Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /home/gspimcg1/public_html/includes/

AAS Healing Conference

American Association of Suicidology

27th Annual Conference

April 18, 2015

Hyatt Regency Atlanta on Peachtree Street


You are invited to join hundreds of your colleagues in Atlanta, GA to participate in a conference of people who are interested in suicide prevention, intervention, postvention and research. This unique event is specifically designed to meet the diverse interests and needs of attendees while creating a powerful opportunity for networking, learning and moving the field of suicidology forward.

The AAS/AFSP/TAPS 27th Healing After Suicide Loss Conference will take place all day on Saturday April 18th. Saturdays program will begin with a panel presentation entitled, "Getting Connected, Staying Connected: A Journey to Healing and Hope". The rest of the day includes sharing/educational sessions in the morning followed by a luncheon, with concurrent workshops with a closing ceremony in the afternoon

Designed for survivors of suicide loss, support group facilitators, mental health professionals, and interested others, the purpose of the Healing After Suicide Conference is to:

  • Provide survivors with educational tools and resources to help with their individual journeys of healing and to transform their experience into action.
  • Assist mental health professionals and other caregivers in understanding the needs of survivors
  • Provide assistance to facilitators of survivor support groups


For a full program overview of both of these conferences, and for detailed information on all conference workshops and sessions, download the full brochure HERE


Conference Workshops and Sessions info:


Navigating Troubled Waters: Making One’s Way Through the Unique Aspects of Suicide-Related Grief: A Primer for Survivors, Therapists, Caregivers, and SOS Group Facilitators

Stuart D. Smith,  M.A., LPC, Psychotherapist, Clinical Coordinator for The Link Counseling Center’s Resource Center for Suicide Prevention and Aftercare, Atlanta, GA

The experience of suicide-related loss is complicated and often overwhelming. Those left grieving can feel devastated, alone, and without direction. In this workshop we will examine many of the obstacles faced by survivors of suicide and propose constructive responses. We will identify numerous components of the loss itself, and of the healing process, in order to help survivors better understand the feelings, challenges, and possibilities that they may experience. The larger intent is to provide support and encouragement to survivors and those who wish to help them in their healing process. 


Healing Journey for the Grieving Family

Moderator: Maureen Underwood, LCSW, Society for the Prevention Teen Suicide

Panelists: Tracie Hicks, David Pritchard, Brian Pritchard, Gary Delaplane, Elvira Delaplane

Healing begins by identifying the specific ways in which family functioning is impacted by a traumatic death. At the most basic level, the family’s assumptions of safety and security are irrevocably shattered as they struggle to deal with the changed reality of their world. Within the family, each member will deal with the death differently, and the many good things that the family shares can get lost in the sense of isolation and confusion that the suicide has produced. This workshop will address the ways in which a strength-based or resilience paradigm can be used to acknowledge families’ pain, fear, and loss, and then to identify and emphasize strengths and effective coping. It will also review how to frame these approaches in a way that the children in the family can understand.

 For information or to request slides for this session, please contact Maureen Underwood

Healing Connections: Grief and Internet Resources

Glen Lord, BSBA, President, The Grief Toolbox

The internet and technology have become such a major part of our lives. We will discuss how to use Facebook, online chat groups and other websites that offer help and support to survivors of suicide loss. The internet offers many tools for all of us as we journey through grief. There are also many ways and opportunities to honor and share our loved ones with the world. It is important to understand how to use the internet to be helpful while avoiding the potential pitfalls. In this workshop we will learn from each other and share all the internet has to offer to help as we grieve.

For information or to request slides for this session, please contact Glen Lord at


Creative Paths to Healing

Michael Myers, M.D., Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY / Carla Fine, M.S., Writer, New York, NY

Everyone grieves the suicide death of a loved one in unique and different ways. Because silence and stigma so often surround a death by suicide, survivors frequently feel alone and isolated, with no outlet to express their innermost feelings about their loss, guilt, anger, heartbreak and confusion. Carla Fine, the author of the book “No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One,” and Dr. Michael F. Myers, professor of clinical psychiatry at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY will combine their dual perspectives as survivor and mental health professional to offer creative and different ways to cope with the suicide of a loved one. Co-authors of the book, “Touched by Suicide: Hope and Healing After Loss,” Ms. Fine and Dr. Myers will offer attendees hands-on participation through the use of writing exercises, role-playing and creative dialog exercises, and other novel methods to learn ways to express their feelings about suicide to their family, friends, and society.


After Suicide: Reclaiming Ourselves & the Love of Life Itself

Elaine Alpert, M.Ed., Re[Mind] Center of Atlanta, Founder/Director Transformative Education, Coaching, and Tools

Following the enormous loss of a loved one to suicide, the quality of connection is even more important - to ourselves, to others, to helpful resources, and to life itself. However we often feel alone and unable to reach out. Our “inner chatter” makes matters worse by replaying what has happened, dictating how things could’ve been, and how dim the future looks. How can we ever find real joy in living again? Elaine Alpert, MEd, will teach essential tools she used following the suicide of her teenaged son, tools to move from merely surviving to thriving. As a dynamic group facilitator for over 25 years, she integrates rapid-relief techniques that all ages can benefit from to promote true connection, lower stress, and create more peace of mind.  

Download the Tapping handout for this session HERE


Healing After Suicide Through Faith and Spirituality  

Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., CEO & Co-Founder, Carson J Spencer Foundation, Danielle R. Jahn, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, VA Capitol Health Care Network (VISN 5), Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC)

When a loved one dies by suicide, those bereaved may use religion and spirituality to help them cope and heal. Religion and spirituality are important to many of those bereaved by suicide, and both private religious beliefs and support from religious communities can be healing. Additionally, a recent paper suggests that continuing bonds through spiritual connections to the deceased are common, positive experiences for the bereaved. In the context of these continuing bonds, we will discuss experiences of after-death communications with deceased loved ones and their relation to spirituality. This session will review research regarding the positive, healing effects of faith and spirituality to highlight how those bereaved by suicide can utilize religion and spirituality in their own healing journeys. There will also be time reserved for attendees to share their religious and spiritual experiences related to bereavement by suicide, led by presenters who have had their own spiritual and religious experiences in their healing journeys.


Real Men Grieve (Men Only Group)

Moderator: Eric Marcus, Senior Director for Loss & Bereavement Programs, AFSP

Panelists: Franklin Cook, M.A., CPC; Don Lipstein, Peer Support and Training Coordinator, TAPS; Glen Lord, BSBA, Mo Krausman; Jason Weeks

This special program (presented for men only) will explore the challenges, issues and opportunities that many grieving men face.  In many ways men are an underserved population when it comes to grieving.  The Real Men Grieve panel is meant to shine a light on the fact that there is a lot more to a man’s grief than the stereotypical picture often portrayed. Some men get angry, some men do not. Some men get quiet and some men want to talk. Some men engage in unhealthy behavior and some men don’t. The real message we hope to send is that giving ourselves permission to grieve is a starting place from which healing can begin. Come join us...we won’t make you talk, sit in a circle, or ask you to dance. We’re just guys being guys trying to help each other survive and even thrive in a world telling us to “just be strong” and “get over it.”


The Birdhouse Project: A Tool of Self-discovery

Kris G. Munsch Ed.S., Assistant Professor, Fort Hays State University

The Birdhouse Project is a step-by-step process to help individuals identify and organize emotions after tragic events. By seeing how the blank pieces of a birdhouse represent the pieces of ourselves after a tragedy, we can express our weaknesses, strengths, and desires while symbolically rebuilding our lives. This building process encourages us to explore our emotions. Whether we share our feelings or keep them to ourselves, the important thing is that we are putting the pieces back together in a meaningful, constructive way.

For more information on this session, please visit


Optimizing Mental Health and Navigating Treatment

Christine Moutier, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, AFSP

This session is designed to frame the issue of mental health broadly, focusing on mental health professional support and treatment. Since mental health spans a full continuum and each individual has unique strengths, coping strategies, and vulnerabilities, approaches to strive for optimal mental health will be discussed.  When professional mental health care is warranted, it can be a critical time when families and individuals feel particularly vulnerable. Approachestofindingtherighttreatmentandnavigatingtheworldofmentalhealthcarewillbediscussed.Muchofthesessionwillbedevotedtointeractive discussion and Q&A.


The Gift – Shared Stories of Positive Changes

Gary Delaplane, Mary Ann Stark, Natalie Flake Lord, Karyl Chastain Beal, M.Ed., Diane Petro

The Gift is a story that has been told time and time again by Iris Bolton.  It is hard to imagine after a loss that there can be a gift on the other side.  But for most of us, after we take time to grieve, there is a great need to give meaning to our loss and make a difference in our world, state, or community. This panel will share stories of positive change after a loss by suicide; stories of where their journey has led and how they used their loss to create positive change.TheGIFTSontheothersideofalosscanbebig,smallandeverysizeinbetween–sometimeswefindourlife’sworkandsometimeswefindsome small act that gives meaning and allows us to move on. Whatever it is…is just enough…to help us keep moving on our journey.


Mind/ Body Connection for Healing and Letting Go

Tracey Gutman, Certified Yoga and Mindful Meditation Instructor

The group will be led through different mindfulness exercises for the purpose of letting go of negative or painful thoughts from the mind and heart. There will also be light stretching exercises done, while seated in chairs, to help the body feel better, more open and more relaxed. This class is scheduled for the end of the day so that you can leave the conference feeling less depleted and more whole-hearted.


Healing Ceremony

Iris Bolton, M.A.,  Author, Director Emeritus, The Link Counseling Center 


Contact us for ways to reach out to our faciliators for questions or material requests.  Check back to for updates!