Riverside Trauma Center Newsletter
Fall 2014 
In This Issue
Our Fall Conference
Bulfinch Group Charitable Foundation
Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce Donation
Head Family
Charitable Foundation
New MA Legislation
Youth Suicide Prevention Effort
Youth Risk Behavior Survey


In September we held our 4th Annual Riverside Trauma Center Conference. It was a very productive day of sharing insights about trauma, grief, and resilience. We had more than 200 people in attendance who work in the trauma field. Thank you to all the presenters and attendees who made it a very memorable day. We hope to see you at next year's conference.


We have also been blessed recently with several wonderful donations from organizations. We are so thankful to the Bulfinch Group Charitable Foundation and the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce for donating proceeds from their fundraising events to us, and to the Head Family Charitable Foundation for a generous contribution -- all of which will allow us to continue providing critical services in our teen suicide prevention and other efforts.


Best wishes,


Larry Berkowitz, EdD

Director, Riverside Trauma Center

Our Fall Conference
Keynote speaker
George A. Bonanno, PhD


We held our 4th Annual Conference "Uncomplicating Grief: Pathways to Hope and Healing" on September 12 at the Crowne Plaza in Natick. We are excited to say that it was an overwhelming success with over 200 people in attendance.


Presentations by George A. Bonnano, PhD, John R. Jordan, PhD, and Larry Berkowitz, EdD, filled the day with information about trauma, grief, and resilience. The lively panel discussion provided insight into the influence of culture on grief and mourning. It was also a great opportunity to network with trauma care providers.


Feedback from attendees was very positive. One attendee mentioned that "Presenters were all articulate, interesting, and presented ideas well. I appreciated the marriage of research/data and clinical work to illustrate the points. Excellent!" Another said, "This was a great conference. Caliber of presentations was outstanding. It fed my brain and my heart."


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The Bulfinch Group Charitable Foundation


Left to right: Bullfinch Group's Kevin Schneider, EVP/Partner; Seth Medalie, President; and Caroline Bonnar, Director of Marketing; Riverside Community Care's Scott M. Bock, President/CEO; Riverside Trauma Center's Larry Berkowitz, EdD, Director.

The Bulfinch Group Charitable

Foundation hosted a golf tournament in June 2014 at The Golf Club at Cape Cod. In September, the Foundation presented Riverside Community Care with $40,000; a portion of the proceeds earmarked for Riverside Trauma Center's work with teen suicide prevention. Thank you to all of those who coordinated, attended, and/or supported the event. We are grateful for the Bulfinch Group's continued support of Riverside Trauma Center's work in local communities!



Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament



We are so grateful to the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce for honoring Riverside Trauma Center as the beneficiary of their 23rd annual Children's Charitable Golf Tournament held on August 4 at Woodland Golf Club. The $2,605 that was donated will be used in our community-based teen suicide prevention efforts. A big thank you to all of the sponsors of the event as well: The Village Bank, The Residences at Wingate, Sports Club/LA, Needham Bank, Century Bank, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital.


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Head Family Charitable Foundation 


The Head Family Charitable Foundation generously donated $25,000 to Riverside Trauma Center in June 2014. "We were thrilled to receive this gift. The Foundation's continued support through the years has been instrumental to our ability to provide critical services and trainings," commented Jim McCauley, LICSW, Associate Director of Riverside Trauma Center. The funds will be used to implement suicide prevention efforts, develop new trainings, and conduct essential research.

New Massachusetts Legislation Could Reduce Suicide Deaths 


The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed Chapter 284, "An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence." It was signed by the governor and went into effect immediately. While the major provisions of the law are designed to reduce gun violence by tightening requirements for gun purchases; improving local, state, and federal communication around gun purchases and gun violations; and closing loopholes on gun sales to minors and those with a history of gun violations or violent behavior, the law also includes several provisions that could reduce suicide deaths in the Commonwealth. Advocates successfully argued that guns are a major factor in suicide deaths, and the law would be enhanced if provisions to reduce suicide were included.


The new law includes the following provisions:

  1. Firearm and safety courses will now include training on harm reduction
  2. Information on suicide prevention will be available at point of sale ( i.e.,  gun shops)
  3. Firearm Identification Cards will include telephone numbers for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Samaritans Helpline
  4. Licensed school personnel are now required to receive a two-hour training on suicide prevention every three years

For a list of these and additional provisions of the new law, visit www/malegislature.gov.


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Innovative Youth Suicide Prevention Effort    


Riverside Trauma Center is excited to announce collaboration with the Carson J. Spencer Foundation's program The Fire Within -- an exciting new approach that combines social entrepreneurialism and youth suicide prevention. Three Massachusetts classes will have the opportunity for students to use innovation and business skills to find solutions to mental health issues and suicide risk in their schools. Our Suicide Prevention Specialist, Sarah Gaer, is spearheading this hands-on, classroom-based project that encourages students to develop and sell a product that will solve a root cause of suicide in their school and larger community.


The students will learn leadership skills, market research, root cause research, professionalism, and business management. They will also be trained in Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) -- an evidence-based training to learn how to help someone who might be considering suicide.


There will be a national business plan competition for students to get small grants to implement their ideas. They will market their businesses, manage their finances, and even measure the impact of their efforts. Sarah is currently working with students at the Kennedy Academy for Health Careers in Boston and Walpole High School.

Youth Risk Behavior Survey



The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Data for 2013* was recently released. The YRBS, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asks youth across the country a range of questions about their behaviors over the past year. It is intended to measure six different types of risk: behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence; sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection; alcohol and other drug use; tobacco use; unhealthy dietary behaviors; and inadequate physical activity. Among the many questions youth are asked on the YRBS are questions about depression and suicidality. 


The numbers for 2013 are quite striking in that on all of the depression- and suicide-related questions for the country, the rates have increased from 2011 (the last year that the YRBS was conducted). However, for the state of Massachusetts the rates went down in every category related to depression and suicide, while the city of Boston followed the national trend with those rates going up. This results in some striking disparities between Boston and the rest of the state. For example, Boston had nearly double the state rate of reported suicide attempts requiring hospitalization (3.6% Boston vs 1.9% MA).  In addition, while 13.3% of students in Boston reported that they seriously considered suicide -- a small increase from 2011's finding of 13% -- it is still significantly lower than the 20% considering suicide reported for Boston on the 2009 YRBS as well as compared to the 17% reported for the US overall in 2013. And while fewer youths in Boston reported considering or making a plan, an entire 1% more are reporting making attempts than in the US (9% Boston, 8% US) and 3.5% more than in the state overall (5.5% MA).


One question raised by these disparities relates to potential methodological differences in MA that might explain the discrepancies. In the absence of that, we are very interested in thinking about what could be contributing to some of these shifts, and how the rest of the country (and Boston) might replicate what seems to be helping our Massachusetts youth. For more information on the YRBS, please visit www.cdc.gov.



*"Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance -- United States, 2013," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 13, 2014, Vol. 63, No. 4. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

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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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