2021 Higher Education Suicide Prevention Conference
The UMatter2De Higher Education Suicide Prevention Subcommittee presented an in-person half day conference on November 16th, 2021 at the MLK Parlors on Delaware State University’s main campus. During the conference, presenters from across the nation discussed with attendees how we can create a suicide safer community in higher education settings. The committee hosted three presenters with various knowledge, experience and resources about suicide prevention. The free conference had vendors in the Delaware community fighting to end suicide. This included other higher education institutions, local non-profit organizations and suicide prevention resources in Delaware.
UMatter2DE 2021 Conference Agenda
- 7:30am-8:00am: Participant Registration, Breakfast and Vendor Visiting
- 8:00am-8:30am: Welcome & Opening Remarks from Dr. Pamela Adams & Dr. Amy Gootee-Ash
- 8:30am-9:30am: Darian Elmendorf, Director of Peer Support at Sean’s House
- 9:30am-10:30am: Meisje “M. J.” Scales, MPH, Research Associate at University of Delaware’s Center for Drug and Health Studies & Rachel Ryding, PhD, Research Associate at University of Delaware’s Center for Drug and Health Studies
- 10:30am-10:45am: Break to Visit Vendors
- 10:45am-11:45am: Ali Borowsky, Founder & CEO of Find Your Anchor
- 11:45am-12:00pm: Closing/Evaluations
UMatter2DE 2021 Conference Presenters
Darian Elmendorf, Director of Peer Support at Sean’s House
Darian is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and digital health entrepreneur with 4 years of experience leading innovative community health organizations to create mental health support programs for youth and young adults. As a personal advocate for those struggling with behavioral health challenges, he works with community organizations to provide resources and hope for young individuals. He has a passion for designing and implementing social/public health programs, building teams that share a bold vision, and creating unique value in programs and products that focus on solving population health challenges.
Rachel Ryding, PhD, Research Associate at University of Delaware’s Center for Drug and Health Studies
Rachel Ryding has been with the Center for Drug and Health Studies at the University of Delaware since 2017, where she has worked on a variety of projects including the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup, the College Risk Behavior Survey, and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant evaluation. She earned her PhD in Sociology in 2021 from the University of Delaware, and her research has focused on gender and alcohol norms; drug epidemics; collegiate recovery communities; and behavioral health and substance use trends among youth and young adults. She has presented original research at the annual meetings of the Southern Sociological Society, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Association of Recovery in Higher Education, and the Society for Prevention Research. Her co-authored publications have appeared in Addiction Research & Theory, the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, the Journal of Children and Poverty, and the Delaware Journal of Public Health.
Meisje “M. J.” Scales, MPH, Research Associate at University of Delaware’s Center for Drug and Health Studies
M. J. completed her Master’s in Public Health and became a Certified Prevention Specialist in 2018. She came to the Center for Drug and Health Studies at the University of Delaware to finish her SAMHSA/CSAP Prevention Fellowship. Her current work at the Center includes evaluation of substance use primary prevention and school based mental health programs. She co-facilitates the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup. Her background is in community capacity development, working with vulnerable populations, and behavioral health service provision. M. J. has served on a number of coalitions, including the Prevention Education Legislative Taskforce, and is currently a member of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Taskforce and the Board of Directors of the Delaware Alliance Against Sexual Violence. She recently joined the data and evaluation subcommittee for the Delaware Overdose System of Care. M. J. is also an AmeriCorps VISTA alumna and a member of the American Public Health Association. She has presented frequently on topics related to behavioral health, health inequity, and prevention at local, state, and regional conferences and meetings, such as the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Conference and the Delta Sigma Theta Health and Wellness Community Event.
Ali Borowsky, Founder & CEO of Find Your Anchor (Virtual)
Ali Borowsky is the Founder and CEO of Find Your Anchor, a grassroots movement aimed at suicide prevention and awareness – which has been praised by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, American Association of Suicidology, GDUSA Package Design, and Jeff (her downstairs neighbor). She is an experienced graphic designer who made a name for herself in Chicago as the Design Lead for the NHL Winter Classic and Stadium Series, before fleeing the winter for Southern California. Armed to the teeth with pens, sketchbooks, and kazoos, she lives and breathes good fonts, big waves, and long walks down art store aisles. For years, Ali has enjoyed playing outside center on the rugby pitch, and often drives across the country for games, carnivals and sometimes just because the wind is blowing.
UMatter2DE 2021 Vendors & Resources
- Adult Mobile Crisis
- American Lung Association
- Delaware Technical Community College Active Minds
- Dover Behavioral Health System
- Delaware State University Active Minds
- Delaware State University Counseling Department
- Goldey-Beacom College Counseling Department
- MeadowWood Behavioral Health Hospital
- Mental Health Association in Delaware
- National Guard Sexual Response Unit
- Recovery Innovations
- Rockford Center
- Springfield College
- SUN Behavioral Health
- System Strategies Consulting and Coaching
- Veterans Affairs- Wilmington
- Wilmington University
UMatter2DE Active Committee Members
2020 Higher Education Suicide Prevention Conference
UMatter2DE’s mission is to promote emotional health, educate Delaware college students who may be struggling with mental illnesses, and strengthen collaborative efforts to prevent suicide among college and university students in Delaware. The committee is eager to host this year’s conference where our presenters will discuss how suicide has made a life impact on them. They will be talking on a peer, professional and personal level about their perspectives on suicide recovery. The day will start with a mindfulness session to begin and end with resources that can be helpful to students in crisis. The UMatter2DE Higher Education Suicide Prevention Subcommittee will be hosting our first virtual conference on November 12, 2020 at 9:30am.
Last year’s UMatter2DE Conference on October 8, 2019 welcomed approximately 120 people, which included students, staff/faculty at universities and college campuses, educators, mental health service providers, community members, 9 community and private organizations related to the field of mental health as vendors, and volunteer students. The University of Delaware’s STAR Tower Audion hosted the second annual UMatter2DE Higher Education Suicide Prevention Conference. It was a half-day conference filled with important and relevant information related to help-seeking behavior. The keynote speaker was Holly Wilcox, PhD, a psychiatric epidemiologist and Associate Professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with joint appointments in the Johns Hopkins Schools of Education and Medicine. Her presentation addressed trends in mental health in Generation Z and suicide prevention approaches. In addition, the conference included a panel session with representatives from many of the colleges and universities in Delaware discussing resources, mental health and suicide prevention efforts at their respective campuses. The event ended with a powerful testimony from Taylor Ryan, MS, former MHA intern and currently a Research Program Coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
One unique feature of the 2019 conference was the Remembrance Space, which was provided in a separate area from the conference for participants to look around, learn more about the various suicide prevention and mental health initiatives happening on the local college campuses, give hope, receive positivity, and/or take a breather. Many of the school Active Minds chapters helped to organize and create this peaceful and informative space for the 2019 conference where display boards, video displays, and resources were presented and available. Another distinct resource at the 2019 conference included a clinician on site in case anyone wanted or needed to talk to someone, especially with the topic being around suicide prevention.
The UMatter2DE Subcommittee under the Delaware Suicide Prevention Coalition would like to thank the 2019 sponsors, which include the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services and the Rockford Center. We could not have put on this successful conference without their generous contribution and support.