BY BTL STAFF
PLYMOUTH – The 2nd annual Kevin’s Song conference on suicide , “The Silent Epidemic: A Conference on Suicide,” is once again looking at the suicide epidemic from a wide range of angles – including the risk of suicide in the LGBT community.
This year’s conference, which runs from Nov. 9-11 at the Inn at St. John’s, 44045 Five Mile Road in Plymouth, will offer two presentations directly related to the LGBT community: Dr. Joe Kort’s session on “Sexual Orientation and Suicide Risk,” and “Transgender 101,” presented by Nicole Law, Psy.D., of Wentworth & Associates, P.C.
In addition to topics directly related to the LGBT community, this year’s key themes include “Research and Therapeutic Modalities,” “Youth and Education,” “Veterans and Active Military.”
According to Kort, a Royal Oak therapist who specializes in working with sexual minorities, the Kevin’s Song conference is a valuable event because it, “… [raises] awareness and gives voice to something no one wants to talk about. Those who are suicidal often don’t have a voice and if so people don’t take them seriously. We need good and accurate information out there to prevent suicidality.”
This is particularly true of the LGBT community. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness online fact sheet about LGBTQ issues, “LGBTQ youth are four times more likely and questioning youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm than straight people. Between 38-65 percent of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation,” mainly because of the anti-LGBT stigma still prevalent in American society.
Relative local havens like Ferndale and Ann Arbor aside, Kort said that the situation for LGBT individuals in metro Detroit isn’t all that much better than it is nationally.
“…we are a smaller and conservative community, and more spread out, [and the] stress of living around prejudice and having to continue to hide takes its toll,” he said.
In addition to Kort and Law, the Kevin’s Song conference will feature speakers from a wide range of mental health-related disciplines including Dr. Thomas Joiner, Ph.D of Florida State University,experts from the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Jodi Jacobson Frey, associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and principal investigator of the Healthy Men Michigan campaign’s research project.
Legendary singer/songwriter Judy Collins, who lost her son Clark to suicide in 1992, is among the featured keynote presenters during “Surviving Suicide: A Journey of Healing and Hope”. Collins will also perform a benefit concert https://kevinssong.org/event-post/judy-collins- for Kevin’s Song, “Songs of the Heart,” at the Inn at St. John’s during the evening of Nov. 10. Veteran performer, singer, songwriter and former WDET personality Matt Watroba will act as emcee and Master of Ceremonies for the event. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person and include an open bar, hearty hors d’oeuvres, and coffee and dessert after the event.
Entry to the full conference is $300, with two-day and single-day admissions available. Kevin’s Song sponsors include The Dolores and Paul Lavins Foundation, the Henry Ford Health System, and Wentworth & Associates, P.C. For more information and to register, visit http://kevinssong.org/conference/.
Support Kevin’s Song during the 2017 Give Detroit Challenge
Kevin’s Song is one of the featured charities during the 2017 Give Detroit Challenge sponsored by Hour Detroit Magazine, which runs through Nov. 6. Give Detroit Challenge donations to Kevin’s Song will be used to help keep the event affordable for everyone from mental health professionals to people whose lives have been affected by suicide. Kevin’s Song was founded in 2014 by John and Gail Urso of Grosse Pointe Park after they lost their son, Kevin, to suicide in 2013. Donations can be made here: http://bit.ly/2xspS0q.