August 23, 2019

Learn suicide prevention techniques at free ‘Find Hope Here’ conference Sept. 9-10

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The inaugural Find Hope Here Southern Illinois Suicide Prevention Conference is coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Sept. 10.

In addition, there will be a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training the preceding day and an entertaining post-conference presentation for students after the conference.

Everyone welcome

The focus of the free conference is on the power of hope and reducing stigma surrounding mental health issues. Participants will learn about research and current viable methods for reducing suicide.

Speakers will highlight effective mental health treatments and ways to help people cope and be resilient. There will also be break-out sessions.

Everyone is welcome to attend the event, which takes place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the SIU Student Center. The conference is being offered through Salukis on Your Side, SIU’s campus suicide prevention program, and Student Health Services, in collaboration with Southern Illinois Healthcare and SIU School of Medicine.

Free continuing education credits are available.

Rahim will share expertise

Hakeen Rahim, internationally known mental health consultant and educator, will present the keynote address. Since 2012, he has talked openly about his lengthy struggle with bipolar disorder. He’s addressed law enforcement officials, school audiences of all ages and others about mental illness. As an advocate for change, he’s also spoken on Capitol Hill, before committees and various elected officials, and serves as a mental health ambassador.

He and his efforts have garnered attention from USA Today and many other major news outlets. Rahim is an author, speaker and the founder and president of I Am Acceptance, Inc., a non-profit organization created to help destigmatize mental illness and empower college students to take control of their mental health.

A graduate of Harvard and Columbia universities, he is also CEO of Live Breath LLC.

Buckman will also present

Dr. Matt Buckman, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice who recently founded the non-profit Stress and Trauma Treatment Center, will also speak.

Buckman is the clinical consultant for Salukis on Your Side, a program developed by the SIU Wellness Center through a grant received in fall 2016. He also serves in a variety of leadership and consulting roles and works with several programs and projects, including the Trauma-Based Behavioral Health Fellowship, Trauma Responsive Schools Initiative, Southern Illinois Violence Prevention Project, IL HEALS, Building Compassionate Communities System of Care and Project Connect System of Care.

He serves as co-chair of Resilient Southern Illinois, the Consortium for Resilient Young Children, the Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative and the national Rural Behavioral Health Learning Community.

Through these numerous roles, he helps children, teens, young adults and families improve their emotional and behavioral health. He works extensively with victims of abuse and their families and considers his work helping them recover and heal to be his life’s calling.

Register online

There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is requested and space is limited. Sign up online at by clicking on the “registration” tab. More than 100 people have already registered for the groundbreaking event and the capacity is 300 participants.

Exhibitors are also welcome. Space is limited so contact Julie Robertson-Brooks at 618/536-4441 for details or complete the online exhibitor registration form.

Mental Health First Aid

First aid and CPR are critical when someone is having a heart attack, and in the same way, experts say mental health first aid is critical for youths who are experiencing any type of mental health crisis.

About one in five adolescents have a mental health issue that noticeably affects their ability to function. The course addresses a wide range of related topics including: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, disruptive disorders, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and trauma.

Sign up now for pre-conference

The free Youth Mental Health First Aid Training session is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 9. This pre-conference event will be in the Illinois and Mississippi River Rooms at SIU’s Student Center.

Registration is free but space is limited so participants should sign up in advance no later than Aug. 30.

To register, submit name, telephone number, email address and occupation/employer name to Cheri Wright at or by calling 618/453-5200, Ext. 67844.

Students invited to post-conference presentation

Broadway actor Josh Rivedal will present “The I’m Possible Project: Kicking My Blue Genes in the Butt,” a one-man production, at 5 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the Student Center Auditorium and students are the invited audience.

This “Learn to Live Mentally Well in College” post-conference program is a 75-minute, three-part Broadway-style play, education session and panel discussion focusing on suicide prevention, mental health and diversity.

Those attending will get free popcorn.

No pre-registration is required. Contact Julie Robertson-Brooks at 68/536-4441 or for more information.