Interfaith, Educator Community Conversation on Suicide

May 22nd, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

More than 1,000 Arizonans died by suicide last year. Research shows most people who die by suicide reach out several times to ask for help beforehand, and some 90% have depression.

We can stop these deaths. The interfaith community and educators are invited to join staff from the Arizona Department of Health Services and the University of Arizona College of Public Health in a community conversation on suicide, 9 am-2 pm, Thursday, June 18th in Tucson. The event is free, and lunch and materials will be provided.

Please come to learn how to recognize signs of depression, how to talk about suicide, and what resources are available in your community. Together, we can stop suicide!

RSVP here. 

Celebrate National Prevention Week

May 22nd, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

The Arizona Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) and the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families (GOCYF) is partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in support of National Prevention Week, a national health observance focused on raising awareness of programs, strategies, and resources to prevent substance abuse and mental disorders. National Prevention Week takes place May 17–23, 2015.

This year’s theme, The Voice of One, the Power of All, highlights the important role that individuals and communities alike have in helping people lead healthy, productive lives. Preventing the onset of substance abuse and mental illness among all age groups is important. No one is immune from these issues.

It’s especially vital to harness the power of prevention for young Americans:

  • Teens and pre-teens who try an illicit drug or drink alcohol at age 14 or younger are at least four times more likely to be classified with substance dependence or abuse as adults.[1]
  • Among adults reporting a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder during their lifetime, more than half report that the disorder started in childhood or adolescence.[2]
  • Behavioral health issues are not just the problem of “him,” “her,” or “that person over there.” Cities, towns, and neighborhoods are webs of interconnected people. The effects of one person experiencing substance abuse or a mental disorder can touch the lives of many others in a community.

DBHS is committed to reducing underage drinking and prescription drug abuse in Arizona. Currently, we are working together with GOCYF to disseminate among Arizona substance abuse partners, an information, resource and training packet focused on prevention of prescription drug abuse. This includes best practice models for safe drug disposal, Pharmacy programs identifying and reducing ‘doctor shopping’ as well as considerations for safe, effective prescribing protocols.

You can join DBHS, GOCYF, and SAMHSA in observing National Prevention Week 2015 by participating in the “I Choose” campaign. Show your support for prevention of substance abuse and other behavioral health issues by taking a self-photo while displaying a positive message or reason for living healthy on a plain white sheet of paper. Then send your photo with details of name, business affiliation, state/county/zip-code, and legible rewritten ‘I Choose’ statement to Visit the National Prevention Week website to learn more about how to get involved.

Your voice matters, and together, we have the power to create positive environments for the health of our families, our peers, and our community.

[1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Results from the 2013 National

Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-48, HHS

Publication No. (SMA) 14-4863. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Administration. Retrieved October 22, 2014, from

[2] Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6): 593–602.

Celebrate Mental Health Month: Be Assessed

May 15th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »


May is national Mental Health Month. This year’s theme is “Addressing mental health before stage 4.” Mental Health America chose that theme to indicate that people and the medical community work hard to diagnose and treat physical ailments before they are at the final stage. It’s the same with mental health; Americans should be assessed for mental health concerns before it becomes a crisis.


We work closely with providers, the Regional Behavioral Health Providers and through Mental Health First Aid training to make sure people have the resources for early diagnosis. It’s a priority for us. This week, several of our staff wore green to honor the month.


Almost half of all Americans will meet criteria for a mental health disorder at some point in life. First signs often emerge in childhood or adolescence. Research has shown an average of ten years is lost between first signs of mental health distress and diagnosis.

Starting a conversation with a friend, family member, clergy or primary care provider could shorten this ten year gap and provide the linkage to necessary services sooner.

In Arizona, the Regional Behavioral Health Authorities can help, if you are interested in being screened.


Arizona Suicide Coalition Offers Webinars

May 6th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

The Arizona Suicide Prevention Coalition is facilitating a handful of webinars during the month of May related to preventing suicide. The calendar, with details on each course, can be found here: Webinar calendar_May 2015

For more information, please contact: Petrice Post at

Program Develops Tribal Community Leaders

May 5th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

Some 15 slots are currently available for the 2015 class of the 4 Directions Development Program, offered by National Relief Charities. The six month program, intended for tribal members and those who work with tribes, grooms emerging leaders on personal and professional development goals.

The program is free, and includes four retreat sessions. Nominations for the program are now open. For more information, contact Shane Burnett:   1-877-281-0808,

For more information about National Relief Charities, visit:

Primary Care Visits Could Prevent Suicide

May 5th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

New research from the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit shows many people who attempt suicide have recently visited their primary care physician. The study examined medical records of more than 22,000 Americans who attempted suicide between 2009-2011. Some 38% had a health visit within a week of the attempt.

Another 64% had a health visit within a month prior to the attempt, and 95% had seen a physician within a year.

The results show primary care physicians and health workers have a golden opportunity to discuss suicide and depression with patients. Speaking with patients about their mental health, and knowing what suicide prevention resources are available in their communities for referral, could be key to preventing suicide. More than 1 million Americans attempt suicide annually.

For more information about the Arizona state plan to prevent suicide, click here. The plan includes activities related to outreaching Arizona’s health care work force to have such conversations.

For more information about the Henry Ford study, visit:



Students Invited To Tour State Lab

May 5th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

High school and college students are invited to learn about public health and tour the state-of-the-art Arizona Department of Health Services Lab.

The event will take place from 9 am-4 pm, Thursday, June 11 at the state lab: 250 N. 17th avenue, Phoenix.

Students will have the chance to learn about the many interesting careers public health has to offer, meet with public health professionals and have free lunch.

For more information, contact: Susan Levy 602-279-5262,


Behavioral Health Beds Added in Phoenix

May 5th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS) recently opened a new behavioral health unit, adding 11 beds. MIHS now has a total of 201 licensed behavioral health beds between their two centers: Desert Vista in Mesa and Behavioral Health Annex in Phoenix.

“This is good news for the residents of Maricopa County,” said Steve Purves, President and CEO of MIHS. “Behavioral health services are deeply needed in our community. The expansion of the Behavioral Health Annex on the Maricopa Medical Center campus will help more people get access to high-quality, specialized care. And just as importantly, they’ll be able to get care close to home.”

In 2014, MIHS treated 3,257 patients needing acute psychiatric care and provided more than 5,000 hour of outpatient counseling services. The new unit offers voluntary and involuntary care.

For more information, visit:



ASU Changemakers Prevent Suicide

April 29th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

A group of students from Arizona State University has won the $10,000 Changemaker Challenge prize for their work creating a technology that scans Twitter for messages referring to suicide and self-harm. ARKHumanity, which was initially created during a hackathon, filters Twitter messages, linking the authors with immediate support.


“It is an unfortunate reality that messages indicating distress in social media often receive no reply. This failure to respond can greatly exacerbate feelings of worthlessness and isolation that contribute to suicidal thinking,” said Jordan Bates, ARKHumanity’s team leader and an ASU PhD student. “Technology is rapidly changing how we interact, and we should make sure we don’t lose our humanity along the way. Every person matters. No call for help should go unanswered.”

Team members say they’ll use the prize money to help with server costs, legal expenses and conference presentations to introduce it to local, state and national organizations. The group’s goal is to make the technology available to select mental-health professionals by October 2015 and to update the technology as necessary to be able to expand response capacity. Ultimately, the team wants to develop an impactful platform that can be adopted by mental-health organizations locally and globally.


The five-member team of ASU graduate and undergraduate students and community members came from varying backgrounds. For more information, visit:


New Suicide Prevention Training Offered

April 15th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care (MMIC) is hosting a new LivingWorks Education suicide prevention  training, offered for the first time in the Phoenix region. Suicide to Hope: A Recovery and Growth Workshop is a one-day workshop primarily designed for clinicians and other professional caregivers who work with persons recently at risk of and currently safe from suicide. It provides tools to help caregivers and persons with experiences of suicide work together to develop achievable and significant recovery and growth goals.

The training will take place at 8 am – 5 pm, Thursday, May 7 at 9801 S 51st St, Phoenix, AZ 85044. The cost is $150 to attend. For more information and to register, email Karen Krell at