Campus Walk To Raise Funds for Suicide Prevention

March 17th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

On March 21st, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will host the fourth annual Out of the Darkness Campus Walk at Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus. The event will include speakers and a commemorative ceremony on Hayden Lawn, followed by a 2.5 mile walk.

Funds raised from the walk will support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s research and education programs. Some 40,000 Americans died by suicide last year.

The event begins at 8 am with a resource fair. To register, visit:


What’s In Your Medicine Cabinet?

March 12th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

This week is national Patient Safety Awareness Week. As such, officials from American Recall Center are asking Americans to take inventory of their medicine cabinets.

The Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Challenge asks all Americans do to three things:

  1.      Know your medications
    – Do you take your prescriptions as prescribed?
    – Do you understand all possible side effects?
    2.    Secure your medications
    – Are your medicines stored in a secured location?
    – How do you monitor the amount left in each medicine bottle?
    3.    Dispose your medications
    – Do you know how/where to safely dispose of any unused or expired medications?
    – Have you checked to see if any medications are recalled

Last year, more than 750 Arizonans died by accidental poisoning.

For more information on drug recalls, visit:

safeTALK Training Open to Public

March 12th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

SafeTALK – a best practice half-day alertness workshop that teaches how to recognize direct and indirect signs of those who may be considering suicide, is being offered to community members. The training provides an opportunity to learn how to talk about suicide, and connect with an appropriate intervention. Participants become “suicide-alert helpers.”

Most thinking of suicide are struggling with the pain and do not want to die. safeTALK-trained helpers can recognize language that should draw action, possibly including life-saving intervention resources.

The event will take place at 8:30 am – noon, April 7th at EMPACT La Frontera Suicide Prevention Center, located at: 618 S. Madison Drive, Tempe, 85281.

The registration fee is $25 and includes participant materials and continental breakfast.

To enroll, visit:

For more information about safeTALK, visit:


Survivors of Suicide Conference May 2

March 11th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

La Frontera-EMPACT officials are hosting the 16th annual Arizona Survivors of Suicide Conference at 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, Saturday, May 2 at the Black Canyon Conference Center in Phoenix.

The conference focuses on hope and healing for those who have lost a family member or friend to suicide. The keynote speaker, Frank Campbell, PhD, LCSW, is the past president of the American Association of Suicidology.  He will speak about assisting those dealing with survivor grief.

To register, visit:

Black Canyon Conference Center is located at: 9440 N. 25th Ave, Phoenix, 85021.

For more information, email Sandra McNally:


Guadalupe Cultural Event Thursday

March 3rd, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

Youth in the town of Guadalupe are helping host a series of workshops concerning traditional Yaqui language and history. The Yoeme Maachiria series will also include an art project for the community.

The first event, open for all, is 6 pm, Thursday March 5 a the Itom Hiapsi Tribal Building, 9405 S. Avenida del Yaqui in Guadalupe. Participants will learn, among other things, the traditional Yaqui greeting.

For more information:



Office of Human Rights Advocates for Arizonans

February 24th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

Voice and choice are essential for individuals on the path of recovery.  Yet for some of our most vulnerable members, those unable to independently understand, protect and exercise their rights due to mental illness or cognitive impairment, self-determination is insurmountable without assistance.

The Arizona Department of Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services (ADHS/DBHS), has an established Office of Human Rights (OHR) to provide advocacy for such individuals.  The focus of OHR is to provide advocacy to individuals determined to have a serious mental illness (SMI) to help them understand, protect and exercise their rights, facilitate self-advocacy through education and obtain access to behavioral health services in the publicly funded behavioral health system in Arizona.

OHR primarily represents individuals with a SMI and in need of Special Assistance- that is, individuals who are unable to independently express their goals and preferences and protect their rights — in service and discharge planning and in the grievance and appeal processes. Currently in the state of Arizona there are over 1,100 clients that have been identified to be in need of Special Assistance of whom OHR provides direct advocacy to more than 400. The remaining Special Assistance population receives advocacy and assistance from others, such as their friends, family members or guardians. OHR also provides technical assistance, information and guidance to friends, family members and guardians when requested to support their advocacy efforts.

OHR works with members to understand their treatment needs and preferences, and to works collaboratively work with other entities to ensure that members’ needs are met, that their rights are protected and that desired services can be accessed without barriers.

To accomplish this, OHR interfaces with several other entities including, but not limited to adult probation, the public defenders’ office, the public fiduciary’s’ offices, other advocacy agencies, and peer run organizations. Last month, OHR had nearly 600 encounters with clients, stakeholders, and providers in the field to accomplish our work! The value in this collaborative approach is essential to achieve the best outcomes for this vulnerable population.

In addition to the provision of individual advocacy, OHR also identifies and addresses systemic issues. Systemic issues can be identified through themes from multiple cases, or through our representation on a single case when, for example, a policy or practice is problematic and has the potential to impact others besides our client. Further, OHR serves as the front line reporters for DBHS to identify potential problems in the system to allow for early intervention and correction.

The past few months have been both exciting and challenging for the behavioral health system. The transition of Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) and delivery models in Maricopa County not only brings the promise of integrated care and improved outcomes, it carries the growing pains associated with operational and programmatic changes. In these times, advocacy becomes even more essential for those individuals who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

OHR looks forward to the new challenge on the horizon beginning October 2015 as we transition the model and RBHAs for Greater Arizona. Clearly, advocacy is an integral part of an ever evolving behavioral health system.  It is an honor for OHR to be a part of the members’ voices and choices to improve the care for the individual member, as well as the system as a whole.


Dana Hearn is the Office Chief at the Office of Human Rights and has been in the mental health field for over 12 years, serving a wide variety of populations. Dana is a graduate of Arizona State University.  During Dana’s time in the mental health field she has worked as a behavioral consultant for both inpatient and outpatient settings, as well as within the regional behavioral health clinics and residential facilities in both the DDD and behavioral health systems.  Most of Dana’s work as a behavioral consultant was geared toward individuals dually diagnosed with SMI and DD.  Through behavioral consultation Dana wrote many functional behavioral assessments and behavior plans assisting clients to greater independence and furtherance of their skills.  From July 2011 to March 2014 she served as the Lead Advocate for the Office of Human Rights prior to becoming Office Chief.

Veterinarians Shown to Have Higher Suicide Risk

February 23rd, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) recently published a summary of a national survey concerning veterinarians and suicide. Statistics show veterinarians have higher rates of serious psychological distress, depressive episodes and suicidal ideation than the general population.

Of the 10,254 veterinarians nationally who participated in the survey, some 298 were from Arizona.

A summary of the findings can be found here. 

Further analysis to better understand why this profession has higher rates of such psychological issues is needed.


Online Suicide Prevention Training Available

February 4th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

ADHS/DBHS now has three online trainings through Kognito: At-Risk for Middle School Educators, At-Risk for High School Educators, and At-Risk for Emergency Department Staff.  All three trainings are listed in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center/American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Best Practices Registry.

In the At-Risk trainings, participants learn to recognize warning signs that an individual may be experiencing psychological stress (e.g., depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse) and engage in virtual conversations with individuals utilizing open-ended questions, brief screening, and motivational interviewing techniques in order to facilitate an open dialogue with the individual and assist them in getting connected to support and/or treatment as needed.

For more information, visit:

At-Risk for Middle/High School Educators

At-Risk for Emergency Department Staff

Medicine Disposal Boxes Installed in Navajo County

January 29th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

Officials in Navajo County recently added five new locations for disposal of expired or unwanted medication. These secure medicine drop boxes are located in: Whiteriver, Heber/Overgaard, Holbrook, Winslow and Pinon Health Center.

Three existing medicine drop boxes in northern Arizona are located at the Show Low, Pinetop Lakeside and Snowflake Taylor police departments. The additional boxes are a result of a public private partnership with Community Bridges and the Navajo Sheriff’s Office.

Officials said they hope the boxes will help reduce abuse and overdose rates. Arizona has the sixth highest rate nationally for prescription drug abuse.

Community Bridges received funding through Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority to implement a response to prescription drug abuse in Navajo County. Funds provided came from the Partnership for Successful Prevention via the Arizona Department of Health Services/Division of Behavioral Health.

Five strategies are also being used in the effort to combat inappropriate prescription drug use:

  • Reduce illicit acquisition and diversion of Rx drugs
  • Promote responsible prescribing and dispensing policies and practices
  • Enhance Rx drug practice and policies in law enforcement
  • Increase public awareness and patient education about Rx drug misuse
  • Enhance assessment and referral to treatment

For more information, visit:

Jeremyah Walk for Suicide Prevention

January 26th, 2015 by Kelli Donley No comments »

ADHS staff will join community members Saturday, February 7, at Kiwanis Park in Tempe to walk a 5k in memory of Jeremyah Orsini. Jeremyah died by suicide; his family organizes the annual walk in his memory to bring advocacy and awareness to suicide prevention.

The public is invited to participate. The 5k begins at 9:40 am.

For more information about the free walk, visit: