RMIRECC Short Takes on Suicide Prevention

The RMIRECC Short Takes on Suicide Prevention are a chance for the researchers in our lab to discuss their research in a way that is easier to understand and apply to every day life.
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RMIRECC Short Takes on Suicide Prevention



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Sep 6, 2017

Live Through This #Stay...captured through the art, the lens, the stories of our lived experience. Adam caught up with Dese'Rae earlier this summer and this conversation is the result. I was listening in on the other line and she blew me away with her everything-ness. Adam would ask her about how she came up with this or that idea and Des would just say something like, "I got bored one day so I wrote this program/created this movie/started this movement." Yes, of course you did and we all benefited.

Aug 23, 2017

Sometimes it can feel like making real progress in mental health (and perhaps especially suicide prevention) is an overwhelming, sometimes impossible task.  How can we counter the “bigness” of the job? Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, founder of Give an Hour, gives this advice: Go Simple. Offer simple actions, like donating an hour weekly. Play to individual’s strengths, and build big change by harnessing the collective power of many individual’s “small” contributions. Give an Hour’s Campaign to Change Direction use this same strategy. “The Five Signs” help create a common language, and everyday way to talk about mental health in a way all people can relate. In this podcast, Barbara talks about some of the ways Give an Hour and Campaign to Change Direction gives individuals, workplaces, cities and states tools to make incremental changes that lead to big, positive change. Give an Hour began with a simple idea (provide free mental health services to Veterans, service members, and their families). But though its origins and methods may be simple, its goal is to bring about a fundamental shift: empower each of us to recognize and respond to emotional/mental suffering just as knowledgably and compassionately as physical.

Aug 9, 2017

Earlier this summer I called Dave and hit the record button. What followed was a chance to look forward into the future of suicide prevention based on 30 years of work and research in our chosen field of suicide prevention. Listening to Dave you can get the sense that we are on the cusp of dramatic changes in how we treat the individuals in our care.

Jul 26, 2017

We caught up with Leah Harris at the 2017 Bridging the Divide: Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit in Denver earlier this spring. Her keynote address was titled "How I Went from Wanting to Die to Loving Life: A Resilience Journey." We continued the conversation in this summertime length podcast.

Jul 12, 2017

Adam Hoffberg discusses Chronic Pain with colleagues from the VA VISN 16 South Central MIRECC. Drs. Aruna Gottumukkala and Paul Sloan created a timely resource called the "Pocket Guide for Clinicians for Management of Chronic Pain." With the opiod epidemic raging in the background this podcast is ever so timely.

Jun 28, 2017

Melissa continues her community reintegration series with Amanda Burke from Team Rubicon. The Team Rubicon message is "Disasters are our business. Veterans are our passion." And you'll hear it in Amanda's voice as she describes her own journey and her continuing passion.

Jun 21, 2017

Meet Matt (human) and James (canine), who became friends through shared service - and maybe a little bit of fate. When Matt returned home to the States, after a stay at Walter Reed, he joined Warrior Canine Connection only reluctantly. In this interview, Matt shares his experience working through to the other side of TBI and PTSD, and the role James plays. As both a trainer, helping to prepare canines to work with other warriors, and having been paired with a canine of his own, Matt offers a unique and personal perspective about re-connecting to others and to self. Sometimes, the nudge to reengage and potentially to participate fully in further treatment may come from an unexpected source like a cold, wet (non-human) nose. Please join us for this podcast as Matt eloquently describes his friendship and work with James, and how Love Heals. 

Jun 14, 2017

Recorded during the annual Bridging the Divide Conference put on each year by the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado we caught up with Sally Spencer-Thomas. Sally is doing exciting work bringing suicide prevention programs to the construction industry. Find out about her work and why this work with this population is important and timely.

May 31, 2017

Dr. Ahmendani joined the Center for Health Policy and Health Services Research at Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in 2010. The Center for Health Services Research investigates ways to improve the quality, efficiency and equity of health care. This podcast discusses some of the the history of the zero suicide initiative and Henry Ford Health System, including recent research findings on suicide prevention in health systems.

May 31, 2017

Adam caught up with Julie at the AAS 2017 conference in Phoenix to chat about Zero Suicide. Julie is the Director of Health and Behavioral Health Initiatives at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). Dr. Goldstein Grumet provides strategic direction to improve the effectiveness of behavioral health, clinical care, and primary care providers to recognize and respond to suicide emergencies. She oversees the Zero Suicide initiative for SPRC, supporting the work of state and health care leaders who are implementing system-wide approaches to suicide prevention.

May 31, 2017

Tony Pisani, Ph.D. (University of Rochester Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide) discusses his model for suicide safer care, prevention-oriented risk formulation, and the need for a common framework for assessing, communicating, and responding to suicide risk for clinicians, patients, and the medical record. Dr. Pisani will be releasing new materials and training opportunities soon. To be notified when updates are available, please visit

May 19, 2017

Adam interviews Dr. Nathaan Demers, Director of Clinical Programs at Grit Digital Health. Nathaan and Adam discuss an online program Grit developed to reach the digital native!

May 17, 2017

Melissa McHarg interviews Michael Haynie, Ph.D. the Executive Director & Founder of Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. The conversation takes a close look at AmericaServes. The mission of AmericaServes is “to empower human services providers in the United States, and equip them with the technological and informational resources needed to efficiently and effectively guide service members, veterans, and their families to the most appropriate services and resources.” As Mike explains it, it is not so much that there are a lack of services for Veterans but there is not a community network to make those services available when and where they are needed. AmericaServes helps communities create strong service networks.

May 3, 2017

Veterans who present with PTSD and moral injury often report spiritual distress that places them at higher risk for suicide. In this podcast, we share up to date research on moral injury, spiritual distress, and empirically tested techniques for helping veterans use their own spiritual resources as an asset in their recovery. “Building Spiritual Strength,” a manualized group intervention for PTSD and moral injury, is described, along with resources for therapists who would like to learn new techniques for assisting veterans who are managing PTSD and moral injury.

Apr 19, 2017

Melissa McHarg takes the wheel as she interviews Roger Pipkins from Straight Scoop for Veterans. Straight Scoop shows what 2 guys can do to prevent Veteran Suicide.

Apr 5, 2017

This week we have invited the LGBT Care Coordinators from the Denver VA, Ana Balzar, MSW and Shelby Scott, PhD, to interview the Producer and Director of the film "The Camouflage Closet", Heliana Ramirez, LISW and Michael Nedelman. The film grew out of a group LGBT Veterans that Heliana was working with at the Palo Alto VA. Nine Veterans were given cameras to tell their stories; their resiliency, their strength and their efforts overcoming. An amazing quote from the podcasts comes when Heliana reports on research indicating that 75% of all Veterans with PTSD state that they have also experienced PTSD Growth.

Mar 29, 2017

We are dropping this special edition of the podcast because when you are working with folks from Team RWB it is just impossible to keep it all to ourselves! Melissa McHarg is in the host chair talking with Mike Greenwood and Caroline Angel. Team RWB is a nationwide organization with over 115,000 members, in over 200 locations and their mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. #ItsOurTurn #EagleUp Mike talks about how he came to join Team RWB while out running alone at the Air Force Academy. The camaraderie and sense of purpose lead him to help start a local chapter and later became the Northwest Regional Program Manager for Team RWB. Caroline Angel R.N., Ph.D is the Research Director for Team RWB. This research aspect is an activity of Team RWB that is of special interest to us at RMIRECC; will the science show that Team RWB has specific benefits for Veterans? Tune in.

Mar 22, 2017

Adam Hoffberg talks with Dr. Suzanne McGarity, a Clinical Research Psychologist here with Rocky Mountain MIRECC, and who recently moved to Denver from the Tampa VA.  In honor of March being Brain Injury Awareness Month we wanted to discuss a recent paper of Suzanne’s that came out in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. The article is titled “Community Reintegration Problems Among Veterans and Active Duty Service Members With Traumatic Brain Injury.” The papers findings “highlight the ongoing rehabilitation needs of persons with TBI, specifically evidence-based mental healthcare, in comprehensive rehabilitation programs consistent with a chronic disease management model.”

Mar 8, 2017

How communities respond to a mental health concern or crisis may directly contribute to consumer perception, potential stigma, and willingness to engage in help-seeking behavior. This week’s Rocky Mountain MIRECC Short Takes podcast highlights a local program invested in proactively reaching out to individuals who may experience mental health challenges, and build healthy relationships that better serve community members both in crisis and for the long haul. Please join Scott Snow (Director of the Crisis Services Division, Denver Police Department) and Chris Richardson (Program Manager of the Mental Health Center of Denver) as they talk about Denver’s Crisis Intervention and Response Unit (CIRU). Here is some of what they discuss:

  • The program’s origins and goals
  • How the Co-Responder program changes an old cycle of “wash, rinse repeat”
  • Going beyond crisis response to linking citizens to needed services
  • Diverting mental health from justice-involved and/or jail
  • Tracking the outcomes, how’s it working so far
  • Greatest successes and ways to improve


Feb 22, 2017

Adam interviews Dr. Carl Castro, retired Colonel from the US Army, about his extensive work in area of suicide prevention, especially as it relates to the military community. Their conversation is far ranging but really does a wonderful job discussing transitions as a way to understand suicide in the military community. Dr. Castro also tells us about Ernest Hemingway, an army Veteran, and how his death can serve as a paradigm to understand the suicide death of elderly Veterans.

Feb 8, 2017

This week join Adam Hoffberg as he chats with Dr. Elizabeth Conti a clinical psychologist and Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the VA Center for Innovation. Dr. Conti, along with four of her colleagues from the VA’s South Central MIRECC published the manual Collaborative Safety Planning for Older Adults. Dr. Conti gives a wonderful overview of what a safety plan is and leads our audience through creating one. Then she answers why safety planning with older adults’ presents challenges that clinician’s need to address in their practice. Throughout the conversation Elizabeth describes a collaborative approach that harkens to the work of Dr. David Jobes. This is a podcast where clinicians will gain a deeper appreciation of the safety plan and be able to use the skills learned in their everyday practice.

Jan 25, 2017

This week Adam discusses Fluid Vulnerability Theory with Craig Bryan, PsyD, with the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah. Dr. Bryan ducked into an empty room at the hospital where he was delivering a talk to chat with Adam. Craig served four years in the Air Force and deployed to Iraq in 2009 as Director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad. Later he worked with Dr. David Rudd has Dr. Rudd developed Fluid Vulnerability Theory (FVT). FVT states that “suicide risk is an inherently dynamically changing construct…that risk will fluctuate over time.” And it is through understanding the processes that underlie the “ideation to acting framework” where work and change come about. Listening to these two really discuss FVT is like having a full conference presentation delivered right to you. It is fascinating.

Jan 11, 2017

Suicide is known as a rare event, yet the large number of those impacted by suicide (through exposure, and closer connections including bereavement) makes suicide loss relatable to every human.  Preliminary research on suicide bereavement in Veterans and Military Families shows that military family members who have lost someone to suicide are at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts of their own. Melanie Hom, M.A., a clinical graduate student at Thomas Joiners’ Laboratory for the Study and Prevention of Suicide-Related Conditions continues this line of research, which she discusses with Adam in this week’s Short Takes podcast. Using common data elements aggregated across 15 studies funded by the Military Suicide Research Consortium, this study finds that the majority (over 50%) of service members and Veterans know someone who has died by suicide.  Melanie shares findings about those affected by suicide loss, as well as important clinical implications and needed next steps for future research.

Dec 28, 2016

Adam and Dr. Joel Scholten recorded this conversation in the lobby of the Chicago Hilton during the ACRM conference and just as Cubs fans were preparing for their appreciation parade after the team's historic World Series win. Joel talks about the importance of the rehabilitation team at the VA and the vital role they play in suicide prevention.

Dec 14, 2016

Could improved sleep potentially help prevent individuals from developing suicidal thoughts or behaviors sometime in the future? Rocky Mountain MIRECC Psychologist Sarra Nazem talks with Adam about her clinical work and research into evidence-based insomnia treatments as it relates to decreasing suicide risk.  This topic is particularly relevant for providers working with Veterans and military, who experience sleep disturbances at increasingly high levels in the past decade. The good news: though insomnia is highly prevalent among Vets and military, it is also highly treatable. EB interventions such as SHUTi (Sleep Health Using the Internet) capitalize on a combination of high effectiveness and wide accessibility. Join Sarra and Adam as they discuss improving sleep as a way to increase hopefulness, and improve outcomes for other co-morbid conditions.

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