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2021 USG Virtual Suicide Prevention Conference

The University System of Georgia and Georgia Southern University are teaming up to virtually host the 2021 USG Virtual Suicide Prevention Conference. This two day event will have a variety of informative speakers and presentations, activities, community building discussions, trainings, and more.

The conference will take place on September 30, from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM, and October 1, from 9:00 AM-1:00 PM. If you would like to register for the conference, please clink the button below. More information on the conference’s speakers and schedules can be found on this page.

Priority registration ends September 24, 2021.

 If you have any questions about your registration, contact Georgia Southern University at or 912-478-2796.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, September 30

9:00 AM


Teresa MacCartney, Acting Chancellor

Tristan Denley, Executive Vice Chancellor & Chief Academic Officer

Georgia Southern President Kyle Marrero

Georgia Southern SGA President Alexis Belvin

9:30 AM

Keynote Speaker

Diana Chao, Founder and Executive Director- Letters to Strangers:  Mental Health Made Personal

10:30 AM

Keynote Speaker Follow-Up

Alison Malmon, Founder and Executive Director-Active Minds

11:30 AM

Mindful Yoga

Need a break in your day?  Experience 30 minutes of Mindful yoga.  The most popular of Georgia Southern University’s Drop-In Workshops, Mindful Yoga is designed to teach attendees yoga postures to cope with anxiety, depression, and trauma as attendees explore the mind-body connection. Learn how stabilizing your body and breath can lead to stabilizing your emotional self. No previous yoga experience needed. You need only an openness to self-awareness and new experiences.

Angela Landers, LPC, CPS, RYT, Georgia Southern University Counseling Center

12:15 PM


1:00 PM Breakout Sessions

How to De-Escalate a Crisis Situation

This module of instruction will explore the basic elements of de-escalation in a crisis situation. It will define de-escalation and discuss what someone should consider before making the decision to de-escalate a potentially dangerous situation. We will also discuss some de-escalation techniques and identify common pitfalls to avoid.

Ben Scott, Inspector/Program Manager, USG Safety & Security

Utilizing Behavior Intervention Teams for Early Identification and Prevention of Student Suicides

A commitment to safer self-harm care recognizes the need to develop an at-risk formulation. While the concept of behavior modification is not new to higher education, the development of Behavioral Intervention Teams (BIT) to address concerning and escalating behaviors is a relatively new practice over the last 10-years. BITs engage in three main functions: 1) Gathering data from the community; 2) Analyzing this data using objective rubrics, tools, and assessments; and 3) Intervening and following up based on the level of risk resulting from the assessment process. This is an on-going and circular process that assesses any interventions based on their effectiveness, new data, and evaluation of risk. Part of this process is committing to training the entire campus community in the identification of people at risk and referring them to the appropriate area of care.

Chip Reese, System Project Director, USG Mental Health Initiative

Why Active Minds?  The benefits of establishing an Active Minds Chapter on your Campus

Active Minds is the leading nonprofit in the US working to change the culture around mental health by mobilizing the next generation. Over the past 18 years, Active Minds has reached global acclaim with partnerships and signature programs at more than 1,000 schools including the Send Silence Packing® suicide prevention exhibit and Active Minds Speakers all powered by a network of chapters. Our student-led chapters work to increase mental health awareness on campus, raise funds for critical mental health education, promote positive mental health, educate their peers about the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, and encourage students to reach out for help when needed.  In this session you will learn more about the impact of our chapters nationwide, how to start a chapter on your campus, and if you already have one, how to improve your chapter’s impact at your institution. 

Markie Pasternak, Manager of Impact & Engagement, Active Minds

Kelly Madden, Chapter Coordinator, Active Minds

After a Campus Suicide:Developing a Postvention Team

This presentation will provide information on the process of creating a postvention plan that will put into place resources and interventions to provide emotional support, crisis intervention and assistance for those impacted by a suicide death on a college/university campus. By constructing a comprehensive postvention protocol, colleges and universities will have the ability to provide a rapid, well-organized response that will engage the college community in a supportive atmosphere for all students in need.  Participants will learn: Steps to create a Postvention Team, the importance of coordination and communication within the team and the campus, and the effective services or resources to offer to those affected by the death. 

Nikita Robinson, LPC, CPCS of Limitless Counseling, LLC

What a Mask Can’t Cover: the Effects of the Triple Pandemic on the Well-Being of Underrepresented and Underserved Student Communities

The COVID-19 pandemic, the acts of police brutality against Black people, as well the acts of racial injustice against Asian communities, (known as the triple pandemic) presented all college students with challenges.  However, underserved and underrepresented students experienced hardships due to unique burdens they carry related to cultural implications and systemic injustices.  These pandemics had, and continue to have, a negative impact on student success, psychological well-being, familial support, financial wellness, cultural norms, social engagement, and physical health. In addition, the triple pandemic is associated with a disproportionate increase in mental health conditions (ie. anxiety, depression, PTSD) and suicide risk and mortality within underserved and underrepresented communities. This workshop will explore how the pandemic impacted the mental health and academic performance of students from underrepresented and underserved communities.  In addition, workshop participants will consider how support and prevention can look differently based on student identities. 

LaRonda Hollis, LPC, CPCS –Clinical Case Manager, Counseling Center, Georgia Institute of Technology

Stephanie Ray – Associate Dean/Director, Student Diversity Programs, Georgia Institute of Technology

2:15 PM

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Training

Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help. Take the first step in saving lives by signing up for a QPR Training today.

Presentation Coordinator:  Dr. Lacy Till, USG JED Project Coordinator

Friday, October 1

9:00 AM               



Hidaya Zeaiter, HMS Study Coordinator

Liadan Solomon, HMS Research Data and Report Analyst

The Healthy Minds Survey team will present the survey data from USG institutions collected in the past year and also share the national data trends and highlights.

10:15 AM          

Best Practices Panel Discussion

This session will be a discussion on promising practices when implementing your JED Campus strategic plan.  The session will include a brief overview of JED Campus, the work that has been done so far by the University State system of Georgia and will connect the data presented in the Keynote session by the Healthy Minds team to your strategic planning process.  This session is meant to be interactive and will have plenty of space for questions from attendees.

Diana Cusumano, LMHC, NCC, RYTDirector, JED Campus & Wellness Initiatives

Ryan Bunts: Campus Advisor, The Jed Foundation

11:15 AM          

Sector Roundtables: What’s Next?  



State Universitities

State Colleges

12:00 PM              

Closing Speaker

Michael Zibilich-Active Minds Speaker

Conference Partners

Conference Committee

Jacqueline Caskey-JamesFort Valley State University
Alma KeitaGeorgia Southwestern State University
Tonya ColemanGordon State College
Jodi Caldwell Georgia Southern University
Abria BonnerValdosta State University
Dorothy WilliamsAtlanta Metropolitan State College
Shantell Phoenix-MartinSavannah State University
Carla MooreGeorgia Institute of Technology
Lacy TillUniversity System of Georgia/Augusta University
Joyce JonesUniversity System of Georgia 
Cori LoftisUniversity System of Georgia 
Shay Little, ChairGeorgia Southern University

Last updated: 9/14/2021