Saturday, April 12, 2014

Addressing suicide risk in schools: Interview with James Mazza, Ph.D. and David Miller, Ph.D.

[Episode 86] Hey there podcast listeners. Today's social work podcast is about addressing suicide risk in schools. When we think about suicidal youth, we tend to think about hospitals and emergency rooms, or outpatient therapy. When we think about schools we think about standardized testing, or unfortunately the increasingly common mass shooting. But schools are an ideal place to address suicide risk in schools. That's why I was so excited to talk with two of the leading experts on youth suicide in schools. Jim Mazza, Ph.D. and Dave Miller, Ph.D. Jim is at the University of Washington and director of their school psychology program. Jim is the past-president of the American Association of Suicidology. Dave Miller, is at SUNY Albany in the educational and counseling psychology program. He is the president-elect of the American Association of Suicidology and author the highly regarded text, Children and Adolescent Suicidal Behavior: School Based Prevention and Intervention published in 2011 by Guilford Press

I spoke with Jim and Dave in April 2014 at the American Association of Suicidology conference. We talked about what is known and not known about what works to address suicide risk in schools, some of the barriers to implementing effective suicide prevention programs, and the value in framing school-based suicide prevention and intervention in a broader context, both as a way of selling the idea to school administrators and parents, as well as to think beyond just addressing students in a suicidal crisis. As an example, Jim talked about a curriculum he has been developing that uses concepts from Dialectical Behavior Therapy that is intended to improve emotion regulation and other issues in all students.  [Update May 2016: Now available: DBT® Skills in Schools: Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents (DBT STEPS-A)]  

A couple of notes about the interview. I recorded it in my conference hotel room and you might hear some street noises in the background.  Right before we recorded the interview we had been in the hotel lobby talking with Marsha Linehan, developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. This is important, not because I like to name drop, but because you'll hear Dave and Jim reference Marsha and the conversation they were just having with Marsha downstairs. It all made great sense in the moment, but could understandably be a bit confusing if you weren't with us. Downstairs. With Marsha Linehan. At one point Jim mentions research that he is doing with his wife, but doesn't mention her name. She is Elizabeth Dexter-Mazza, licensed psychologist and expert in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. 

And now, without further ado, on to episode 86 of the Social Work Podcast, Addressing suicide risk in schools: Interview with James Mazza, Ph.D. and David Miller, Ph.D.

Download MP3 [33:16]


References and Resources

APA (6th ed) citation for this podcast:

Singer, J. B. (Producer). (2014, April 13). #86 - Addressing suicide risk in schools: Interview with James Mazza, Ph.D. and David Miller, Ph.D. [Audio Podcast]. Social Work Podcast. Retrieved from

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I feel this strategy can also be applied to children who although are not suicidal, face problems at home. In meeting with children during school visits, it is surprising to me that many of the counselors do not know who these children are and are surprised when I inform them that there is an open ACS case. During a recent visit, the counselor used the term "under the radar." There is a strong focus on making sure children meet educational requirements but simply meeting these requirements is no longer enough. Just because a child shows resiliency and manages to pass her classes should not be a reason why this child should not get the same level of attention as a child who is failing or showing signs of trouble. I could not agree further that although children will not always bring these issues up themselves, if asked they will be more than happy to share. I also believe that there is still a strong idea among people that immediately connects ACS to the removal of children from their homes, and as a result children are not as willing to seek help.