) and Board of Members.

 

In 2016, Barry was the winner of the American Association of Suicidology, Roger J Tierney Award for services in suicide prevention.

 

He is a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Nurse Therapist and has recently retired from clinical practice.

 

In 1997, Barry was appointed to the post of Suicide Awareness Co-ordinator in the Western Health & Social Care Trust and was responsible for the implementation of the former Western Health and Social Services Board Suicide Prevention Strategy.

 

The current service in the Western Trust is one that has been recognised as a model of best practice and the “Derry Model” has been referred to in parliament as the model that should be replicated throughout the UK.

In spring 2001, he was the Irish representative on the People to People Ambassador international delegation to Cuba to review mental health services.

 

He was a 2004 nominee for the position of Director of the Prevention Division on the Board of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) and was the International Representative on the Board of AAS 2006 -2008.

He was appointed as a member of the Scottish Executive’s Research Expert Group on Suicidal Behaviour in 2004 and was a member of the Northern Ireland Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability subgroup on mental health promotion and suicide prevention.

 

He was a finalist in the RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year 2008 and recipient of the 2012 Florence Nightingale Travel Scholarship where he reviewed postvention services in Australia.

 

Barry is a former Director of the Board of the Irish Association of Suicidology and a member of the American Association of Suicidology. He was also the Chairperson of Youthlife, a voluntary organisation who provides services for young people who have experienced loss though separation, divorce or bereavement.

Sally Spencer-Thomas

Sally Spencer-Thomas is a clinical psychologist, inspirational international speaker and an impact entrepreneur. Dr. Spencer-Thomas was moved to work in suicide prevention after her younger brother, a Denver entrepreneur, died of suicide after a difficult battle with bipolar condition. Known nationally and internationally as an innovator in social change, Spencer-Thomas has helped start up multiple large-scale, gap filling efforts in mental health including the award-winning campaign Man Therapy and the nation’s first initiative for suicide prevention in the workplace, Working Minds.

Spencer-Thomas has also held leadership positions for the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the American Association for Suicidology, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. She has won multiple awards for her advocacy including the 2014 Survivor of the Year from the American Association of Suicidology, the 2014 Invisible Disabilities Association Impact Honors Award, and the 2012 Alumni Master Scholar from the University of Denver, the 2015 Farbarow Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the 2016 Career Achievement Alumni Award from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

In 2016 she was an invited speaker at the White House where she presented on men’s mental health. In her recent TEDx Talk she shares her goal to elevate the conversation to make mental health promotion and suicide prevention a health and safety priority in our schools, workplaces and communities.

She has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver, Masters in Non-profit Management from Regis University, a Bachelors in Psychology and Studio Art with a Minor in Economics from Bowdoin College. She has written four books on mental health and violence prevention. She lives with her partner and three sons in Conifer, Colorado.

Connect with Sally at www.SallySpencerThomas.com and on Facebook (@DrSallySpeaks), Twitter (@sspencerthomas) and LinkedIn.