Riverside Trauma Center Newsletter
Winter 2013
In This Issue
Our 3rd Annual Conference
The Bullfinch Group
Charitable Foundation
Suicide Prevention Conference in Norway
Safe and Successful
Youth Initiative
Helping Animals After a
Natural Disaster
MA Suicide Prevention Conference
Dear Friend, 


This fall we had our 3rd Riverside Trauma Center Annual Conference. It was an amazing day of captivating speakers sharing their expertise with a lively audience of mental health clinicians who work in the trauma field. Thank you to all the presenters and attendees who made the conference a special experience. I hope to see you again at next year's conference.


In September, I had the honor of presenting at the XXVII World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention in Oslo, Norway. There were attendees from all over the world, and the conference was filled with insightful information -- some of which I share with you in the article below.


I saw the first snowflake of the season recently and realized the holidays are right around the corner. Holidays can be a difficult time of year for those people who have experienced loss. Let us remember to keep an eye on our friends, family members, and colleagues, and help those in need cope with their loss during the holidays.


Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Larry Berkowitz, EdD

Director, Riverside Trauma Center

Our 3rd Annual Conference

Dr. Meichenbaum presenting at conference.

We held our 3rd Annual Conference "Resilience Through

the Lifespan: Maximizing  Personal Strength in the Face of Trauma" on October 4 at the Crowne Plaza in Natick. Over 180 people attended, so it was a great opportunity to network with trauma care providers.


The presentations by Dr. Donald Meichenbaum and Steve Gross, MSW, were very informative and incredibly entertaining. Our own Larry Berkowitz, EdD, and Waheeda Saif, LMHC, gave a moving presentation about their first-hand account of helping after the Boston Marathon Bombing and the lessons learned from the experience.


Feedback from attendees was very positive. One attendee mentioned that "The information shared by all presenters and the way the information was shared were both excellent. At times, especially during the presentation about the Marathon bombing, the presentation was actually quite moving as well." Another said, "The conference was excellent and I really liked the way you presented the Marathon work. You guys organize some of the best conferences I have been to!"


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The Bulfinch Group Charitable Foundation       


(Left to right:) Riverside Community Care's
Scott M. Bock, President/CEO and Katie Welch, Director of Marketing and Development; The Bullfinch Group's Kevin S. Schneider, Partner & EVP, and Seth Medalie, President 
The Bulfinch Group Charitable Foundation hosted a golf tournament in June at The Golf Club at Cape Cod with a full field of over 140 golfers. In September 2013, the Bulfinch Group Charitable Foundation presented Riverside Community Care with $40,000 with the proceeds earmarked for Riverside Trauma Center's work with teen suicide prevention and the people affected by the Boston Marathon Bombing. Thank you to all of those who coordinated, attended, and/or supported the event, and especially to Bulfinch President, Seth Medalie, and his wife, Leslie, who serves on the Board of Directors for Riverside. We are grateful for the Bulfinch Group's continued support of Riverside Trauma Center's work in local communities!

Suicide Prevention Conference in Norway 


In September, approximately 500 people from 5 continents gathered in Oslo, Norway for the biennial conference of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). Riverside Trauma Center's Director, Larry Berkowitz, EdD, was at the conference to present the Center's suicide postvention guidelines, as they relate to supporting employees in the workplace following a suicide death. These guidelines have the distinction of being approved by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and the American Association of Suicidology Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention. Larry Berkowitz's presentation was one in a series about "suicide postvention and the workplace" that included speakers from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Thailand.


"It was a fascinating experience," Berkowitz reported, "hearing the leading ideas in suicide prevention and intervention from around the world. There are many similarities in what's occurring globally, but it was especially interesting to hear differences in perspectives, particularly from people in lower-income countries." One example of those differences concerned different risk factors. Speaking about his work in China, one presenter noted that in western countries, divorce is considered a risk factor for suicide for both men and women. However, he reported that when women were first able to divorce, suicide rates for women in China decreased. (China is among the few countries in the world where women have higher suicide rates than men.) 


A range of interesting suicide prevention programs were presented at the conference, including a creative Australian program (www.matesinconstruction.com.au) that has been effectively integrated into the construction industry. Addressing construction workers relays important messages about mental health wellness and suicide prevention to a segment of the population with higher rates of suicide -- working-age men. An informative guide was also presented at the conference entitled A Manager's Guide to Suicide Postvention in the Workplace, published by the Carson J. Spenser Foundation with the following renowned contributors: American Association of Suicidology, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), and the Crisis Care Network.


There are approximately one million suicide deaths annually worldwide. IASP, in official relationship with the World Health Organization, promotes sharing information on innovative treatments and interventions to decrease suicides globally.


The Safe and Successful Youth Initiative

Through the Commonwealth's Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI), Riverside Trauma Center is building a network of community trauma responders to focus on youth violence in Massachusetts cities that have the highest number of youth homicides and serious assaults. One of the cities that Jennifer Cabral, MA, LMHC, our Southeast Regional Coordinator for SSYI, is working with is New Bedford, MA.


In January 2013, over 60 people in the New Bedford community were trained by Riverside in Psychological First Aid (PFA) and Post Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM). This group included mental health clinicians, clergy, school personnel, employees from the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and the Department of Mental Health, and other local community members. PFA and PTSM aim to decrease emotional problems that can result from violent incidents, and potentially decrease the likelihood of future retaliatory violence in youth. These trained individuals formed the Southeast Trauma Response Network, which meets monthly to discuss trauma responses and ways to effectively utilize the team.


When New Bedford experienced three adolescent suicide deaths from February to July, the trained trauma responders were on hand to work with those impacted by the loss. Following these tragic events, Riverside Trauma Center staff helped facilitate the creation of the Greater New Bedford Suicide Prevention Coalition Team, now headed by Reverend David Lima. The Coalition's mission is to educate the public about the warning signs of suicide and help build the resources to support suicide prevention. The Coalition includes clergy, mental health clinicians, politicians, business owners, state and local representatives, school officials, and personnel from local agencies. The organization held its first event on October 5 -- a nine-mile walk to bring awareness to suicide prevention. Over 400 people attended.


Jen is working with New Bedford Public Schools to provide Signs of Suicide curriculum to close to 1,000 6th graders throughout the 3 New Bedford middle schools in November and December. The Signs of Suicide curriculum aids in the identification of students who need help, and also teaches the school community how to recognize the potential warnings signs of someone considering suicide. In the spring of 2014, the 9th graders at the high school will be screened through the SOS curriculum.


Helping Animals After a Natural Disaster   
When Riverside Trauma Center's Jim dog-walker2.jpgMcCauley, LICSW, wanted to investigate how animals are impacted by natural disasters, he interviewed David Schwarz, DVM -- the current Board President of the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART). SMART is a network of organizations, agencies, and individuals committed to responding to the needs of the animal population in disaster situations throughout Massachusetts. Dr. Schwarz received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University, and is a practicing veterinarian at Ashland Animal Hospital in Ashland, MA. He is also a member of the Medical Reserve Corps.


Can you tell us about the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team and what role it plays after a natural disaster such as a tornado or flood?

SMART is a non-profit organization with representation from groups and individuals committed to responding to the needs of animals in emergencies or disasters. At the invitation of either local or state emergency managers, our volunteers would be deployed to assist with any animal issues. This may include search and rescue for displaced animals, sheltering of animals, and veterinary supervision. SMART is also involved in education and community outreach to help communities include pets in all phases of emergency management. While this may be a small piece of the overall response, it can derail a plan if pets have not been planned for.   


In our own work as trauma responders we have seen some tragic consequences when people would not leave their homes because they were worried about their pets. What advice do you have for people impacted by natural disasters who are worried about their pets' safety? First of all, all of us should realize that we each have some personal responsibility to have emergency plans for ourselves and our families, including our pets. It is unrealistic to think that some group, public or private, will be there immediately to help us. That being said, we should all have emergency go-kits, and these should include supplies for our pets. NEVER leave your pet behind if you have to evacuate. Try to help your local emergency managers prepare and be sure that they have included animals in their plans.


Are there any provisions that can be made for large animals such as horses in the case of a natural disaster? While our focus is largely household pets, we do have volunteers and supplies for large animals as well. Once again owners of these large animals should have plans themselves for preparing for a disaster, organizing evacuation essentials, and what to do after a disaster.


What is the most surprising pet(s) that you have seen brought to a shelter? So far, snakes have probably been the most unusual. Our Specialized Species team lends its expertise to sheltering these animals.


People often ask us if animals can get PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) since animals often display symptoms such as fear, avoidance, and hypervigilance after a traumatic event. Is there a similar diagnosis for animals? What is the best way to help an animal who has been traumatized? PTSD in animals is not a formally recognized condition in veterinary medicine, but many animal behavior experts do believe it exists. Cases have been reported in police dogs, the dogs that survived the Fukushima event, and even after automobile accidents. Handling these animals can be difficult depending on their signs. If you have concerns that your animal has been affected by a traumatic event, see a veterinary behaviorist or your veterinarian.


Are there opportunities for people to volunteer to help pets during a natural disaster? Absolutely! We welcome new volunteers on our website, smartma.org. In addition there may be local opportunities to help as well.


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13th Annual Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Conference   

The Future of Suicide Prevention:

Suicide Prevention Across the Lifespan


April 16-17, 2014

Sheraton Framingham Hotel & Conference Center

Framingham, MA


Keynote speakers:

Alan (Lanny) Berman, PhD, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology since 1995


Craig A. Miller, author of the book This is How it Feels, attempt survivor, and motivational speaker


Registration information will be available at www.masspreventssuicide.org beginning in February.


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Please Let Us Know What You Think

If you would like to share some comments about our newsletter or provide us with some ideas for articles that you would like to see, please send an email to tcenter@riversidecc.org. We would love to hear from you.





Riverside Trauma Center is a service of Riverside Community Care, a non-profit organization. Services are primarily funded through donations and contracts from the Massachusetts Departments of Mental Health and Public Health. All contributions are welcome and appreciated.


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