Community Outreach

Professor Mueller enjoys doing community outreach and speaking with schools or other community groups about suicide prevention. If you’re interested in having her come speak to your organization, please send her an email using the form at the end of this page.

She has two different talks that she gives to community, school, suicide prevention or majority lay audiences. One on the social roots of adolescent suicide and one on understanding suicide “contagion” in high schools. Descriptions of each are below.

1. The Social Roots of Adolescent Suicide

ABSTRACT: Though many scholars acknowledge that the causes of suicide are complex, suicidology and suicide prevention focus disproportionately (1) on individual risk and protective factors rather than social-contextual factors and (2) on crisis intervention rather than up-stream prevention strategies. This presentation will illustrate why neglecting social-contextual risk factors and up-stream solutions is problematic by presenting empirical evidence from an in-depth qualitative case study of a community with a significant adolescent suicide problem (including youth suicide clusters). While adolescence can be a challenging developmental stage known for its heightened vulnerability to suicide, youth in this community have to contend with additional social-contextual stressors. For example, the community is highly connected with cohesive social networks that facilitate gossip, the monitoring of behaviors, and the sanctioning of deviations from expectations. Additionally, the community is home to a broadly shared set of narrow cultural beliefs about what ideal kids (and parents) should be: namely, academically and athletically excellent. The presentation also outlines how these contextual conditions matter to youth mental health and offers suggestions for additional intervention points for suicide prevention. After this presentation attendees will have a better understanding of (1) why social-contextual and upstream factors matter to suicide and (2) how neglecting them can undermine prevention efforts. Finally, attendees will be able to discuss (3) the social-contextual issues that schools, communities, parents, and mental health workers must consider when managing a context with a disproportionate number of youth suicides or suicide attempts and (4) articulate why youth must be included as partners in suicide prevention.

Educational Objectives (for CEUs): At the conclusion of this presentation, the participant should be able to (1) discuss what the social-contextual and upstream risk (and protective) factors for suicide are, (2) articulate why they matter to suicide prevention, (3) explain why youth and individuals with lived experience must be included as partners in suicide prevention, and (4) identify social-contextual issues that schools, communities, parents, and mental health workers must consider when managing a context with a disproportionate number of youth suicides or suicide attempts.

Click here for the handout associated with this talk.

2. Building Resiliency and Preventing Suicide Contagion after a Suicide in High School

ABSTRACT: Suicide is a leading cause of death for adolescents between the ages of 10-24. Additionally, while suicide clusters are rare events, they are more common in adolescence and can be devastating for communities and schools. This presentation will review the current state of knowledge about suicide contagion and suicide clusters and will discuss strategies for building youth resiliency and avoiding contagion after a suicide. To do this, the presentation will draw on empirical evidence from both a large-scale longitudinal study of exposure to suicide in adolescence and an in-depth qualitative case study of a community with a significant and enduring problem with adolescent suicide clusters. After this presentation attendees will have a better understanding of (1) what suicide contagion and suicide clusters are, (2) what factors encourage or deter contagion, and (3) what issues schools, communities, parents, and mental health workers must consider when managing a suicide death in a high school or a suicide problem in a community.

Educational Objectives (for CEUs): At the conclusion of this presentation, the participant should be able to (1) discuss what suicide contagion and suicide clusters are, (2) distinguish factors that encourage or deter contagion, and (3) identify issues that schools, communities, parents, and mental health workers must consider when managing a suicide death in a high school or a suicide problem in a community.

Click here for the handout associated with this talk.

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