Approximately 300 people attended this year's Suicide Prevention Awareness Day ceremony on September 13 at Trevecca Community Church in Nashville, the annual highlight of TSPN's statewide Suicide Prevention Awareness Month campaign.
Deputy Governor Jim Henry presented this year's proclamation of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month from Governor Bill Haslam. Proclamations from city and county governments across the state were on display at the event; over 100 of these have been received by the central office.
Scott Couch, anchor/reporter with WZTV-Fox 17 News, emceed the event, which featured remarks from Marie Williams, LCSW, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, as well as Jameson K. Norton, Chief Executive Officer of Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics. Vanderbilt Behavioral Health sponsored this year's event and the luncheon that followed.
Also speaking at this year's observance was Cindy Curtis Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator for Avalon Hospice. Since losing her son Brandon to suicide in 2009 at the age of 20, Cindy has been one of TSPN's strongest survivor-advocates. In the years since her devastating loss, she organized a survivors of suicide loss group in Clarksville which still meets today. She was the first chair of the Montgomery-Houston-Humphreys-Stewart County Task Force, which has since expanded to Robertson County as well. She has provided support services and awareness events at Middle Tennessee State University (which Brandon attended) and at Fort Campbell for the benefit of service personnel stationed there.
This year's Madge and Ken Tullis, MD, Suicide Prevention Award went to Robert C. Killen, Ed.D., Supervisor of Counseling and Mental Health for Maury County Public Schools. Killen assisted TSPN in piloting its Suicide Behavior Procedure Checklist within the school system, helping enhance and streamline the protocol ahead of its statewide release. As such, he has helped schools across Tennessee improve their ability to react to and help students in crisis.
Additionally, TSPN bestowed this year's Suicide Awareness and Prevention Service Award on the Tennessee Department of Health's Primary Prevention Initiative for its inclusion of suicide prevention to the list of projects from which participating TDH employees could choose to engage. Several TDH employees have received instruction as suicide prevention trainers, imparting life-saving skills to their colleagues and communities. In the last year, TDH employees working on the suicide prevention aspect of PPI have provided training to hundreds of people across Tennessee. The Tennessee Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention received this year's Community Partner Award in recognition of the partnership TSPN has developed with this agency in the last year, combining our efforts to improve the reach of our respective awareness efforts. The Maryville Times received this year's Special Media Award, recognizing the paper's longstanding promotion of TSPN's mission and projects and its role in establishing TSPN's first county-specific suicide prevention task force.
The Network would like to thank everyone who submitted a panel for the latest "Love Never Dies" Memorial Quilt-thirteenth in the series and the largest to date--dedicated during this program. We would also like to thank Eileen Wallach, CEO of Your Heart on Art, Inc.,
for making the "Wish Upon a Star" art installation available for this event and others across the state.
TSPN wishes to thank all those who helped organize these events, whose passion and dedication have seen the Network through another year of outreach, education, and lives saved.