Monday, August 25, 2014

Facebook Recognized for Leadership in Suicide Prevention

Carson J Spencer Foundation Gives “Media All-Star Award” at Denver Gala Reception

Denver, Colorado. August 23, 2014.  In 2008 several suicides occurred on a railroad near the Palo Alto community where Facebook employees passed every day on their way to work. The Facebook team was so affected by these tragedies, the employees resolved that they would do what they could to help with suicide prevention. Over the ensuing years they developed best practices in policies and operations to help other tech companies connect distressed people to qualified resources. Rita Fabi, Marketing Manager at Facebook, will be on hand to receive the “All-Star Media Award” from the Carson J Spencer Foundation on August 24th, 2014 at 5:30pm at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. During this event CJSF will celebrate its 10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala, a “blacktie optional” occasion. For more information visit:

The “Media All-Star Award” goes each year to a media company or journalist who is helping to promote suicide-safer public messaging.

“We asked ourselves, ‘what can we do to help,’” says Fabi about how Facebook got involved in suicide prevention. “Now we influence people worldwide in many languages through our partnerships and best practices for suicide prevention.”

For more about Facebook’s best practices:

Centennial-Based Printing Company Honored with Award for Philanthropy in Suicide Prevention

Cottrell Printing Receives “Corporate Shooting Star” Award from Carson J Spencer Foundation

Denver, Colorado. August 23, 2014.   Cottrell Printing is a 42-year old family company that is making suicide prevention a cause they care about. Over the past year they have made significant in-kind contributions to a Denver based suicide prevention organization, the Carson J Spencer Foundation. For their support, Cottrell will be recognized with the Corporate Shooting Star Award at the Shining Lights of Hope Gala on August 24th, 2014 at 5:30pm at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The Gala’s 10th Anniversary will be a “blacktie optional” sell-out event (410 people expected). For more information visit:

 The Corporate Shooting Star Award goes each year to a business that has gone above and beyond in supporting suicide prevention and the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s mission.

“Believe it or not, we read what we print,” says Kim Thorne, COO of Cottrell Printing about how their staff has learned about suicide prevention from printing material for the Carson J Spencer Foundation. “When you read it, you talk about it. Mental health has become more of an open subject.”

“What I like most is Man Therapy,” mentions Thorne about an innovative men’s mental health program of the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s in partnership with Cactus and Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention. “It’s a valuable tool to get emotional support for men like me.”

More about Man Therapy:

Full interview with Kim Thorne here:

One World Connected: World Suicide Prevention Day

One World Connected: World Suicide Prevention Day
 Candle-lighting Ceremony for all those Affected by the Tragedy of Suicide

Denver, Colorado. August 26, 2014.  Imagine a world free from the tragedy of suicide. Imagine a world where people bereaved by suicide could honor their loved ones with dignity and those who have survived their own suicide attempts could access supports needed and be empowered in their recovery. World Suicide Prevention Day represents a call for action and involvement by all governments and organizations worldwide to contribute to the cause of suicide awareness and prevention through activities, events, conferences and campaigns in their country. By collaborating together in this endeavor, we can indeed save lives. Around the globe, on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th at 8:00pm, people will be gathering to recognize this mission by lighting a candle wherever they are. In Denver, the Carson J Spencer Foundation is hosting a public candle-lighting ceremony on the plaza Union Station. The ritual will be preceded by a brief reception inside Union Station.

World Suicide Prevention Day Reception and Candle-lighting Ceremony
Around the world, on September 10th at 8:00pm people affected by suicide will stand in solidarity and light a candle to honor the loss, struggle and healing and the hope for a world free from the tragedy of suicide.  This year the Carson J Spencer Foundation will first host a brief reception inside Union Station followed by this honoring ritual on the plaza. 
Union Station, Denver
7:15pm-8:30pm, September 10th
All those bereaved by suicide, suicide attempt survivors and their families/friends, all those who support the cause of suicide prevention and mental health promotion. The event is free and open to the public.
Camie Sweet | 303-219-5045
More Information: | 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Winners Announced in Student Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition

The Carson J Spencer Foundation Awards Winners in Youth Social Enterprises to Prevent Suicide at 10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala

Denver, Colorado. August 14, 2014. Social Entrepreneurship is the art of “using business skills to solve social ills.” This year over 1,000 Colorado youth did just after starting their own Social Enterprise in their schools across the state.  At the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s (CJSF) 10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala, two of these schools will be recognized as “Social Enterprise of the Year.” The event will take place on August 24th at 5:30pm at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Details here:

Each year CJSF recognizes students who create businesses that both generate profit while also creating a significant social impact for youth suicide and awareness efforts.  This year 48 classrooms across the state of Colorado competed in the 6th annual “FIRE Within Business Plan Competition.”  Since the beginning of the school year, entrepreneurship and business leadership classes from Denver, Boulder, Brighton, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Aspen and other areas in the state participated in this social entrepreneurship program called the “FIRE Within.” Student learn about entrepreneurship, marketing, budgeting, and business plan creation and then compete for seed funding.
A panel of judges from around the country, most founders or in some way involved in their own social enterprise, donated their time and expertise to judge the submitted business plans and rated these businesses on innovation, profitability, effectiveness and sustainability.

“The level of professionalism and commitment among these students’ was truly special.  The fact that they actually get hands on experience in starting and running a business geared around a social issue in their community is impressive, the fact they are successful is outstanding,” mentioned one of the competition judges.

The award for Social Enterprise of the Year in the returning business category was won by George Washington High School, led by FIRE Educator Jenn Marshall.   After learning students were overwhelmed by studies and getting into college, George Washington students started a business geared around “Learning Workshops” for students, touching on subjects like time management and college readiness.  They generated money by charging for these workshops. So impressed with their work, Denver Public Schools created the following video about these students’ success:

The award for Social Enterprise of the Year in the new business category was awarded to Mountain Vista High School, led by FIRE Educator Mark Towne.  Mountain Vista decided to start a business around building unity after they learned students in their school felt isolated.  Their product was a sticker that promoted an evidence-based suicide prevention strategy called “Question, Persuade, Refer.”

“What I want to tell other student leaders is just one person can make a difference – helping others and spreading the cause,” said Mountain Vista student, Brenna Jensen.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, 40-50 classrooms in Colorado will be implementing the FIRE Within program in partnership with Junior Achievement and the Second Wind Fund. The program will also commence a national pilot with new schools in New York City, San Francisco, and Massachusetts.

For more information about how your community can get involved with the FIRE Within contact Sally Spencer-Thomas or visit or 720-244-6535.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

#Standupfor Robin Williams

On Monday, August 11th, 2014, we lost Robin Williams. He was a brilliant actor and comic…a man most of us grew up with. We knew him as a funny guy, an alien, a genie, a nanny, an inspirational teacher, and so much more. We also knew he struggled with depression, addiction, and possibly bipolar disorder.
Collectively, we grieve for his loss. Williams had an uncanny ability to make us smile. Even when playing more dramatic roles, he brought light, laughter, and inspiration to our lives.

We grieve, too, for thousands of other people who have died by suicide. Fathers, mothers, sisters, daughters, sons, brothers…suicide isn’t just about the person who dies. Its painful ripples spread far and wide, affecting everyone of us.
We believe every suicide death is preventable, that not another person should die in desperation and alone. Those with behavioral health challenges like Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia possess suicide rates 10 to 15 times greater than the general population. Yet, millions survive, and many find a way to thrive. Recovery is possible!
The bitter irony of Williams’ death was the support he gave for another disease that takes lives: cancer. Williams was a strong backer of St. Jude’s Research Center and Stand Up to Cancer. He would visit cancer patients, sometimes in their own homes, bringing joy into lives that would invariably be cut short, just as Williams’ has.
The cancer prevention movement has been so effective in getting people involved – in prevention, in fundraising, in advocacy.  Now many people – whether or not they’ve been directly affected by cancer – Stand Up in solidarity to help fight the battle. They stand shoulder to shoulder with people who are fighting for their lives? They stand to honor those who’ve passed with dignity. They got people like Robin Williams to lean in, and say “I care. What can I do to help?” The suicide prevention movement can learn a lot from the successes of the cancer prevention movement.
How has the cancer prevention movement achieved these goals? They did this by advancing science and promoting stories of hope and recovery. Those who want to stand up for suicide prevention can do this too.
As Dr. Sean Maguire in the movie “Good Will Hunting,” Williams counsels Damon’s Will Hunting on life, love, and grief before telling him, “Your move, chief.”
Now it’s our move. Let’s honor William’s memory, and that of every person who has died by suicide, by making suicide a thing of the past.  What can you do to Stand Up for suicide prevention?
  • Reach out and ask others who may be going through difficult life challenges, “Are you okay? What can I do to support you?” Let them know they are not alone and that you can help them link to resources.
  • Promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) everywhere – schools, workplaces, faith communities, neighborhoods
  • Volunteer and participate in suicide prevention work like community walks, town hall meetings, crisis line support and more
  • Donate to suicide prevention organizations
  • Learn about the real facts about suicide and the strategies that have been shown to prevent suicide
  • Then bring others into the circle – your healthcare providers, your employer, your educators, and so on. Elevate the conversation and make suicide prevention a health and safety priority.
  • Ask your health care plan and provider to join you

As a society we’ve stood up for so many other important things. It’s time for us to stand up to suicide.  When we all stand up and move together, we create a movement. Together our voices can create significant change in systems, in policy, in funding, and in the general view of suicide. We can restore dignity and offer hope and empowerment and save lives.
#standup2suicide #zerosuicide #wayforward
Members of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To Live Would Be an Awfully Big Adventure: Making Meaning of Robin Williams' Death

Guest Post by Jess Stohlmann-Rainey and Heidi Lightenburger

As we grapple with the shock and devastation of losing an actor who touched the lives of so many with his work, we are confronted with the difficult reality that mental health conditions, like many other health conditions, can be lethal. Whether your memories are from Mork and Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, or Happy Feet, generations of us have been moved to laughter and tears by Robin Williams work.

The comedic and fun-loving aspects of Robin Williams were just as much a part of him as his battle with the severe depression that can come with bipolar disorder. Just as he inspired us to laugh, cry, and love with him, he also inspired us to be open about life’s challenges, including struggles with mental health conditions like bipolar disorder and addiction. Robin Williams was a part of an at-risk demographic that many people do not know about. White, working-aged men with a mental health condition and substance abuse disorder are one of the most high risk groups for suicide. This demographic of men is also least likely to access the care they need. Because men do not often ask for help when they are struggling with mental health concerns, it is important for the people who care about them to learn to advocate on their behalf.

The first step to helping others is to recognize warning signs. The American Association of Suicidology uses the acronym IS PATH WARM as a simple tool we can use to remember:

I – Ideation (suicidal thoughts)
S – Substance Abuse

P – Purposelessness
A – Anxiety
T – Trapped
H – Hopelessness/Helplessness

W – Withdrawal
A – Anger
R – Recklessness
M – Mood changes

Once you have identified someone who might need help, ask them directly about their suicidal thoughts and refer them to a mental health resource like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The experts at the Lifeline can help connect people to care to prevent tragedies.

These resources can be used to help a friend, colleague, or family member, but are also great tools for helping yourself. You don’t have to wait to get help until it seems like there is no hope left. Accessing care early and making a safety plan can prevent suicidal thoughts from ever happening.

Robin Williams lived with co-occurring mental health conditions for the majority of his adult life, and many days, most days, he won battles. It is important to remember the times he won, and to send messages of hope and help to those who are struggling.
As he said in Hook, “To live would be an awfully big adventure,” and that is an adventure worth protecting.

Get Involved in the Suicide Prevention Movement
Learn: Attend a training or bring a speaker to your organization
Volunteer: Connect with a local suicide prevention organization about current opportunities
Give: Donate to the cause and find opportunities for sponsorship

Monday, August 11, 2014

Colorado’s Nature Photographer John Fielder Honored as a Shining Light of Hope

Recognition for Fielder’s Involvement in Suicide Prevention Bestowed by Carson J Spencer Foundation at 10th Anniversary Gala

Denver, Colorado. August 9, 2014.  John Fielder’s photography of breathtaking Colorado landscapes evokes tremendous joy and inspiration in many; and yet these beautiful mountains became the final resting place for his oldest child and only son, John “J.T.” Fielder III, when JT took his life on a 13,000-foot ridge on March 21, 2006. Subsequent to the tragic death of J.T., which came on the heels of the death Fielder’s wife six month prior, John Fielder also experienced despair so deep he understood how people could see suicide as a way out from pain. Since these life challenges, Fielder has lent his visibility as a Colorado enthusiast to suicide prevention efforts. For his philanthropy, honesty and support for the cause, Fielder will be honored with the Carson J Spencer Foundation’s (CJSF) “Shining Light of Hope” award on August 24th, 2014 at 5:30pm at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. During this event CJSF will celebrate its 10th Annual Shining Lights of Hope Gala, a “blacktie optional” occasion. For more information visit:

Each year the Carson J Spencer Foundation bestows the “Shining Lights of Hope” award on an individual or a family that has turned the tragedy of suicide loss or the despair of a suicide attempt into positive social change. Previous honorees include:

  • 2007 Rep. Debbie Stafford and Sen. Moe Keller
  • 2008 The Emme Family, Founders of Yellow Ribbon
  • 2009 Army’s Major General Mark Graham and wife Carol
  • 2010 Evergreen’s Cactus Jack’s Saloon for founding the Start Talking Network
  • 2011 McKee Family and the Patrick McKee Foundation
  • 2012 Jeff LaMontagne, Founder of the Second Wind
  • 2013 GG Johnston, Principal, Be Intentional

“The things I love and the things that love me were part of the cure,” said Fielder about his grief journey. “I thought I could go off into the woods by myself, but it really didn’t turn out to be enough. I also needed family and the support of a professional counselor, and it helped to get involved. Within weeks of the death of my son I’ve been trying to help publicly with suicide prevention.”

Fielder admits that it’s often difficult to reach men who are experiencing psychological pain. Thus, he has been an advocate for the Man Therapy project, a program of the Carson J Spencer Foundation in partnership with Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention and Cactus Marketing. More information:

Because he does not want other families to endure the tragedy he has experienced, Fielder supports suicide prevention on many levels. An articulate and engaging public speaker, Fielder is able to be a powerful spokesperson, addressing this sensitive topic with an honest and straightforward approach. His visibility as a community leader allows his messaging to reach others in a way many advocates cannot. Fielder has opened up his beautiful gallery on Santa Fe for many suicide prevention receptions, giving others who are bereaved and who have lived experience with suicidal intensity a chance to connect in an inspiring space. 

A brief video of John Fielder’s testimony: