Friday, September 29, 2023

9:00 am – 4:00 pm



Viritual Event


5 CEU’s for Social Workers & Professional Counselors



4th Life Matters-Harford County Suicide Prevention & Recovery Conference

Dear Harford County Community Members,

Most recent statistics from 2021 indicate, there were 48, 183 deaths by suicide in the United States. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States for all age groups, everyday approximately 132 Americans die by suicide, one death every 14 minutes. Over four times as many people died by suicide in Maryland than in alcohol related motor vehicle accidents, 585 annually.

The goal of the Harford County Local Behavioral Health Authority is to increase knowledge of behavioral health disorders and raise awareness regarding the impact of suicide on our local community.

Hosted By:

Office on Mental Health

Registration for the 4th Life Matters Harford Suicide Prevention & Recovery Conference is now OPEN!

Drew Robinson is a former Major League Baseball player, mental health advocate, and co-founder of the Better Universe Foundation who is using his platform to advocate for mental health and end the stigma surrounding it.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, NV, Drew was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers out of high school and went on to play parts of 12 seasons with the Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants organizations.

In 2020, Drew miraculously survived a suicide attempt that resulted in the loss of his right eye. In 2021, ESPN released an E60 documentary to tell Drew’s story, create awareness around mental health, and reduce the stigma around it. After Drew’s attempt, he made a comeback to professional baseball and retired after the 2021 season to pursue a role in the mental health & wellness department with the San Francisco Giants.

Drew is passionate about advocating to prioritize our mental health, working for accessible mental health care, and encouraging peer-to-peer support so people can share their stories and find the necessary support they need.

Tonja Myles is an ordained minister, author, radio personality, community activist, peer counselor, veteran, subject matter expert in mental health, untreated trauma, a faith-based approach to substance abuse recovery and sought-after counsel for community based and system approaches.

She promotes mental health awareness and rehabilitation with sharing her life experiences being in recovery from addictions for over 36 years, suicide survivor, victim of childhood and adult sexual abuse and a diagnosis of PTSD. Her story is shared in published books, magazines, documentaries, featured talk show guest and national television series.

    She is a passionate advocate of humane and ethical treatment of individuals with mental illness, substance abuse, sexual trauma, domestic abuse and those formally, and or incarcerated.

    9:00am Welcome and Introductions

    9:10am-10:10am Keynote Presentation: Tough Call

    10:25am-11:55am Morning Workshops

    12:00pm-1:00pm Lunch

    1:00pm-2:30pm Afternoon Workshops

    2:45pm-3:45pm Plenary Presentation: From the crack house to the White House

    3:45pm-4:00pm Closing Remarks, Evaluations, and CEU’s  

    Workshop Descriptions

    Morning Workshop

    Workshop A: Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Training for Clinicians-Dr. Paul Nestadt


    Description: ERPO laws are helping to prevent gun deaths and protect communities. Their implementation in 19 states and the District of Columbia is part of a national effort to reduce the daily loss of life due to firearm violence, including gun suicide.

    This evolving resource will be frequently updated to help implementers take action and save lives.

    Afternoon Workshop

    Workshop C: HOPE (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences) a framework for suicide and addiction prevention in youth- Christina Alton, LCSW-C

    Description: HOPE, Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences, is a strength-based approach with an intended goal highlighting the role of positive experiences during childhood.

    During this session attendees will:

    • Learn about the history of the HOPE framework.
    • Examine the role bias plays in our perceptions of individual experiences.
    • Be introduced to the HOPE screening tool questions.
    • Compare and contrast Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) to Positive Childhood Experiences (PCES).
    • Learn about and apply the four building Blocks of HOPE to their work with individuals.

    In learning about and applying the principals of HOPE, we begin to shift the narrative that focuses on negative experiences to one that perpetuates the belief that experiences of trauma are not the end of their story but a small portion of the larger picture in which positive experiences are a powerful mitigating factor.

    Morning Workshop

    Workshop B: Cultural Perspective around Suicide Prevention-Dr. Mirian Ofonedu

    Description: Understanding of different cultural perspectives around suicide is crucial to suicide prevention.  Community resilience suggests a process rooted in cultural values and practices in which the human context of culture, community, kinship, and family are nested levels of influence shaping protection from suicide. Promoting cultural resources for health, wellness and resilience at both individual and community levels may help with suicide prevention. This workshop will provide a unique opportunity for participants to learn about different cultural perspectives around suicide and its prevention; address stereotypes, prejudices and false assumptions related to suicide and its prevention; and apply practical strategies for successful care outcomes.

    Afternoon Workshop

    Workshop D: Trauma-informed practices for clinicians suicide prevention and treatment- Dr. Victor Welzant

    Description: This workshop will integrate a trauma informed perspective on suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. We will discuss ways in which trauma can impact suicidality, both acutely and chronically. Specific approaches to identifying traumatic stress symptoms and suicide risk will be addressed. Therapeutic interventions from a trauma informed lens can be very helpful for the client in crisis. This workshop will discuss how to incorporate / integrate these interventions into an overall plan of care.

    Presenter Information


    Dr. Nestadt’s research focuses on the epidemiology of suicide. He is interested in the role of practical factors, such as firearm access and opiate use, in the risk of suicide death. His methodological expertise includes large scale regression-based data analysis, post-mortem clinical evaluation, and evaluation of determination of manner of death. He also works with the OCD genetics group and the broader suicide prevention workgroup at Johns Hopkins.

    Dr. Nestadt’s clinical focus is on the treatment of anxiety disorders including PTSD, generalized anxiety, panic, and phobias. He is the co-director of the Johns Hopkins Anxiety Disorders Clinic. He also attends on the inpatient dual diagnosis (substance dependence in the context of other serious mental illness) unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

    Dr. Mirian Ofonedu, Ph.D, LCSW-C is the Director of Training at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities. She holds an Associate Faculty position at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Mental Health and at the University of Maryland Baltimore Graduate School and an Adjunct Faculty position at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Click to read presenter’s full

    Christina Alton is the Mental Health Specialist for Harford County Public Schools. Prior to her current role, Ms. Alton was a school-based social worker in a regional behavior support program. Ms. Alton is a clinical social worker with 29 years of experience working with children placed in group homes, non-public schools, and most recently the public school system. Ms. Alton is a certified trainer of Youth Mental Health First Aid, QPR, HOPE, as well as a facilitator certified by the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

    Dr. Victor Welzant is the Director of Education and Training, and past member of the Board of Directors of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. He currently serves as the Director of the Trauma Disorders Postdoctoral Psychology Fellowship in at Sheppard Pratt Health System.

    Victor is a licensed Psychologist in Maryland and has a consulting and clinical practice in Towson MD.  He serves as the editor in chief of Crisis, Stress, and Human Resilience: An International Journal. He is on the editorial boards of Frontiers in the Psychotherapy of Trauma and Dissociation, and The International Journal of Emergency Mental Health.



    Thank You To Our Community Partners!

    "Office on Mental Health - Creating space for recovery, healing, and hope for all in Harford"