The world continues to struggle with the devastating effects caused by the coronavirus, making the urgency to provide mental health support that much more important. Michigan’s suicide rate has been steadily increasing since 2007 and the coronavirus has pushed these numbers to near “epidemic proportions.”
Michigan’s suicide rate has risen 33 percent since 1999, higher than the national rate increase of 25 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that suicide in Michigan is the second leading cause of death for individuals 10 to 34 years of age, and there is an average of one death by suicide every six hours in Michigan.
“We understand that many pressing issues cry out for attention and resources at the present time, however, Michigan’s suicide rates have reached epidemic proportions,” says Gail Urso, co-founder of Kevin’s Song, a charitable organization dedicated to generating public awareness about the causes of suicide, its prevalence in our society, and possible preventive measures. “The urgency to provide mental health support and raise awareness about suicide has never been more important. In navigating the journey from trauma to resilience, we must unleash the greater strength of our communities as we respect, care about and learn from each other and create a world without suicide.”
Kevin’s Song will host the fifth annual Virtual Conference on Suicide: Equity and Equality in Suicide Prevention Jan. 21-23. The three-day online summit features a prestigious roster of leading experts in the field of suicide with general and breakout sessions and supportive resources for up to 1,000 participants.
The first two days of the conference will look at suicide through a social justice lens, challenging existing bias and belief systems. It will share valuable information about suicide, suicidal persons and the repercussions of suicide at both the personal and community levels. It also will emphasize prevention in all demographics with a special focus on high-risk and underserved communities.
Ann Arbor’s Garrett’s Space will once again be part of this impressive and important conference.
“Kevin’s Song is an incredible event bringing together an array of leading experts on suicide prevention and inspirational speakers,” says Garrett’s Space co-founder Julie Halpert (along with husband Scott Halpert). “It is not to be missed if you’re interested in better understanding the causes of suicide and how to prevent it. Garrett’s Space is grateful for the opportunity to be an exhibitor at the event for the second year in a row.”
Kevin’s Song 5th annual Virtual Conference on Suicide: Equity and Equality in Suicide Prevention comes at a critical time.
“More people are socially isolated from friends and loved ones and are attempting to cope with the chronic stress caused by the coronavirus,” Urso says. “This includes fighting their own illnesses or being concerned for the health and well-being of loved ones. The tragic loss of life has resulted in fear and despair, impacting the mental health of individuals worldwide.”
Urso notes the physical and emotional exhaustion that the pandemic has taken on first responders and frontline health-care workers as infection and death rates continue to climb. And many people are faced with economic hardships that only further exacerbate an already complex issue.
“This year’s conference is especially important as the continuing pandemic has widened fault lines across society and demonstrated once more the fragility of the human condition,” she says. “The pandemic has further exacerbated mental health and suicide prevention issues for already vulnerable groups and individuals and brought to light the ongoing social justice issues right here in Michigan, including access to health care. We intend to address these challenges head on at this year’s conference and invite anyone affected by suicide to please join us.”
The 2nd annual School Summit, presented by the Children’s Foundation, runs concurrently on the first day of the conference, bringing together educators to share best practices about innovative programs for students, teachers and parents.
The Saturday Program – Surviving Suicide – is a journey of hope and healing that is dedicated to survivors of suicide loss and attempt survivors. Keynote speakers will share personal stories of suicide loss, grief and hope. A portion of this program – a 90-minute discussion with a panel of survivors of suicide loss – is FREE of charge and open to the public via a Facebook LIVE broadcast by Kevin’s Song and DPTV from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
“The conference is an opportunity for anyone – whether or not they are affected personally by suicide – to come together and be part of the solution,” Urso says.
About Kevin’s Song: Kevin’s Song was founded by John and Gail Urso in honor of their son, Kevin, who took his own life in 2013. For more information visit www.kevinssong.org or call (313) 236-7109.
What: Kevin’s Song 5th annual Virtual Conference on Suicide: Equity and Equality in Suicide Prevention
When: Jan. 21-23
Where: The three-day online summit will take place virtually
Presented by: The Dolores and Paul Lavins Foundation
Produced by: Detroit Public Television (DPTV)
Cost: The three-day conference is $175. The Thursday School Summit program is $100. If purchased separately, the Saturday morning Survivor program is $25. Student rates are available. There are also group rates available for the School Summit.
To register or for more information: kevinssong.org