Psychologist uses his own life lessons – including a failed suicide attempt – to help others thinking about taking their own lives

After someone commits suicide, family members and friends are left to wonder why. They reconstruct recent events and interactions, trying to recall any signs that their loved one was contemplating taking their own life.

Insider Louisville Logo“The biggest feeling is guilt for not seeing it,” Dr. Josh Smith, a licensed clinical psychologist, says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “Even when the individual does not show any discernible signs you feel like there is something that you missed.”

During National Suicide Awareness Month this month, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) encourages everyone to share resources and stories in an effort to simply talk about the highly stigmatized topic.

In Kentucky, suicide is on the rise, with 776 deaths occurring in 2017. There were 584 deaths by suicide in Jefferson County between 2011 and 2015.

To help tackle this issue, the Louisville Health Advisory Board is holding free suicide prevention training at 85 locations around Jefferson County from Sept. 9 through 15 in association with National Suicide Prevention Week. The 90-minute “Question. Persuade. Refer.” (QPR) sessions are designed to teach people how to respond to someone in crisis and are taught much like CPR. The goal of the training is to educate people on how to talk with someone who might be at risk. To learn more and see a complete list of the times and locations, please go online to

To hear more from Dr. Smith, including his very personal stories about suicide, please click here.


Louisville Health Advisory Board plans free suicide prevention trainings to help reduce deaths

One person dies by suicide in Kentucky about every 11 hours, making it the 11th leading cause of death overall, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Efforts to increase suicide prevention and awareness include many different things, but the Louisville Health Advisory Board (LHAB) is adding something new this year.

To try to bring suicides in the city down to zero, LHAB — of which Passport is a proud member — is offering suicide prevention training in more than 85 locations during National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 9-15) as part of its “Bold Moves Against Suicide Louisville” initiative.

“The concept is that any suicide that exists may be related to an opportunity to stop that suicide,” said Dr. Val Slayton, a member of the LHAB behavioral health committee. “And an important part of being able to stop suicide is by having individuals understand what to look for. And then how to intervene.”

The free 90-minute “Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR)” training is designed to teach people how to respond to someone in crisis and is taught much like CPR. It is designed to teach people how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, how to offer hope and how to get help and save a life.

To see where the classes are being offered, please go online to If you or someone you know is in crisis, the national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line is also available 24/7 by texting HOME to 741741.


Father shares his son’s story to help prevent other Kentucky youth from committing suicide

Insider Louisville LogoWhen Steve Ulrich talks to high school students about suicide, he comes armed with some frightening statistics.

For example, many don’t know that 1 in 10 students have made a suicide plan.

That number, along with many others he shares, seems unreal. But then he tells the story of a senior at Manual High, an all-star football player, who ended his life just a year ago.

“We talk about suicide after the fact; in reality, it’s a mental health issue,” he says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “With depression, things are going on in our mental health world that we’re not addressing.”

Ulrich has been committed to providing information about suicide prevention since his 20-year-old son Nathan lost his life to suicide in 2002.

For more information, please click here to read the article, or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go online to


Carter County officials talk about need for suicide prevention during recent workshop

suicide prevention life line logoKentucky is one of the top 20 states for suicide, with nearly 700 Kentuckians taking their own lives each year, according to the latest confirmed figures available.

However, suicide is often considered a taboo subject, rarely addressed publicly by elected officials, other community leaders and the news media.

That changed recently in Carter County, when Sheriff Jeff May and state Rep. Jill York of Grayson collaborated with County Judge-Executive Mike Malone for a recent suicide-prevention workshop.

Rep. York told Kentucky Health News that officials need “to step forward and be able to pull the resources together and throw the push behind it … to say, we’re going to talk about this even if it’s uncomfortable because it’s important, because we’ve got lives we’ve got to save. Stop being polite, stop letting it be something that we don’t talk about. To say, if we are losing one person in our community to this, then that is too many.”

The workshop was led by local experts on mental health from nearby universities, Pathways Inc., and the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Group.

For 24/7 assistance and information about local resources or clinicians equipped to deal with suicidal patients, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-TALK (8255). To contact the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Group, call (859) 429-1930 or email More information is also available on the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Suicide Prevention Program website by clicking here.


National Suicide Prevention Week Puts Focus on Education and Awareness

suicide prevention life line logoThis week is National Suicide Prevention Week, an annual observance that aims to inform and engage the nation around the topic of suicide prevention, encourage mental health treatment, and educate people on suicide’s warning signs and risk factors.

To learn more about the statistics related to suicide in the U.S., click here to see an infographic created by The National Council for Behavioral Health. And to learn more, click here to see the latest issue of The national Council’s magazine, “Suicide Prevention: Not Another Life to Lose” which features articles on national milestones in suicide prevention, special populations, stories of courage and hope, and more.

To read a pamphlet of important information that Passport put together for you to use if your teen is thinking of suicide, please click here.

Passport Participating in ‘Zero Suicide’ Initiative to Help Train Providers and Advocates

suicideOver the years, there have been all kinds of initiatives to make roads safer – such as seatbelts, speed limits, and air bags, to name a few. We even have electronic signs now over interstates and next to roadways to alert drivers to dangers. However, did you know that since 2008, more people have died in Kentucky each year by suicide than from automobile accidents?

Our society recognized that the number of individuals killed in automobiles was unacceptable and took steps to reduce that number dramatically. Now, a new movement has taken hold to address another public safety issue in a dramatic way. Suicide is a public health issue that has been growing way too fast. We at Passport wanted to pass along information about the “Zero Suicide” initiative, which has a bold goal for both physical and behavioral health care providers to reduce the number of deaths by suicide to zero.

In 2013, Kentucky passed a law requiring mandatory training requirements for social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, fee-based pastoral counselors, alcohol and drug counselors, psychologists, and occupational therapists in suicide assessment, treatment, and management. But suicide prevention is not just the job of behavioral health providers. More than half of people who died by suicide saw their general practitioner in the month before their death, and more than 10% were seen in an emergency department within the 60 days before their death.

The goal of this initiative is to make suicide an event that an individual and their friends and family NEVER have to experience again.

To learn more about how healthcare providers and advocates can take part in making this goal reality, go online to

To read a pamphlet of important information that you can use if your teen is thinking of suicide, please click here.